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Thread: RECOMMENDED DAILY Nurturing Seeds PRACTICE

  1. #1

    RECOMMENDED DAILY Nurturing Seeds PRACTICE

    Hi,

    Sometimes the simplest of practices can be most effective.

    The following is based on teachings by Thich Nhat Hahn as well as many others. It's roots stretch back to the very origins of Buddhism. It is a simple and common sense approach to changing how we think and feel ... realizing that our experience of life is always shaped through the various thoughts and emotions that we impose upon life within our little heads, like a bit of mental theatre the script for which we are constantly writing for ourselves. This technique is an instantaneous means to replace harmful, negative, destructive thoughts and emotions with constructive, positive, wholesome thoughts and emotions.

    Of course, this practice is not meant as a substitute for "Zazen", our core activity. Far from it! All is hand-in-hand. Yet, just as with our other "Recommended Daily Practice", the recitation of Metta (Loving Kindness) ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Metta-PRACTICE

    ... this "Nurturing Seeds" practice should be undertaken daily and, in fact, in any situation in which harmful or negative thoughts and emotions begin to take control.

    Here is how it works ... very simple ...

    Traditional Buddhist psychology describes our thoughts, emotions and actions as arising from a kind of "Seed Consciousness" within us, which is said to hold the "seeds" of all our emotional and thought reactions to experiences (and our actions that arise from those) ... love, hate, peace, violence, calm, irritability, confidence, fear, you name it. Whether we take these "seeds" as literally existing, or (just as fine) merely as symbolic descriptions for the workings of the mind, each serves as a surprisingly elegant image for how thoughts and emotions arise within us. For example, when we are feeling anger in a particular situation or in reaction to some person, an "angry seed" might be said to be sprouting within us. If we water that seed, and allow it to take root and bloom, anger thus blooms. However, if we can instead replace that "angry seed" with, for example, a "loving kindness seed" and a "tolerance seed" ... watering those inner seeds instead, actually summoning such emotions within ourself ... then we may react to the very same situation and person with compassion and patience instead of anger.

    Simple as that.

    Thich Nhat Hahn has written the following ...

    In Buddhist texts, consciousness is said to be a field, a plot of land in which every kind of seed is planted--seeds of suffering, happiness, joy, sorrow, fear, anger, and hope. The quality of our life depends on which of these seeds we water. The practice of mindfulness is to recognize each seed as it sprouts and to water the most wholesome seeds whenever possible.

    ...

    In Buddhist psychology, we speak of consciousness in terms of seeds. We have a seed of anger in us [for example]. We have a seed of compassion in us. The practice is to help the seed of compassion to grow and the seed of anger to shrink. When you express your anger you think that you are getting anger out of your system, but that's not true. When you express your anger, either verbally or with physical violence, you are feeding the seed of anger, and it becomes stronger in you. It's a dangerous practice.

    That's why recognizing the seed of anger and trying to neutralize it with understanding and compassion is the only way to reduce the anger in us. If you don't understand the cause of your anger, you can never transform it.

    ...

    What is important is that you continue to plant new seeds, the kind of seeds that are both refreshing and healing.


    ---------------

    Here is how the recommended practice works
    :

    Step 1 - Become sensitive and mindful to the arising of harmful, negative seeds within you. For example, when feeling angry or resentful, do not simply fall into those emotions. Instead, learn to say to yourself, "Oh, now I see anger in me ... a seed of anger and a seed of resentment are welling up within me, so I am --temporarily-- feeling anger and resentment in this situation. It need not be so."

    Rev. Taigu comments: I think we should emphasize the skill of fishing emotions, spotting them before they fish you. Once you are into it, it is too late, caught into the pattern you have to go through the whole thing. I find very useful to practice something like...I see anger in me, rather than jumping to the traditional I am angry...the wording is important for the second one is identification, the other one implies a wider perspective which comprehends, embraces the negative feeling without choosing to give it the whole scenery of the mind as a ground. Once anger is identified as an object, one can say that it is Ok not to be ok and it is also possible to choose another way rather to be toyed with. Another suggestion could be to question the negative-destructive feeling investigating in the following way...Who is angry? Where does that come from? Why do I have such a feeling? Seeing clearly the origin of the whole show, that is always relating to a past experience, is very helpful. Once this is seen, one can easily see that now is new and has nothing to do with enacting again and again the same pattern.

    Step 2 - Identify what would be the positive or wholesome seed which would be the opposite or counter-balance to the harmful, negative seed. For example, following is a list of common negative thoughts and emotions in Buddhist psychology, as well as several opposites and counter-balances (this list, by the way, is tentative and open to suggestions as we develop this daily practice) ... Maybe print the following on a little card and carry it in your wallet for easy reference! ...

    Greed - Contentment, Generosity
    Anger - Tolerance, Contentment, Loving Kindness
    Fear - Courage, Equanimity
    Discontent - Serenity, Contentment
    Sloth - Energy, Joyful Effort
    Jealousy - Respect
    Sadness - Joy, Acceptance
    Egotism - Modesty, Humility
    Frustration - Acceptance, Contentment


    Step 3 - Make the conscious choice not to "water" the harmful seed as you feel it begin to sprout within you, and instead to nourish and water the wholesome seed that can take its place. Actually feel that the harmful seed has been physically removed from its ground within you, and replaced by a wholesome seed. Actually try to feel within the emotion which the wholesome seed represents (for example, if feeling "greed" ... actually try to summon and hold feelings of contentment and generosity instead). Focus on the breath, and feel the sensation of the positive, wholesome emotion arise within you with each exhalation. Feel the positive, wholesome seed coming to flower.

    And that's it!

    At first, commit yourself to try your best to "replace a seed" 4 or 5 times a day. For example, if you start to sense a bit of anger, worry, discouragement or sadness wallowing up in you sometime during a normal day ... take that as an opportunity to do a bit of inner gardening! Try to replace that seed, visualizing and actually feeling the old seed being removed from you and the new sensations coming to flower. You may be surprised at the results! (It may not turn every weed in your garden into a rose, but it may more often than you think).

    Please keep us posted on this forum on how this practice goes for you.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-20-2013 at 08:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I just read about this in a book I am reading by Thich Nhat Hahn. It takes a bit of effort to train your mind to do this, but I have already found the benefits are so worth it.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Maresolaris's Avatar
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    This text has a perfect timing

    Dear Jundo (and co-author Taigu),

    At the present moment I am torn a little, due to circumstances at work. Worry starts to take over the thinking. Then I browsed Treeleaf, and came across this wondeful advice. Replacing the seed of something bad with something good is indeed a splendid exercise. Even reading and trying it out a bit made a difference. Even this afternoon, at 1 30pm, I will have an important meeting with my employer (probably soon-to-be-ex).

    Courage instead of fear and worry does not make the situation better, but it works miracles to my attitude towards it.

    Again, I feel a deep gratitude towards you, Taigu and the treeleaf sangha.

    Gassho,

    Marcel Berkien (Maresolaris)
    --
    Sarva mangalam.

  4. #4
    Wonderful, Marcel.

    This is a simple Practice, but one of the oldest and most effective in Buddhism.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Junior Member Maresolaris's Avatar
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    Thanks, and it lasts

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Wonderful, Marcel.

    This is a simple Practice, but one of the oldest and most effective in Buddhism.

    Gassho, J
    Dear Jundo,

    Thank you for the reply. Actually, after June 30 I will be unemployed. The breathing excercise behore the meeding did last (and still does) during the conversation with my employer. I felt courageous meanwhile was able to stay focused in my belly. There might be some psycho-somatic response in me, but as I said this Practice came as a life saver. Absolutely to be contiued.

    Gassho _/|\_
    Marcel (Maresolaris)
    --
    Sarva mangalam.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Thank you for this. For a long time I carried a little card in my wallet with this printed on it:
    Greed - Contentment, Generosity
    Anger - Tolerance, Contentment, Loving Kindness
    Fear - Courage, Equanimity
    Discontent - Serenity, Contentment
    Sloth - Energy, Joyful Effort
    Jealousy - Respect
    Sadness - Joy, Acceptance
    Egotism - Modesty, Humility
    Frustration - Acceptance, Contentment

    It was a helpful reminder and I think I'll start doing that again.

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    That's very helpful Chuck. I should almost get it tattooed to my wrist.

    G.
    Seimyo

    明 Seimyō (Christhatischris)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Seimyo View Post
    That's very helpful Chuck. I should almost get it tattooed to my wrist.

    G.
    Seimyo
    That is very helpful Chuck. Excellent suggestion.

    Chris, perhaps best to tattoo it right here, where the arrow points ...





    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Thanks chuck I'm love that idea.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck13 View Post
    Thank you for this. For a long time I carried a little card in my wallet with this printed on it:
    Greed - Contentment, Generosity
    Anger - Tolerance, Contentment, Loving Kindness
    Fear - Courage, Equanimity
    Discontent - Serenity, Contentment
    Sloth - Energy, Joyful Effort
    Jealousy - Respect
    Sadness - Joy, Acceptance
    Egotism - Modesty, Humility
    Frustration - Acceptance, Contentment

    It was a helpful reminder and I think I'll start doing that again.
    this is awesome advice, thanks for sharing!! I have struggled with depression ever since I was a child, it has gotten a lot better since practicing Zen. I now feel in control, even when it hits me. I am no longer in the passenger's seat, so to speak. When it starts to come, I actually talk to it (I got this idea from the book Buddhism for Mothers) I will say "oh, hello depression, you are back again" and then I will start to think of all the good things in my life and start practicing mindfulness. It's not always an easy, quick fix, but it brings results, like I said, I now feel like I am in control.
    Last edited by Joyo; 06-11-2013 at 05:16 AM.

  11. #11
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    This is my first post.
    What a great practice. I read it before going to bed. I had two chances to put it into practice between waking up and getting to the zafu for morning meditation. Maybe I need to carry around a big burlap bag of seeds.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Any suggestions for complete anguish and helplessness?
    Heisoku
    平 息

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Heisoku View Post
    Any suggestions for complete anguish and helplessness?
    Hi Heisoku,

    I would say "everything we do around here, Zazen, Zen Practice". The seeds of gratitude, acceptance, equanimity should be watered, as well as plain old "positive thinking" and optimism about doing what we think can't be done.

    However, maybe you want to elucidate and fills in some details? I might suggest starting its own thread if you wish to do so.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Thanks Jundo. Gassho.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  15. #15
    Thank you.

    Gassho
    _/|\_

  16. #16
    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing this practice. I have printed the card and look forward to incorporating this into my daily life. Deep bows, Matt J

  17. #17
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    I had just started doing this practice and when I whent into town saw a flower bed where the gardener had put up this sign:
    " All the flowers of tomorrow hides in the seeds that are sown today."

    I like this practice and I hope that it will help me with my sometimes bad temper.

    Gassho, Edward

  18. #18
    Member glow's Avatar
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    This practice has been very helpful for me.

    Gassho,

    Glow (Kikai)

  19. #19
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    I have practiced this in my own way for awhile. But a different version. I was in a way condemning myself for the negative feelings ( "I shouldn't be so irritable" blah blah) while trying to uproot the other. I think the way this is worded is more acceptance and saying it is normal and okay , but we are making a conscious decision to let it go and become something more positive. It's more being patient with one's self than how I was doing it. Was good to read it the way it's presented here. Sheds a new light on it. A slight mental change in attitude. I'll remind myself to be patient with "me" and see how it goes.

    _/\_ Dave

  20. #20
    Senior Member bayamo's Avatar
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    It always gets me when I read things like this & I find myself saying 'why didn't I ever think of this before?!?!' thanks!

    Sent from my ST25a using Tapatalk 2
    Oh, yeah. If I didn't have inner peace, I'd go completely psycho on all you guys all the time.
    Carl Carlson

  21. #21
    Very great !
    Thank you dear Jundo

    Gassho

  22. #22
    I'm grateful I read this
    I'm grateful you wrote it

    I'll start my practice.

    Gassho
    Chris

  23. #23
    Senior Member Oheso's Avatar
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    thank you Jundo & Taigu Senseis for presenting this teaching, I didn't know it in a Buddhist context. I'm a little familiar (pun intended) with Franciscan spirituality and it reminds me of the Prayer of St. Francis in its metaphor. http://www.worldprayers.org/archive/...nstrument.html I usually find the "buddhist flavor" is to move the entire show indoors in a Mind-only sense, instead couching of the teaching in the context of a relationship existing between 2 distinct parties. sometimes when that interior-exterior setting changes, I don't immediately recognize the similarity of spirituality. it feels like a good stretch when I do. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Rev. Taigu comments: I think we should emphasize the skill of fishing emotions, spotting them before they fish you. Once you are into it, it is too late, caught into the pattern you have to go through the whole thing. I find very useful to practice something like...I see anger in me, rather than jumping to the traditional I am angry...the wording is important for the second one is identification, the other one implies a wider perspective which comprehends, embraces the negative feeling without choosing to give it the whole scenery of the mind as a ground.
    thank you Taigu Sensei, I think this is a subtle but important point, identifying it as being in its incipiency. the notion of being caught in the entire cycle once caught at all feels very familiar although I must say I've found my nothing special sitting seems to help.

    gassho,

    Robert
    Last edited by Oheso; 05-10-2014 at 03:01 AM.
    "- and neither are they otherwise."

  24. #24
    Junior Member Tin_Sandwich's Avatar
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    Thank you, this teaching will be very helpful to me. I will try to adopt this way of thinking each time these negative seeds sprout up in me. If I can gently control my quick to anger ways and bring peace to my mind, this would be a good thing. Thanks again.

    Gassho _/|\_

  25. #25
    Thank you for sharing these teachings Jundo and Taigu.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Traditional Buddhist psychology describes our thoughts, emotions and actions as arising from a kind of "Seed Consciousness" within us.


    If I'm not stretching my interpretation too far,

    Is it fair to say that this could be a starting point, or a model to steadily manage positive change?

    What's the background to my question? I've been going at starting up a business venture for the last year now. The ride hasn't been easy and although I do make progress, I do have areas that I can improve upon,

    - making wholesome, positive progress every day.
    - managing anxiety.
    - paying greater attention to the people I meet, learning where they're coming from in the course of business.
    - paying greater attention to my environment and the opportunities around me.
    - enjoying the journey, being relaxed when I leave work and am at home.

    These are a few amongst other things that I know will help me. I've been tracking such seeds in a notebook and although it has been an unwieldy process it has been working out steadily.

    I'd like to connect the two?

    Would be wonderful to get your thoughts and thank you again for the reintroduction to Buddha's Lab!

    Gassho,
    Santosh.
    Last edited by santosh; 09-01-2014 at 12:28 PM. Reason: added a few more details

  26. #26
    Santosh,

    It sounds like a very positive way to do things. Try it, and see what happens. However, it sounds like a very healthy plan.

    Good luck on your work, and keep us informed from time to time about how it is going.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #27
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I do things a similar way, Santosh. I wish you great luck with your business.
    迎 Geika

  28. #28
    Hello,

    On the notion of traditional Buddhist psychology and "seed consciousness", I highly recommend a book by Rev. Tagawa (translated by Professor Muller) called Living Yogacara: An Introduction to Consciousness-Only Buddhism. It is an introduction to the Yogacara school of thought, which is the ancient Indian school that originally articulated a lot of this. They still exist in Japan as a tiny little school called the Hosso school, though it's greatly reduced in size since the 11th century.
    Last edited by jphiled; 10-20-2014 at 06:35 AM. Reason: screwy fonts. :P
    --Doug (a.k.a. 'jphiled')

    "Heedless, do not swallow a red-hot iron ball, lest you cry when burning, 'O this is painful!'" --Dhammapada, v371

  29. #29
    Hi !

    This practice rises questions for me. During zazen, sometimes, i notice that i can just create pure joy, just by thinking "oh man it's great to be there sitting and experiencing the whole stuff, how lucky i am". But usually, it is soon followed by "oh man, this is completely terrible to be there sitting and experiencing the whole stuff, how terrible it is to be stuck in this, without the choice to NOT to experience it" (i know, i'm weird). What i mean is that i can't seem to be able to "choose" consciously to develop an emotion without getting a counterpart. And what that means is that all this is, anyway, just the same thing : a band playing certain tunes in my mind, some sad, some happy. So now, i sort of fear doing that : i just let things do their dance and try not to meddle with my emotional stuff, cause if you can create your own happiness, you can also create your own worst suffering, and for me they seem to go hand in hand. And of course, i don't know if it is a human universal rule, but the negative emotions are always better at captivating us and making us believe terrible stuff ; when we're happy and joyful we don't notice it and take it as normal, but when we're sad or anxious then it's the whole world that becomes difficult.

    So how can i do to avoid this trap ? Should it be even avoided ? Do you really think we control our emotions to the point that we can just "choose", consciously, "oh now i'm going to be happy or joyful" and it works ? I don't even know if i would want to live a life like this, by the way, it would be like a robotic giant world of teddy bears, horrible !

    PS : another remark or question : it seems to me that, as Taigu said, this practice also has to do with seeing emotions as they are, which seems like a good idea ; but in fact, what do we know ? What does it mean to identify the cause of an emotion ? This seems to imply that somehow, we CAN know things like this, we CAN have access to the way our emotions work, which means we know ourselves somehow. But more often than not, it is not the case at all. We cannot - this is just my opinion, maybe i'm wrong - know ourselves, by ourselves. We are beings of relation. Our "self" does not have any meaning outside relations. So to think we can know how "we" work emotionnaly is, in my view, a trap (and a beautiful one : it is great to not know completely one self, we are all mysterious to ourselves !).

    Emotions can really be tricky, and they can be used by the human psyche to hide stuff, which makes them like a lure : okay, i'm phobic about spiders, and i really believe that spiders are the cause of my strong emotions, but it is most likely not the case at all - i just BELIEVE spiders are my problem, but often - not always of course - there is no problem with spiders, it's just something the anxiety grasped for symbolic reasons ; emotions like anxiety just take a certain form by attaching to sometimes stupid things which have nothing to do with our "real" problem. So it is really difficult, if not impossible, to uncover what our emotional world means on our own ; for it to make sense, we have to have another human being around, maybe to hear, or to receive the emotion, and sort of shape a meaning and an interpretation with him, which goes beyond the apparent thing that bothers us. This is the work of psychologists for the most part, but also, i guess, of spiritual teachers sometimes : to provide a frame in which a new meaning can arise from the "unexplainable on my own" emotion. So, well, if this practice of seed nurturing is based on believing that we can identify precisely our emotions (okay, we can do that to a certain extent, that's true ; we know usually when we're angry, when we're sad. But not always !), their causes, my first impression would be that it is based on a questionable fact at the least.

    There is also an article by Brad Warner about this, replacing bad thoughts with good thoughts and the like, and i agree with him for the moment : here it is :

    http://hardcorezen.info/free-your-mi...ries-sure/2651


    PS : sorry if this sound critical / cynical, don't want to ruin anyone's trip, ahah, but those are just questions that really interest me and i could not help but write...
    Last edited by Ugrok; 10-17-2014 at 08:57 PM.

  30. #30
    Hi Ugrok,

    First, to clarify, this practice is not for during sitting Zazen, when we just observe thoughts and emotions seeking (as best we can) not to grab on and get tangled.

    Second, everyone is different, so only you know if this will work for you or not.

    I do not think this a perfect mechanism, but it does work in many cases. Sometimes it does not, like the times when depression or anger grab someone in the most primitive parts of the brain and just take them over. But other times it does, like today ... I had four hours sleep and started to feel a little edgy, negative and blue in the early afternoon. There was a time when I would have bought into it, and fallen into the short tempered blues. However, this time I said to myself, "Oh, there you go again whenever you have a lack of sleep." Suddenly, it was neither so real nor so powerful. Like a pilot hitting the rudder to compensate for a cross wind, I was able to push a lever within to replace the "edgy, negative and blue" with something more positive.

    And speaking of flying, I once was taught a very similar technique in a class to overcome a small fear of heights and flying I had years ago. When fear comes, I would "breathe right through", recognize the fear and replace it with confident thoughts. It helped a lot, and even let me put on a parachute and jump out of a plane a couple of times!

    By the way, Brad is right ... our way is not about being happy, happy, giddy, happy all the time. Who would want to live like that, as if only going to the movies to only watch comedies and missing all the drama? Rather, there is a certain Peace and Joy we encounter in Zazen which shines right through the happy and the saddest days ... even as those days are still so sad. A kind of Light that shines in and as the tears rolling down our face, all as one.

    At most, this practice can help soften or redirect the turbulence of the greed, anger, ignorance, fear, jealousy and other negative emotions that place us at our worst.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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