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Thread: Makyo

  1. #1

    Makyo

    I am reading "Taking the Path of Zen" by Aitken Roshi, who is an amazing writer. Of course, you have to pick out some of the more Sanbo Kyodan points of the book and the more Rinzai bits are easier to see after reading the post by Jundo on the flavors of Zen. He makes mention of makyo, or illusory hallucination during zazen, and though he talks about it as a delusion that needs to be let go, and even as something that isn't even neccesary to have at all, he also says that it's a sure sign that you are on the right path in your practice. Is this something that is also important in our tradition? Jundo, have you experienced this, or do you believe that this is something particular to Aitken Roshi's lineage?

  2. #2

    Re: Makyo

    Hi, Christopher.

    I know you asked Jundo, but I'll chime in (only because this is my only free hour today). Mayko is a sign that something is occuring, but so is your leg falling asleep. We sit and things happen because of that . . . I think the main thing is to approach and accept all of these events, both on and off the cushion, with the same spirit of being OK with them. Neither pat yourself on the back because something happened in zazen, nor become disappointed when things like that don't happen. It's all part of the ride . . . "the scenery of zazen."


    My bit,
    Eika

  3. #3

    Re: Makyo

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    It's all part of the ride . . . "the scenery of zazen."
    Couldn't say it better! Don't pay too much attention to these things. Sometimes you could see things (colors, lights, ...) , or feel warm in your chest. These things are part of the sitting ... as Eika said it is the "scenery of zazen". There are not a kind of illumination or a stage of meditation... it is just happening as your nose scratching... as Eika just said, I think we should just be OK with these things but also maintaining our attention! I didn't say being OK is being passive!


    Jundo said something about makyo here http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewto...t=makyo#p13153

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Usually, in Zen Practice, we have to be careful of certain games the mind will play during Zazen. For example, once on the fourth day of a long and hard Sesshin, I saw a little Buddha pop out of the wall, wave to me, ask me how I was doing. We chatted mentally for several minutes, enough for me to "pinch myself", then he popped back in the wall. It is common during Sesshin, because of the strains involved, to experience such things as emotional swings, hearing becoming so sharp you can be disturbed by an ant walking across the room, strange bodily sensations such as feelings of floating or being giant sized, and paranoia. But they are usually discounted as "Makyo", defined as follows (by Daido Loori Roshi):

    In Zen, hallucinations are called makyo. It is not unusual for practitioners sitting in meditation for long periods of time to experience makyo. Some people feel like they are levitating, others see visions of the Buddha bathed in light, some hear sounds or voices. This in itself is not a problem. The problem arises when we confuse these experiences with enlightenment. When students come to me in dokusan to give me elaborate description of their makyo, a common response from me could be something like, ďOh, donít worry about itóit will go away. Maybe youíre not sitting straight.Ē In other words, donít attach to it. But if a dream is real, why isnít makyo real? Are dreams, makyo, enlightenment and delusion the same, or are they different?



    In centuries past, Zen Masters used to see and hear things all the time. For example, Keizan was pretty much into things like that. Please read a couple of pages, from Page 91:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=BnLOFw ... &ct=result

    But, you know, that is how people thought back in the 13th and 14th century, and Keizan was particularly just that kind of person even before he started Zen practice. Heck, there are even folks now into things like that all through the Buddhist world, the Christian World, the New Age World, the world in general.
    By the way, I know I'm not Jundo but I just hope it helps a bit. :lol:

    Gassho,
    Luis/Jinyu

  4. #4

    Re: Makyo

    Thanks guys. It does help. Sometimes I forget to just be, and it's good to have someone who can pull me back from the edge of the difference between "I" and "All". Thanks.

  5. #5

    Re: Makyo

    Thank you for saving me a lot of typing, and for saying it so beautifully too.

    Yes, we do not run toward Makyo, and tend to let them go when such do come. I do not know about Aitken Roshi's perspective, but they are not seen as particularly a sign of "progress" or the like. In fact, they can be a sign in our corner of the tradition that one is pushing too hard (like muscle cramps of the brain)! We always just return to what is right here.

    Dr. Austin, in his book "Zen and the Brain" which I mentioned in another thread today, has a section on neurological 'explanations' for Makyo ... Read a few pages from p. 84 here ...

    http://books.google.com/books?id=8ywrjD ... en&f=false

    From my (long long past) experience, most Makyo are not much more significant than what a couple of tokes of the wacky-weed will bring.

    Gassho, Jundo

  6. #6

    Re: Makyo

    Aitken Roshi did say that it was a delusion to be let go like all the others, but he said it was a sign that you were going in the right direction, but not something to be grasped after. I just thought it was interesting, as I had never heard of such a thing happening during meditation before. Thanks.

  7. #7

    Re: Makyo

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Aitken Roshi did say that it was a delusion to be let go like all the others, but he said it was a sign that you were going in the right direction, but not something to be grasped after. I just thought it was interesting, as I had never heard of such a thing happening during meditation before. Thanks.
    If you read books from most traditions or go to Buddhist forums, you'll run into comments or explanations on makyo, of course each tradition and culture has their term for "it." For example, in "Mindfulness In Plain English" by Ven. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, he mentions it. In the former e-Sangha forum, you would run into threads about meanings behind mind appearances and what not and what where the next steps to "magical" Buddhist powers.

    Just yesterday, while listening to the latest Buddhist Geeks podcast, as they were talking about the jhanas and meditation practice in Burmese Theravada, one of the things they mention that while you are sitting you will be faced with inner and outer stimuli/distractions. "Ah. I think that John coming through the door and sitting down. He is so loud.". "Colors. Beautiful colors." :mrgreen:

  8. #8

    Re: Makyo

    "Is this something that is also important in our tradition? "

    What Roshi meant by that is that we are letting go of some of the things that we normally do. Makyo is Makyo. Just let it be Makyo. We don't search for Makyo, or try to get rid of makyo.

    Gassho

  9. #9
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Makyo

    Your entire approach to life is makyo. The path of Zen is makyo. Really - we argue about minor tenets and differing opinions, but it's all just a random collection of mental objects - a bit of made-up stuff.

    Really. None of it is impressively more important than the rest. When you're not about doing the business of life, where is its importance? When you drive, you follow the driving rules because that's how to get along - you don't really think about it. When you're with your lover, you try not to aggravate the shit out of him or her and you try not to get too aggravated by him or her because it's just the only way it works. Ethics is mostly a matter of simple practicality. On another note, you have goals because really, there's a goal-making part of your mind that does it and it might as well keep doing it. Stopping it would be rather deluded...but it's not fundamentally or especially important.

    Just like makyo.

    Repeat after me: The content of your mind is not important!! It's not much worth fretting about, as right view dissipates problematic mental formations. How do you attain right view? You simply drop wrong view! How do you drop wrong view? It's a natural result of the experience of pain with attention. Are you tired of suffering or not? If you are tired of suffering, you'll stop expending energy to prop up suffering. No moral judgment is necessary. It's just practicality. A great deal of that suffering comes from identification with the everyday makyo of life. If there's pain, there's often a clinging to some idea that directly opposes reality.

    IMHO, IMHO.

    Chet

  10. #10

    Re: Makyo

    Repeat after me: The content of your mind is not important!!
    This is true.

    Actually, the "content of your mind" (notice the quotes), Is nothing but the "content of your mind". when it becomes "just the content", then you know you are on the right path.

    Things come and go, and we are never sure what is around the corner. Life is a big delusion, and it comes and goes like anything else. We are so sure that this is this, but never stop to see that this is just this.

    Makyo is Makyo. A big Buddha is a Big Buddha. A small Buddha, a small one. All are Buddha.


    And, _/_

  11. #11
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Makyo

    My thoughts indicate that I am afraid of losing my identity with the Makyo simply because it is afraid of "dying," or being trapped in "nothingness." Other thoughts tell these thoughts that they are just making up excuses to stick around.

  12. #12

    Re: Makyo

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    My thoughts indicate that I am afraid of losing my identity with the Makyo simply because it is afraid of "dying," or being trapped in "nothingness." Other thoughts tell these thoughts that they are just making up excuses to stick around.
    We have realized something vital when we become aware of the self-created theatre that our thoughts and emotions are creating each moment.

    Most people take their present thoughts, the story line our mind plots out and scenery it interprets, as solid, inflexible, "no buts about it" truth. But there are endless "buts about it"! With practice, we come to realize that the show is, in whole or great part, a story that can be written and rewritten in countless ways. And that means we have power over what we think and feel (and do not think and feel) more than we realize. Sure, there is an outline script we are handed by fate (Karma) ... setting out the general course of the tale, the overall events and settings, who enters the scene and when, the basic direction of happenings. But the rest is impromptu, creative, constantly developing as we go along, up to us ... becoming what we make it and always interpreted though our viewing thoughts and emotions.

    And so, with Practice, we may even come to recognize it all as just theatre, seemingly solid walls made of paper and glue on a bare stage, people who are but actors in this dependently co-arising show.

    During your day, see those thoughts and emotions which do arise as as drop-able as they are arise-able and, even those you cannot drop away, see as bits of paper scenery you are positioning on a theatre stage as you write the script of a comedy/tragedy story called the "Story of I/Me/Myself".

    Zen practice goes right to the heart of the workings of our little "self" in the mind (the I/Me/Myself), and the story it writes for it-self.

    Many folks think that the point of Buddhism is to drop the self (and all the opinions, judgments) and keep it all dropped ... PERIOD. (It is a common view of those schools of Buddhism, often pre-Mahayana, that emphasized leaving the world. I think that may be true in one sense ... as when we die, for example, and leave these bodies behind). However, I do not think it good or possible for most of us ... not so long as we have these bodies and this life. We need our "self" for life ... cause you can't even get a library card without one! 8)

    Others think that the goal of this practice is to "constantly keep awareness of our True Self/Original Face etc." because doing so will miraculously inform and guide our behavior in this crazy world ... If we can always access that "Original Face", it will somehow allow us always to behave like a Buddha in this world of Samsara .... In other words, we are watching a play on stage (our fictional life), and by constantly seeing behind the curtain and that the scenery is made of paper ... we will thus better experience the play.

    I think that is a wrong view, not realistic ... and is a misleading lesson of many Buddhist parables that fail to deal with Buddhas and Ancestors in real life situations (one of the great turning points of Zen practice is that it has brought these teachings out of the sky and down to earth). In fact, I think it will ruin our experience of the play.

    The way to live out the play is to allow the play to proceed. Stop looking back stage constantly (even if that is possible to do)! :roll: Yes, allow awareness of the ultimate fiction of it all to inform our experience of the play ... peak backstage from time to time ... but stop keeping your eyes fixed on the stagehands and enjoy the show!

    So long as we have these human bodies ... and jobs to do, taxes to pay, families to feed, sicknesses to mend, choices to make ... we cannot stop functioning as ordinary people, filled with likes and dislikes, opinions, happiness and sadness. etc. We need a "self" to function in life! HOWEVER ... when the action on the stage gets too ugly, violent, scary, disturbing, harmful etc ... then kindly remember it is just a show, and have a look back stage to that place where the stories and actors disappear! Also, while being part of this show, try to recall how not to fall into greed, anger and ignorance, excess emotions and runaway thoughts ... as that usually leads to harmful results, and will likely "ruin the play" in other ways.

    That is the best way to enjoy this bit of theatre we call "life".

    Gassho, J

  13. #13

    Re: Makyo

    when the action on the stage gets too ugly, violent, scary, disturbing, harmful etc ... then kindly remember it is just a show, and have a look back stage to that place where the stories and actors disappear! Also, while being part of this show, try to recall how not to fall into greed, anger and ignorance, excess emotions and runaway thoughts ...
    This is reminicent of what my parents used to tell me about tv when I was a kid and would get scared if I watched a horror movie (even though they told me not to watch it). I think this is probably an extremely profound idea to bring into our lives, at this stage as well. Like with any movie or play, you do all the things you can to fully "experience" the movie. Dolby digital surround sound with speakers in the walls. Watching James Cameron's Avatar in 3D. Buying front row tickets to Les Miserables. All to be as there as you can be, and experience it as fully as possible. While at the same time, always remembering that it is fiction. That, even though this life is here for us to be a part of, that we always remember that we need not follow the rules that govern the lives of the actors on stage. We need not blindly accept what we are shown as truth and reality. Zazen helps us to see through the curtain, past the props and recognize the machinery that moves the whole play. It also helps us to realize that the "behind the scenes" stuff that goes on is as much a necessary part of the play as the actors, in fact they are one, since neither could be without the other. In the actors on stage we can still see aspects of ourselves, and still be connected to them, since we are one not two, but it is important to not lose sight of the fact that it is a play; we know there is a curtain, but do the actors on stage know?
    I read a saying once about Buddhists - "In the world, but not of the world" I used to think that was a device meant to create a separation, but now I think it means that we watch the play, enjoy the play, even live in the play, but unlike the actors we know it is a play. I guess part of the Bodhisattva vow is to try and help the actors see the ropes and the props, too.

  14. #14
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Makyo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Others think that the goal of this practice is to "constantly keep awareness of our True Self/Original Face etc." because doing so will miraculously inform and guide our behavior in this crazy world ... If we can always access that "Original Face", it will somehow allow us always to behave like a Buddha in this world of Samsara .... In other words, we are watching a play on stage (our fictional life), and by constantly seeing behind the curtain and that the scenery is made of paper ... we will thus better experience the play.

    I think that is a wrong view, not realistic ... and is a misleading lesson of many Buddhist parables that fail to deal with Buddhas and Ancestors in real life situations (one of the great turning points of Zen practice is that it has brought these teachings out of the sky and down to earth). In fact, I think it will ruin our experience of the play.
    Ah, the myth that awakening is a fundamentally different state than dreaming! For me, suffering and pain are keys that something is awry with my thinking!

    Also, it's not that life is fictional - it's that our view is typically incomplete. We can see the paper scenery and yet still enjoy it. We are not trapped by it, nor are we uninvolved in it.

    Chet

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