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

  1. #1

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

    Rev. Taigu continues his comments for “beginners” on allowing sitting to just sit … to open, to blossom …

    He talks a bit about legs flowing into the ground, the hands in mudra, the gently closed mouth, where the head is let to head … and other bits of the whole … directing, not ‘doing’ …

    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

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

    Thank you Sensei
    I found this very helpful.

    One question: Sometimes instead of the mudra I also like to rest the inside of my wrists on my knees. It gives me a sense of openness and helps keep the back straight.

    What is your view of this?

    Gassho
    Adrian

  3. #3

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

    NOTE FROM JUNDO: AFTER SOME "SITTING WITH THIS", I REVISED MUCH OF WHAT I PROPOSED HERE. PLEASE SEE TAIGU AND MY FOLLOW-UP POSTS BELOW. 8)

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian
    Thank you Sensei
    I found this very helpful.

    One question: Sometimes instead of the mudra I also like to rest the inside of my wrists on my knees. It gives me a sense of openness and helps keep the back straight.

    What is your view of this?

    Gassho
    Adrian
    In Zen we sit with the Cosmic Mudra (Hokkai Jo-in in Japanese, or "Seal of the Dharma Realm" ????)! That is the way it is done! If you do not do so, you will definitely be reborn as a goat next life! :twisted:

    WHY? BECAUSE!



    But ... well ... sit your way too if ya want sometimes. Not a crime.

    THERE, tossed another 1000 years of tradition right out the window! 8)

    I find the Cosmic Mudra a very balanced way to sit, and I am sure that traditional explanations thought it good for "Ki flow" and such. If the "egg shape" is nice and round, and the fingers not sagging, I believe the mind is nice and round and not sagging.

    ... but you can sit the other way too sometimes.

    Taigu, you agree on this one?

    Gassho, J

    PS - Actually, some fellow wrote a really long blog essay about the Cosmic Mudra, with all kinds of explanations ... most of which I cannot really buy or understand.

    Given the rotation of the pelvis and the stretch of the paired ligaments in inhalation and exhalation, the placement of the little fingers against the lower abdomen in the posture of Zen provides a direct sense of the geometry of support for the lower spine initiated through reciprocal innervation. In particular, the placement of the fingers on the centerline of the abdomen provides a sense of the ligaments of the vertical muscles from the pubic bones upward; if the little fingers leave the abdomen, awareness of the forward and backward motion wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can restore the little fingers to the abdomen. Similarly, the placement of the little fingers provides a sense of the ligaments of horizontal muscles from the lower back around the sides of the abdomen; if the elbows lose their angle from the body, awareness of the side-to-side motion wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can restore the angle. Likewise, the placement of the little fingers against the abdomen provides a sense of the ligaments of diagonal muscles up from the wings of the pelvis; if the shoulders lose their roundedness, awareness of the turn left and right wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can help restore the round to the shoulders.

    The feeling of the body as consciousness of the body takes place or the feeling of mind as consciousness of the mind takes place can condition the subsequent occurrence of consciousness. Attachment to a pleasant feeling, aversion to a painful feeling, or ignorance of the existence of a neutral feeling can predispose consciousness to occur with a particular sense of location. Without the lead in the balance of the body brought about by the spontaneous occurrence of consciousness, the reciprocal innervation that supports the spine in the movement of breath can be cut off. When the relationship between feeling, consciousness, and the movement of breath is observed, a sense of detachment in the experience of consciousness and feeling is realized, and the subsequent freedom of awareness restores the reciprocal innervation necessary to support the spine in the movement of breath.
    :shock: :shock: :shock:

    http://www.zenmudra.com/#zen_mudra

  4. #4

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

    Hi Adrian,

    Well, well, well...
    In my limited view, one should not sit and change the position of the hands. Then it is not sitting-Zen anymore : balanced sitting, peaceful sitting, call it the way you want but this mudra has a profound meaning on many levels, physical and symbolical and of course it represents non-duality. Now, from time to time and when it feels uncomfortable you may do gassho and change the position of the hand right palm on top of the left.
    Even if you don't have hands, you have to form this mudra. The best way to fully realize what it means is to sit as is for many more years to come.
    That's it really.

    gassho


    Taigu

  5. #5

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Hi Adrian,

    Well, well, well...
    In my limited view, one should not sit and change the position of the hands. Then it is not sitting-Zen anymore : balanced sitting, peaceful sitting, call it the way you want but this mudra has a profound meaning on many levels, physical and symbolical and of course it represents non-duality. Now, from time to time and when it feels uncomfortable you may do gassho and change the position of the hand right palm on top of the left.
    Even if you don't have hands, you have to form this mudra. The best way to fully realize what it means is to sit as is for many more years to come.
    That's it really.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Good morning,

    Having had a good night's sleep and morning sit ... and reconsidering the issue on Taigu's wise words ...


    I BELIEVE I WAS WRONG AND ONE SHOULD SIT WITH THE COSMIC MUDRA ... BEYOND AND THROUGH ALL THOUGHT OF "RIGHT OR WRONG, OPEN OR CLOSED, INSIDE OR OUTSIDE, TOP AND BOTTOM, STRAIGHT VS. CROOKED, HAND AND LEG, TAIGU OR JUNDO, I AND YOU".


    All that with the Ens? held and not held in the hands ...



    So, please sit with the Cosmic Mudra as described.

    Gassho, Jundo

  6. #6

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

    Two senseis in unison, so ... cosmic mudra it is, from this moment forth. :-)

    Gassho
    Adrian

  7. #7

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

    Adrian, I have found that that mudra is a remarkable thing. When I'm really settled and sitting, I notice that my thumbs are barely touching, as if to hold a wispy piece of paper and nothing more; when the monkey mind is in full swing, my thumbs float off hither and yon, or push together awkwardly. Letting them find the balance (the middle way, one might say!) is essential to the entire being/practice foundation of zazen, I think....

  8. #8

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

    A very good shot, ChrisA. Very good and helpful one.

    Allowing the hands to get soft enough not just to melt like butter, shoulders drop, neck gets free. Back at ease. Just joyful sitting.
    If not, OK. Notice. Accept. Invite openess.
    Mudra is a mirror and a tool. Beyond a mirror and a tool (reflection and form), it is the silent uttering of ten thousand clouds. A child's whisper. A sea not seen. A burning rain.
    Mudra is the gate through which all things come and go, but not YOU. How could it be otherwise?
    For YOU are the gate itself.


    gassho


    Taigu

  9. #9

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

    I used to be quite a stickler for things like this. I have a tendency to question everything and demand explanations as to WHY! Even if it's only to myself and reading all I can on a particular subject matter. Most of that has fallen off as the moments of my days have passed. Most of the things I do not understand the logic behind I have normally turned it back in on myself and asked:

    1. Why do I have an aversion to it?
    2. What would I do differently and why?

    The mudra is one thing that I wasn't clear on but felt that "why not" answered my question. Putting the okesa/rakusu on my head while reciting the verse of the kesa was another. But then in the end, again, the question for myself as "why not" answered it. What was once a pride issue has come full circle. I battle with not being proud of having sewn an okesa and wear it with great reverence and happiness. I also feel that the top of the head make the most logical sense as my hands are 'busy' in gassho.

    I am happy to see others asking these questions as well, and even happier to see our teachers answering!

    Many bows,

    Shawn

  10. #10

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

    Maybe we might also say that we do not have to sit with the Cosmic Mudra ... in fact, we do not have to sit Zazen at all ... or practice Zen at all ...

    ... and that is one of the very special reasons that we make sure to do so.

    We call that "non-having to sit" in the Cosmic Mudra ... having to do so without having to do so, at once.

    Gassho, J

  11. #11

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

    So to clarify, is placing the mind in the palm of the top hand for when the mind is scattered/sleepy, or is it for all times?

    If the latter, doesn't this contradict the simple "spaciousness" that Jundo advocates?

  12. #12

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

    Hi ,

    You may experiment quite a lot. Put your attention into the spine, place your mind in the palm of your hands, just be with anything that arises and return to the open field.

    gassho


    Taigu

  13. #13

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

    I guess what I was asking is should I return to the open field again and again or should I return to the palm again and again (?)

  14. #14
    Thanks so much. All these details are so helpful. I've never had so much instruction on sitting properly in other traditions. Seeing my head as a cloud has helped to quickly release all the tension of the facial and jaw muscles.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Okay, well I"m about 2 years late in this conversation, but I confess I was sitting with a wrong posture. I was not holding my hands in the correct position. I just tried zazen in the correct position and it made a huge difference!! Jundo, I sincerely hope I don't come back as a goat now, you've got me worried If I must come back as a goat, can I at least belong to a vegetarian!!!

    gassho,
    Treena

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    Okay, well I"m about 2 years late in this conversation, but I confess I was sitting with a wrong posture. I was not holding my hands in the correct position. I just tried zazen in the correct position and it made a huge difference!! Jundo, I sincerely hope I don't come back as a goat now, you've got me worried If I must come back as a goat, can I at least belong to a vegetarian!!!

    gassho,
    Treena

    Never early, never late, right on time Treena.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Ah! Shokai! You've turned around!
    迎 Geika

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia View Post
    Ah! Shokai! You've turned around!
    Agreed ... Now that we have seen the frontside and the backside, do we get to see the middle side?

    Gassho
    Shingen
    真 眼

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  20. #20
    Thank you, senseis, for this wonderful teaching and discussion.

    Gassho,
    Matt

  21. #21
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thought I would share this from Shunryu Suzuki- roshi, from a lecture 1965:

    Suzuki-rōshi:
    Oh, cosmic mudrā. Cosmic mudrā, you know, and your question [are] related. Cosmic mudrā is—this is—to sit is to participate. This is not right word, but to—to participate—self-use of big existence—one whole existence including everything. So this is, you know, one sole existence, the symbol of one big existence including everything. So it is symbol of our practice.

    Gassho
    C

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Thought I would share this from Shunryu Suzuki- roshi, from a lecture 1965:

    Suzuki-rōshi:
    Oh, cosmic mudrā. Cosmic mudrā, you know, and your question [are] related. Cosmic mudrā is—this is—to sit is to participate. This is not right word, but to—to participate—self-use of big existence—one whole existence including everything. So this is, you know, one sole existence, the symbol of one big existence including everything. So it is symbol of our practice.

    Gassho
    C
    I am not always sure when reading Suzuki Roshi what parts are insight and profundity, and what parts are just his struggles with English vocabulary and grammar ... but all lovely nonetheless!

    This quote (as opposed to some of his talks in Zen Mind Beginners Mind and such) seems 80% the former, but something good always comes out even if unintended wording.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-05-2013 at 02:48 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I am not always sure when reading Suzuki Roshi what parts are insight and profundity, and what parts are just his struggles with English vocabulary and grammar ... but all lovely nonetheless!

    This quote (as opposed to some of his talks in Zen Mind Beginners Mind and such) seems 80% the former, but something good always comes out even if unintended wording.

    Gassho, J
    I know what you mean he can seem a bit difficult to understand. To me what I get form this is that we use Cosmic Mudra as a symbol of our practice as in "all is one", but that we also DO it in order to participate with everyone in our practice. ( and not just NOW) I thought this latter part was especially worthwhile.

    Gassho C

  24. #24
    great vid!
    Last edited by atropis88; 02-07-2014 at 05:28 PM.

  25. #25
    Member Nandi's Avatar
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    Two things: "Rigidity in the jaw is will" and "the shape ( as in shape not condition) of the body while sitting"

    This morning I completely understood the meaning.........


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