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Thread: Shikin-cycling? Cycling-Taza?

  1. #1

    Shikin-cycling? Cycling-Taza?

    Any cyclists in our sangha? I had an interesting experience today. I went out for my Saturday morning ride. During my rides, I try to keep a clear mind, let my thoughts go. My mind is certainly not as still as when sitting zazen, but it is definitely a different experience than prior to my (limited) zen experience. When cycling with a clear mind, my awareness of the surroundings, sounds, body, is heightened.

    Today, however, was a "cloudy" day. I had a song running through my head for THREE HOURS that I could not let go of. Not being in the best shape and with summer just starting in Arizona, I was pretty shot. I stopped at a stop light, rested my head on the aerobars, exhaled, and quit trying to "clear my mind." Suddenly, the song stopped, my mind stopped, the clouds cleared. AHA!

    The rest of the ride was song-free and very aware. When I got home, I sat zazen with the attitude "this is a vacation for my mind - it doesn't have to work for the next 30 minutes". I had a blue sky day on the zafu.

    I'm sure there are more clouds on the horizon, but I learned something today.

    Craig

  2. #2

    Re: Shikin-cycling? Cycling-Taza?

    Hi Craig,

    I am doing 30 kilometres today, on a Japanese "mama chariot" I paid $80 for 10 years ago in the supermarket ... Before he got big and could ride his own bike, I used to do it with Leon on the back .... Kinda like this, 'cept this mama has the 2 child version ...




    I often describe our practice as just riding a bike ... not in the competitive 'Tour de France' way, but as a ride just to ride on a Sunday afternoon, no place to get to ... the ride itself the point, always just here and here and here.

    The way to attain the balance of riding a bicycle on two wheels is --not-- by tightening up and struggling to stay balanced ... it is by being easy, neither strained nor too relaxed, not "trying", allowing the natural balance to manifest. It is something even a child can do, but which even a scientist cannot fully capture in words. If you analyze what you are doing while actually trying to ride, commanding your legs "left right left right," good chance that you will tumble off the bike. On a warm afternoon, you just pick up your legs and peddle, peddle ... No thought is necessary as to what keeps you balanced and perched upon the seat (and thinking is a good way to tumble off), no thought is necessary as to whether ground & bike & rider are one thing or many, whether the scenery is interior or exterior. Just ride ride.

    In Shikantaza-biking we come to realize that the “goal” is not the crossing of some far off line. Instead, each step-by-step of the ride itself IS the destination fully attained, the finish line is ever underfoot and constantly crossed with each inch. Each turn of the wheel is instantaneously a perfect arriving at the winner’s tape! To know that there is no finish line to cross even as we ride this ride (and it rides us!), no target to hit, is to perpetually arrive at the destination ... yet, we do not give up the journey. The riding is all ... and is a perfect act, the one place to be and the one thing to do on life's road at that moment. When we are sitting, on this bike we do not think that we “should be” someplace else, or that there is a better way to spend our time. Instead, we find each moment of sitting complete, with not one thing to add or take away from the moment. In other words, we keep on riding riding riding knowing that we belong on the seat, and there is no grander place to be! Seat-scenery-rider-bike and ride just one.

    Our Zen Practice is not about never losing our balance (some folks think that Buddhism is about that, about never reacting in a "human" and "negative" way, but I do not think so). It is about being able to return to our balanced, center point more easily after life knocks us for a loop. It is about getting back on the bike after we fall off into the mud.

    We drop from mind all judgments of the ride, all resistance… all thought that the course “should be” or “had better be” some other way than just as we find it all. No matter how it is going, or the direction it takes, we drop –to the marrow – all thought that the day should be turning out some other way. In other words, we learn to go totally with the ride’s flow.

    This Zen Practice is not about never losing our balance ([i]some folks think that Buddhism is about that, about never-ever-ever reacting in a "human" way, but I do not think so ... ). I believe Practice is about being able to return to our balanced, resilient, embracing and flexible center point more easily after life knocks us for a loop. That's also why I might compare Zen Practice to riding a bicycle along life's bumpy road ... very good at keeping centered and composed, but the best of us ... even the Lance Armstrongs of Zen riders ... will sometimes hit a pothole, tumble over the handle bars and end up in the mud. Life is falling in crap up over our heads sometimes, while our practice is about being balanced and graceful even falling into the crap, trying to get back up (as much as we can ... only a Buddha can be graceful in crap all the time, a beautiful lotus in the mud).

    Practice is about getting back on the bike after we fall off, again and again .. all while accepting the bumpy road just as it is, bumps and all.

    In doing so, we might actually become better bike riders who can avoid some of those holes, stay on our seat more and more ... and have a fine ride!

    Anyway, enough words ... my son is waiting at the door for our father-son ride.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3

    Re: Shikin-cycling? Cycling-Taza?

    Hi Craig
    Well not much to say after Jundo’s post!

    I regularly ride a road bike, mostly on the farm to market roads out her in West Texas. Too windy and cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, probably a lot like Arizona. My daughter and son in law started me on this about five years ago and I almost bagged it. They are competitive cycle cross, road bike and mountain bike folks from Southern California. I just could not get into “attacking the hills” “time for wind sprints” etc. However when they are not here, I am like you and Jundo, a time to just let things go. One of the more interesting things was the difference in hill climbing with my kids and when I am alone. With them I am very aware of the climb and the effort to get to the crest of the hill, but when alone, it is just one turn of the crank at a time, not paying attention to the hill, the speed I am going, and suddenly I am at the top, no effort, just part of the ride.

    Take care/

    Jim

  4. #4

    Re: Shikin-cycling? Cycling-Taza?

    Hello,

    As an avid cyclist here in Southern California, I have to say that I agree with Jundo and I like the comparison between cycling and practice. I regularly have to force myself to not tense up, to not fight the bike, and when I relax, when I let go, suddenly that hill isn't quite so bad. When we stop looking at the top of the mountain that we are going up and just pedal, just take the road one turn at a time, we find ourselves suddenly at the top and on the way back down, without half the stress and pain.

    Gassho, Ian

  5. #5

    Re: Shikin-cycling? Cycling-Taza?

    Hi - I am a somewhat round man; but without my bike I would be positively spherical! I ride to work and at every opportunity; often, blissfully, with my wife. Riding, along with zazen, keeps me sane. The flow on a good day does resemble sitting. Time disappears, the mind is free, just riding... hmmm, - I think I can fit an extra cycle in before work!
    m

  6. #6

    Re: Shikin-cycling? Cycling-Taza?

    I wanted to try Hockey-Taza last night, but they wouldn't let me near the ice with candles and incense.

    I don't ride, but I usually sandwich my gym workouts with a couple loops on the track of what you could call a (highly modified) Kinhin... Slow (but not too slow) pace, quiet, just sort of being aware of the steps, trying not to be so aware of the runners zipping past. I usually end up at the gym at very busy times, so it can be a relentless attack on the senses... noise, people, activity, televisions, iPods, this and that. Book-ending that with some calmness, some focused non-focusing, sets a nice tone for me.

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