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Thread: Encouragers

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Encouragers

    I've been trying to think of a thread to give encouragement to all your sitters out there. I ain't got much except a list of what I have learned from sitting over the years.
    1. I have learned that all the things that I expected from zazen will come: peace, bliss, enlightenment, kensho, out of body experiences, insight, ESP, and whatever all happen, just not the way I expected them. I have faith that they will for you too if you just keep sitting while being open to accepting the unexpected.
    2. I have learned that I can't fight my thoughts or impulses. My dark nature is still there, alive and well, undefeated actually. But we are on much better terms lately and our relationship continues to grow. It's all me, and it's all you, too, so just keep sitting with it/yourself and I trust that your relationship with it/you will also grow.
    3. I have learned that it takes a lot of practice to let go. We think of letting go as relaxing, and it is, but our whole life conditions us to hold on to anything and everything, in other words to grasp tightly. Everything around me tells me to grasp except one thing, and that one thing is zazen. Just keep sitting, because that is about the only practice of letting go I can find in my grasping day-to-day world, and I keep getting better at it, and I trust that you will too.
    4. I have learned that even though my zazen often seems like a mess, it must be working because it taught me 1, 2, and 3 above, so just keep sitting,! and I trust that you also find your own way like I continue to do.

    What else have people learned? What other encouragers can we put out here for all of US that struggle along the Path? Please share!

  2. #2

    Re: Encouragers

    :-) I think you covered it. I especially like "My dark nature is still there, alive and well, undefeated actually. But we are on much better terms lately and our relationship continues to grow." As for not grasping so much in the grasping day-to-day world, I guess I might add "life is a rollercoaster, but it's safe one".

  3. #3

    Re: Encouragers

    Thank you so much! This is wonderful advice. The only thing I can think of to add to it has been said over and over by plenty of people already--make it a habit. Force yourself to do it every day at first and before long it won't occur to you not to do it.

  4. #4

    Re: Encouragers

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    3. I have learned that it takes a lot of practice to let go. We think of letting go as relaxing, and it is, but our whole life conditions us to hold on to anything and everything, in other words to grasp tightly. Everything around me tells me to grasp except one thing, and that one thing is zazen. Just keep sitting, because that is about the only practice of letting go I can find in my grasping day-to-day world, and I keep getting better at it, and I trust that you will too.
    Thanks for your encouragement Al. I've been having a very hard time of it lately and every little word helps tremendously. I like your #3 about letting go because that really ties in to the essence of zen and the core teachings of the buddha. I think Gil Fronsdal summarized it best "The cause of suffering is clinging".

    Kind Regards,
    Brian

  5. #5

    Re: Encouragers

    Quote Originally Posted by AmongTheLilies
    Thank you so much! This is wonderful advice. The only thing I can think of to add to it has been said over and over by plenty of people already--make it a habit. Force yourself to do it every day at first and before long it won't occur to you not to do it.
    This has been my struggle. Sometimes the practice slips for a couple of days at a time and then when I get back to it I can't hold off the restlessness for more than about 15 minutes.

    -Mike

  6. #6

    Re: Encouragers

    Mine too--even though I (finally!) have gotten into the habit of sitting every day without fail (although not having classes going on right now might have made that easier :? ), I still get *incredibly* restless every time I sit. Sometimes I can't even make it twenty minutes (although I usually manage to make it for a little over half an hour). Ah well [sigh]...I guess learning to sit with restlessness is just part of the process...

  7. #7
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Encouragers

    Thank you and gassho, because reading the new posts, I thought of another one:
    4. Before you can just keep sitting you have to just start sitting. Lots of times we get the advice to "just sit with it" whatever "it" is that is bothering us. What's that mean? I always wondered. Sounds too simple, I always exclaimed. Really, how do you "just sit with" restlessness? I mean, if I could just sit with "it" then it wouldn't be bothering me in the first place, right? The other thing that bothered me about "just sit with it" was that it seemed like I would have to do this sitting for a very long time. Intellectually I know there is no time standard in the phrase, but it just feels like a long time being with something that was troublesome to me in the first place, which meant that I didn't want to spend any time with at all. And the result of all this deluded thinking was that I would just NOT sit with "it." But what I am now finally learning is that I have to just start sitting with it. At first I may only be able to sit with it for a couple seconds before succumbing, and then after a while I find I can sit with it for a couple minutes before succumbing, and then after a while I can sit with it for a short time and actually drop it. Poof, it goes away... at least briefly... and then it comes back, so I start the process of just sitting with it again. A moment of zazen with "it" is better than all the time in your/my past alone with "it", so just start sitting and move on from there.

  8. #8

    Re: Encouragers

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Thank you and gassho, because reading the new posts, I thought of another one:
    4. Before you can just keep sitting you have to just start sitting. Lots of times we get the advice to "just sit with it" whatever "it" is that is bothering us. What's that mean? I always wondered. Sounds too simple, I always exclaimed. Really, how do you "just sit with" restlessness? I mean, if I could just sit with "it" then it wouldn't be bothering me in the first place, right? The other thing that bothered me about "just sit with it" was that it seemed like I would have to do this sitting for a very long time. Intellectually I know there is no time standard in the phrase, but it just feels like a long time being with something that was troublesome to me in the first place, which meant that I didn't want to spend any time with at all. And the result of all this deluded thinking was that I would just NOT sit with "it." But what I am now finally learning is that I have to just start sitting with it. At first I may only be able to sit with it for a couple seconds before succumbing, and then after a while I find I can sit with it for a couple minutes before succumbing, and then after a while I can sit with it for a short time and actually drop it. Poof, it goes away... at least briefly... and then it comes back, so I start the process of just sitting with it again. A moment of zazen with "it" is better than all the time in your/my past alone with "it", so just start sitting and move on from there.
    Thank you, Alan. Succumbing, going away and coming back ... all part of sitting with it. Dark clouds.

    Gassho, J

  9. #9
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Encouragers

    All day this troubled me... I am way too wordy:

    A moment of zazen with "it" is better than all the time in your/my past alone with "it", so just start sitting and move on from there.
    So goes dust on my mirror.................

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