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Thread: The Swimming Whole ...

  1. #1

    The Swimming Whole ...

    I am going to dive in and take the liberty of re-posting this here ... cause I think it goes (as the British say) 'swimmingly' ... although some may think it just 'all wet' ...

    _________________________________________

    The Swimming Whole ...

    Let me describe Shikantaza as like diving into an 'ol swimming hole ... a "swimming whole".

    Sometimes, jumping into the waters of Shikantaza, I might feel like I'm just swimming freely and easily way far in the deep end. In fact, that "deep end" is so deep and vast that ... truly ... it does not seem limited at all by width or length or height or bottom or borders (so boundless and whole that even limited words like "deep" and "vast" cannot serve as a description). It might sound very very scary to swim there, as if one might easily lose one's bearings of "up" and "down" and "here" and "there" and "near" and "far" ... and thus DROWN! ... but it is not like that at all. One feels in one's natural home, a fish in water ... in fact, perfectly 'waterfish' ... and a swimmer can 'lose himself' there (in a very good way) and swim freely and effortlessly in all directions. In fact, if one gets really really really deep beyond sight of the shore ... one can experience sometimes that there is no "I" who is a "swimmer" with arms and legs forging ahead in some "water" ... no "place to go" or "time" ... and all is just flowing flowing.flowing effortlessly and naturally. Perhaps it is much like an unborn infant floating peacefully in the womb ... the infant even without thought of itself vs. mother, of up and down, inside and outside, of birth.

    The other end of the "swimmin' hole" is shallow and hot, most folks spend their life there, and it makes a very crowded beach. Folks bump into one another and often feel cramped and lacking, constantly looking at their watches and hoping for something better. They must head again and again to the over priced concession stands to stuff themselves with junk. They almost cannot find the water amid the plastic trash and oil spills, and are lost in searching for it. When they encounter it, most are afraid to jump in.

    (In fact, the "deep" water is so all encompassing and boundless, that it fully holds the shallow end too, and everything else ... All is just the "swimming whole", but the shallow folks usually cannot sense that). Our Shikantaza practice is something like jumping in that water and allowing the current to take us to the deep end.

    Got the image?

    Okay, here's my point:

    Sometimes, in Zazen, we get really really deep ... to the "no swimmer, no water, no time" part. That's good!

    But most days, we are somewhere in between "shallow" and "deep" ... which is good too! One reason is because we come to realize that the "shallow" -is- the "deep" too, just "the deep" in the shallow part close to shore! Also, the shallow part is where life happens, and one cannot really have a life if only out in the deep end. Thus, our real practice is to learn to swim around the shallow end or play up on the beach, and still feel the freedom of the water all around. Something like that.

    Some types of Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies will tell you that the only point of practice (or meditation) is to get into the really really really deep part. They claim that everything in the shallow end is a lie, or "delusion", so we must get away from the shallow. Even some schools of "Zen" will emphasize something like that ... that the "real" is only when we are in the very very deep water far away from shore.

    But I do not feel so. I feel that our practice is to sometimes be in the deep water, sometimes in the middle water or shallow water, sometimes frolicking on the beach ... but feeling up to our gills that it is all the "boundless water" and we are always swimming free all the time (even when, as often happens, we cannot always feel free, or wet, or even damp). Thus, we realize, that the shallow is not "shallow" at all, and is in fact the deep water whole (i.e., delusion is not just "delusion", samsara is not just samsara etc.). Our view and experience of the beach and shore is transformed into something very different (although the same old crowded beach too ... with its junk food to avoid and oil spills to clean up ... despite being also all Healthy and Clean from the start).

    So, for that reason, I do not think that the only "good Zazen" is very very deep Jhana states or earth shattering Kensho and the like. Sometimes that is good. It may even be necessary in our practice to get out there from time to time. But, ultimately, shallow swimming is good, deep swimming is good, in between swimming is good ... so long as we learn, through Shikantaza, that it is all deep, all "whole", all beyond "deep or shallow", there is no place we need go, no time to get there.

    In that, we keep on swimming swimming swimming energetically and moving ahead in life ... even though we are always up to our necks in the H2O, and there is no place to go that's not soaking wet. Something like that.

    By the way, how do we "find the water" in Shikantaza? Why, by giving up the distant search ... by being still ... thus to find that we were bathing in it, and were it, all along! Then, we cast out our arms ... drop all resistance ... merging into the stream ... allowing the current to carry us where it will. Deep "Shikantaza" is good swimming, shallow "Shikantaza" is good swimming ... all is good swimming.

    Something like that. A swimming whole.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-05-2013 at 02:48 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Thank you Jundo. I needed this today.

    Roaming around Dogen’s texts—
    I often feel confused.
    His words make logic and reason useless—
    but I must remember,
    there is no place to get lost.

    --Rehn

  3. #3

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Beautiful.

    Gassho,

    Lu

  4. #4

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Thank you Jundo!

    gassho, L.

  5. #5

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Thank you for this !

    Gassho

    Ensho

  6. #6

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Go with the flow and learn to surf!

  7. #7

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Swimming is an art, and yet, it is a natural aspect of human life. When we are young, we need an instructor to help us learn to hold our breathe underwater. Yet, as we gain experience, we learn, by ourselves, that we can not only hold our breathe, but we can also open our eyes underwater!
    What a wonderful experience that is! We can now maneuver and play games like swimming underneath an inflatable raft, or swimming between a sibling's outstretched legs, or picking up mussels (or rocks) from the bottom!
    So much more we are capable of when we learn to swim. And yes! The entire world disappears when we swim for the island (or sandbar) and we have that one goal in mind. But we know that there is more than the island, we know that this is simply a stepping-stone along our path of becoming who we are.
    Yet, we don't know who we will be or if reaching the island will have any significance whatsoever! It's just something we do. Then we do something else. And something else.
    And so is life. We always do "something else" but "do" we ever "do" what we are doing right now?

    -Jim

  8. #8
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Other than the somewhat groan-worthy pun, I like this

    Reminds me of lyrics to two Meat Puppets songs:

    "Swimming Ground"

    The best place I ever found
    Wasn’t close to any town
    Was a little swimming ground
    Everything just floating around


    "Up On the Sun"

    Up on the sun where it never rains or snows
    There’s an ocean with a wind that never blows
    And if you see it closer, then the finer points will show


    I used to spend a lot of time chasing after "deep" experiences, and, similarly, "intense" experiences. I still enjoy both, but my will to truth eventually forced me to confront the fact that no one seemed to be able to escape the boring, tedious, sad, etc., aspects of daily life to some wonderful transcendent place... that no one had ever actually been "raptured," that everyone talking about Heaven or profound truth or enlightenment all were speaking from lives of piss and shit and cornflakes, personal foibles and occasional bouts of delusional grandiosity.

    And I realized, if I was looking for "truth," or something "absolute," how could it be anywhere other than here? Robert Thurman gave a great talk on this once, I'll have to go look it up on YouTube, in which he pointed out that if the nature of the Absolute is that it is not relative to anything else, how could the Absolute be separate from everything else? How could it not be right here? I don't know what it is that is in the deep end, but it's not truth, at least not in the sense that it's any more or less present in the deep than in the shallow end...

  9. #9

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    And I realized, if I was looking for "truth," or something "absolute," how could it be anywhere other than here?
    Yup! Life is just this. You know it, I know it, now everybody knows it.

    What more is there but "this"?

    -Jim

  10. #10

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Jim,

    Thank you for joining. You wrote...

    Yup! Life is just this. You know it, I know it, now everybody knows it.
    Precisely, Jim. Coming from" I know" mind, the statement is pretty dull and closed.

    Experience in your flesh and blood "life is just this" coming from "I don't know" mind, and it is a different story. A complete different taste.

    Up to you. Easy peasy. Just forget the self.

    gassho


    Taigu

  11. #11
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Zen - the freedom from pretending to know.

    Chet

  12. #12

    Re: The Swimming Whole ...

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Zen - the freedom from pretending to know.
    Thanks Chet. Ever have a moment where everything just opens up and says ahhh? I had one when I read this definintion of zen. Coming from a southern protestant background where we pretend to know all the answers, have all the solutions, are right in everything we say and do...phew! BULLSHIIIIITTTTT!!! It's good to say the truth. We don't have to pretend to know. We don't have to pretend to be good. We don't have to pretend that we're not afraid at times. WE DON'T HAVE TO PRETEND. That's called being a real human being. And somehow that makes everything alright. When we stop trying to know, then a real intuitive knowing arises. When we stop trying to be good, then a genuine, compassionate goodness arises in our heart. When we stop pretending, we reveal the face we had before we were born.

    gassho
    ghop

  13. #13
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    This is such a great analogy Jundo! Thank you. Everyday, as everyday practice, as everyday zazen, everyday! Gassho.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  14. #14
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heisoku View Post
    This is such a great analogy Jundo! Thank you. Everyday, as everyday practice, as everyday zazen, everyday! Gassho.
    This is probably one of the few forums on the internet where reviving old threads is actually a nice experience.

    This is a nice reminder, especially for those of us beginners whom spend most of our time in the shallow end still!
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    This is probably one of the few forums on the internet where reviving old threads is actually a nice experience.

    This is a nice reminder, especially for those of us beginners whom spend most of our time in the shallow end still!
    As a new member of this community, I want to say that it is great that these past discussions come up. I read this post by Jundo created nearly two years ago and think wow, this gives me comfort in my practice. I have been practicing zazen for around a year. Some days a relish my practice in the deep end and others I may be disparaged by my practice in the shallow end. Understanding that deep is shallow and shallow is deep is wondrous. Thank you to Heisoku for reviving this thread that I might never have noticed amongst the vastness of this community.

    Gassho,

    Jeff

  16. #16
    This is beautiful Jundo, thank you. I love to swim.

    Gassho
    Michael
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

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