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Thread: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

  1. #1

    Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    I was reading Uchiyama's "Opening the Hand of Thought" and in it he talks about sesshin at Antaiji. They sit zazen 14 hours a day. "Our legs hurt and we become filled with boredom, and there is nothing else to do but live out the reality of life, moment by moment...to get through the sesshin, you must transcend time...those who continue to sit sesshin no longer recall time...when you hear three gongs, you begin zazen. Two gongs means kinhin...No one thinks about whether it is a long time or a short time."

    So I thought I would try that approach during my evening zazen session today. Although I was only sitting for one (30 minute) period, I went in with the attitude that I would live out each moment, and (critically, I think), let any thoughts about the passage of time pass right through me; time would not exist - I would sit until I heard the gongs (timer expire).

    It was pretty amazing. I can't say it felt like it was no time before the timer expired, it was more like I had NO IDEA how long I had sat there when the timer went off. I really think the key for me was "there is no time. There is just sitting. When the timer expires, I will get up." Fleeting thoughts about the passage of time entered my mind, but I let them go immediately.

    Will I be able to sit without noticing the passage of time every time I sit? I doubt it, but it was a unique experience to not be wondering, somewhere in the back of my mind, "how long have I sat here? How long do I have left?"

    I wish I had read this book before I did sesshin in July :lol:

    EDIT: One might infer from the title of this thread that I was condescending to new members/practitioners. Not at all - I meant this was a tip from a newbie, probably only worthwhile to other newbies. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

  2. #2

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Taking the words right out of my mouth. That line in Uchiyama's book was worth the price of the copy alone. Many bows, now all we have to do is apply that to traffic, lines, spouses, partners, co-workers, etc...

    Zazen isn't your life after all, your life is zazen

    Be well,
    Taylor

  3. #3

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Thank you, Craig, I'm often having trouble with "time", especially at the end of a period.

    _()_
    Peter

  4. #4

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    It's a very inspiring idea. I'm going totry it right now.

    Gassho

    Da5id

  5. #5

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    I've also tried it for a half an hour session and I'm really happy with the results. Stating to myself that time wasn't an issue and that I should focus on the moment I found it easier to concentrate on present mental states without being carried away. Also it certainly washed away the worry of "how much time I've been sitting here?" that loves to appear in the middle of a sitting.
    I'm going to keep using it for sure. Thanks for the tip, Craig.

    Gassho

    Da5id

  6. #6

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigfromAz
    probably only worthwhile to other newbies
    Who isn't a newbie? In this beautiful practice of each moment ... :roll:

    Your reminds me of some sesshins or even our zazenkais... when suddenly your ear the sound of the bell and you just know what to do... very "profound" practice! It can be so different at home, sometimes when I don't use a "timer", I find myself looking every few minutes to see "what time is it?..."

    All good practice as Fugen would say :wink:

    Thank you for this thread Craig and everyone

    gassho,
    Jinyu

  7. #7

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Craig,

    A favorite passage of mine. In each Zazen, I try, although there really is no trying, the dropping of body and mind.

  8. #8

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis
    Quote Originally Posted by CraigfromAz
    probably only worthwhile to other newbies
    Who isn't a newbie? In this beautiful practice of each moment ... :roll:

    Your reminds me of some sesshins or even our zazenkais... when suddenly your ear the sound of the bell and you just know what to do... very "profound" practice! It can be so different at home, sometimes when I don't use a "timer", I find myself looking every few minutes to see "what time is it?..."

    All good practice as Fugen would say :wink:

    Thank you for this thread Craig and everyone

    gassho,
    Jinyu
    Funny you should say this. I'm on vacation right now so the internet is shoddy, so I've been using another timer. Last night while sitting I noticed my legs we totally numbed out, something that usually happens only after 30 minutes or so, turns out my timer shut itself off :P Always good to have a back up plan! Even still, time makes no difference. 5 minutes of zazen is better (and also not worse) than 30 minutes of thumb twiddling

    Gassho

  9. #9

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen
    Craig,

    A favorite passage of mine. In each Zazen, I try, although there really is no trying, the dropping of body and mind.
    Most folks do not know what is this "dropping of body and mind" They feel that it must be the attaining of some state of disembodied consciousness. (In fact, there are forms of meditation which attain such disembodied states, but Shikantaza is not so).

    To "drop away body and mind" is to simply and thoroughly drop the mind-body's demands/wishes/aversions-attractions/hard categorizing between the self and all that body-mind consider 'not the self'. Thereby, the "self" is put out of a job ... the hard walls between self and other soften or fall ... body and mind thus dropped away as the resistance and separation to "other" is dropped away ... thus "self" vs. "other" is dropped away ... thus "self" and "other" dropped away.

    The way there is radical non-demanding, non-seeking, just sitting ... the way of no way.

    Please be clear on this point.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen
    Craig,

    A favorite passage of mine. In each Zazen, I try, although there really is no trying, the dropping of body and mind.
    Most folks do not know what is this "dropping of body and mind" They feel that it must be the attaining of some state of disembodied consciousness. (In fact, there are forms of meditation which attain such disembodied states, but Shikantaza is not so).

    To "drop away body and mind" is to simply and thoroughly drop the mind-body's demands/wishes/aversions-attractions/hard categorizing between the self and all that body-mind consider 'not the self'. Thereby, the "self" is put out of a job ... the hard walls between self and other soften or fall ... body and mind thus dropped away as the resistance and separation to "other" is dropped away ... thus "self" vs. "other" is dropped away ... thus "self" and "other" dropped away.

    The way there is radical non-demanding, non-seeking, just sitting ... the way of no way.

    Please be clear on this point.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Big gassho, this is something that I struggled with (and still do). The idea that there was this magical state that exists where body and mind fall away like the walls of a house, suddenly revealing some hidden core or room. More so now I understand it as, and forgive my poor description, letting the mind do it's thing, letting the dog off the leash if you will. It's free to run jump play and sniff all it wants, I just watch it and make sure I'm breathing. Sometimes I will get caught playing with the dog and then have to go back to my watching, but it's all in good fun (or all in good practice :P :wink: ).

    Many bows, when all the walls fall away, you're still left sitting on a cushion

    Taylor

  11. #11

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    More so now I understand it as, and forgive my poor description, letting the mind do it's thing, letting the dog off the leash if you will. It's free to run jump play and sniff all it wants, I just watch it and make sure I'm breathing. Sometimes I will get caught playing with the dog and then have to go back to my watching, but it's all in good fun (or all in good practice :P :wink: ).
    Taylor
    Maybe I am getting caught up in words (BTW - love the metaphor!), but my experience is somewhat different. I can never "watch my mind do it's thing." When I am watching, it is silent. Then, a little later, I will find it is right in the middle of jump/play/sniff, but as soon as I realize this, my mind goes back to silence. Repeat this process for 30 minutes and you've just experienced my zazen :roll:

    Although I am getting better at "not worrying about it", this does not seem to fit the descriptions I see from others, include Jundo and Suzuki; letting the thoughts "drift out" does not seem to happen with me. When I recognize I am thinking POOF the thoughts disappear.

    Anybody have a similar experience? Comments?

    Thanks,

    Craig

  12. #12

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigfromAz

    Although I am getting better at "not worrying about it", this does not seem to fit the descriptions I see from others, include Jundo and Suzuki; letting the thoughts "drift out" does not seem to happen with me. When I recognize I am thinking POOF the thoughts disappear.

    Anybody have a similar experience? Comments?

    Thanks,

    Craig

    I like to think of it as a stream, when you are in the stream you are lost in a thought, you then see this and return to your zazen.

    Then you sit on the side of the stream with your legs in the water, you can see the thoughts coming and you can feel the current on your legs, sometimes you fall in, sometimes you don't but the thoughts are very sticky.

    Then you sit on the side of the stream with just your feet in the water, you don't feel the current as strong meaning the thoughts are not as sticky.

    Then you sit on the side of the stream with just a toe in the water, you can see when thoughts are just arising and you can let go of them before they go anywhere, they just seem to evaporate.

    Then you sit on the side of the stream not in the water, the stream flows, sometimes it is still, sometimes there are ripples, the stream just flows by and thoughts are no longer sticky, they arise and pass away on there own without one having to let go of the thought. But that does not mean you can not fall into the stream.

    That has been my experience with thought and zazen so far.

  13. #13

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick B
    Then you sit on the side of the stream not in the water, the stream flows, sometimes it is still, sometimes there are ripples, the stream just flows by and thoughts are no longer sticky, they arise and pass away on there own without one having to let go of the thought. But that does not mean you can not fall into the stream.
    .
    Using your metaphor, I am either on the bank, or I've fallen in the stream - no in between.

  14. #14

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    "drop away body and mind" is to simply and thoroughly drop the mind-body's demands/wishes/aversions-attractions/hard categorizing between the self and all that body-mind consider 'not the self'. Thereby, the "self" is put out of a job ... the hard walls between self and other soften or fall ... body and mind thus dropped away as the resistance and separation to "other" is dropped away ... thus "self" vs. "other" is dropped away ... thus "self" and "other" dropped away.

    The way there is radical non-demanding, non-seeking, just sitting ... the way of no way.
    I really that image of putting the self out of a job. That's how we drop away body and mind in zazen.

    It reaaly helped me to understand a little bit more. So far "to drop body and mind" was just a puzzle to me.

    Now i think I can connect some more dots together, hoping to get a clear image one day.

    Thank you Jundo

    Gassho

    Da5id

  15. #15

    Re: Newbie Shikantaza Tip

    Today I did "Cat Zazen" by necessity. My cat was asleep, so I thought "good time to sit - all is quiet". No sooner had I silently sat on my meditation bench than my cat suddenly awakened and began walking around and around my bench, meowing, rubbing against me, licking my hands, etc. What to do. Well, I decided to incorporate the kitty behavior into my practice, periodically extending my hand and running it slowly along his head and body in a soothing gesture. I felt the silkiness of his fur and just kept breathing. I found that I was able to continue my meditation with no real disturbance from something unexpected happening.

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