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Thread: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

  1. #1
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi all,

    I just bought a handful of Buddhist books, one of which is Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione. I've read about half of it and while I'm not sure about the details of the practice Allione presents, I have found the basics of it and the general approach to be helpful and illuminating.

    The book is basically Allione's version of a Tibetan practice called Chöd that originated with the teacher Machig Labdron. Chöd means "cutting through." The basic idea is that instead of trying to conquer, repress, or run away from the "demons" one encounters, one faces them, gets to know them and what they want, and offers one's body to them as the food they desire. The end result is that the demons become allies. (Both Machig and Allione understand demons as projections of the mind, not metaphysical entities.)

    I deal with, and have met, a lot of "demons" on my path. Reading Allione's book and about Chöd in general was striking to me because it so closely resembles spontaneous visions and practices I've done along the way--naming and giving a form to personal "demons," befriending them and enlisting them as allies.

    There are demons of doubt, self-loathing, fear of loss, and so on, and these often have the power of completely dominating experience. The interesting thing about Chöd is that working with demons as this way opens up the potential for clear seeing that is otherwise obscured by the demons. This resonates with my own experience, in which identifying demons takes away their power and allows me to relax into "just sitting" or the "just thus" of the moment. As in Buddha being able to recognize Mara and say, "Mara, I know you."

    I find that there's a lot of the Tantric approach, at least based in my (probably limited) understanding of it (especially Mahamudra) that resonates very deeply with Zen, especially Soto. The basic similarity being that one takes everything one experiences as the path, as a manifestation of Truth/Reality, and works with it accordingly. Chöd is an expression of, and part of the Mahamudra lineage--a Tibetan practice similar to Zen--which might seem odd, given the vivid talk of demons and visualization practices. But it all boils down to looking directly at experience and not fighting with it. Asking "What is this?" even to a very persistent demon.

    Does anyone else here face a lot of demons in your practice? If so, is there any particular way you deal with them? What do people think of Chöd?

    Stephanie

  2. #2

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Stephanie nice to "meet" you,

    I don't practice Chöd but I found another book you might be interested in..


    Machik's Complete Explanation
    http://www.snowlionpub.com/html/product_6201.html

    I don't call mine "demons" per se, but I still encounter obstacles both in life and in practice - which are really the same thing (or non-thing) anyway right?

    I've noticed that within buddhism in general there are a multitude of methods in dealing with demons ranging from "slaying" them to pacifying them, to ignoring them etc... Zen Buddhism certainly offers ways to approach these as does Tibetan Buddhism. My first "buddhist" teacher was my psychologist at the time who helped me over come some of my demons using thoroughly western methods - turned out to be very buddhist in essence though. It seems you have a lot of options and choices.

    ps- But, how do you know those demons arn't really Buddhas in disguise?

  3. #3

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie

    Does anyone else here face a lot of demons in your practice? If so, is there any particular way you deal with them? What do people think of Chöd?

    Stephanie
    I must admit that the title of this thread gave me pause. I receive an e-mail about once a week from some folks in the Christian evangelical community who are certain that we are engaging in devil worship over here ... and I really don't wish to fuel their imaginations! :twisted:

    But, on the topic of our "inner demons" ...

    I have sometimes compared our "demons of doubt, self-loathing, fear of loss, and so on" to "the boogie man under the bed"



    Perhaps our way is like making the "boogie man under the bed" disappear ...

    When we just stop thinking about the "boogie man", drop all thought of some "boogie man" ... HE'S GONE!

    So, our basic process is to drop thoughts, self-loathing, fears for the future, bad memories of childhoods long past (and thoughts of 'future' and 'past' too) ... and just sit still, at peace in one piece, whole ... right at the eye of life's storms and broken pieces. We come to see each and all as just passing mind created theatre, and we need not buy into any of it.

    Our way is a complete hitting of the reset button, a clean erasing of the mental blackboard ... and what we will write from this point on upon that pristine surface is up to us, and need not be the same as before. The 'self', which creates all this mess, is put out a work.

    We simply stop thinking of bits of passing mental scenery as "real and unchangeable" and "the way things have to be felt and thought".

    Yet, of course, so long as we are human we will have scars from the past, fears for the future, and the like ... We must recognize that fact too ... Saying that the "scars from the past" are just a dream of the mind is not realistic if those scars remain with us each day.

    So, to the extent that mental and physical scars remain from the past and will not heal ... we just sit with that, with "what is", and let it be. For example, imagine the shock and physical hurt, fears and trauma that may remain from a car accident many years after the fact. We just sit with it all, dropping all resistance to it, dropping demands that all be some other way ... allowing the pain to be the pain, the fear to be the fear, the regrets to be the regrets .... all just the scenery of life or (as Dorje T said) each and all "a Buddha in disguise" when seen as such.

    Zen practice will not prevent the car accident, nor take away the fact of its having happened, nor the scars that may remain. However, it will allow one to just be at peace with that fact, allowing the fact and letting it be, even honoring it all as part of sacred life.

    To the extent that fears, scars from the past, self-loathing and the like remain with us during Zazen ... we simply observe them as if any other object in the room where we sit ... neither running toward them nor pushing them away, not judging nor indulging in stirring them up ... letting them just come to rest. In this way, each comes to lose much of its fuel ... for fear, loathing, etc. are made worse when we poke them with a stick and try to fight them.

    In other words, there is a difference between (1) "just sitting and allowing self-loathing to be without playing its games" and our usual (2) "wallowing, rehashing, stirring up, focusing on the pain and thinking it more than our self's theatre".

    So, I cannot comment on the practice of Chöd as an outsider.

    However, I will say this: In our way, we also do not try to "conquer, repress, or run away from the 'demons' we encounter" ... but neither do we give them anything they want or pay them any mind. They are just demons of our own (self's) creation ... and vanish when dropped from mind.

    Gassho, J

  4. #4

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    I don't know about all this stuff. Food? Desire?

    Why can't we just sit down for a while and enjoy it for a moment? There are many practices Stephanie, many. I do Zazen. What do you do?

    On that note...

    Again, and again, and again. Always the same chat. Nothing new. Dropping things for a moment might give insight into something that can't be discussed through words. What are words anyway? Well...they are words I guess. We don't need to know everything. Time takes care of things, when we forget about time. This is not a post to Stephanie, this a post to "Stephanie". We don't have too agree, and we don't have to disagree we just have to be le.

    ("le" is an emphatic word similar to an exclamation mark used in the Chinese language. Not to be confused with "le" used to talk about past events.)

    Anyway... (another good expression, especially what it points to )

    Gassho

  5. #5
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Thanks, Dorje and Jundo, for your helpful responses, which were also enjoyable to read.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorje T
    ps- But, how do you know those demons arn't really Buddhas in disguise?
    They are! I'm drawn to the iconography of the "wrathful deities" for the same reason--in my experience, what I hate and fear wakes me up and strips delusion faster than what I love and desire. I'm just too hard-headed for the "peaceful deities" to get through to :wink:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I must admit that the title of this thread gave me pause. I receive an e-mail about once a week from some folks in the Christian evangelical community who are certain that we are engaging in devil worship over here ... and I really don't wish to fuel their imaginations! :twisted:
    This makes me think of the story of the Zen master who told his student he was going to hell. When the student asked "Why??" the master said, "Who else would teach you?" :lol:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    But, on the topic of our "inner demons" ...

    I have sometimes compared our "demons of doubt, self-loathing, fear of loss, and so on" to "the boogie man under the bed"

    ...

    When we just stop thinking about the "boogie man", drop all thought of some "boogie man" ... HE'S GONE!

    So, our basic process is to drop thoughts, self-loathing, fears for the future, bad memories of childhoods long past (and thoughts of 'future' and 'past' too) ... and just sit still, at peace in one piece, whole ... right at the eye of life's storms and broken pieces. We come to see each and all as just passing mind created theatre, and we need not buy into any of it.
    A good metaphor for the basic approach of Soto practice.

    And to be clear, it's not that I don't practice in this way. It's just that there are some "demons" that arise again and again, persistently, no matter how many times one "drops all thought" of them. Sometimes, I find, a more hands-on approach is needed.

    It seems clear to me from the lives of teachers that even the deepest and most committed Zen practice will not automatically erase all phantasms from the mental blackboard. Sometimes, it's not enough to "just drop" a demon, because it will come back as many times as you drop it, and take the reins in one's daily actions.

    When do you think an active approach is required?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Yet, of course, so long as we are human we will have scars from the past, fears for the future, and the like ... We must recognize that fact too ... Saying that the "scars from the past" are just a dream of the mind is not realistic if those scars remain with us each day.

    So, to the extent that mental and physical scars remain from the past and will not heal ... we just sit with that, with "what is", and let it be. For example, imagine the shock and physical hurt, fears and trauma that may remain from a car accident many years after the fact. We just sit with it all, dropping all resistance to it, dropping demands that all be some other way ... allowing the pain to be the pain, the fear to be the fear, the regrets to be the regrets .... all just the scenery of life or (as Dorje T said) each and all "a Buddha in disguise" when seen as such.
    Yes, this works beautifully on the cushion... but sometimes I find it is not so effective off the cushion. The collections of deluded thoughts, emotions, and beliefs being referred to here as "demons" often will hijack the brain. Having given them a name allows me to recognize them as false and illusory more quickly. And I'm not sure about the exact approach in that book, but I can say from experience that in general, being able to understand "what a demon is asking for" can give one the tools to deal with it and either drop it for good, or transform it into an ally.

    I want to be clear I am not arguing with the validity and greater clarity of the "just sitting" or "just letting be" approach. To see all mind events as just the play of the mind, and to let them be, and pass away of their own accord... this is being grounded in truth. It is just that in my experience, practically, some "first steps" may be required for this to be able to happen when one is off the cushion. Maybe this is true "only for beginners"? I honestly don't know. I just know that in moments of acute "demon attack," "add-ons" to Zen have been helpful, such as The Work of Byron Katie or something like the above.

    Perhaps it would be interesting to point out that Tsultrim Allione's "five step method" of working with demons has as the fifth step "resting in awareness." Basically the same as the first and last step for us Soto practitioners If you can start out there, none of the rest is necessary. It's just that sometimes, a few "first steps" are necessary!

    (And if I haven't made it clear, I'm not advocating for any of the above when sitting; even if one's mind runs wild on the cushion, nothing else will come of it on the cushion but discomfort. So it doesn't matter how long it takes for the phantoms of the mind to disappear. But in daily life, when one has to decide on an action or words to use, some recourse to a 'cruder method' can actually be very helpful...)

    Gassho

  6. #6

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Steph,

    I am not so stubborn or doctrinaire as to say "even if something else is helpful, don't do it".

    I often say that Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do it let one "be at one, and whole" with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each. But, there is not then anything stopping you from putting on the clearasil blemish cream or changing that tire (I say we can fully accept something, yet need to fix it nonetheless)! If someone is an alcoholic or drug addict, for example, Zen practice may be a great aid ... but probably one should first head for a 12 Step Program or the Betty Ford Clinic (as a couple of Zen teachers with addiction issues had to do).

    So, if it works for you ... do that!

    As you say, however, one need not (and should not) then lose the "no loss no gain" perspective of this Shikantaza way.

    There is a great beauty in fixing the "flat tires" of life (from pimples to cancer to "inner demons") while simultaneously accepting and being whole with each "just as it is". It is a shame if, because one feels they must "fix something" they then lose the beautiful attitude that "there is nothing ever to fix"!

    One can fix things with the attitude that there is nothing to fix ...

    Someone wrote to ask whether all this "self acceptance" and embracing ourselves "just as we are" means that, for example, a wife beater or alcoholic or thief should just accept themselves like that, not seek to change or live any other way.

    No. Please recall that, in our Zen Way, we live on several channels at once ... seemingly contradictory, yet not contradictory at all.

    I want to reach for Jundo's handy-dandy "acceptance without acceptance" formula here, and apply it to our personal natures:

    So, in our "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, we completely accept the universe, and all in it, just as it is. We drop all thoughts of likes and dislikes, dreams and regrets and need for change, hopes and fears. Yet simultaneously, hand in hand without the slightest deviation (on another mental "track", if you want to say that), we live our lives as human beings, and living life requires choices, goals, likes and dislikes, dreams and hopes.

    Thus, living our life is much like living in a house with a leaky roof, spiders and broken windows. In Master Dogen's way, we simply sit to drop all resistance to the house we have been living in all along, to realize that there is nowhere to 'go' in life, to cease all efforts to add to or take away from the structure, to let go of the ego's insisting on how things "should be" in order for the house to be "good" ... we ARE that house, our True Home! Then we find, in dropping that resistance, that the house we have always been in is "perfectly what it is", and we can be joyful right where we are. HOWEVER, we can be content with that house even as, hand in hand, there is still much serious repair work to do (an acceptance-without-acceptance of the leaky windows, spiders and creaky doors). There is nothing to prevent our fixing those, even as we accept their existence! We can accept and not accept simultaneously, repair what needs to be repaired.

    We have goals for repair even as, on the other "track", we drop all goals and thoughts of repair.

    So, even as we can accept that we are a wife beating alcoholic, we should immediately set to not be so! One simply cannot taste the fruits of Buddhist practice if one is so filled with anger, violence, pain and need that one is a violent, abusive alcoholic!

    And what guides us onto the smooth path for life?

    Yes, the Precepts.
    Gassho, J

  7. #7

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Stephanie!


    Although I don't practice it, I've been a big "fan" of the Chöd approach for years....by which I mean that I find it very interesting but don't practice it...because I'm the kinda guy who would then want to REALLY practice it, including Ngöndro preliminary exercises, collecting as many empowerments as possible, buying a thighbone trumpet etc. Which would mean to leave my Zazen behind due to each day having only 24 hours, which I DEFINITELY won't do. I am already married to my Soto-cushion

    The "feed your demons" approach reminds me of those stories where a father discovers that his young son has started smoking cigarettes in secret, only to then receive the biggest cigar ever from his father...who forces him to smoke it in one go....which puts the young boy off so much he never ever wants to smoke again in his life.

    You might enjoy Allione's "Women of Wisdom" btw.

    The teacher behind this site http://www.tibetancho.com is also legititmate...and they have a good booklist regarding Chöd: http://astore.amazon.com/schooloftibet-20

    I am really tired now, but will try to write something about how I personally deal with reappearing demons in the next couple of days.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi All,

    Back from retreat and Holy Week at my Abbey.

    The first time I saw references adn Thangkas of Wrathful Demons, I said "Oh Boy, what have I gotten myself into???" I was concerned about sopmeone telling me "See, those Buddhists you're so on about worship demons!" Well then I read a bit about those [i]demons[i] and after some study was able to relate them to what we have in Christianity called Archangels. Now I know the mythology about the warthful dieties having been "native" deities who were "converted" to Buddhism; but I prefer to think of them (and I think I have evry right to do so as a Buddhist) as protective angels. There are probably many of you who pooh-poh the idea of angels or demons altogether, and that's fine, but as Jundo said
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    So, if it works for you ... do that!
    I like angels [u]and[u] protective dieties. I think of them as aides in cutting away the dross that I have unable or "unwilling" to discard. Sometimes it helps to believe that you have a "friend" to help you do something that is difficult to do by yourself.

    I attended several Mahakala services at a Tibetan Monastery and they were quite wonderful, very noisy and dramatic; lots of horns, cymbals and drums. You could almost envision the Mahakala diety, all fiery and wrathful, in the room. It really is not that far of a step from some of the Psalms wherein we ask God to smite the enemy; only the real enemy is our false self.

    In closing I offer a time honored quote from "Little Big Man" when the old Medicein Chief turns to Little Bid Man after his dying ceremony didn't work:

    Sometime the magic works; sometime it doesn't!"

    Gassho,

    Kyrill Seishin

  9. #9

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    One thing I think is easy to miss in regards in the "Buddhist tantric" approach is that all phenomena (all beings included) are "marked" with emptiness - unlike lets call it "non-Buddhist" tantra. It's good to remember that Buddhist tantra is really based (as is Zen) in the madhyamaka understanding/realization of emptiness or interdependence (aka prajnaparamita). Said concisely (maybe inaccurately) demons appear, but their nature is emptiness.

    Because this is so easy to overlook, this is one reason it is stated so often that the guru "teacher" must be there to guide one through the maze that is the interplay between appearance and emptiness. Without this helpful methodology, it's very easy to slip into one or the other extreme - in this case for example, either you might think your "demons" are external to your mind and real enough to harm you, or on the other hand, you might reject all the benefits associated from the therapeutic insights you can gain by working with these experiences because you deny these experiences as "non-realities" in any way shape or form.

    These (method or "path" and benefits) are all there in Shikantaza too as Compassionate Teacher Jundo pointed out and as I believe from my own experience as well. Maybe sometimes one needs 'some other flavor' of therapy, but it's funny that so often in my own little crazy "dual" practice of Zen Buddhism and Buddhist tantra, I find myself often thinking "this tantra practice is just like zazen" and "this zazen practice is just like tantra."

    The main point here I guess is simply this; unless we actualize (apply) the understanding of 'emptiness-interdependence as our fundamental nature' (prajnaparamita) to all tantric practices we can get caught pretty easily in a demonic maze of our own making. This is where zazen and specifically shikantaza can really be seen to be 'not-at-odds-with' tantric approaches.

    I remember years ago reading the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" (Evans-Wentz) and thinking "what the hell does all this deity and scary demons stuff have to due with Buddhism?" But then you get to that part where it says "recognize all of this as your own mind" and I went "oh yeah".

  10. #10

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    This makes me think of the story of the Zen master who told his student he was going to hell. When the student asked "Why??" the master said, "Who else would teach you?"
    lol

  11. #11

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Chöd is powerful and admirable. I've only explored the edges, but I know someone who has truly practiced it. I cannot imagine combining Chöd and Shikantaza. Shikantaza drops away all other problems and all other solutions. This is simultaneously its brilliance and its constraint, because people like some kind of intermediate practice that directly grabs, brings forward, and deals with unconscious stuff, e.g. chöd or tonglen or even noticing your breath (which can be very revealing of one's mind's unconscious habits). Perhaps it's possible to use the Soto precepts in ways that satisfy that need -- to take them beyond should-and-shouldn't and internalize them deeply. I don't have any experience there, and I would like to know, so if you've done that, please talk about it. Do you use the Soto precepts while simultaneously being in Shikantaza space while walking around? If so, how do you combine them?

    Thanks ... Scott

  12. #12

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Scott, nice to "meet" you.

    Did I miss something regarding "combining" Chöd and Shikantaza?

    In the context of "methods" practices should not be "mixed" is my thinking.

    When Shikantaza is being practiced is Shkantaza there?
    No more so than when Chöd is being practiced.
    What is not "there" can neither be mixed nor distinguished.
    The Buddha taught one thing only - and this "one thing" is distinguished in it's diverse appearances but not it's essence.
    Methods should not be mixed for sure, but what keeps Buddha from being your nature?

  13. #13

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi,

    Let me make clear that, if Shikantaza is practiced correctly, nothing more is needed or should be added upon it. Only people who are not, or cannot, practice it correctly would be in need to run for something more ... because there is nothing more. By definition.

    If one is practicing Shikantaza correctly, there is no place to run to, nothing to run from. The very act of running/ever arriving at life -is- Shikantaza.

    Shikantaza is the practice of just sitting with what is, complete and whole in this moment ... dropping fears, worries, aversions and attractions (or, to the extent they are not dropped, just sitting with each as what is). However, many people do not know how to sit with "what is" and thus chase after their own tails.

    Sometimes I will recommend someone to enter a 12 Step program, see a doctor, try some other means for a problem such as depression or panic disorders for the same reason that I advise folks to see a doctor and get an appendectomy for a bad appendix. Zazen will not fix your appendix, and only a surgeon can do that. Many types of depression, addiction and anxiety can be treated very well by means complementary to Zazen (the Zazen will allow one to be "at one" with a burst appendix ... it may lesson the symptoms of depression or anxiety ... but other methods may be helpful too).

    HOWEVER, for the average person with normal, everyday fears and worries ... a practice like Chod may actually create the demons by making one think that they exist and that there is something to fix (much like those pharmaceutical company commercials seen most nights on the evening news make many of us think that we actually have "restless leg syndrome" and need to get some pill from our doctor. Suddenly, one convinces oneself that there is a disease that needs to be cured by radical means, instead of realizing that the DISEASE WILL VANISH IF ONE SIMPLY DROPS IT FROM MIND, BECAUSE IT WAS NEVER ANYPLACE BUT IN ONE'S MIND AND THE BEST TREATMENT IS RADICALLY DOING NOTHING for there is nothing to do. All are seen as as 'empty' as the boogieman under the bed.)! It makes people think that they have to "do something" to treat the disease, and that there is a disease ... instead of allowing them to just let go and let be.

    In our Zen practice, we try to be decent people, kind and gentle, avoiding harm to self and others ... we drop fears, worries, aversions and attractions, and just let life be ... we accept our small human foibles even as we seek to polish them. BUT DON'T MAKE IT COMPLICATED!(I add a drop of Metta around here because it is such a simple yet profound practice, nothing more than garnish on the soup). Just sit still, let it all go ... let your childhood go, the trauma of some terrible event in the past.To wrestle with these things, wallow in them, is not to the best way ... to just let them go, and let them be is the best way.

    What is more, traditional Chod seems to be based on a dance of hocus-pocus, with funny hats and mystical incantations ... descriptions such as this ...

    ... There are different visualizations for these four feasts according to different traditions such as Chagdud Rinpochay, Dudgom Rinpochay, Nyingtik and so on. The main point is always the same: one visualizes oneself as the Black Yogini, Troma Nakmo and then ejects one’s consciousness from the body with the sound of phat and then transforms the corpse into different offerings for the feast. If you understand the basic view, you can understand all the various practices. ...

    In the inner chod practice, one transforms the body into anything which is excellent or edible and invites the guests to partake of the feast in any way they wish. If you are uncertain about this and you are not really imagining that they are devouring the feast, then you are just playing a game with the gods and spirits whom you have invited. In order to practice you must have great compassion for all beings, our previous mothers and just let them take what they want in any way that they want. At first, it won’t be like this; we won’t be able to actually give up the body so easily, but by meditating again and again, slowly we will be able, in the actual presence of gods and spirits, to give up our body easily and certainly. When this happens, the mind is purified of obscuration and merit is accumulated; one has understood the meaning of inner chod, which is the giving up, through generosity, of our attachment to the five aggregates. Absolute chod, or the real meaning of chod, is to understand clearly that all confused perceptions arise from grasping to self. Until we have been able to sever the root of confusion, confusion will persist. For example, gods and spirits are an aspect of confused perception, and so in our chod practice, if we believe that gods and spirits really exist, then we will never be able to sever the source of that appearance. This is where many practioners deviate. They may be invited by sponsors or patrons or by a sick person to come into the home and do a pratice to get rid of spirits or illness. These misguided practioners will go and view the demonic force possession or the spirit in the house as an enemy, a truly existing entity, and then with a mind of aggression and even anger towards the entity, they will try to strike it, kill it, eliminate it through exorcism of the external enemy. They will play their damaru very fiercely and blow the thighbone trumpet intensely and say, ""Phat!" and this and that and roll their eyes back. But without having a focus on the source of that phenomenon, they will never kill that enemy or penetrate it because it didn’t arise from that. In fact, anger is what created it. It arose from grasping to self; the belief that it’s there is what created it. Until the fire is gone, there will be smoke.

    http://www.bodhicitta.net/Chod.htm
    It is a complicated dance with imaginary creatures. The only good I see in the above description is that, on some level, it is saying that the demons and trumpet blowing and fancy words are a fairy tale. It seems basically like a kind of exorcism for very superstitious folks. Fine, if it is helpful to someone. But it would only be helpful to someone who did not understand how to "Just Sit" ... letting go, and letting be.

    Gassho, J

  14. #14
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Much like Jundo, I would say that Chod and Shikantaza cannot be combined. If you go for Chod, you go another path, which is fine, but then shikantaza is not anymore. Shikantaza sits demons and saints, in one spot, in one gulp, at once.


    gassho


    Taigu

  15. #15
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    This thread was getting interesting before you two got all Soto priest-y and ruined the fun :wink:

    I honestly have no designs on pursuing Chöd, but I do find the general principles remarkably similar to practices I've developed or discovered on my own.

    I can understand why you would not recommend Chöd and really can't argue with that, even if I personally am open to a more widely stocked spiritual toolbox.

    I couldn't disagree more, however, with the dogmatic position that "nothing more than shikantaza" is needed. OK, I can respect, and possibly agree with, the position that nothing more than shikantaza is needed to wake up to the truth. But nothing more is needed for dealing with relative world stuff if you do shikantaza "right"? My goodness, hopefully I'm not the only person with sense and knowledge enough to know that generations of Soto teachers have amply demonstrated that is not the case.

    I also take issue with the dismissal of something like Chöd as "superstitious." It's one thing to say, "That practice is not compatible with what we do here," another to demean or insinuate that Tantric practitioners are engaging in an inferior practice. Is anyone really foolish enough to believe any more that waking up is a matter of choosing the right technique? People who've practiced any number of things have woken up.

    I have a lot of respect for Tantric practice even if I have no intention to go that route myself. Working with archetypes and personified images can be very powerful--and it's something widely incorporated in Western therapy (which seems to pass muster with you, Jundo) because it works. People can work on a mythopoeic level without having concrete belief in the mental images that populate it.

    Perhaps this example was too "far out" for this place, but I think that any honest practitioner would "admit" they incorporate other approaches besides shikantaza to deal with various issues that come up off the cushion. I know some folks here use Byron Katie's "Work," some people utilize mindfulness practices, Jundo advocates metta practice, and I use things I've picked up from Western psychotherapy and various other sources. I believe the only real measure of a practice is testing it out for oneself.

    In summary, my experience has taught me that waking up requires no particular tool, and dealing with life requires many varied tools. I can't really advocate for Chöd, as I don't practice it, but learning how to "name my demons" in my own way has certainly helped me drop a lot of deluded thinking.

  16. #16
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Stephanie,

    Boring priest!!! :wink:

    I do respect Chod and I relate to a lot of Tantric teachings, I actually see in Trungpa one of my root teachers and study his works all the time...
    It is not about saying that Shikantaza or Tantra or this or that is superior...It is to not mix up practices. There is no fusion Buddhism as you may find in fusion cooking. Combine football and basket ball, and you ll end up with a funny game. I was reading an old text of Ejo, the Dharma heir of Dogen,Check the very end of the Absorption in the Treasury of Light'

    http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhis ... 0Light.pdf


    It is dead clear . It is not about the respect of orthodoxy. I think there is a huge gap between the techniques you use and Chod, which is a very complex and engaging ritual. Of course, one may use various tools when one is off the cushion... I also name my delusions and use the Work of Byron Katie. But the more I go, the less I do it. If I just come back instantly to the nameless, everything else vanishes.

    gassho


    Taigu

  17. #17

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Jundo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Let me make clear that, if Shikantaza is practice correctly, nothing more is needed or should be added upon it. Only people who are not, or cannot, practice it correctly would be in need to run for something more ... because there is nothing more. By definition.
    I agree with this, Shikantaza is both complete and limitless - the "one thing" the Buddha taught.

    I would probably put it however that it is the particular "disposition" of a person that makes "correct" shikantaza attainable or not. It is not like communism, not universally applicable by force.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    However, many people do not know how to sit with "what is" and thus chase after their own tails......Sometimes I will recommend someone to enter a 12 Step program, see a doctor ....
    Yes, compassionate teachers such as Jundo, and techniques, and directions, and explanations, various approaches are essential - all, within the context of "relieving suffering".


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    HOWEVER, for the average person with normal, everyday fears and worries ... a practice like Chod may actually create the demons by making one think that they exist (much like those pharmaceutical company commercials seen most nights on the evening news make many of us think that we actually have "restless leg syndrome" and need to get some pill from our doctor.
    It is my understanding and experience that the kind of person you describe here is not "normal" and would be USUALLY "vetted out" and not allowed to practice Chöd. Tantric practices are really not lets say 'thrown out there' for anyone to simply start using. Of coarse we now have illegitimate teachers both on the internet and in real life who simply try to impress or control their students with these practices. That is unfortunate. Probably even those books already mentioned are unfortunate in that way

    In a way Jundo, your compassionate "wrath" pertaining to this topic is greatly welcomed by me - a tantric practitioner. In old Tibet, these things were taught only within certain contexts both cultural and psychological. I was told that most of these practices were kept only for those who had demonstrated a certain deep level of understanding of "emptiness" and had generated such deep compassion that they only wished to "learn" these techniques to bring benefit to others. In modern times these are much lacking - especially here in the west.

    I hope anyone reading this thread and possibly considering practicing Vajrayana Buddhism in any manner takes to heart what Ive said in my previous post - I think if you don't know much about this other way, it is vital that you understand the points made there and it really comes from my heart. Maybe I was just fortunate to have good teachers in this regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    What is more, traditional Chod seems to be based on a dance of hocus-pocus, with funny hats and mytical incantations ... ....... The only good I see in the above description is that, on some level, it is saying that the demons and trumpet blowing and fancy words are a fairy tale. It seems basically like a kind of exorcism for very superstitious folks. Fine, if it is helpful to someone. But it would only be helpful to someone who did not understand how to "Just Sit" ... letting go, and letting be.

    Gassho, J
    I remember the first time I saw my zen teacher, bald head, brown and grey robes - I thought "Is this guy serious? He looks like he is playing David Carradine in Kung Fu!" And there was the time that my psychologist wanted me to play with toys in front of her so she could analyze my subconscious. I supposes it is hocus-pocus after all.

    Just to finish the thought then, tantra approaches the "one thing the Buddha taught" in a different way from Shikantaza, but it is Buddhism none the less. Some have explained this as working at the "cognitive" level of mind. If that is true then I would say that FIRST you MUST understand the prajanaparamita teachings of the Buddha before you practice tantra. You need to have at least a conceptual understanding of madhyamaka to accompany your tantric practices. Most teachers put it in that context when they teach it anyway because they know how essential that is.

    Should these practices of Zen and Tantra be combined? I think clearly the teachers in this forum say no. As this is a Zen Buddhist forum I must respect that. I do hope however we can focus also on the commonality between these diverse paths. If we don't understand something about anothers path, why simply assume we do when we can simply ask that person who has some experience with it? A little understanding never hurts... well at least if it is "genuine" understanding

    gassho

  18. #18

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie

    I couldn't disagree more, however, with the dogmatic position that "nothing more than shikantaza" is needed. OK, I can respect, and possibly agree with, the position that nothing more than shikantaza is needed to wake up to the truth. But nothing more is needed for dealing with relative world stuff if you do shikantaza "right"? My goodness, hopefully I'm not the only person with sense and knowledge enough to know that generations of Soto teachers have amply demonstrated that is not the case.
    Hi Stephanie,

    I most certainly support and recognize that Shikantaza is not "all one needs" in the sense of cooking your lunch, changing a flat tire or curing your tumor. A cookbook, a jack and a doctor's chemotherapy are best for those. All Shikantaza will allow is for one to be fully present, mindful and embracing of one's meal, broken car, cancer.

    But for the central lesson of this Practice ... non-attainment, emptiness hand-in-hand with the sacredness of all things, dropping "inner demons" and allowing all of life to "just be" ... nothing more is required. Adding Tanka paintings, talk of spirits and demons, funny hats and thighbone horns is much like adding laser lights, special effects and synthesized music to the simplicity of the sound of the wind (not that Soto Zen does not have its own share of funny hats and horns etc.).



    Nor, if Shikantaza Buddhist Practice is understood correctly, is anything more required for us to live as gentle folks, seeking to abide by the Precepts ... forsaking greed, anger and ignorance.

    I wish those who choose the Tantric path all the best, as I would wish anyone from Orthodox Jews to Born Again Christians to Scientologists. I hope that they find what they need. Nor do I say that one is superior or inferior, and let each person find their own way. As I said, if I felt that such a path would be effective, I would recommend it (and I encourage everyone to find out for themselves). I would not dare say that "one size need fit all", and recognize that various people may benefit from each of those paths and from Tantric practice. However, I do not see how such a way can but distract from the simple, pure, right before one's eye's lessons of the Shikantaza Way ... which needs to be thoroughly experienced as whole, complete and ever arriving in order to be "Shikantaza". Adding some intricate dance of spirit possession can do little but confuse, obfuscate and weaken what is simple, clear and powerful.

    Let me add that, traditionally, most practitioners did and do take the deities and demons as real, and it is only modern interpretations which emphasize that these are just "archetypes and symbols for our inner mind" (much as Taigu and I often speak of the reality of "Kannon" in the very Compassion and generosity found in each of us and, thus, in this universe ... whether or not "He/She" really exists somewhere as a being ... As you may know, Taigu and I are big "Kannon Fans" http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=14889). If these practices are simply being taught as "symbolic archetypes for the human condition" (as Dorje T frames it above), I am with you and can get it. But I feel that, for most practitioners, a line is crossed in such practice that can only be described as confusing the simplicity of Buddhist teachings with magic, hocus-pocus, soothsaying and exorcism (symbolic perhaps, but probably not for most people involved).

    That strikes me as counter-productive to the path of just letting go, letting be and being with.

    Gassho, Jundo

  19. #19

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Nice post Dorje .

    Gassho

  20. #20

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    I don't know anything about Chod but from the description you gave Stephanie it sounds like a ritualised version of one approach I use with my clients.
    We take a troubling "demon" like depression or anxiety, and by working with it and finding out its purpose we either transform it into its deepest state, which usually brings up a very deep love, peace or other "spiritual" state, or we find new ways of it fulfilling its stated purpose that are productive emotions or behaviours. The purpose is something that arises from the unconscious and often surprises both the client and myself, because we couldn't have guessed what it is.
    Of course, whether the "purpose" was "real" or generated by the methods used is debatable, but being pragmatic the result is what's important.
    If the client goes home without the problem and feeling OK, and in follow up calls is still Ok and engaging with life in fulfilling ways now, then I find that deeply satisying and worthwhile.
    In terms of zazen and this description I think there are only conflicts when we think.
    Lets say a guy sits with anxiety for a year. Let's say he doesn't get rid of it but gets to a point of acceptance or a "peace" below that anxiety on some level so he can live with it, but he still can't meet people and he's scared going out. He's got to a point accepting this and fully living with it. In therapeutic terms we might use the words "mixed states" if such a thing happened (I don't know as i've never seen that one). Then he meets a person who says that he can possibly be free of the anxiety for good. Two months later it's gone. He still sits, he still accepts his new experience. Its just like accepting the car was broken and accepting now its fixed and fit for purpose again.
    I think all this conjecture about what works together, what pulls apart etc. is sometimes very relevant (practically) but sometimes just attachment to a view. Surely when you sit there is no zazen, no enlightenment, no practice, no time, no this or that.
    If I said to an "accomplished" sitter that I could take them to a place where they were likely to get traumatised- and we know by our reactions to "small things" that something much bigger would affect us- would they agree to it just so they could prove that sitting with anxiety, PTSD etc. can be OK? If they did I'd call them deranged. Its the "about face" of the same coin. By avoiding that situation they keep their life healthier- by curing anxiety etc. someone makes their life better. Sitting is just sitting all through that.
    I'm sitting with anger. Its OK. Its still there though and quite strong. I'm not "perfect" and I've got to go to work in a few hours and the person the anger is with is there. As I get closer to the time the anger is still very strong. Its OK for me, but I might just do something I'll regret when I am in the context it was triggered. So I use a practical tool to change it- perhaps I temporarily suppress it using a therapeutic method (metta practice might do it)- and then go back to sitting with it after work. Perhaps I use a method that does indeed root it out- not the seed of anger in general, but just this situation. Either way I can still sit and accept AND I can be kinder (or at least non-harming) to my colleague. Practical..this very life. Beyond concepts and ideas..just living the best we can.
    Rich

  21. #21

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Of course, one may use various tools when one is off the cushion... I also name my delusions and use the Work of Byron Katie. But the more I go, the less I do it. If I just come back instantly to the nameless, everything else vanishes.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Yes, like magic 'everything else vanishes' but it takes a lot of practice. I have this ball of energy that I can apply to mental and physical afflictions but the 'the more I go, the less I do it.' So I may be a little tantric or maybe just a little crazy. Right now I'm dealing with a very crazy woman and people keep calling me to help with the situation. The police take her to the mental hospital but she always returns after a week or two and the cycle repeats. Even the police have asked me to make her 'go away'. In addition to the legal actions I must take to protect everyone, I will attempt an energy transfer but I don't use bells, horns, costumes or elaborate rituals.
    /Rich

  22. #22
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Wonderful discussion here... Thanks all. And Jundo and Taigu, for keeping things on point :wink:

    All this circles around one of my "personal koans," which I have not resolved. It is sort of a riff on Dogen's "If things are already perfect as they are, why practice?" Mine is more like, "If realization is seeing that nothing needs to be changed, why then change anything?" Are our impressions that certain things should be changed--such as the inequalities in human cultures that lead to, what seems to me to be, unnecessary suffering--just delusions? Conceptions superimposed on a reality which needs not, and cannot be, truly changed?

    Basically, I have so far been unable to accept, or wrap my head around, Jundo's "acceptance without acceptance" formulation. I can see how, from a Soto approach to practice, any "active" practice would run contrary to the heart of just sitting, which is letting go of the ego's endless, rapacious thirst to control and change everything. But then no one (at least not that I have seen) takes it as far as suggesting one shouldn't stop murdering small children, if that's what one is into doing. So there's a point where action is called for. Where do we draw that line?

    I really cannot reconcile both these views. Perhaps that will come with more practice and understanding through experience. But for now, I just can't see how one can accept life as it is while at the same time deciding certain things need to be changed.

    It's funny, I used to subscribe to some real utopian ideals. I thought it was our human duty to create "Shangri-la." But even in the midst of my most passionate visions of an enlightened brotherhood of man, underneath it was an opposite inclination. Being an avid fan of nature documentaries, encounters with wild animals, and time spent in wilderness, I hold wilderness as a great teacher. And the wild is absolutely ruthless. It does not matter whether you like it or not, if you are not strong, fast, or clever enough, you will die. Our world is a violent one and has always been; the rules of nature will always be the ground of our experience, no matter how much technology we will develop.

    Lately I'm more in that sort of view. Living in the New York metro area for a few years has made me a lot more ruthless than I've ever been. I don't defer to others the way I used to, and my attitude is, "If I'm faster, or more clever than you, I deserve the prize!" Even if it's a Sisyphian non-prize like rolling the rock to the top of the hill :lol: So I'm pretty far away from "Shangri-la" in my thinking these days.

    But I'm haunted by a sense of loss as I wander now without a clear guiding ideal. I wonder if I shouldn't do more to sand away my rough edges or corral my demons. I have a lot of appreciation for the rough edges of reality; I think Planet Earth would be a dull and lifeless place if "the lion lay down with the lamb." There's a beauty in a lion eating a lamb; there's a beauty in the vibrant array of neuroses patrolling the street at any given moment; there's a beauty in the way the garbage collects in the gutter.

    But should I just lazily let my neuroses and my aggression pile up? Just relax and let go of wanting to clean things up a bit? Or should I clean them? I don't really see how I could hold both perspectives at the same time. Either I clean up the mess, or I don't.

    One of the things I like about the Chod approach (as far as I understand it) is that it comes as close to a medium or meeting of these opposite approaches as I've seen. One acknowledges the "demon-ness" of the demon, and recognizes it needs to be addressed; but one befriends it and enlists it as an ally, rather than trying to kill it or chase it away. Maybe I can get all my neuroses and fears to help me clean up the mess and enjoy a less trollish existence, instead of letting them keep dragging me into the gutter. I don't know. I can taste, in fleeting moments, the perfection, the "thusness," of my current state of affairs, but it also feels often like my "thusness" needs to take a shower... :lol:

  23. #23

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    I can taste, in fleeting moments, the perfection, the "thusness," of my current state of affairs, but it also feels often like my "thusness" needs to take a shower... :lol:
    If I could be semantic and remove the "the" from thusness, I can't think of a better one liner, Stephanie

    The tyre's flat- suchness
    The tyre's being fixed- suchness
    The car's working again- suchness
    The feelings are turbulent-suchness
    The feelings are being changed-suchness
    The feelings are calm-suchness

    I feel that Taigu's quote is perfect too, By way of genetics, nurture, the two together, long time practice or all of those things he can just let go instantly, or very quickly at least. Maybe one day, those of us that don't do that yet, will also. If not we can continue with practical change. Things aren't right as they are/neither are they wrong- if I understand correctly experience tells me they just ARE. In the relative world though I want to see world peace, fix the tyre, feel happy, see others happy. Letting go may be happiness for me in terms of non-resisting (and/or other ways of speaking), but I have to continue to work for others too. I really don't see the duality/separation. Neither do I see difference between my tyre and my feelings on one level. Both are conditoned phenomena like everything else. I think this is where pre-Abhidhamma Suttas (please correct me if I'm wrong as I got this from a Buddhist scholar's work and have not read the texts enough to know this myself) are useful in not mentioning the Absolute/Relative difference. The Suttas speak of everything as being conditioned, even consciousness is just piled in there. Unconditioned back then, as I mentioned before, apparently related to something....unconditoned by greed/hatred and delusion. Sometimes today it gets talked about as a "thing", "state" or "place". My glimpses of "it" (lol) show it is eternity/just now, but I still need a watch to be on time. I was never born- what's birth?- I can't die- what's death? and yet I'll be gone someday. The feelings aren't a special case, as opposed to the tyre, consciousness, the body.........

    Rich

  24. #24

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    I'd like to add something to my previous post.

    If the tyre doesn't go on properly, or the feeling doesn't change for the "better" isn't that the real test?
    If we then spin off, get averse etc. then I think we'd have a problem.
    That would prove the prior acceptance (or not), before and during the change, of anything "relative" wouldn't it?

    Rich

  25. #25

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Wonderful discussion here... Thanks all. And Jundo and Taigu, for keeping things on point :wink:

    All this circles around one of my "personal koans," which I have not resolved. It is sort of a riff on Dogen's "If things are already perfect as they are, why practice?" Mine is more like, "If realization is seeing that nothing needs to be changed, why then change anything?" Are our impressions that certain things should be changed--such as the inequalities in human cultures that lead to, what seems to me to be, unnecessary suffering--just delusions? Conceptions superimposed on a reality which needs not, and cannot be, truly changed?
    Because it is the letting go of the thinking about things that let's you see the perfection of things. for me It's sometimes stronger than letting go, it's a cutting off. Then your actions are more in the realm of the essential because you see something that needs doing and you just do it. Don't get too far ahead of yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    So there's a point where action is called for. Where do we draw that line?

    I really cannot reconcile both these views. Perhaps that will come with more practice and understanding through experience. But for now, I just can't see how one can accept life as it is while at the same time deciding certain things need to be changed.
    Most of the things requiring your action are happening right now in front of you. Making plans for those 'big' changes in the future is OK and necessary but even those turn out to be as mundane as pushing a button or cleaning the toilet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Being an avid fan of nature documentaries, encounters with wild animals, and time spent in wilderness, I hold wilderness as a great teacher. And the wild is absolutely ruthless. It does not matter whether you like it or not, if you are not strong, fast, or clever enough, you will die. Our world is a violent one and has always been; the rules of nature will always be the ground of our experience, no matter how much technology we will develop.
    Yes, the odds of dying are much greater if you are not paying attention to what you are doing. Another great benefit of zazen practice because it applies to all of life, not just sitting. This is the great matter of life and death.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    there's a beauty in the vibrant array of neuroses patrolling the street at any given moment; there's a beauty in the way the garbage collects in the gutter.

    But should I just lazily let my neuroses and my aggression pile up? Just relax and let go of wanting to clean things up a bit? Or should I clean them? I don't really see how I could hold both perspectives at the same time. Either I clean up the mess, or I don't.
    Thank you. It's good to know someone appreciates my neuroses. The cleaning up is the practice. It's like you take a shower every day and you think you are clean, but you always get a little dirty again and you have to take another shower. Practice is cleaning up the mind, but it always gets a little dirty and you have to practice again.

    /Rich

  26. #26

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly

    The tyre's flat- suchness
    The tyre's being fixed- suchness
    The car's working again- suchness
    Hi Grizzly Rich,

    This is right. We are at one with the flat tire, at one with fixing the tire, at one with the tire fixed. All along, we know that there "is nothing in need of fixing" even as, hand-in-hand, there is "something in need of fixing" (both tasted at once, not two). And as with a perfectly just as it is flat tire, so it is with human conditions of fear, panic disorders, anger, addiction, depression and the like.

    Shikantaza may help with or fully cure some of it (it may lessen or allow the full droppiing of the fear, the anger, addiction, depression etc), or it may not, and simply allow us to be "at one" with our flat tires of fear, anger, addiction, etc.

    In such latter cases, something more than Shikantaza may be required and ... IF IT IS EFFECTIVE ... I fully support that.

    Thus, I do sometimes suggest that people pursue, hand in hand with Shikantaza, a "12 step" program for addiction, anger management classes, medical treatment by a reputable doctor for a physical condition, anti-depression medication (if effective), psychotherapy (if effective), Metta Practice and Nurturing Seeds Practice (if it is helpful) and the like.

    Thus, for the same reason, I do NOT suggest that people pursue fortune tellers, quack miracle medical treatments from Tijuana, distance healing, seances, crystal gazing, exorcisms, faith healing, psychotherapy (if not effective and only self-perpetuating), medical treatments cooked up by pharmaceutical companies to sell pills, and anything that is magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum. I mean, even exorcisms and the like might have some "placebo" effect ... so anything might be helpful and therapeutic in some way ... but one is more likely to run into quacks and charlatans than a "cure".

    Sometimes it is hard to draw the line between the two categories ... so I leave that to each person.

    Most Esoteric Buddhist practices seem, from my viewpoint, to fall closer to the latter category (although some may be able to see them as something else, something deeper or symbolic of the human condition. I think more ordinary practitioners just take them for the magic and spiritualism that they appear to be on the surface).

    But whatever supplementary path is pursued, nothing should take away from the central message of Shikantaza practice ... to wit, there is nothing in need of fixing, never was. Just be and let it be ... even as ya might need to fix something.

    Gassho, J

    PS - I was going to post about the same response over on the "Concentration practice incompatible with shikantaza?" thread ...

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2389

  27. #27

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Jundo

    I like Grizzly Rich (always wanted to be Grizzly Adams as a kid lol.....never put the Grizzly forum name and mine together before ha ha)

    Anyway, I am 1000000% in agreement with everything you say in your post.

    Rich

  28. #28
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    But if things are already perfect as they are, why would we change anything? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it..." So why fix anything that ain't fundamentally broke?

    Some cases are more obvious. We must fix the flat tire for our car to be able to go. So we do it, and keep rolling. It's less obvious when it comes to "character flaws" or "personal issues." If my anger is perfect, why utilize a tool to reduce it? If we say, "to reduce harm or suffering," why do that? If this world, as riddled with suffering as it is, is already perfect, would not only a deluded being want to try to fix it? Isn't the idea of fixing it or making it better the product of a delusion? If we are opening, blossoming, to reality as is, if we see the perfection in the gunfire and the child prostitution and the broken glass of this painful world, how can we simultaneously take the guns off the streets, take the child prostitutes to safe havens where they no longer have to be exploited, and sweep up the broken glass? Either it is perfect, it is thus, or it is not. Is it our duty to make this Earth the "Kingdom of Heaven," a place that is kinder and more just, or to let go of the striving and realize that it is already perfect and was all along?

  29. #29

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Stephanie
    That is the wordless paradox beyond thought.
    Both are true, neither are true etc etc.
    Thats why the only solution is to act practically. If we dont manifest our compassion- socially engaged Buddhism- then I think we are just dead Buddhas, certainly not Boddhisatvas.....
    Ram Dass once said, "I see the perfectness of the universe all the while my human heart weeps for the suffering of (people in that perfection)" (or words to that effect). While perfect isnt the best word to use IMO as its a conceptualisation still, and reality is unwordable (ha ha), he sums up the situation beautifully and with compassion.
    I think its important to realise that while we can use the word perfect for suchness that if we do we are still caught in conceptual reality. Just seeing, just doing, just loving..no words nor ideas..all the while words and ideas are still there. The absolute and relative- just words- not two, not even one, not none either.
    Rich

  30. #30

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Can I add:

    Any position we take, or view we subscribe to, is wrong (etc) from one "level". Taking no position as position, taking no view as view.....
    We can't talk about this, or think about it.
    If you are crying though I'll give you a handkerchief and ask if you are OK.
    If I am crying I might ask you for a hug.

    This came up on the other thread when I was arguing for the side of sorting all our problems out.
    Jundo said that the alcoholic might be better at helping folks because of his experience.
    He was absolutely right too.
    In fact some young people I know call me the bad Buddhist because they over heard me telling a risque joke to one of their mums. We live near a new age community, where some dour folks are Buddhists. The young think they are all a bit weird- one even thought they might be dangerous ha ha. Now they think Buddhists, at least, aren't bad and the one who thought the community down the road was dangerous is not worried anymore.
    Good and bad huh?

    Rich

  31. #31
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Any position we take, or view we subscribe to, is wrong (etc) from one "level". Taking no position as position, taking no view as view.....
    We can't talk about this, or think about it.
    Gassho

  32. #32

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    But if things are already perfect as they are, why would we change anything? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it..." So why fix anything that ain't fundamentally broke?

    Some cases are more obvious. We must fix the flat tire for our car to be able to go. So we do it, and keep rolling. It's less obvious when it comes to "character flaws" or "personal issues." If my anger is perfect, why utilize a tool to reduce it? If we say, "to reduce harm or suffering," why do that? If this world, as riddled with suffering as it is, is already perfect, would not only a deluded being want to try to fix it? Isn't the idea of fixing it or making it better the product of a delusion?
    Well, only a deluded being would continue to do harm to others... not being able to se that he/she in that way is only causing harm to him/her self. But I would agree with you that violence and suffering is perfect, is thusness, why (?), because it is exactly what will make you not to do it.

    When we sit change will happen! As we are broken beings zazen will fix you...

  33. #33

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    But if things are already perfect as they are, why would we change anything? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it..." So why fix anything that ain't fundamentally broke?

    Some cases are more obvious. We must fix the flat tire for our car to be able to go. So we do it, and keep rolling. It's less obvious when it comes to "character flaws" or "personal issues." If my anger is perfect, why utilize a tool to reduce it? If we say, "to reduce harm or suffering," why do that? If this world, as riddled with suffering as it is, is already perfect, would not only a deluded being want to try to fix it? Isn't the idea of fixing it or making it better the product of a delusion? If we are opening, blossoming, to reality as is, if we see the perfection in the gunfire and the child prostitution and the broken glass of this painful world, how can we simultaneously take the guns off the streets, take the child prostitutes to safe havens where they no longer have to be exploited, and sweep up the broken glass? Either it is perfect, it is thus, or it is not. Is it our duty to make this Earth the "Kingdom of Heaven," a place that is kinder and more just, or to let go of the striving and realize that it is already perfect and was all along?
    Yes, this is a great Koan, and ultimately words are inadequate. I agree that saying "each is perfectly just what it is" is a less than a perfect way to say it. 8) Still, I do not think this so hard to describe with some clarity.

    We can encounter this world from various angles at once, as if seeing it one way out of the right eye, another way out of the left. We can learn to see the world through both eyes at once, or sometimes one or the other one (actually. many eyes and no eye at all)

    Time to pull out that old chestnut ... like two sides of a single coin, and then some ...

    ACCEPTANCE without ACCEPTANCE
    http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/arch ... tance.html

    You say, Steph, that you cannot see this now. But from your descriptions of Shikantaza, I believe you can. There is an abused child and there is a child abuser, and a tragedy that must be prevented by our engaged action, many tears to shed for the suffering. There is a victim and a victimizer who must be stopped, yet too they are also both victims of greed and anger and ignorance. There is also that realm with no separate child to suffer, no cruel adult, no cruelty, no greed, nothing lacking or in need of remedy, no suffering and never was ... all dropped from our dividing mind until a wholeness remains. A Bodhisattva can see this life-world in all these ways, and then some (many eyes, not just two actually, many ways to see life).

    All can be seen at once ... often "seen with the ears" as old Buddhists liked to say.

    So, what do we fix and what can be left as it is? That's just common sense, I think. We should fix those parts of this me-life-world that cause great harm, that we can fix ... the disease, the poverty, the wars, the anger/greed acted out violently by one person against another. We should fix those things that, in their change, truly make life more healthful and beneficial to self and others (not two or three, by the way).

    The rest, optional ... or just let it be.**

    Gassho, J

    PS - ** Our capitalist, consumerist lifestyle has us convinced we must always improve, always acquire, always fix, always "super size" a lot of stuff that does not need to be ... and we have forgotten how to live simply, not fixing what does not need to be fixed, just letting be, just letting live (ya know ... a simple 'Zen' lifestyle). I am very interested in this short film, and suggest everyone watch it free online (you can debate some of the statistics, but the overall description of how the "conveyor belt" system works in modern society seems about right on ... )

    The STORY of STUFF
    http://www.storyofstuff.com/

  34. #34

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We can encounter this world from various angles at once ...There is an abused child and there is a child abuser, and a tragedy that must be prevented by our engaged action, many tears to shed for the suffering. There is a victim and a victimizer who must be stopped, yet too they are also both victims of greed and anger and ignorance. There is also that realm with no separate child to suffer, no cruel adult, no cruelty, no greed, nothing lacking or in need of remedy, no suffering and never was ... all dropped from our dividing mind until a wholeness remains. A Bodhisattva can see this life-world in all these ways, and then some (many eyes, not just two actually, many ways to see life).
    I came across a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh at the end of the biography of Issan Dorsey (a book I recommend highly, and will talk about on another thread) ...

    Issan was someone who had lived all sides of life ... as a drug addict, prostitute, beloved friend and Zen student and teacher, as Bodhisattva to many others who were in need ...all in one life, like many sides of a single coin.

    Please Call Me by My True Names
    (Thich Nhat Hanh)

    Do not say that I will be gone tomorrow,
    for even now I still return.

    Look deeply: I arrive in each fresh moment
    To be a bud on a tender spring branch,
    To be tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
    Learning to sing in my new nest,
    To be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
    To be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

    I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
    To fear and to hope.
    The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

    I am a mayfly metamorphosing
    On the surface of the river.
    And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

    I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond
    And I am the grass snake
    That silently feeds itself on the frog.

    I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
    My legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
    And I am the arms merchant
    Selling deadly weapons to Uganda

    I am the twelve-year-old girl,
    Refugee on a small boat,
    Who throws herself into the ocean
    After being raped by a sea pirate
    And I am the pirate,
    My heart not yet capable
    Of seeing and loving.

    I am a member of the politburo
    With plenty of power in my hands
    And I am the man who has to pay
    His “debt of blood” to my people
    Dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

    My joy is like Spring, so warm
    It makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
    My pain is like a river of tears,
    so vast it fills the four oceans.

    Please call me by my true names
    So I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
    So I can see that my joy and pain are one.

    Please call me by my true names,
    So I can wake up
    And the door of my heart
    Can be left open,
    The door of compassion.

  35. #35
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Wow, I missed all the "fun" on this thread. I saw it when it started and wanted to contribute but got too busy, and now I see that the thread has evolved away from the original questions Stephanie had about chod. Allow me to go back to that, as I have dabbled in chod practice. I read about it in one of those buddhist mags (that I am too lazy to go to the next room to dig out so I can reference it), and the article had a sort of do-it-yourself step-by-step approach to follow. I have a few things that really bother me to the point that calling them demons seems entirely appropriate, so I thought after reading the article I might give it a try, but with a twist. But before I explain what I did, let me just say that I viewed this as a just a different way to sit with my issues. I don't recall ever considering that this was somehow inconsistent with my regular zazen practice; it was just an add-on sort of thing.

    Anyway, my thinking was that if I was to truly visualize my demon and bring it to life, then I would make an art project out of it. So I sat with my demon to the point I could visualize it, and then I painted what I saw. It was a pretty ugly demon, very minimalist and impressionistic, but it really helped to SEE it (that part of me) in the flesh, so to speak. Then I sat with my demon for a while, fed it according to the article instructions, and watched it transform into something very beautiful that I could also see and then paint, possibly the best painting I have ever done. The result of all this was a painting that I still have in my room, and hidden behind that painting is my original demon painting. When I see one I know the other is also there, and both are with me every day. It was a very powerful process that helped me sit with some of my personal ugliness that I might never have been able to do, at least not in the same way, if I had just practiced zazen. Some time later I repeated the process with another demon of mine, this time using colored pencils, and I now have that (those) drawing(s) hanging in my room also. I fully expect at some point to do the chod process again, although what I do may not fully qualify as traditional chod. No thigh bones or anything stranger in the way I do it than some art supplies, however.

    Just a couple more thoughts on chod. For me, all I did was create a better teacher out of my demon. I took something that was ugly that I resisted and turned it into something beautiful that I could embrace, all without ever denying the ugliness. Not one, not two, but something greater than one or the other. While the actual practice (i.e., actions) of chod is certainly not compatible with zazen, I think the essence of both are actually quite compatible. I consider chod to be another tool in my buddhist toolbox, something useful for certain problems. If sometimes dabbling in it makes me a bad zen buddhist (which I don't think anyone is), then I can easily live with that.

    Finally, yes, chod is very different and bit odd, but don't get lost in how the different cups are decorated to the point you forget that both hold water just as efficiently. Sometimes there is great utility in using the really elaborate decorative china.

  36. #36

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    While the actual practice (i.e., actions) of chod is certainly not compatible with zazen, I think the essence of both are actually quite compatible. I consider chod to be another tool in my buddhist toolbox, something useful for certain problems. If sometimes dabbling in it makes me a bad zen buddhist (which I don't think anyone is), then I can easily live with that.

    Finally, yes, chod is very different and bit odd, but don't get lost in how the different cups are decorated to the point you forget that both hold water just as efficiently. Sometimes there is great utility in using the really elaborate decorative china.
    Hi Al,

    Just to be clearer, I do not want to be taken as disagreeing with you, and we are on the same page. If it works, DO THAT! In any event, it is not for me to decide, and different things will help different people. You are certainly not a "bad Zen Buddhist"!

    Nor are people who practice Tantrism "bad Buddhists" ... for some folks certainly get much out of that, and it speaks to many people who need to approach Buddhist teachings in that way.

    My standard is merely this ...

    Shikantaza may help with or fully cure some of it (it may lessen or allow the full droppiing of the fear, the anger, addiction, depression etc), or it may not, and simply allow us to be "at one" with our flat tires of fear, anger, addiction, etc.

    In such latter cases, something more than Shikantaza may be required and ... IF IT IS EFFECTIVE ... I fully support that.

    Thus, I do sometimes suggest that people pursue, hand in hand with Shikantaza, a "12 step" program for addiction, anger management classes, medical treatment by a reputable doctor for a physical condition, anti-depression medication (if effective), psychotherapy (if effective), Metta Practice and Nurturing Seeds Practice (if it is helpful) and the like.

    Thus, for the same reason, I do NOT suggest that people pursue fortune tellers, quack miracle medical treatments from Tijuana, distance healing, seances, crystal gazing, exorcisms, faith healing, psychotherapy (if not effective and only self-perpetuating), medical treatments cooked up by pharmaceutical companies to sell pills, and anything that is magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum. I mean, even exorcisms and the like might have some "placebo" effect ... so anything might be helpful and therapeutic in some way ... but one is more likely to run into quacks and charlatans than a "cure".

    Sometimes it is hard to draw the line between the two categories ... so I leave that to each person.

  37. #37
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    As I said in the post, Jundo, I didn't think so. I just wanted to draw the distinction differently. There are reasons to use our various sets of china (or tools in our tool boxes). But all our plates and bowls and utensils are empty for a reason, and that is to fill them with our life. No matter how you dress it up or down, it's still just this empty/full life, such as it is.

    Also, upon further reflection, I probably did chod-lite as art therapy :roll: :lol: but I'm good with that :mrgreen:

  38. #38
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    I finally chased that laziness demon to find that article because this curious demon was bugging me, so which is the worse demon? :twisted: I think this is kind of important. Demons need to be serious, not casual stuff like MY laziness or curiosity. Demons are personal, which means they can vary by person. So laziness might be someone's demon but not someone else's, and so on. That demon has got to be a "real" entity in that person's life, not just some casual laziness and curiosity or whatever. I can't imagine a practice based on demonizing all the various little or even moderate things that hamper a life. Gosh, if it's that bad, you might as well just do zazen. However, the curiosity that killed the cat was probably a serious demon, lol :roll:

    Anyway, it was from Tricycle, summer 2008, by Allione, the Chod dude.

  39. #39

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Al
    Thanks for posting your practice with painting the demon.
    I think this thread has been useful in that it has expressed the same thing in many ways, hopefully allowing anyone that didn't already see that possible transformations are beyond Chod rituals and verbalisations.
    The traditional ritual with all its regalia.
    The psycho jargon about working with "sub-personalities".
    Painting of inner demons.
    Three ways of expressing a fundamentally unknowable change process- each fitting a time, place and temperament.
    As the pragmatist I have become- If it works use it...
    Rich

  40. #40

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Wow, what a great thread.

    Steph, this Chod you speak of seems to nest inside of Shikantaza. It seems like signposts that might be helpful, but not the destination.

    I don't know if you remember, but I had loosely quoted Epictetus and said "Treat everyone and everything as a cherished guest, welcomed and prepared for, but not grasped or clung to". It seems that way with "demons", too. "Here we are--- take what you like". Sometimes it seems like these different animistic rituals seem like one person's intimate experience, which they try to codify and dogmatize as an instruction manual for others. "I had some problems, so I called them demons. It worked best for me to animate them and interact with them", etc. So like everyone else has said, if it works, go for it. But I did like what someone had said about everything being "marked with emptiness".

    It seems to me that the definition of "guest" is "welcome transient". Everything is a welcome transient? Even some things I could call demons. If they like me to wear certain clothes or say certain things and I can oblige, why not. If that's not in my palette of hospitality tools, so be it.

    It also seems to me that Shikantaza itself is the most welcoming posture I can assume. Just sitting, receptively aware, open. Welcome. Those are my demon-welcoming clothes.

    I often hear you speak of the rapacity of nature. I would like to say that it is this very rapacity which also creates moments of unbridled and incomparable beauty. But these are merely our desires. Nature just is, for no use. Kind of like zazen.

    Sometimes when I think of acceptance-without-acceptance, I have to remind myself that it is not only "me" that has to "do nothing". Look at a baby, who must be taught to become a rapist or killer. Someone "did something" to get to that place. Uh-oh, my typing window is doing that weird thing again, does it do that for anyone else? I'll continue this post below...

  41. #41

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Okay well anyway, Stephanie, I am now working at a nature preserve in Ohio. My daughter visits me here, and she is starting to really wake up in some ways. The other day we talked about something which reminded me of you. She is learning about the difference between being afraid and being aware. For example, we have an aggressive rooster (i.e., a successful rooster at being a rooster) here in our yard and he pecked my daughter. She came in and was very afraid to go back into the yard. This same sort of thing happens with bees, poison ivy, etc etc. But at the same time, there are long, extended moments of bliss such as the times we spend together in a shallow creek that runs through a deep limestone ravine near the house. How can both of these things be connected?

    So one day as we were walking down a gravel road with occasional car traffic, engrossed in conversation, I said to her, "Are you afraid of the cars right now?" And she said no. I asked her why, and she said, "Because we can hear them coming." I asked her if we were paying attention for the sounds of them approaching, and she said we were. So we decided that we were BEING AWARE. We weren't afraid, just PAYING ATTENTION.

    I reminded her that it is only very recently in evolutionary time, that we have been able to go for long periods of time without worrying about BEING EATEN, or needing to keep up with what we were eating. Think about that! Almost every other creature on the face of this planet has an omnipresent worry of being eaten at any moment. THAT'S AWARE! Not afraid, still non-doing the day, but AWARE. Sometimes my daughter has trouble understanding what I am doing when I meditate, so I told her, I'm just BEING AWARE. In fact, when I have a hard time settling down into zazen, sometimes I will "trick" myself by saying, "What if I were going to die in twenty minutes? What if I knew it? Can I feel it?" If I really sit and contemplate my very real death (which let's be honest, is not some fantasy but a real thing at some point in the future), I fall gratefully into zazen.

    And every time I think of that, it reminds me of Stephanie

  42. #42

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    This thread is wonderful. I've learned much reading everyone's perspectives and thoughts. Thank you, Stephanie, for facilitating a rich discussion.

    Personally, as a new Zen/Shikintaza student, and only speaking for myself, I like to use Nishijima Roshi's thoughts on the Path of Middle Way:

    We can think of life as a road or highway. All roads have their destinations, but from our vantage point on the road, that destination is usually not visible to us. The scenery on both sides of the road is visible, however, and it is often quite interesting and seductive. There are beautiful mountain vistas, forests and rivers which draw our eyes away from the road. There are billboards advertising all kinds of wonderful things. Some promote their products as the ultimate in comfort and enjoyment. Others offer instant fame and success, while still others promise to show us the way to omniscient enlightenment or spiritual bliss.

    Almost without realizing it, we find ourselves turning the wheel on the car to the right or left; but the highway of life has no scenic side-roads. On the side of the road there are only potholes and dangerous ravines. If we drive the car into a ditch, it may take a long time to get back on the road again. So the aim of life is simply to stay on the road (or to simply SIT, for me personally).
    Although this speaks to The Middle Way, I can apply this to myself in the context of finding confidence in Shikintaza and not being side-tracked by other methods of schools within Buddhism (making note that they are NOT potholes in the example above, but other "directions" on the road to "nowhere", so to speak). The last thing I need is confusion (particularly in studying other Buddhist traditions without proper guidance).

    In studying Soto Zen, and Shikintaza, I have Jundo, Taigu, and all of you to share and learn with and from during this journey.

    Gassho,

    SZ

  43. #43

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    It's not that the demons just disappear from existence, it's that we learn to not give them so much time and attention. Suffering, old age and death is just the way we are, the demons didn't make that but if you give them power they'll make it seem a lot worse. So just keep trying to come back to the present moment or stay on the road or simply SIT with all the action of life.
    /Rich

  44. #44

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    I am late to this party! Hellos to all here, my thoughts, such as they are:

    the mind is an a maze ing place

    it a mazes me all the time

    as I get caught in my a maze ment at the extraordinary richness, the dire paucity, the nuanced and the blatant
    the preposterous and the hypothesis

    so curly, the curlicues of mind

    zazen: to my utter dis maze, show me how whispy these hedgerows of thought I am corralled in by

    and how these whisps are my fetters

    zazen:

    guaranteed to un a maze you

    (ask for a refund if not completely satisfied)

  45. #45

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Thank you Keishin. You can keep the change.


  46. #46
    disastermouse
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    An Invitation:

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    It's not that the demons just disappear from existence, it's that we learn to not give them so much time and attention. Suffering, old age and death is just the way we are, the demons didn't make that but if you give them power they'll make it seem a lot worse.
    At the risk of once again being the guy who says, 'You're wrong' (Everybody hates that guy, don't they?) - I'd just like to invite you to consider a different way of looking at the shadows and demons of the mind.

    It's been my experience that you can't starve a demon - starving is what makes demons. Is anything so fearsome and desperate as an animal neglected, starving, and backed into a corner? There's a difference between paying attention to a demon and indulging a demon. When you indulge a demon, it chases you, or it pulls you, or it numbs you. Either way, you're not really interacting with the demon so much as reacting to it.

    What the shadows and dark places within ourselves really want is attention, not indulgence. They want to be looked at and acknowledged.

    When you open the door and let the demons and shadows into your life, you may find that they become something altogether different. In fact, they were never really demons at all. It's important to remember that these things that trouble us so much are us.

    I've done the 'Feeding Your Demons' thing a few times - not a lot, but just a few times. If it's not too indulgent, I'd like to share the experience with you and see what you think.

    One of my demons is a bit too personally specific to share (it just won't translate very well), but another one is one that I think a lot of us struggle with. I struggle with a constant fear of loss, of screwing up and losing what has become a fairly stable and advantageous situational reality for me here. I struggle with a fear of being rejected, fired, ejected, outcast. I think that a lot of us feel some of that. There's always a weird little tension in groups....and at the center of that tension is often the instinctive fear of being pushed out of the pack. To dispense with the description, this demon can be called 'Insecurity'.

    So...I worked with that demon in a 'Feeding Your Demons' process. It starts with nine breathes...in with breath and a release of tension on the out breaths. The first three breaths relate to physical tension. Feel where tension is in your body, breathe into it, and exhale the tension. The second three breaths are similar, but are given to emotional tension. The last three breaths relate to mental tension. At that point, you try to develop a sincere desire to help all beings. Sometimes this can take a while, LOL.

    Then you think of the issue or demon you want to work with. Then you attempt to locate a place in your body that pertains to this demon, a place that is painful or tense. For me, this place is in my chest and often manifests as a tightness in the chest and an ache and tingling that spreads out to my spine..like that feeling you get in your spine when you're terrified that something otherworldly is watching you. Then you imagine what this feeling looks, smells, feels, and tastes like. Be vivid. In my case most recently, this demon felt sharp, metallic, and tasted like metal and oil (I've never eaten motor oil, but it looked like motor oil and tasted like grease and cement). At this point, you create a sentient form for this feeling and the sense perceptions attached to it.

    For me, the demon manifested as a humanoid figure made of sharp metal shards, thin, with metal-rubbing sounds when it moved and spikes jutting out all over. It felt greasy or slick - like an assemblage of oiled knives and sharp needles...it smelled like semi-burned/hot motor oil. It had yellow, sunken eyes beneath a hard metal face that shifted when it moved. It was slightly taller and much skinnier than me - an oily pile of greasy knives and needles shaped in the form of a human, with long, Freddy Krueger-like knives for fingers. And it was pissed! It seethed with malevolence and ill will.

    When you do this process, you sit in a chair with an 'empty' chair in front of you - very close, and you manifest the demon so close that your legs and feet and the legs and feet of the imagined demon touch. After conjuring the demon, you ask it three questions: 'What do you want from me?' 'What do you NEED from me?' 'How will you feel when you get what you NEED?'

    After asking these three questions, you switch places - literally, you take the other chair, eyes closed - and 'become' the demon...you fill up it's physical presence..while imagining yourself sitting across from you...and, stream of thought, in a 'first thought, best thought' sort of way, you answer the questions.

    My demon said, 'I want you to be afraid. I want you to feel as hungry and frightened and monstrous as I do. I want you to feel like you can never rest because I feel like I can never rest. I want you to feel helpless, hopeless, and invisible.'

    Then, it said, 'I NEED you to acknowledge me. I need you to acknowledge that I have something important to say to you. I need to be in the spacious openness of the day. I need you to listen to me. I need you to acknowledge that I'm valuable, important, and useful - and not something to be thrown away or shoved in a cramped, dark place.'

    Lastly, it said, 'When I get what I need, I'll feel like I'm contributing. I'll feel honored, valuable, and loved.'

    At this point, you switch places again and take your own 'body'...and then you imagine yourself dissolving into whatever substance is appropriate or comes to mind (for me, it was honey-like, clean, premium synthetic oil, but a smidge sparklier) and you feed the demon this substance - which is your very body - until it is satisfied. Often, as the demon becomes satisfied, it changes form - subtly, at first. For my demon, it's knives and needles started to round at first, the sound of rubbing metal disappeared, the smell of semi-burned oil began to change into the smell of a new machine - a bit like the new-car-smell, but even cleaner. The metal of the demon which had begun as dark and black and greasy began to shine with reflected light, like clean metal..and the spikes and knives began to melt into a hard but inviting outer 'shell'. By the time the demon was satisfied, it had transformed into an android-like robot. It was very inviting, somehow.

    At this point, you can either dissolve yourself and this new form the demon takes into nothingness and sit with that for awhile, or you can dialogue with your 'ally'. First, ask this 'demon' in it's new form (suddenly not very demonlike) if it is your ally. Sometimes it's not - if it isn't, you thank it and ask if it will allow your ally to appear. In my case, this android-robot WAS my ally.

    Then, you ask the ally three questions:

    'How will you help me?'
    'How will you protect me?'
    'What pledge or commitment do you make to me?'
    'How can I gain access to you?'

    Then, as with the demon, you change places - fully embody the ally, and answer the questions. Finally, you and the ally dissolve into one another, and then into emptiness. Then you sit as emptiness.

    This process brought great peace to me. I noticeably stopped feeling the urge to spend money on frivolous things (the urge came back later, but the peace and reduced urge lasted the whole of the day, at least...and when the urges came back, they were not as strong).

    Anyway - sorry if that description was too long and personal...but I think it illustrates a different way of interacting with one's shadows and demons besides just starving them of attention.

    *gassho*

    Chet

    (Oh yeah - I forgot to fully explain the significance of the 'android' - the android is the 'automatic' and 'reliable' part of me that can be trusted to do the necessary tasks to keep me secure and safe..)

  47. #47

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Hi Chet
    What you said was spot on IMHO.
    You describe something that, minus some of the 'ritual' around it, is close to what I was saying as a psychotherapeutic method I use a lot with folks. We can treat ourselves as an alliance of beings for practical purposes. Each being has a purpose (not reason)..something they were created to do. If that purpose is subjugated or denied then the demon arises. When acknowledged the demon transforms. However, if it doesnt stay transformed then its 'demon-ness' is again necessary in your life OR the orginal process didn't get to the core purpose and offer better ways of achieveing that purpose.
    It can be done with the two chairs..to make sure the unconscious gets its say by switching rapidly between the chairs works better for some folks (after some embarrassment at talking to oneself spontaneously and starting off with self-conscious stuff to begin with, in lots of cases). It can be done with two chairs and visualisation but no movement- if one has the ability to not interfere. It can be done without any ritual at all. It can even be done without any conscious awareness of the 'part of you'!
    My maps and models post relates to this.
    Best wishes all.
    Rich

  48. #48

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Thanks Chet, I'll try something like that. And I do agree they are part of us so a process of acknowlegement and acceptance that you described, over time will probably lead to less time and attention required of them, hopefully.
    /Rich

  49. #49

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    Keishin,

    I'm going to frame this!

    Gassho,

    SZ

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    I am late to this party! Hellos to all here, my thoughts, such as they are:

    the mind is an a maze ing place

    it a mazes me all the time

    as I get caught in my a maze ment at the extraordinary richness, the dire paucity, the nuanced and the blatant
    the preposterous and the hypothesis

    so curly, the curlicues of mind

    zazen: to my utter dis maze, show me how whispy these hedgerows of thought I am corralled in by

    and how these whisps are my fetters

    zazen:

    guaranteed to un a maze you

    (ask for a refund if not completely satisfied)

  50. #50

    Re: Chöd and other Buddhist approaches to practical demonkeeping

    I suppose this may have been said a few times before but hey, an extra two cents can only add to the donation pile!

    Coming from what limited experience I have I have to say it all depends on the person and how they "spice their soup" I suppose. Some like it fiery and lively, many herbs, spices, fancy techniques, some instruction from a master chef. Others prefer miso, simple, "easy" (I have yet to make a satisfactory batch despite the "simplicity"), and refined. My best advice? Don't mix your recipes, it probably won't taste very good. I tried the spicy soup, and found a simpler recipe was right for me. I wish you well in your cooking!

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