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Thread: No effort vs. Non effort

  1. #1

    No effort vs. Non effort

    I know there is a difference between non-effort and no effort. One is zazen and the other makes you a lump of skin on a cushion, but where's the balance? Lately I have been having issues with the late-night sitting fog. This may be partly because I am sitting late in the evening but I feel like it may also have something to do with the gusto I put forth in zazen. Are we supposed to throw ourselves into this practice like someone who is going for a run? I.e. When we get ready to run, we put ourselves in a certain mindset and we dedicate ourselves fully to the run, when we notice our jogging we redouble our efforts and start running again.

    Sometimes I don't understand how "active" zazen is supposed to be, I know that it is, but the degree to which it is confuses me sometimes. Is it that we maybe apply a bit more "oomph" to those late night sits to wake up from our dreaming? It's very hard to explain without actually putting you all inside my head :roll: If there need be clarification, I will try my best :?

    Gassho
    Taylor

  2. #2
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: No effort vs. Non effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    I know there is a difference between non-effort and no effort. One is zazen and the other makes you a lump of skin on a cushion, but where's the balance? Lately I have been having issues with the late-night sitting fog. This may be partly because I am sitting late in the evening but I feel like it may also have something to do with the gusto I put forth in zazen. Are we supposed to throw ourselves into this practice like someone who is going for a run? I.e. When we get ready to run, we put ourselves in a certain mindset and we dedicate ourselves fully to the run, when we notice our jogging we redouble our efforts and start running again.

    Sometimes I don't understand how "active" zazen is supposed to be, I know that it is, but the degree to which it is confuses me sometimes. Is it that we maybe apply a bit more "oomph" to those late night sits to wake up from our dreaming? It's very hard to explain without actually putting you all inside my head :roll: If there need be clarification, I will try my best :?

    Gassho
    Taylor
    Sit before you get tired.

    There are all kinds of zazen. Sleepy zazen, angry zazen, wired-wild-awake zazen, thoughts-won't-stop zazen, thinking-about-that-girl zazen, worried-about-my-job zazen.

    It's all zazen. Tell me, how can this moment, however it finds you, be improved? From right here is where you sit.

    Chet

  3. #3

    Re: No effort vs. Non effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    Is it that we maybe apply a bit more "oomph" to those late night sits to wake up from our dreaming?
    Taylor
    I also questioned the attitude one should take during zazen - should I be completely relaxed, or should I be on edge, focused, mentally straining? Shunryu Suzuki has an apt metaphor for the state of mind during zazen. He likens it to frog sitting on a rock, observing his surroundings. He is calm, unmoving, and not tense, but no bug can fly within range of his tongue without getting grabbed. The frog does this for hours so it cannot be "on edge", yet his meal (and life) depend on catching the bugs. Sitting there, aware of his surroundings, is just what the frog does. That metaphor helps me to be aware, alert, but not grinding away.

    My experience - momentary lapses into sleepiness are inherent in zazen, but if I find it happening frequently I try to "turn up the intensity" of my focus (on nothing/everything). if you go to sesshin, this is something you will have to deal with!

    Good luck,

    Craig

  4. #4

    Re: No effort vs. Non effort

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigfromAz
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    Is it that we maybe apply a bit more "oomph" to those late night sits to wake up from our dreaming?
    Taylor
    I also questioned the attitude one should take during zazen - should I be completely relaxed, or should I be on edge, focused, mentally straining? Shunryu Suzuki has an apt metaphor for the state of mind during zazen. He likens it to frog sitting on a rock, observing his surroundings. He is calm, unmoving, and not tense, but no bug can fly within range of his tongue without getting grabbed. The frog does this for hours so it cannot be "on edge", yet his meal (and life) depend on catching the bugs. Sitting there, aware of his surroundings, is just what the frog does. That metaphor helps me to be aware, alert, but not grinding away.
    The frog metaphor is wonderful, as is Buddha's description of the lute string ...

    [The Buddha said], "Sona, you were a musician and you used to play the lute. Tell me, Sona, did you produce good music when the lute string was well tuned, neither too tight nor too loose?"

    "I was able to produce good music, Lord," replied Sona.

    "What happened when the strings were too tightly wound up?"

    "I could not produce any music, Lord," said Sona.

    "What happened when the strings were too slack?"

    "I could not produce any music at all, Lord," replied Sona

    "Sona ... You have been straining too hard in your meditation. Do it in a relaxed way, but without being slack. Try it again and you will experience the good result."
    Of course ... it is also important to recall (as always, seeing things on multiple channels at once in this crazy Zen practice) that THERE IS NO BAD ZAZEN, even THE BAD ZAZEN! Sleep Zazen is sleepy Zazen, "in the zone" Zazen is "in the zone" Zazen, "legs hurt" Zazen is "just "legs hurt" Zazen ... ALL ZAZEN! As a matter of fact, some teachers express that this constantly changing face of Zazen ... like constantly changing, up down up down life ... IS VITAL TO THE LESSONS LEARNED IN ZAZEN! Zazen is GREAT because it is so often NOT GREAT (just like life) ... yet teaches us how to be "at peace and one piece" with all that!

    viewtopic.php?p=22966#p22966

    So, shoot for the perfectly tuned violin string again and again ... knowing that it will rarely be perfectly in tune. Just play that.

    Gassho, Jundo

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