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Thread: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

  1. #1

    4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Hi,

    A little interlude this week, as we let some folks catch up and allow things to settle. So, just a very short talk called ..

    A Short Talk During Zazen - pp. 147 to 149

    It is about the physical side of sitting ... but is it only that?

    It has some special words on the Mudra which sound much like Rev. Taigu wrote today ...

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1603&p=22681&hilit=mudra#p2268 1

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Hi,

    I really liked the whole body doing zazen independently and supporting each other. I am often too much in my head when sitting so to do a check around all the parts and ask them if they are okay is good for me.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  3. #3

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzuki
    The entire universe is doing zazen in the same way that your body is doing zazen
    Just allowing zazen to happen....'zazen doing zazen', as Uchiyama said..allowing the sense of self doing anything to evaporate,

    Gassho,
    Doshin

  4. #4

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Hiyas

    This was a nice reminder to pull up my trousers and sit down. Ive been a bit down and out with the flu and missed a couple of sits. Sinus pain and runny nose, aching legs and arms, sore throat and a cough. Each part of the body sits zazen and the body sits as a whole. So sitting with my symptomatic parts as well as my healthy parts was in order and instead i gave up quite easily to the self centered "Im sitting zazen" and decided I will not be sitting tonight because I was sick.

    The body and mind in their natural state practicing zazen. Like Paul said, too often im in my head " ohh shhhh! quiet brain!" - but that is not the natural state and its very much like a babbling brook! this quoted bit made perfect sense to me.

    Water is practicing zazen with movement, yet the water is still while flowing because flowing is its stillness, or its nature. The bridge is doing zazen without moving.
    Gassho Shohei

  5. #5

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    The entire universe is doing zazen in the same way that your body is doing zazen. When all parts of the body are doing zazen, then that is how the whole universe practices zazen. Each mountain is standing and each stream is flowing independently……Thus, the whole universe is practicing independently.
    The above passage made me reflect on today’s Sit-a-Long on the Bendowa, which speaks more to the interdependent nature of the universe….

    Zazen, even if it is only one human being sitting for one moment, thus enters into mystical co-operation with all dharmas [phenomena of the universe], and completely penetrates all times; and it therefore performs, within the limitless Universe, the eternal work of the Buddha's guiding influence in the past, future, and present. [Zazen is equally the same practice and same enlightenment for both the person sitting and for all dharmas]. The practice is not confined to the sitting itself; it strikes space and resonates, [like] ringing that continues before and after a bell. How could [the practice] be limited to this place?
    As always in zen more than one perspective to hold simultaneously….

    Gassho,
    BrianW

  6. #6

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    Like Paul said, too often im in my head " ohh shhhh! quiet brain!" - but that is not the natural state and its very much like a babbling brook!
    It is my natural state, otherwise, how could it happen?

    Cheers,

    Paul

  7. #7

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    The body and mind in their natural state practicing zazen. Like Paul said, too often im in my head " ohh shhhh! quiet brain!" - but that is not the natural state and its very much like a babbling brook! this quoted bit made perfect sense to me.
    Funnily enough, a few days ago I thought that zazen was sometimes like sitting next to a babbling brook. You hear the noise but you don't pay attention to it.

    :Charles

  8. #8

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Hi Paul

    Dirk said, " Like Paul said, too often im in my head " ohh shhhh! quiet brain!" - but that is not the natural state and its very much like a babbling brook!"


    Paul said, "It is my natural state, otherwise, how could it happen?"

    The "thud sound" I just heard was body and mind dropping. Wow, Jundo said let's take a little interlude and Paul went and showed us " Begginers Mind/Natural State. This Zazen thing must really be something special?

    Gassho Zak

  9. #9

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by prg5001
    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    Like Paul said, too often im in my head " ohh shhhh! quiet brain!" - but that is not the natural state and its very much like a babbling brook!
    It is my natural state, otherwise, how could it happen?

    Cheers,

    Paul

    Hi
    I was awkwardly trying to say my minds natural state is not "quiet brain" - Yet i used to keep trying to "Shhhh" it. I came to see that my minds normal state is active (inactive, well we know that's not preferable) flowing and babbling like a brook. Being in my head is my natural state. As already said sitting by the stream you hear the stream, but it doesn't perturb or distract the sound just flows in its natural state.

    Hehe hope i was clearer... clumsy everything is also my natural state.

    Gassho, Shohei

  10. #10

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Hi,

    It is worth repeating, especially for folks new to Shikantaza (others will have read this many times before), that our practice is not chasing after thoughts ... neither stirring them up, nor becoming tangled in them once they arise ... just allowing each one to drift naturally out of mind. In doing so, the mind may (sometimes not) become naturally still and silent.

    We don't forcibly silence anything, neither do we poke a stick into the beehive of thinking and emotions and stir 'em up.

    I sometimes describe our practice as clouds (of thought) amid a clear blue sky (emptiness, yet not "empty") ...

    We do not try to "silence the thoughts before they arise" in Skikantaza. It is more that we allow the thoughts that naturally drift into mind to to naturally drift out of mind, much as clouds (of thought) naturally drift in and out of a clear blue sky. In this way, return again and again to the open, clear blue sky.

    One of the key points about Master Dogen's approach to Zazen is to allow the clouds (of thought) to drift naturally out of mind (our thoughts of this and that, likes and dislikes, judgments, events, etc) and we come back again and again to the clear blue sky. Do that again and again, 100 billion times and 100 billion times again.

    HOWEVER, Dogen taught "non-thinking" (also called "thinking not thinking"). That means that there is nothing "wrong" with the clouds. It is not that blue sky is "good" while clouds are "bad" (some Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies imply that). We allow the clouds to drift out of mind, but neither do we resent the clouds when present or on very cloudy days. Even on those days when the sky is all cloudy, and not an inch of blue is present, the blue sky is still there behind the clouds. WE DO NOT SEEK TO BREAK UP OR RESIST ANY PART OF THE SKY, CLOUDS OR BLUE ... It is all the unbroken sky. Understand?

    So, no need to "catch" the thoughts and chase them away, even as we seek during Zazen to find the open, blue sky.
    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I recently came across this description from Kennett Roshi that is also very nice, and picks up on a distinction between "natural" and "deliberate" thinking sometimes made by Japanese Zen teachers ...

    Another useful observation which Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett made about meditation was the distinction between natural and deliberate thought. Suppose, for instance, that a dog barks while we are meditating. We naturally hear the sound, and perhaps the thought occurs to us that a dog is barking. These are examples of natural thought; they are part of things-as-they-are, part of simple, aware sitting. This is meditation, and nothing needs to be done about it. But suppose that we continue the chain of thought: we next think that the barking disturbs our meditation, that our neighbor should control their dog better, that something really should be done about this lack of consideration·, and the next thing we are aware of is that we "wake up", realizing that we have spent the last five minutes giving our neighbor a lecture. This is deliberate thought and is inconsistent with serene reflection meditation. We need to bring our mind back to the awareness of simply sitting there.

  11. #11

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk

    Hi
    I was awkwardly trying to say my minds natural state is not "quiet brain" - Yet i used to keep trying to "Shhhh" it. I came to see that my minds normal state is active (inactive, well we know that's not preferable) flowing and babbling like a brook. Being in my head is my natural state. As already said sitting by the stream you hear the stream, but it doesn't perturb or distract the sound just flows in its natural state.

    Hehe hope i was clearer... clumsy everything is also my natural state.

    Gassho, Shohei
    Hi,

    I thought you might have been saying that but I wanted to clarify. Also, I agree with the "Shhh, keep it down it down it a bit guys", sometimes it gets a bit too noisy up there.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    PS - I recently came across this description from Kennett Roshi that is also very nice, and picks up on a distinction between "natural" and "deliberate" thinking sometimes made by Japanese Zen teachers ...

    Another useful observation which Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett made about meditation was the distinction between natural and deliberate thought. Suppose, for instance, that a dog barks while we are meditating. We naturally hear the sound, and perhaps the thought occurs to us that a dog is barking. These are examples of natural thought; they are part of things-as-they-are, part of simple, aware sitting. This is meditation, and nothing needs to be done about it. But suppose that we continue the chain of thought: we next think that the barking disturbs our meditation, that our neighbor should control their dog better, that something really should be done about this lack of consideration·, and the next thing we are aware of is that we "wake up", realizing that we have spent the last five minutes giving our neighbor a lecture. This is deliberate thought and is inconsistent with serene reflection meditation. We need to bring our mind back to the awareness of simply sitting there.
    This really clicked for me.

    Ron

  13. #13

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Hi,

    I like that Ron. Also, it might not be a bad idea to be aware of such discursive thoughts off the cushion and see if they really help or not.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  14. #14

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Also, it might not be a bad idea to be aware of such discursive thoughts off the cushion and see if they really help or not.
    Not quite sure what your saying here. Zen is our natural state on and off the cushion. Discursive thinking never leads to anything good from my experience. However, one should not try to get rid of it (the clouds thing).

    ie.

    Walking to the store (I use this example a lot) I could be going over all kinds of stuff not realizing that I'm just sinking more and more into what? Anyway. When body mind is balanced there's little unnecessary reaction, and thought. You are precisely where you are. Body and mind are not separate. When discursive thinking is there, this is reflected through body as well. It could be in the form of reaction. You hear a loud noise and jump. That shows you your not really paying attention. I don't want to get into it, but there is thinking, and there is getting lost in thought.

    Gassho

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    PS - I recently came across this description from Kennett Roshi that is also very nice, and picks up on a distinction between "natural" and "deliberate" thinking sometimes made by Japanese Zen teachers ...

    Another useful observation which Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett made about meditation was the distinction between natural and deliberate thought. Suppose, for instance, that a dog barks while we are meditating. We naturally hear the sound, and perhaps the thought occurs to us that a dog is barking. These are examples of natural thought; they are part of things-as-they-are, part of simple, aware sitting. This is meditation, and nothing needs to be done about it. But suppose that we continue the chain of thought: we next think that the barking disturbs our meditation, that our neighbor should control their dog better, that something really should be done about this lack of consideration·, and the next thing we are aware of is that we "wake up", realizing that we have spent the last five minutes giving our neighbor a lecture. This is deliberate thought and is inconsistent with serene reflection meditation. We need to bring our mind back to the awareness of simply sitting there.
    This really clicked for me.

    Ron
    Same here...my thought after reading this was, "That's it!"

  16. #16

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Also, it might not be a bad idea to be aware of such discursive thoughts off the cushion and see if they really help or not.
    Not quite sure what your saying here. Zen is our natural state on and off the cushion. Discursive thinking never leads to anything good from my experience. However, one should not try to get rid of it (the clouds thing).

    ie.

    Walking to the store (I use this example a lot) I could be going over all kinds of stuff not realizing that I'm just sinking more and more into what? Anyway. When body mind is balanced there's little unnecessary reaction, and thought. You are precisely where you are. Body and mind are not separate. When discursive thinking is there, this is reflected through body as well. It could be in the form of reaction. You hear a loud noise and jump. That shows you your not really paying attention. I don't want to get into it, but there is thinking, and there is getting lost in thought.

    Gassho
    Hi Will,

    Yes, I think that says and says it better than what I was trying to say.

    Cheers,

    Paul

  17. #17

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Also, it might not be a bad idea to be aware of such discursive thoughts off the cushion and see if they really help or not.
    Not quite sure what your saying here. Zen is our natural state on and off the cushion. Discursive thinking never leads to anything good from my experience. However, one should not try to get rid of it (the clouds thing).

    ie.

    Walking to the store (I use this example a lot) I could be going over all kinds of stuff not realizing that I'm just sinking more and more into what? Anyway. When body mind is balanced there's little unnecessary reaction, and thought. You are precisely where you are. Body and mind are not separate. When discursive thinking is there, this is reflected through body as well. It could be in the form of reaction. You hear a loud noise and jump. That shows you your not really paying attention. I don't want to get into it, but there is thinking, and there is getting lost in thought.

    Gassho
    Hi Will,

    This is very well said, but I would not overplay one's cards.

    I would not say that "discursive thinking never leads to anything good." In fact, it is often quite good! I would not say that we should never "get lost in thinking". Why not, if no harm to it? Our natural state on and off the cushion are the same in a certain sense, but often (or life would be much poorer and bland) very different.

    For example, to use the barking dog story ...

    Another useful observation which Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett made about meditation was the distinction between natural and deliberate thought. Suppose, for instance, that a dog barks while we are meditating. We naturally hear the sound, and perhaps the thought occurs to us that a dog is barking. These are examples of natural thought; they are part of things-as-they-are, part of simple, aware sitting. This is meditation, and nothing needs to be done about it. But suppose that we continue the chain of thought: we next think that the barking disturbs our meditation, that our neighbor should control "THAT DARN DOG" better, that something really should be done about this lack of consideration·, and the next thing we are aware of is that we "wake up", realizing that we have spent the last five minutes giving our neighbor a lecture.
    Yes, during Zazen, we should sit as Kennett Roshi describes. Yes, after sitting Zazen, we should not fall into unnecessary resentment and anger at the situation, the dog and his owner (nor separation between ourselves, the dog and its owner!) HOWEVER, we can also get up off the Zafu and think "the barking disturbs our quiet house, that our neighbor should control their dog better, that something really should be done about this lack of consideration, and we need to come up with a plan to solve this problem!"

    Same with walking to the store, going over all kinds of stuff in your head, daydreaming! DREAM AWAY, and enjoy the show. Get lost in your thoughts (so long as they are not harmful thoughts of greed, anger and such). One does not need to "pay attention" all the time, and it is fine quite often not to pay attention. ENJOY YOUR DAYDREAM!

    This is very much related to my posting on the "movie theatre", and falling into the movie, here:

    viewtopic.php?p=22849#p22849

    So, don't think that "Zen" is to be a certain "natural state" all the time. It is all our "natural state" all the time. It is just a matter of which "natural state" is harmful or appropriate at which moment.

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Jundo, thank you for making that clear. When I drive a car I try to just drive. but I use thinking alot and sometimes it uses me. It's not as big problem now because I know not thinking.

  19. #19

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Same with walking to the store, going over all kinds of stuff in your head, daydreaming! DREAM AWAY, and enjoy the show.
    I should point out, which I didn't do very clearly. Getting lost in thought (as I called it), was much more than just "getting lost in thought". It was reaction, tension, and struggle. We need to be clear what we are talking about I think. Having reactions to many things each moment through body and mind, is not just "Daydreaming."
    There is a clear distinction that one notices. When Body mind is out of whack, it is out of whack, causing suffering and reaction not only for oneself, but for others as well. It depends on the person and their reactivity to phenomena that arise.

    Gassho

  20. #20

    Re: 4/24 - Branching Streams - A Short Talk During Z

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Same with walking to the store, going over all kinds of stuff in your head, daydreaming! DREAM AWAY, and enjoy the show.
    I should point out, which I didn't do very clearly. Getting lost in thought (as I called it), was much more than just "getting lost in thought". It was reaction, tension, and struggle. We need to be clear what we are talking about I think. Having reactions to many things each moment through body and mind, is not just "Daydreaming."
    There is a clear distinction that one notices. When Body mind is out of whack, it is out of whack, causing suffering and reaction not only for oneself, but for others as well. It depends on the person and their reactivity to phenomena that arise.

    Gassho
    Hi Will,

    Again, very nicely said.

    I just wish to repost something I repost from time to time ... a reminder that although Zazen is sometimes "balance" and sometimes "out of whack", Zazen is NEVER "out of whack".

    It is the "the is good Zazen, and bad Zazen" ... but never any "bad Zazen" post ...

    It is very important, I believe, because ... even when we learn how to sit balanced, "right" Zazen, mind and body centered and still ... we are missing the real heart of Zazen if we feel that true Zazen is only that.

    I think it so important that I am going to repost it as its own thread in the "Zazen" forum ...

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1623

    Gassho, Jundo

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