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Thread: Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part XV)

  1. #1

    Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Zazen for Beginners (Part XV)

    Sitting the body-mind, there is neither inside nor outside, says Rev. Taigu. Both, and none of them.

    Not caught by distractions, forms, not sucked into inner dreaming, we are the open gate, open threshold of both eyes settled in a serene gaze, not trapped by the world, nor away from it. Looking at nothing in particular, we are looking at everything.

    CLICK HERE for today’s Sit-A-Long video.

    [youtube] [/youtube]

    Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended.

  2. #2
    Thanks Taigu,

    You've answered some of my questions in this one video concerning what to do with one's eyes. Also, sometimes when I have no choice but to sit in a chair to meditate due to health concerns, what a difference I notice when I go back to the cushion. The zafu really helps to position my spine much more than sitting erect in a chair.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the video Taigu!
    The one thing I notice in my zazen practice is my eyes are shut halfway and soft, but they always seem to get softer and softer till they start to close then I feel drowsy. When I catch this I focus back on my posture untill this happens again. Is this common for beginners especially if switching from a closed eye meditation practice?
    Gassho
    Lee

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Yes, Lee. Nothing to worry about.

    gassho

    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  5. #5
    Thanks Taigu!
    Gassho,
    Lee

  6. #6
    Thanks Taigu.
    I have found this very helpful as I am so used to sitting with eyes closed.
    I have found that my practice in daily life is missing the sit, there is generally a reason, I don't have time or the kids are too noisy and I'm too tired. But I long to sit (daft really!). So I'm feeling that now is the time for Zazen and life to co-exist, I think one without the other is just incomplete.

    Gassho,
    Jennie

  7. #7
    thank you

    GASSHO,

    kimmo

  8. #8
    Thanks Taigu! I studied and even taught martial arts for a long time. Using what we called "soft focus" which you titled "gazing at the mountains" always proved helpful for me and my students. I use the same skill when doing art projects. Whether looking at a photo or a drawing, with soft focus I can see the whole picture and can move freely within them. I appreciate your clear teaching!

    Anzan

  9. #9
    Thank you, Taigu.
    I was deserving to listen the "strong words" you said. I hope our lives can be a sitting at whatever we do.

    Gassho.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    This is exactly the question about sitting I needed answered today. I was actually contemplating the nature of the inside versus outside neither yin nor yang but both as being critical to this. This really helped clear up what to do with my eyes. We all have things to work on but your sincerity and humility shine forth.
    Thank you Taigu
    Gassho C

  11. #11
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I've been confused over what to do with my eyes since I started sitting zazen. Having them open is a distraction because they keep wanting to close, so this becomes the focus of my meditation. If I keep them closed I doze off, and I've also had some hallucination type experiences when they are closed. Any advice on how to make this work better?

    Gassho
    Treena

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Treena,
    If you loosely focus your eyes on a spot on the wall downwards in front of you; or as if you were looking at a spot on the floor three or four feet in front of you, your eyelids will follow your downward haze and partially close naturally. As long as you hold that gaze your eyelids will follow without you having to keep them open or partially shut. This limits the amount of visual field and input so your brain is not stimulated but enough light is entering so there is some brightness and you do not become drowsy. Your gaze should be fixed, but take the whole scene in. Don't try to analyze the texture of the wall or identify ridge lines in the paint! I used to do this when I was bored in Zazen and would identify the shapes of animals or faces in the dried texture left by the paint roller. But that's another story - how not to do Zazen!

    BTW, if I sit facing a wall I sit about eighteen inches from the wall.... If I am sitting facing an open room (rarely) I focus on the floor about 3-4 feet in front of me.

    Hope that helps!

    Gassho
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 08-30-2013 at 03:51 AM.
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  13. #13
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thank you, Yugen! That helps a lot. I tried this tonight and it made a big difference. When I first started sitting zazen, it felt very odd to have my eyes open at all. NOw, if I close them, it's as if it automatically stimulates my brain and my mind either starts to race, or I feel these strange floating movements, or one time, it felt like one side of my brain was being pulled away from my head (very strange) So, with the eyes open, and as you suggested loosely focused on the floor in front of me, it is much easier to just be, just sit and not have all these racing thoughts and strange things happen.

    Gassho,

    Treena

  14. #14
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Yugen speaks my mind.

    Relaxed gaze on the distant mountains, eyes half closed. Soft and gentle gaze.

    Gassho


    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Another question, if that's alight. I've been trying to keep my eyes open in a relaxed position as described. HOwever, it is making them burn. Even right now, just after sitting zazen, my eyes are burning and watering. I made sure to blink lots and it made no difference. I have no idea why this keeps happening as I never have any problems with dry eyes normally. Is it ok to keep them shut during zazen, as I'm obviously finding the burning feeling a distraction when sitting.

    Gassho,
    Treena
    Last edited by Joyo; 08-31-2013 at 03:37 AM.

  16. #16
    Maybe an allergy (I hope not to Zazen)!

    Taigu will comment, but there is so little difference between how one has the eye's open while driving the car or walking down the street, that I cannot figure what you are doing now to make a burning eye. Just like driving the car, sit with you eyes open, blink when you blink. Our way is simply not to get lost and tangled in thought about what we are seeing.

    Do your eyes burn when driving? Are you now subtly forcing them to stay open beyond the dryness point, even though you think you are blinking naturally? Is there something irritating in the carpet or the cat (I know, as I have a cat allergy)?

    In fact, I would recommend eye drops ahead of closing one's eyes.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-31-2013 at 04:40 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hi Treena

    Obviously no expert on Zazen here, but I do know a thing or two about health. It seems to me based on what you are describing that you are beginning to release pent up emotional energy from the process of letting go in shikantaza. The Liver system can hold on to years of emotional "baggage". This generates a certain amount of heat. The Liver energy channel travels to the eyes, and the issues you describe could very well be a result of the clearing of this congested heat. Or as Jundo suggests maybe an allergy in the place you sit. Carpet allergies are not uncommon. Either way if you drink some peppermint tea maybe prior to sitting that could help. If the problem persists after practicing awhile, and you have ruled out allergies by sitting in different places, you should probably get your eyes checked. Eye issues can be an indicator of other health concerns like blood sugar. Probably the Liver releasing in my experience.

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 08-31-2013 at 06:56 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thank you, Clark and Jundo. I actually am experiencing allergies right now, but my eyes never bother me while driving or any other time. I live in a farming community, lots of farmers are harvesting and it causes many people to suffer due to all the dust in the air. I'm going to try some eye drops and see if that helps today. Also, I think I might be subtly not blinking enough, I'll keep that in mind today. And Clark, you may be on to something as far as releasing pent up emotional energy. If it continues, I probably should have my eyes checked.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  19. #19
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Hi Treena,

    I woud reommand you check your eyes with an eye specialist.

    It shoud not burn.

    Gassho


    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Hi Treena,

    I woud reommand you check your eyes with an eye specialist.

    It shoud not burn.

    Gassho


    T.
    Thank you Taigu. If this continues after the weekend I am going to make an eye appointment.

    Gassho,
    Treena

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