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Thread: A bit of advice needed for a newb

  1. #1

    A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Hello Everyone.
    First off, I'd like to thank in advance for anyone who could give me a bit of guidance, I'm a bit lost at the moment.
    I just started University and am living in the dorms quite far away from home. I brought my alter with me and during dorm checks last week my RA took my candle and incense claiming it was a hazard. Now I feel lost in my routine or ritual for my daily sitting and I am at odds with myself. I know we're to overcome material possessions but my alter looks incomplete and I am angry as I've lost all focus. When sitting I stew over the recent events and I have not been able to well, just sit.
    Will I get over this?

  2. #2

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    When I am upset about something I sometimes try to view/understand the situation from the 'other' viewpoint. Your RA is enforcing rules created to reduce the risk of fire where many would be impacted. So sometimes we just have to sacrifice our alter. Being upset and angry is OK and you haven't really lost your focus - you are just more focused on those feelings. I don't think I will ever get over that (in the sense that feelings like this arise from time to time) but I do try to let go of that and focus on my posture if anything. Hope this helps.
    /Rich

  3. #3

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly
    Hello Everyone.
    First off, I'd like to thank in advance for anyone who could give me a bit of guidance, I'm a bit lost at the moment.
    I just started University and am living in the dorms quite far away from home. I brought my alter with me and during dorm checks last week my RA took my candle and incense claiming it was a hazard. Now I feel lost in my routine or ritual for my daily sitting and I am at odds with myself. I know we're to overcome material possessions but my alter looks incomplete and I am angry as I've lost all focus. When sitting I stew over the recent events and I have not been able to well, just sit.
    Will I get over this?
    Yes, I think you will. It is only a candle and incense. One doesn't need an altar to sit zazen. Also, allow yourself to be distracted and angry and __________. All of this is your life right now. Accept it all as you sit.

    Just my advice. Taigu, Jundo, or many of the others here may be able to assist you better.

    Happy sitting (or not).

    Peace,
    Eika

  4. #4
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    This too shall pass in time. You know intellectually that you don't need your candle and incense, but now you have a chance to also know this experientially. You had a routine and were comfortable with that routine, but now you need to develop a new routine, so there is opportunity here if you open yourself to it. I find that when I change routines, whether by choice or force, my practice grows from it. Maybe you will find this also. Opportunities to discover attachments (to things like candles and altars and practice forms) can be wonderful things if you let it be practice in dropping those attachments.

  5. #5

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Gassho...

    My altar is on my bedside table, which is great when I get to sit in my bedroom- but my wife and I work on different shifts, which continually change, so there are some months when i have to sit downstairs. On those occasions I bow to the basket of dog toys, or the plastic cup one of the kids left out, or the dog. He likes to be bowed to, I think. My point of course is that the basket and the cup and the dog are all Buddha, too.

    Try sitting purposefully away from your altar sometimes, and bow to the tree across the way and then just sit, and know that it doesn't matter where you are, or what's before you.

    gassho
    tobiishi

  6. #6

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Hi.

    First off, check with the RA that you can have instead of candles and such.

    Second, everything changes, so maybe you will maybe you won't.
    I always like to say "when this happens do this, when that happens do that".
    Look at your current situation and work from there.
    Sometimes it may seem hard, but nothing's hard when you know how to do it...
    Lot of rambling, for a guy like me but...
    You'll work it out.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  7. #7

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    When I am upset about something I sometimes try to view/understand the situation from the 'other' viewpoint. Your RA is enforcing rules created to reduce the risk of fire where many would be impacted. So sometimes we just have to sacrifice our alter. Being upset and angry is OK and you haven't really lost your focus - you are just more focused on those feelings.
    I do see what you mean, I suppose he applying the old "needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, or the one" Sadly I am the one in this instance. Thanks Rich

    I suppose it really isn't that big a deal, by seeing it in print, it does seem pretty trivial. ops: Thanks Eika and AlanLa
    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiishi
    Try sitting purposefully away from your altar sometimes, and bow to the tree across the way and then just sit, and know that it doesn't matter where you are, or what's before you.
    I'd never thought of it that way, thanks Tobiishi

    You're not rambling Fugen! I suppose I don't like change!

    I welcome and appreciate all of your input, I have a lot to learn about Buddha nature and my practice, I'm still a work in progress. :wink: Thank you all.
    Kelly

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    I can't add anything better than what has already has been stated but if you really miss the candles, they make tea lights that flicker just like real candles. And for the incense, you can always spray some perfume or something. Also, I seem to remember from my days in college, that at the beginning of the school year the RA's are kind of hard asses. By the end of the first semester, they'll probably be buying you beer . Good Luck in School.

    Ron

  9. #9

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Is smokeless incense prohibited?

    http://www.dharmacrafts.com/24123/9F...s-incense.html

    As far as candles, you can always use a low light bulb, maybe even one that replicates a candle's light.

  10. #10

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    You might find it inspiring to read some works by some of the old Zen master poets like Ryokan, Ikkyu or Bankei. Most of the time they just wandered around, sitting with rocks and mountains and sometimes having a little too much sake.

    They lived some excellent poems about practicing right where you are with what you have.

  11. #11

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Yes, the true altar, incense and candles is not inside you or outside.

    The feeling of "something missing" is, however, of your making.

    Sometimes I burn a candle and light incense, sometimes not. The flame is always burning nonetheless.

    Yes, when you bow ... bow to all.

    Gassho, J

    Ps- If it helps, we have our little animated incense here (click on "meditate now")

    http://www.treeleaf.org/meditation.html

  12. #12

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Hi Kelly

    I imagine it is quite a change carrying your practice into the hardly private environment of a college dorm. It probably is time that you start developing a comfort in sitting where ever and when ever you have the opportunity. When I started sitting I would seldom find the quiet place in our home, filled with coming and goings of a family in a very small house. I started to sit as part of my bike rides or runs. I would find a place away from the trails or roads and just sit. No alter, no candles, just the natural world. This also helped when I would frequently have to travel. I found a folded blanket in a corner of the hotel room was a fine place to sit. Later when I went through several years of cancer I found in the very non private area of a hospital room I could sit in a chair facing the wall if I could get out of bed or just lay. It didnít really matter. Right now my altar at home is a deep windowsill with a Christmas cactus in a pot. Beyond the tree branches move with the wind. My Buddha image comes and goes in the form of a gray and white cat that frequents the windowsill each morning.

    Hope you get what I am saying. Develop the freedom of sitting not locked in by objects and place.

    Glad you have joined Treeleaf.

    Jim

  13. #13

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    Thank you all for your words of wisdom! I am trying this "new" way of sitting and while it feels off, I do take your ideas and thoughts and have begun to work them into my practice. I need to stop being such a control freak and just sit! As silly as that sounds. LoL

    Thank you friends
    Kelly

  14. #14

    Re: A bit of advice needed for a newb

    That last bit doesn't sound silly at all - "just sitting" is a pretty big thing!

    (something, I'll admit, I don't do nearly enough of!)

    So just sit, and don't worry about sounding silly, either!

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