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Thread: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Hey all,

    We're told over and over and over - 'Don't judge your practice!' - and yet, over and over and over, we do anyway. Getting back into this practice the last couple of years, I've completely abandoned all judgement of my practice - 'good', 'bad' - it's not really your business - let it be.

    Experiment with it. Try it for a week. Actively restrain yourself from judging your practice and see how it changes things.

    This is merely a suggestion....but I think it's a good one.

    Chet

  2. #2

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Hey all,

    We're told over and over and over - 'Don't judge your practice!' - and yet, over and over and over, we do anyway. Getting back into this practice the last couple of years, I've completely abandoned all judgement of my practice - 'good', 'bad' - it's not really your business - let it be.

    Experiment with it. Try it for a week. Actively restrain yourself from judging your practice and see how it changes things.

    This is merely a suggestion....but I think it's a good one.

    Chet
    And at the same time ... we keep pushing ahead with sincerity. The Way is not complacency or giving up. We "Just Sit" with hands in the Mudra, which is not just sitting down twiddling our thumbs. Much like an energetic run through the mountains without need to arrive, each step by step the total arrival ... yet on and on forward with body-mind.

    This is important to realize.

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=14695

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Hey all,

    We're told over and over and over - 'Don't judge your practice!' - and yet, over and over and over, we do anyway. Getting back into this practice the last couple of years, I've completely abandoned all judgement of my practice - 'good', 'bad' - it's not really your business - let it be.

    Experiment with it. Try it for a week. Actively restrain yourself from judging your practice and see how it changes things.

    This is merely a suggestion....but I think it's a good one.

    Chet
    And at the same time ... we keep pushing ahead with sincerity. The Way is not complacency or giving up. We "Just Sit" with hands in the Mudra, which is not just sitting down twiddling our thumbs. Much like an energetic run through the mountains without need to arrive, each step by step the total arrival ... yet on and on forward with body-mind.

    This is important to realize.

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=14695
    I'm talking more about the post-game analysis, Jundo. Yes, sincere effort is required.

    Chet

  4. #4
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Jundo,

    Did you think I meant don't judge when you don't practice? I guess all I meant was that sometimes when I talk to people, they say things like, 'My zazen was no good today, my mind never settled down, I was disturbed, I couldn't focus, (etc)'. My response is always, 'Yeah, welcome to the human mind..' I guess what I'm saying is 'Don't judge the content of your practice.' I would think that sincere effort would be implied - why sit if you're sitting without sincere effort? The thing is, even with sincere effort, people think that they didn't get the 'right' results when they sit.

    People will say, "My mind wanders and five minutes later, I realize I've gone on this crazy ride." Well yeah, but it was the noticing and bringing it back to just this that is the practice. This might get 'better' after more practice, but I don't think that's really the point. The point is, you noticed that you were hooked into a wild ride and then you unhooked. Yeah, it took five minutes, but it didn't take ten. I don't see how judging a zazen period filled with unsettled thoughts as 'bad' does very much but reinforce this idea of zazen practice as the attempt to become the accomplished meditator.

    Chet

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    People will say, "My mind wanders and five minutes later, I realize I've gone on this crazy ride." Well yeah, but it was the noticing and bringing it back to just this that is the practice. This might get 'better' after more practice, but I don't think that's really the point. The point is, you noticed that you were hooked into a wild ride and then you unhooked. Yeah, it took five minutes, but it didn't take ten. I don't see how judging a zazen period filled with unsettled thoughts as 'bad' does very much but reinforce this idea of zazen practice as the attempt to become the accomplished meditator.

    Chet
    Very nice description of one my bad habits.

    Thank you Chet.

    Ron

  6. #6

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Gassho

    Shohei

  7. #7

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Jundo,

    Did you think I meant don't judge when you don't practice? I guess all I meant was that sometimes when I talk to people, they say things like, 'My zazen was no good today, my mind never settled down, I was disturbed, I couldn't focus, (etc)'. My response is always, 'Yeah, welcome to the human mind..' I guess what I'm saying is 'Don't judge the content of your practice.' I would think that sincere effort would be implied - why sit if you're sitting without sincere effort? The thing is, even with sincere effort, people think that they didn't get the 'right' results when they sit.
    I'm fully with you Chet, well said. Yeah baby!

    I just drop in my caution, not for you, but for beginners who might hear "don't judge your practice" and think it is a license to just sit there playing and wallowing in all the mental crap, or to sit there like a lump on a dead log. They may hear "goalless" and conclude "pointless, time killing sitting is the point". They should realize that "not judging" and dropping "right and wrong" does not mean there is not a right and wrong way to sit! 8) :shock:

    Barry Magid (an heir to Joko Beck ... He is also a clinical psychologist, which comes through in some of his lingo sometimes.) has a good article pretty much up the same alley with your comment, Chet.

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p ... more-15176

    Gassho, J

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by rculver

    Very nice description of one my bad habits.

    Thank you Chet.

    Ron
    Ditto...but I'll just say "habits" and try not to call it "bad". But I usually think of it as bad anyway. Good post!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  9. #9
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by rculver

    Very nice description of one my bad habits.

    Thank you Chet.

    Ron
    Ditto...but I'll just say "habits" and try not to call it "bad". But I usually think of it as bad anyway. Good post!

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Great! But will you try the experiment? One week of practice wthout judgement.

    Chet

  10. #10

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Barry Magid (an heir to Joko Beck ... He is also a clinical psychologist, which comes through in some of his lingo sometimes.) has a good article pretty much up the same alley with your comment, Chet.

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p ... more-15176
    Wow! Thanks Jundo. This is a cool article.

    Not to jump in but... I've been going at it pretty regularly since I got laid off and
    for the past week or so it's been wonderful. Then out of nowhere...BAM! Since
    yesterday it's like I'm sitting with my head in that blender that you talked about
    on your blog. No explanation. Haven't been eating bad or doing anything any different.
    I'm trying to have peace with the fact that my peace got took away. But I like what
    the article says, that sitting is like a mirror. You don't have to do anything, it just
    automatically shows you what's going on in your field of experience...not always a
    pretty sight! :wink:

    gassho
    ghop

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by rculver

    Very nice description of one my bad habits.

    Thank you Chet.

    Ron
    Ditto...but I'll just say "habits" and try not to call it "bad". But I usually think of it as bad anyway. Good post!

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Great! But will you try the experiment? One week of practice wthout judgement.

    Chet
    Yes, I will try (Master Yoda is whispering something in my ear about "do or do not")...so, I will do.



    Gassho,
    Dosho

  12. #12
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Yes, I have been trying to not judge my zazen for a while now. I agree with the thought behind this, but from my experience it's really hard, because our minds have been conditioned to judge. So, i would temper this a bit by saying don't invest anything in those inevitable judgments of your practice once they happen. Discarding those judgements is just another part of the process/practice.

  13. #13
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Ghop: Your peace didn't go anywhere - just like the blue sky is still there above the clouds - and it even IS the clouds. If your peace requires the clear sky, it's just another conditioned situational peace that can and will come and go like all conditioned things. There's even peace in 'not-peace' - the basic ground of Buddha is not conditioned.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  14. #14
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Yes, I have been trying to not judge my zazen for a while now. I agree with the thought behind this, but from my experience it's really hard, because our minds have been conditioned to judge. So, i would temper this a bit by saying don't invest anything in those inevitable judgments of your practice once they happen. Discarding those judgements is just another part of the process/practice.
    Yeah, it is hard..until it isn't anymore. I'm sure it's different for everyone - but I was crushed by mt expectations regarding the practice and the sheer magnitude of the stupidity of my actions make it a lasting lesson.

    Chet

  15. #15

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Ghop: Your peace didn't go anywhere - just like the blue sky is still there above the clouds - and it even IS the clouds. If your peace requires the clear sky, it's just another conditioned situational peace that can and will come and go like all conditioned things. There's even peace in 'not-peace' - the basic ground of Buddha is not conditioned.
    Thanks Chet. It's all just so hard to grasp because the mind that I'm trying to grasp it with doens't even exist. It definitely feels like I'm "doing it right" when things flow peacefully along, and "doing it wrong" when my mind is nothing but gravel. It's like I keep wanting to look through a window and then I am told that I am the window, but I don't feel like the window, I feel like I'm standing inside the room looking out. Does that make sense? When the mind starts churning again after a period of peace I start doubting "objectless" sitting and I want to start counting or following my breath, thinking I will find the desired results there since I lost them here. But I can tell a difference between sitting now compared to even four months ago when I started. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but something is different...not better just more clear, more open. Anyway, thanks!

    gassho
    ghop

  16. #16

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    So, i would temper this a bit by saying don't invest anything in those inevitable judgments of your practice once they happen. Discarding those judgements is just another part of the process/practice.
    This is important. Do not judge ... even to the point that ya cut yourself some slack, and do not get judgmental over the fact that you may have slipped into judging for a moment! Just notice the fact, and return to non-judging! :shock: Good point, Al. In "Just Sitting" we drop all thoughts of "good and bad" even to the point of not thinking it "bad" if we sometimes fall into thoughts of "good and bad" for a time!

    Sounds crazy ... but that's ZEN! :wink:

    We also have that "judging without judging" (acceptance without acceptance) perspective ... where we can have some moderate judgments, and simultaneously radically drop all judgments (on another channel, if you will) ... SOME JUDGMENTS AND NO JUDGMENTS AT ALL, ALL AT ONCE!!

    As Chet said ... if you can see it, There's even peace in 'not-peace'

    Ghop said ...

    When the mind starts churning again after a period of peace I start doubting "objectless" sitting and I want to start counting or following my breath, thinking I will find the desired results there since I lost them here.
    Yes ... and that "ego-I's" own "doubting" "wanting" "thinking of desired results" and of "loss" is exactly what we drop away in Shikantaza.

    Perhaps, in this practice, we are not pushing passing sensations of "peace" so much as the abiding Peace of being totally at home in one's moccasins (in fact, just being the moccasins! 8) ). The former you can get quicker with a valium. The latter is truly a sound way to live, free of all resistance to life, oneness with the self-life-world.

    I am watching the "Buddha" from PBS that was broadcast last week. Of course, it is just an interpretation by some of the quoted commentators in that one film, but the story does leave the impression that ... after trying various extreme practices of the mind and body, and attaining many concentrated states of mind to take him out of this life and let him escape from the world ... the Buddha finally found that it was "just this" all along, right where he stood, and how to be totally "one-life's-moccasins". **

    Gassho, J

    ** I think folks are familiar with the Americanism, "at home in one's moccasins", but it just means to be totally at home in one's own shoes, where one is and with what is.

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    Great! But will you try the experiment? One week of practice wthout judgement.

    Chet
    Yes.

    Ron

  18. #18
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Freeing! Because I am the queen of self-judgement in zazen and everything else. I will try this experiment.

    Gassho
    Julia

  19. #19
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    First and foremost, I completely support the idea of not judging your practice. But Jundo and Taigu have taught me the value of dropping some stones in the still pond, so here goes.

    Once we value something, such as our practice, it is natural to start judging it. The very act of valuing it is a judgment. To practice with sincere effort (as mentioned above) is a series of judgments; sincerity is a judgment of quality and effort is a judgment of how much we put into it. My point is that judgments are inevitable, but they are also useful as motivators. The key is to place these judgments in the proper context. Recognize them for what they are, use them, and then drop them. Can your practice be better? Yes, so get better at it AND so what. It is practice we are doing, not perfection (which is another judgment, btw). Ultimately, you just go with it. Will writes about this here all the time, and he does so quite well, I think (another judgment, btw).

    Many bows for your journey in the practice.....

  20. #20
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    First and foremost, I completely support the idea of not judging your practice. But Jundo and Taigu have taught me the value of dropping some stones in the still pond, so here goes.

    Once we value something, such as our practice, it is natural to start judging it. The very act of valuing it is a judgment. To practice with sincere effort (as mentioned above) is a series of judgments; sincerity is a judgment of quality and effort is a judgment of how much we put into it. My point is that judgments are inevitable, but they are also useful as motivators. The key is to place these judgments in the proper context. Recognize them for what they are, use them, and then drop them. Can your practice be better? Yes, so get better at it AND so what. It is practice we are doing, not perfection (which is another judgment, btw). Ultimately, you just go with it. Will writes about this here all the time, and he does so quite well, I think (another judgment, btw).

    Many bows for your journey in the practice.....
    How would your practice be better? What would that mean?

    This tendency for self-improvement is problematic in a practice like shikantaza. I would hope that after a while, a Zen student would start to realize that exactly what gets in the way of realizing 'just this' is this quest to attain 'just this'. I also think that after a while, the whole 'motivation' thing changes. I don't sit zazen because I think I should, or to get anything, or out of guilt - I sit because I realize that Dogen was right - shikantaza is the expression of enlightenment - I look forward to letting everything drop to the extent that it does (and even dropping the idea of dropping) - just resting 'in this' - which is always with us, but to which we pile on so much. I don't value practice at all - for me, it's beyond value or not-value. I don't want to express enlightenment in shikantaza because I think it's somehow better than delusion, I simply know that my attachment to 'the show' causes stress and even at my most deluded, there is a small reminder caged somewhere in me that never forgets that even in the most screwed-up mental state or situational reality - there is the seed of basic sanity, of Buddha - that permeates even the most convoluted and attached of my mental states. In fact, it's like the seed IS also those convoluted mental states - or that the convoluted mental states are also an expression of the seed of sanity. It's a mistaken belief of the ego that so much energy is required to maintain goodness, to maintain security, to maintain a beneficial 'life-situation' - it's like ego mistakes the expression of enlightenment (which is ALL content) for the seed of enlightenment/goodness/happiness (which is the ESSENCE or GROUND of reality). Basic sanity and goodness require no energy to maintain, and maintaining generally beneficial expressions of that sanity usually only requires a withdrawal of energy from the act of clinging to convoluted mental forms.

    If you bring this 'maintenance' mentality to the practice of shikantaza - you aren't practicing shikantaza. Arguably, you aren't even really practicing Buddhism, IMHO. It's natural and normal to procede this way as a beginner, because our lives are so set up as a 'maintenance of positive content/situations' that it's difficult to even contemplate not doing it in all aspects of our lives. Shikantaza is an invitation to experiment with not doing this quite so automatically. When you then judge your practice, you are introducing this 'maintenance' mindset to a practice that, when engaged in correctly, fundamentally does not honor the assumed preeminence of the maintenance mindset. That is - in shikantaza, there is no language, no foothold, 'nowhere to direct your mind'. Shikantaza is freedom from the assumed preeminence of 'maintenance mind'.

    IMHO.

    Chet

  21. #21

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Hi Chet,

    Gassho

  22. #22

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Shikantaza is an invitation to experiment with not doing this quite so automatically. When you then judge your practice, you are introducing this 'maintenance' mindset to a practice that, when engaged in correctly, fundamentally does not honor the assumed preeminence of the maintenance mindset. That is - in shikantaza, there is no language, no foothold, 'nowhere to direct your mind'. Shikantaza is freedom from the assumed preeminence of 'maintenance mind'.
    Thanks Chet! That last line really gets me. If I suffer from anything it is this gnawing feeling of never adding up, always having to improve something or someone or (mostly) myself. And you're right...I've only been sitting for a few months now, but it's amazing how much of this just starts "dawning" on one when they continue sitting. When I first started I wanted a detailed outline of how to get "there" from "here." I would get kinda angry when Jundo was say "just sit." It was like, no, he's gotta be wrong. I've gotta DO something. But I'm starting to "get it" (even thought there's nothing to get :wink: ) and where at first I was afraid just to experience THIS, I now find so much relief and pleasure just sitting and enjoying the wide open space of WHATEVER.

    gassho
    ghop

  23. #23
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Shikantaza is an invitation to experiment with not doing this quite so automatically. When you then judge your practice, you are introducing this 'maintenance' mindset to a practice that, when engaged in correctly, fundamentally does not honor the assumed preeminence of the maintenance mindset. That is - in shikantaza, there is no language, no foothold, 'nowhere to direct your mind'. Shikantaza is freedom from the assumed preeminence of 'maintenance mind'.
    Thanks Chet! That last line really gets me. If I suffer from anything it is this gnawing feeling of never adding up, always having to improve something or someone or (mostly) myself. And you're right...I've only been sitting for a few months now, but it's amazing how much of this just starts "dawning" on one when they continue sitting. When I first started I wanted a detailed outline of how to get "there" from "here." I would get kinda angry when Jundo was say "just sit." It was like, no, he's gotta be wrong. I've gotta DO something. But I'm starting to "get it" (even thought there's nothing to get :wink: ) and where at first I was afraid just to experience THIS, I now find so much relief and pleasure just sitting and enjoying the wide open space of WHATEVER.

    gassho
    ghop
    My further advice is this - forget all about enlightenment - what is this? There is just this - if this isn't enlightenment, then what could enlightenment be? It really isn't 'something else', because that something else is just a picture in your head or an emotional feeling of lack - it's not a full realization of this - it's extra energy, it's strategizing...it's taking this, making a picture of it, and projecting possible futures, memories of the past, scenarios, etc. The mind will do this anyway, but when you create an identity with it, when you lose an anchoring in the actual reality of your living existence....you're trapped in the 'show', not 'watching the show'....not even really immersed in the show, since you're also sub-strategizing and fluctuating the show to try to get the best possible situation at all times.

    Enlightenment is easy - it's delusion that takes a whole lot of work - we just don't see that because we don't even realize how hard we're working at clinging, aversion, etc.

    IMHO

    Chet

  24. #24

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Hi Chet,

    I don´t know if you have heard this talk by Krishnamurti, it really relates to what you are expressing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqL9c4jYigk[/video]]

    (He gets to the subject after a few of minutes in to the talk, and there´s 5 parts)

    Janne

  25. #25

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    it's taking this, making a picture of it, and projecting possible futures, memories of the past, scenarios, etc. The mind will do this anyway, but when you create an identity with it, when you lose an anchoring in the actual reality of your living existence....you're trapped in the 'show', not 'watching the show'....not even really immersed in the show, since you're also sub-strategizing and fluctuating the show to try to get the best possible situation at all times.
    When you say "create an identity with it" do you mean creating a "self" to experience situations? So really then the whole thing is an illusion, from the viewpoint of "life" happening to "me," right? It's just Life unfolding, and I am a part of that, not seperate, not a victim when things go bad, and not a winner when things go good. Would this be right?

    gassho
    ghop

  26. #26
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    I could give you a philosophical answer, but what help would that be in your actual zazen? I don't want want to give you an anchor to drag into your practice, but when I say 'create an identity' I really mean this activity of getting hooked by a thought. Thoughts will happen, but when you get hooked by one, you go into it and out of diffuse sense perception or 'awareness of everything that is nothing'. Mental objects appear to arise and self-reference happens then. Apparent subject/object dichotomy arises, sensations are organized into apparent distinct forms, and those forms cause a sort of separation awareness - a 'not-me' the formation of which subtly implies a witness. If you watch, the witness isn't stagnant..sometimes it's a subtle sense, other times it jumps into the imagination as a distinct thing.

    When Taigu talks about even the witness being gone, I think he means that even this subtly implied self drops away. He can clear it up if I've got his teaching wrong.

    None of this goble-Dee-gook should concern you at all though, IMHO. Sit, unhook as you get hooked, and don't forget to also unhook this subtle 'unhooker'.

    Chet

  27. #27
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Yes, Chet, something like that. No self, whatsoever. The action of hooking-feeding-cultivating a thought generates an illusion of self, a sticky fiction that may dress itself up in the witness rags. And of course, realizing oneness with life as-it-is, the self drops away. Everytime and non-time two fighting bulls enter the stream and disappear...

    I really like your attempt to describe how it comes about in a nutshell.


    gassho


    Taigu

  28. #28

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    This tendency for self-improvement is problematic in a practice like shikantaza. I would hope that after a while, a Zen student would start to realize that exactly what gets in the way of realizing 'just this' is this quest to attain 'just this'. I also think that after a while, the whole 'motivation' thing changes. I don't sit zazen because I think I should, or to get anything, or out of guilt - I sit because I realize that Dogen was right - shikantaza is the expression of enlightenment - I look forward to letting everything drop to the extent that it does (and even dropping the idea of dropping) - just resting 'in this' - which is always with us, but to which we pile on so much. I don't value practice at all - for me, it's beyond value or not-value. I don't want to express enlightenment in shikantaza because I think it's somehow better than delusion, I simply know that my attachment to 'the show' causes stress and even at my most deluded, there is a small reminder caged somewhere in me that never forgets that even in the most screwed-up mental state or situational reality - there is the seed of basic sanity, of Buddha - that permeates even the most convoluted and attached of my mental states. In fact, it's like the seed IS also those convoluted mental states - or that the convoluted mental states are also an expression of the seed of sanity. It's a mistaken belief of the ego that so much energy is required to maintain goodness, to maintain security, to maintain a beneficial 'life-situation' - it's like ego mistakes the expression of enlightenment (which is ALL content) for the seed of enlightenment/goodness/happiness (which is the ESSENCE or GROUND of reality).

    ===

    My further advice is this - forget all about enlightenment - what is this? There is just this - if this isn't enlightenment, then what could enlightenment be? It really isn't 'something else', because that something else is just a picture in your head or an emotional feeling of lack - it's not a full realization of this - it's extra energy, it's strategizing...it's taking this, making a picture of it, and projecting possible futures, memories of the past, scenarios, etc. The mind will do this anyway, but when you create an identity with it, when you lose an anchoring in the actual reality of your living existence....you're trapped in the 'show', not 'watching the show'....not even really immersed in the show, since you're also sub-strategizing and fluctuating the show to try to get the best possible situation at all times.

    Enlightenment is easy - it's delusion that takes a whole lot of work - we just don't see that because we don't even realize how hard we're working at clinging, aversion, etc.
    Thank you, Chet, and many bows. A succinct, un-sugar coated expression of the infinite depth of this jewel, always here all along. I will keep this post around here somewhere, and pull it out from time to time to read.

    Basic sanity and goodness require no energy to maintain, and maintaining generally beneficial expressions of that sanity usually only requires a withdrawal of energy from the act of clinging to convoluted mental forms.
    On this ... I am not so sure of the "goodness" requiring "no maintenance", however (if I understood your point correctly).

    It is almost as if this walk brings us to a constant cross-roads, and while it leads in and is weighted toward the harmless and Compassionate direction, it can go the other way too. I have never felt that realization in Wisdom necessarily brings about "acting right" on the Compassion face (at least, it does not mean that the inner 'still voice' need be well heard), not without further tending to the garden among the flowers and weeds which can even grow amid "seeds of sanity". I have seen too many folks with deep realization of the world, yet who have somehow lost their way in their relationship to others in this world. I think the Precepts help keep us on the good road, both before and after realization. That may require some "maintenance" and work, for life is complex, ever changing, with new situations and challenges presented one upon another.

    Endless Gassho, Jundo

  29. #29
    disastermouse
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Hey Jundo,

    By 'goodness' I don't really mean 'virtue' or 'right conduct' - virtue and good conduct are content, IMHO - a sort of alignment of 'directly here' wisdom and a true compassion. By 'goodness', I meant the primary reality of 'nothing lacking' (even when expressed as a feeling of lacking, LOL). Maybe I should have used the term 'wholeness'. I'm fond of the term 'fundamental sanity'.

    To me, virtue is a culmination of non-harmful actions that arises from all of the eightfold 'action-plan' working together. Action. Path. Conduct. That is, virtue is a condition that arises. I think this is why Buddha gave moral instruction, because although 'Right View' follows from 'Right Concentration/Absorption', virtue nonetheless IS a conditioned arising. There actually IS maintenance required here.

    It seems that a LOT of people make the assumption that the beauty of a realization of the perfection of fundamental sanity is all that's needed, and I can understand why. It can be a very powerful and jarring thing! But to my understanding, even though one has glimpsed the perfection of reality, still - unskillful views and action patterns do not just disappear. But also, teachings on morals make more sense in light of acquaintence with 'Right View'.

    Chet

  30. #30
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Chet,

    I would like to join my Brother's gassho. Such clarity here. A very good example of how Bodhidharma comes from the West.

    Anyway, thank you.


    Taigu

  31. #31
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    *gassho*

    Chet

  32. #32

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Chet, thank you for your clear expression of self. I will keep practicing.

  33. #33

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Just read some stuff from Kosho Uchiyama. Thought it might go well here.

    "Some people begin with the practice of shikantaza and then give it up quickly because it does not give them that feeling of fullness or because it bores them. They do so because they only understand this awakening a billion times in their heads. That’s why they think, “Oh no! I have to awaken the mind a billion times? What I need is satori! If I hurry up and get one big satori, I can wrap up this billion-times business in a single stroke!”

    It is exactly as if we were told as babies, “From now on you will have to breathe, your whole life long, this very breath, again and again, every single moment. You will breathe in and breathe out billions of times.” What baby would say, “Oh no! I’ve got to find some way to take care of these billion breaths once and for all, with one really big breath..."?
    Even if we tried, we would not succeed."


    "The reason for this is that no matter how much you sit, you are never fully satisfied with your zazen. “Not fully satisfied” means that it does not feel the way your stomach does after a big meal. So many young people who had dedicated themselves, body and soul, to the practice of zazen began at some point to wonder if they weren’t wasting their youth with this zazen that does not fill them up at all. And many finally left, saying: “Aren’t even the older disciples, who have already been practicing this zazen for years, at bottom just ordinary people? I need satori!”

    gassho
    ghop

  34. #34
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Gassho Chet.

    Ron

  35. #35

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Thank you Chet, Jundo, Al, Janne, ghop, and all for a truly great post.

    Shikantaza has not a breaths gap from This!

    Gassho

  36. #36
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Hi all,

    5 days isn't any indication of what will result from an experiment, but I will say I've had a few sits I would previously have labelled "really good" and a few that I would have called "really bad". I'll use neither term here and merely point out that I've been sitting more than I had been in any previous week, perhaps ever. I'd like to label that as positive, but I'll try not to. Seriously, I do think sitting more without judging is a very good thing and that it is all right to say so.

    The experiment continues and truly never ends...

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  37. #37
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    I've discovered I'm really judgemental. I keep creating "perfect" scenarios in my head and then getting angry/upset when they don't work out as "I" think they should.

    Ron

  38. #38

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    e experiment continues and truly never ends...
    Gassho Dosho! 8) I like saying that...sounds funny. :lol:

    I like what you say. I'm going to adopt this view. In an experiment we don't look for certain
    results, we just wait and see what happens. I seem to be addicted to form. When practice
    doesn't go the way I want it to I start grasping at a "form" of practice, i.e. counting breaths,
    watching the breath, focusing on the hara. I start thinking about Thich and Suzuzuki and
    other teachers who handed out techniques to calm the mind and think, "man, if I just do it
    that way then the results I am looking for will happen." Wrong. Self is a bitch, man. But
    Jundo is giving us something that will change our lives. I think when he says "There is no
    bad zazen," it is just his way of reminding us to be kind to ourselves, unconditionally kind.
    I need that because most of the time I treat myself like a stray dog. It seems like everytime
    I say something about my practice going well, for the next few days it goes just the opposite.
    Anyway, can't go wrong with a lifetime experiment, can I? After all, who knows? Who knows?

    gassho
    ghop

  39. #39

    Re: Experiment: Don't judge your practice (really!)

    So much and so little all at the same time! My meditation experience prior to committing to zazen was very elaborate, with many visualizations, symbols, commitments, magical promises, etc... And for what? To experience something different? Different than what! Because I am a fresh fish out of the ocean I have a hard time not judging, and then not judging my judging but it is something I try to be mindful of. Many expectations of what "should be" when it is more "what is". Oops, judging myself again! ops:

    I did a piece of calligraphy last night. An enso with the word "Sit." in the center. I hung it right above my cushion because that's all I feel like I need to bring. Myself, and just sit with that.

    Gasshos all around for the very helpful advice.

    Taylor

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