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Thread: Just stop

  1. #1
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Just stop

    There's the Buddhist story of Angulimala, an unrepentant killer who followed closely in the Buddha's tracks one day, with the intent to kill him. But somehow, he could not catch up with the Buddha, and the Buddha just kept on walking. Angulimala cried out in frustration, "Won't you just stop?" The Buddha replied, "I have stopped, Angulimala. It is you who has not stopped." Angulimala said, "How so? How have you stopped? You keep walking." The Buddha replied, "I have stopped running after things, I have stopped getting caught up in greed and hatred." Angulimala was struck by Buddha's demeanor and what he said, became a disciple of the Buddha, renounced his past lifestyle, and became enlightened.

    I mention this story because it was evoked by something I saw today in myself.

    I do not know how to stop doing, how to stop trying to get more out of things, how to stop trying to build a better mousetrap. If I'm not getting what I want out of one approach, I try another. And then another. This works with some things, but for many things it does not, and usually it does not work for the things that matter most in life: love, relationship, and realization of truth.

    I realized: most of our problems are solved not by doing more or doing something different, but by stopping doing whatever dysfunctional thing it is we are doing. Therapy works because it helps us see the behaviors that damage our relationships and/or other aspects of our lives, learn what is emotionally compelling about continuing with this dysfunctional behavior, resolve the emotional compulsion, and stop the behavior. We can learn new techniques and new behaviors, but it's more about what we stop doing.

    All the more with the spiritual path. I keep sitting on the cushion, waiting and hoping for some kind of "enlightenment" or "kensho" to happen. But what am I doing? I'm trying to use techniques to make a certain outcome happen. It doesn't work that way. I see it's not about finding a different way to try to make it happen, but stopping trying to make anything happen.

    Just stop.

    It's not necessary to use any new techniques or spiritual technology, to get smarter and more proficient. Just stop picking up the hot coals, stop getting sucked into the storyline, stop looking for something different, stop trying to wrench life into a different form. Stop trying to sit more regularly, stop trying to make yourself into a 'good Zen student.' Just drop all of it. What a relief.

    Easier to say this than to do it, though... :lol:

  2. #2

    Re: Just stop

    I think this must be a long-term change to thinking patterns. I mean, I STARTED investigating Buddhism because the concept of dukkha seemed so right, and the Buddha said there was a solution. I came looking for a solution, which makes it hard to quit judging if I am reaching the solution, and changing courses if it appears I am not "making progress." Which, of course, guarantees you won't "make progress" :roll:

    But there are days when all that disappears and I just sit. It's pretty sweet.

    Good luck,

    Craig

  3. #3

    Re: Just stop

    Stephanie, I think the stopping Gotama talked about takes some practice. So if you 'Stop trying to sit more regularly' do you have another practice plan in mind?
    /Rich

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
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    2,901

    Re: Just stop

    Stephanie,

    Thank you for this beautiful post, so true, so true. The way to not-doing, what you call "to just stop" cannot be taught through a technique, another more subtle form of doing, these things appear to be gimmicks after a while and we are back to square one. One of the problems is the amount of expectations the ego throw at us all the time, as if always trying to feed this " I don't have enough", "there must be something else to it"... Acceptance is a big non-step towards equanimity, being just happy with what's on our plate, enjoying every moment even difficult, painful. Not doing is not decorating experience or turning it into a new rule, trap or system; to accept experience as raw and naked. Pain as pain, Joy as joy, him or her as him or her. As it is is this naked, uncontrived, unrefined being. Should you then stop sitting for the sake of stopping when sitting is the precisely what bypasses all the ego games and invites you to stop, to be this naked, open and dancing beingness?

    take great care of yourself and see how carefree you are already.

    Taigu

  5. #5
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Just stop

    Thank you for the feedback, all.

    Don't worry, I am not stopping sitting!

    For what it's worth, today I sat for the second day in a row.

    The problem is that I've been trying to approach my inconsistent sitting practice with a very ego-driven orientation, that I just need to find the right technique to bootstrap myself into daily sitting. Jundo suggested that I take the resistance to sitting that I'm encountering as a koan in itself, which was helpful. There's a sense of openness in taking it as a koan... gentle, forgiving... less of a drill sergeant mentality. I don't think the drill sergeant approach is really going to get me back into a daily sitting practice. I think part of the problem to begin with is that gaining mentality I bring to the cushion, which goes hand in hand with the drill sergeant. I'm glad Jundo didn't give me a technique to put into the hands of the drill sergeant when I asked for one. Nice to engage with life and practice as a song or poem, rather than an instruction manual, ledger, or workbook.

    There's a way to vigorously engage with a situation without putting on the warpaint.

  6. #6

    Re: Just stop

    I do not know how
    That's the point.

    Gassho

  7. #7

    Re: Just stop

    Hellos to those stopping to post here
    hellos to those posting to stop here
    hellos to those here posting

    while I do not chant as part of my daily practice at this time, there were times in my practice when I spent years chanting
    some pieces of those chants have become bits which surface to consciousness
    'at this moment what more need we seek' is one such bit of a chant and it becomes a bit of a ditty, an itty bitty ditty, but an itty bitty does it sometimes

    at this moment what more need we seek, this very place is the land of lotuses and this very body is the body of the Buddha

    but for me just the bit 'at this moment, what more need we seek' beautifully says everything

    like a tiny breath freshener, this itty bit is a mind freshener for me

    titles of some books do it for me too 'the wisdom of no escape' ' you must say something' and 'return to silence' ' sit down and shut up'....'peace is every step'
    I don't need to have read th book or remember what I read (thank goodness, the sieve being what it is)
    just the titles already are so helpful

    stopping?

    What is it that 'stops'?

    Maybe Walt Whitman in his cart in the woods on a snowy evening...

  8. #8
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Just stop

    "In this very moment, what is missing?" - Lin Chi

    How do you stop? You don't start. When you start, you unhook.

    Chet

  9. #9

    Re: Just stop

    Sengcan had something to say about stopping:

    When you strive to gain quiescence by stopping motion,
    The quiescence thus gained is ever in motion;


    Last year, sewing the rakusu, Taigu pointed out again and again that the activity was unremarkable and nothing special. I found it helpful to apply the same attitude to sitting.

    gassho,

    JohnH

  10. #10
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Just stop

    Quote Originally Posted by jrh001

    Last year, sewing the rakusu, Taigu pointed out again and again that the activity was unremarkable and nothing special. I found it helpful to apply the same attitude to sitting.
    Perfect.

    Chet

  11. #11

    Re: Just stop

    Stephanie,

    I too have a hard time stopping and letting things just be. All my life, I've never been very mechanically inclined. I don't know what end of a wrench to use half the time, and I am very much a believer in paying someone to do those things for me. Well, lately, I have tried to just stop worrying about the outcome and try to do some of this type of work myself. I've noticed that it has nothing to do with my abilities because after all if one person can do it, why couldn't I learn how to do the same thing? I am just trying to stop before I start and imagine what I am about to do and the best route to take. I try to think of all the possibilities and probable outcomes before I start so that I can calm any frustrations or negative self image that may come about with trying to complete a task outside of my comfort zone. I have found that this is working the same way with my practice. Zazen, for me, is a little outside of my comfort zone because I feel like I should be doing something; not just sitting on a cushion and trying not to think. For a long time I was trying to achieve something out of my zazen practice. I noticed that if my 30 minutes sitting didn't have any outcome, I felt a little disappointed in myself. I felt that "I" was doing something wrong. I noticed that I started sitting zazen less and less as this disappointment deepened. There would be weeks when I wouldn't sit at all. This, in turn, would deepen my disappointment and my feelings of worthlessness. I still came to treeleaf almost every day and read the posts, but I didn't have the same interest. Then, a thought struck me. Why am I trying to achieve enlightenment or kensho, when there is absolutely nothing to achieve? It is already here, we just need to awaken to that fact. Even chasing these things is delusion and I experienced this first hand. I have heard Jundo, Chet, yourself, and many others say this over the past several months, but I actually had to experience this feeling first hand for it to really make sense. We are all just the way we are. Nothing to add, nothing to take away, to quote Jundo and others. I have experienced the truth of this practice many times, but never had it been so simple. Now, if the notion of zaen enters my mind, I go sit zazen. Even if just for 10 minutes. I have become more regular in my sitting and feel that the above realization is the reason why. I just try to remember that no matter the outcome, I am still Adam. I cannot escape that fact. And that is okay. I hope that I made some sense in this reply. Thank you.

    Gassho,

    Adam

    PS - I love your Nick Cave quote! I really appreciate his music. Thanks again.

  12. #12

    Re: Just stop

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    ... I should be doing something; not just sitting on a cushion and trying not to think.
    Now, if you can just give up that last bit of "trying"! 8)

    Here are some old posts I put up today on another thread about all this trying not trying thus attaining not attaining ...

    viewtopic.php?p=36338#p36338

    Gassho, J

  13. #13

    Re: Just stop

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    ... I should be doing something; not just sitting on a cushion and trying not to think.
    Now, if you can just give up that last bit of "trying"! 8)

    Here are some old posts I put up today on another thread about all this trying not trying thus attaining not attaining ...

    viewtopic.php?p=36338#p36338

    Gassho, J
    Exactly!

    Gassho,

    Adam

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