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Thread: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

  1. #1

    Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    How's that for a grabber op?

    Actually I'm just trying to describe what my practice sorta is right now.
    I fully realize that this may not even qualify as Zazen, but I'm not terribly concerned about that.
    Basically I sit and 'pay attention' to a kind of pinpoint single 'spot' somewhere vaguely in my center, and I use that focus as a way of finding the silent space 'between' my thoughts until I can be separate from them and they quiet down. That space of absolute stillness and absence of thought/subjectiveness is where I try to reside.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    A thought for non-thought:

    If there is space at this moment, rest in that space. If there is no space to be found in this moment, rest in no space. It's easy to get caught up in looking for that space, it feels like it should be "right", and to push away went there is no space because it feels "wrong" or "not Zen". I'm guilty of it from time to time but then the ordinary comes back to surprise me.

    Gassho,
    Taylor (Myoken)

  3. #3

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    How's that for a grabber op?

    Actually I'm just trying to describe what my practice sorta is right now.
    I fully realize that this may not even qualify as Zazen, but I'm not terribly concerned about that.
    Basically I sit and 'pay attention' to a kind of pinpoint single 'spot' somewhere vaguely in my center, and I use that focus as a way of finding the silent space 'between' my thoughts until I can be separate from them and they quiet down. That space of absolute stillness and absence of thought/subjectiveness is where I try to reside.

    Thoughts?
    Thoughts and no thought. Non thoughts.

    That is a flavor of meditation, but perhaps not Shikantaza as taught in this corner of the meditating world. Let me explain why.

    Shikantaza is a strange bird ...

    We are not seeking absolute stillness nor a total absence of thoughts and subjectiveness. However, there are times of absolute stillness and total absence of thoughts, and of the complete dropping of all subjectiveness. Or, better said, in our way, there are such timeless times and there are not such times.

    We reject none of it, all Shikantaza.

    I would describe the flavor of "Shikantaza" which is taught here as "open, spacious awareness concentration, focused on everything and nothing in particular" instead of a "one point concentration" which some attempt to build through focus on a Koan, Mantra, and sometimes the breath or the like. In each case, there is "concentration" that is at the core, but of very different focus. Our way might be called "boundless abiding with equanimity" more than a hard "one pointed" concentration in which, for example, the mind is concentrated fixidly on a particular target.

    I wrote this as part of our "Zazen for Beginners (we're all beginners)" series, which I ask you to review.

    viewforum.php?f=20

    I often use the analogy of clouds (of thought and emotions) drifting in and out of a clear, blue spacious sky (a mind open and clear of thoughts).Our mind in Zazen may be compared to the sky; We are open, clear, spacious, boundless, like the clear blue sky… Our attention is focused on everything and nothing in particular, just as the sky covers all the world without discrimination… Thoughts, like clouds, often come and go.

    Clouds drift in and out, that is natural. However, we bring our attention again and again (10,000 times and 10,000 times again) to the open, blue sky between, allowing the clouds of thought to drift away. More clouds will come, and so we repeat the process endlessly, once more and once more bringing our attention back to the blue sky… to the open spaces between thoughts.

    However, this is important to bear in mind:

    We do not try to “silence the thoughts forcefully” in Skikantaza. It is more that we allow the thoughts that naturally drift into mind to naturally drift out of mind, much as clouds naturally drift in and out of a clear blue sky. In this way, return again and again to the open, clear blue sky. Although we seek to appreciate the blue, open sky between the clouds, we do not resent or despise the clouds of thought that drift through our mind. We are not disturbed by them, we do not actively chase them out, neither do we welcome them, focus on them, play with them or stir them up. We allow them to pass, and return our focus once more to the quiet blue. 10,000 times and 10,000 times again.

    As in the real sky, both blue expanse and clouds are at home there. We should reject neither, not think the blue somehow “truer” than the clouds. In fact, some days will be very cloudy, some days totally blue … both are fine. We never say “this cloudy day is not good because there is no blue sky today.” When the sky is blue and empty, let it be so. When the sky is cloudy, our mind filled with thoughts, let it be so. You see, even when hidden by clouds, the blue is there all along. Both the blue sky and the clouds are the sky … do not seek to break up the sky by rejecting any part of it. (In other words, do not think one good and the other bad). WE DO NOT SEEK TO BREAK UP OR RESIST ANY PART OF THE SKY, CLOUDS OR BLUE… It is all the unbroken sky.

    Nonetheless, though we reject neither, we allow the clouds to drift from mind and return our attention again and again to the blue. Throughout, we are awake, aware and alert, conscious and present… we are not in some mysterious or extreme state. Nor are we dull, feeling lifeless or listless, for we should feel as illuminated, vibrant, boundless and all encompassing as the open sky itself.

    The clouds of thought and the clear blue are not two, are simultaneously functioning and whole … a single sky. This is our way in ‘Just Sitting’ Shikantaza Zazen. When you see the clouds, be as if you are thereby seeing the clouds as blue. When you see the blue, you may also see the blue as clouds. In fact, as you advance in this practice, you will find that the blue sky illuminates, shines through the clouds… and we can come to experience both together… both thoughts and silence… as one.
    Well, in our view, people can get too caught up in seeking for only stillness, no thought or the dropping of subject/object. They can come to think that only the experience of such way is true, which also makes it rather hard to take this practice off the Zafu and back into the world of thoughts and confusion, where there is no breath or center point to focus on.

    Please also review these little essays on Shikantaza ...

    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1451

    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2816

    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2666

    After you watch and read the above, let us know what you think ... and don't think. Non-think.

    That does not mean that you need change your practice if it is working for you, working in life. However, Shikantaza is what is taught around this little place.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Hi Sparrow,

    Pinpoint kind of concentration is not it. Open, open. Vast space is cosy, unobstructed. Please, don't stiffen your body mind, flow like water, act like mountain, be space.


    gassho

    Taigu

  5. #5

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Drop all ideas of what you think zen/Shinkantaza is.
    just sit and be.
    Be and sit.

    Drop the Concept "sitting" Just be.
    Drop the concept "Being"

    Let things flow as is. Become that flow, become that space.


    Gassho

    Seiryu

  6. #6

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    flow like water, act like mountain, be space.
    This is one of those pithy instructions that seem simple, yet are so deep I never reach bottom.

    It's carrying this instruction from my zafu to my life that gives me problems. "Mother, should I build a wall?" sang Pink Floyd. How do I find space in a traffic jam? How do I act like a mountain when all I can think about is escaping myself through alcohol? How do I flow like water when the hours ahead hold inescapeable suffering?

    In a traffic jam I might notice how beautiul the sky looks today. In the midst of wanting that one drink that will be one too many and nowhere near enough I might remember the beautiful eyes of my daughter, and how she says, "But I love you." When tomorrow holds pain that I can't get out of I might remember my father singing in the shower as his hair falls out into the drain from cancer treatments.

    And yet, I always bitch when my computer freezes. :roll: Still so far to go for a guy who is "already there."

    gassho
    Greg

  7. #7

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    It's a good way of calming down and it's a good way to improve your concentration!
    Most of us do this from time to time, often at the beginning of Zazen, on days when our minds are especially active. Often people concentrate on the breathing, even counting the breaths. If you let this point of attention be the hara, the center of the body a little below the navel, you will also have an easier time learning to breath with your diaphragm, 'with your hara'.

    As our teachers have pointed out, it might not exactly be Shikantaza though. And as Seiryu has pointed out the trick is dropping body and mind rather than pinpointing your concentration on something in particular. Instead our attention should be on everything and nothing. This is the hard part. And at the same time very easy. Just let go of everything. You now how hard it can be to relax your muscles sometimes? It's the same with the mind. With practice it gets easier. Distance yourself. Let go of emotions. When thoughts arise, don't get upset, just watch them and they will float away. Let your gaze be serene, looking at distant mountains, not focusing on anything. Trust in your stable position. When your mind relaxes, so does your body and vice versa. Often it is when my mind wanders or I start to get drowsy, but I realise that and return to Shikantaza, that I suddenly sink deeper into Samadhi, rather than when I sit unaware of any thoughts. And sometimes thereäs no Samadhi at all, and that's perfect Zazen too.

    Just return time after time to that awareness of everything and nothing, dropping of body and mind, opening the hand of thought or whatever you want to call it, and that is it. That is practice, Shikantaza.

    These are just the impressions of another beginner practicioner, so take it with a grain or salt!
    Good luck!

    /Pontus

  8. #8

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    "Mother, should I build a wall?" sang Pink Floyd.
    We already built the wall!

    Blue Cliff Record case 57: "Before you have penetrated, it seems like a silver mountain, an iron wall. Once you have penetrated, it turn out your own self is the iron wall, the silver mountain."

    To pass through the wall, you have to become the wall. To find space in the traffic jam, you have to be space.

    And no one ever said it was going to be easy. :cry: :evil: :wink:

    Gassho,
    /Pontus

  9. #9

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    We already built the wall!
    And zazen can be just another brick in the wall, or a doorway into clear, open space. :wink:

    Thanks for the insight Pontus.

    gassho
    Greg

  10. #10

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    And zazen can be just another brick in the wall, or a doorway into clear, open space. :wink:
    Not so sure about Zazen being possibly another brick in the wall, but maybe you're right! Could be me grasping after Zazen. :lol: Instead of the picture of a doorway that you kind of punch through the wall, I would prefer the picture of becoming the wall or realising there is no wall, or that the wall is empty, depending on how you look at it. But I understand what you mean!

    Thanks for the insight Pontus.
    Mostly deluded ramblings and idle chatter mixed with others peoples insights (or delusions), but you're welcome! :mrgreen:

    /Pontus

  11. #11

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Open, open. Vast space is cosy, unobstructed. Please, don't stiffen your body mind, flow like water, act like mountain, be space.
    Simply beautiful! Thank you Taigu for sharing the taste of ... space and mountains.

    gassho,
    jinyu

  12. #12

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Thanks for responding all.

    Perhaps what I am most interested in (at this point) is just plain cultivating a kind of mental discipline. Without the strength to have single point awareness and control of my mind, I often spin into almost manic highs and lows. My emotions are so strong and intense, without a kind of rigid control and discipline over my thoughts, I simply ride a rollercoaster of fantastic highs, and then terrible lows.

    Like I said, what I'm doing isn't Zazen, and there are only a certain subset of buddhist concepts that really resonate with me, but out of the various buddhist sects, ...just sitting appeals to me most.

    Its quite possible though, that instead, I maybe should be involved in some sort of martial art? Just the mental part though?

    Not really sure, and just searching. You folks seem to have developed a great little community though, and I congratulate you on it.

  13. #13

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    Perhaps what I am most interested in (at this point) is just plain cultivating a kind of mental discipline. Without the strength to have single point awareness and control of my mind, I often spin into almost manic highs and lows. My emotions are so strong and intense, without a kind of rigid control and discipline over my thoughts, I simply ride a rollercoaster of fantastic highs, and then terrible lows.

    Like I said, what I'm doing isn't Zazen, and there are only a certain subset of buddhist concepts that really resonate with me, but out of the various buddhist sects, ...just sitting appeals to me most.

    Its quite possible though, that instead, I maybe should be involved in some sort of martial art? Just the mental part though?

    Not really sure, and just searching. You folks seem to have developed a great little community though, and I congratulate you on it.
    Well, online or not, we are a Sangha. And that in itself says alot. Helps me with my own "highs and lows." You mention riding a roller coaster...and I can't help but remember one of my favorite talks by Jundo about how our practice is just that...riding the roller coaster of life (don't mean to sound trite)...when high just be high...when low just be low...are we riding life or is life riding us...BOTH!!! This pathless path is amazing. Martial art may imply aggression. Just sit. There really is nothing else you need to do. Like me, you will find out more about yourself than you ever thought possible, than you ever wanted to. Then work with that. This work goes on forever. There is no end to how much we can grow. And yet, from a Zen perspective, there is nothing to learn, nowhere to go, nothing to change. Crazy wisdom at its best. :shock:

    gassho
    and good luck
    Greg

  14. #14

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Its quite possible though, that instead, I maybe should be involved in some sort of martial art? Just the mental part though?


    Welcome to Shikantaza.

  15. #15

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    It has occaisionally struck me that I may have a practice that has more in common with Yoga than Zen. Especially when I read articles like this:

    http://exploring-life.ca/863/yoga-mental-modifications/

  16. #16

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    It has occaisionally struck me that I may have a practice that has more in common with Yoga than Zen.
    Moonlight is moonlight, whether it be relfected in the river or in your eye.

    It is good to have you here. Stay awhile. There really is NO DIFFERENCE between yoga or zen or sewing or baking a cake.

    Mary Oliver said, "Where does the temple begin, where does it end?"

    When everything is sacred, to what do we bow?

    When nothing is ordinary, what do we not bow before?

    Bassho has a haiku that relates to this subject...

    "Many nights on the road
    and not dead yet-
    the end of autumn."

    In the first step homeward, the journey is complete.

    Yet everyday we have something to work with.

    gassho
    Greg

  17. #17

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    It has occaisionally struck me that I may have a practice that has more in common with Yoga than Zen.
    I do both. Yoga for exercise and Zen for nothing. My recovering addict Uncle gave me "Meditations from the Mat" bu Rolf Gates and the parallels are beautiful. It's a book on Zen without ever touching the word (Yet... It's a day by day thing, 365 essays for each day of the year. Highly recommended).

    But anyways. I feel I know the feeling you have, and please, correct me if I'm mistaken. The feeling of sitting on the cushion and waiting for IT! That big moment! The "Oooooommmmmmmm" to resonate through your very being as it does in the yoga studio when everyone chants. The kensho, the flash, the lotus, the burning fire of ENLIGHTENMENT!

    Some traditions seem to promise the glitz and glitter more than others. For me, when I found and still find myself looking around, spiritual shopping really, musing about the "Oh what if...." it helps to step back as say "Oh what is...."

    Test the waters here for awhile, see if you like the temperature.

    But again, only my thoughts. Steer me back if I have unfairly assumed, I mean no harm

    Gassho,
    Taylor (Myoken)

  18. #18

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    Thanks for responding all.

    Perhaps what I am most interested in (at this point) is just plain cultivating a kind of mental discipline. Without the strength to have single point awareness and control of my mind, I often spin into almost manic highs and lows. My emotions are so strong and intense, without a kind of rigid control and discipline over my thoughts, I simply ride a rollercoaster of fantastic highs, and then terrible lows.
    I suppose that, in our little corner of the meditation world, we do not seek to "restrain" or suppress or "tie up" our wild thoughts and emotions. Rather, we relax and let them go, drift away, settle of their own accord (like stirred up and bubbling water which we allow to settle, and become clear, of its own accord ... just by letting it be still and rest). We don't get tangled in the thoughts and emotions, or stir them up ... and allow all things just as all be. Opening the hand of thought, letting them flow.

    Perhaps the best image is wild horses and bulls that we wish to ride (or the wild ox, as Taigu spoke about recently).

    viewforum.php?f=25

    These wild animals stand for our wild, runaway thoughts and emotions. We may try to tie them down for a time, herd them into a fenced corral, try to beat them into submission (although, more likely, doing so creates new wounds and emotions and a desire to run away). It may actually be necessary to tie them down with force sometimes.

    But, ultimately, we should not keep them locked in, fenced in and bound. We cannot stay that way, behind walls and fences. Rather, the goal is just to relax ... both rider and ride to relax ... quiet and settle into each other, come to befriend each other and unite. Then, in place of untamed horses or bulls running wild, bucking and throwing off their rider, dragging her by the ankles through the dirt ... both are flowing in harmony, ride and rider as one.++ (Oh, some days the wild beast still runs wild even for the best cowboys among us ... but most times we just can ride right through any countryside, any weather, slow idle or fast gallop).

    Something like that.

    So, in Zazen, we allow our thoughts to come and go, then settle ... and not throw us off (the Zafu or the saddle), tangling us in their ropes, dragging us through the dirt and hard stones.

    Something like that. (I really ran wild with the cowboy analogies today! :roll: )



    flowing like mountain, solid as water, space. :wink:

    Gassho, J


    ++ (I am not talking about actual wild horses and bulls here, by the way ... which may have their own lives running free ... just as a symbol for wild thoughts and emotions. I do not want trouble from the animal rights folks! :cry: )

  19. #19

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Ah, if only I COULD let the thoughts arise then bubble away.

    Instead, the thoughts are so negative and depressing, that as each one passes through me, it flays away part of my soul.

    I'm not seeking 'enlightenment', just a little peace.

  20. #20

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Not seeking enlightenment is sort of a prerequisite for Shikantaza, so that's good.

    There really shouldn't be a goal to Shikantaza, but I think you will notice that with a little bit of practice you'll get a certain distance to your thoughts, so that you are no longer controlled by them and no longer get carried away by them, at least not as often. When you can watch those negative thoughts rise and just see them for what they are without judging them, then they will float away. Push them away and they return.

    If you feel a storm of negative thoughts and emotions inside, there's nothing wrong with focusing your concentration on something particular like you have done so far. Have you tried focusing on and counting your breaths? It's useful to count to ten and return to one every time you get lost in thoughts, get to ten, or continue past ten. And have you payed attention to what is between the inbreath and outbreath, between outbreath and inbreath?

    After your mind has calmed down a bit, you can practice the 'real' Shikantaza.

    Good luck!

    /Pontus

    EDIT: Replaced 'try' with 'practice'!

  21. #21
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Hi Pontus,

    After your mind has calmed down a bit, you can try the 'real' Shikantaza
    Trying is certainly NOT shikantaza.

    My mind is ALWAYS a mess.

    Being fully aware of the mess, limitations, delusions is OFTEN my experience of shikantaza.

    Space between inbreath and outbreath...Don't make it too long

    The first part of your post is great. Thank you.

    Let's be down to earth and knees on the ground.

    gassho


    Old grumpy scruffy Bear Taigu

  22. #22

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Actually, the more I poke around and do research, the more I'm beginning to realize that my practice has (with out deliberate intent) much more come to resemble at least 2 'arms' of the Yoga Sutra 'system', specifically bolded items below.



    Yoga S?tras
    ...The Yoga S?tras codifies the royal or best (r?ja) yoga practices, presenting these as a eight-limbed system (asht?nga). The philosophic tradition is related to the S?mkhya school. The focus is on the mind; the second sutra defines Yoga - it is the cessation of all mental fluctuations, all wandering thoughts cease and the mind is focused on a single thought (ek?grat?). The eight limbs or the Asht?nga Yoga propounded here are

    Yama, ethics, restraint and ahims?,
    Niyama, cleanliness, ascetism, etc.
    Asana, posture
    Pr?n?yama, breath-control
    Pratyah?ra, sense-withdrawal
    Dh?ra??, concentration
    Dhy?na meditation, and

    ...

    (source - Wiki)

    I think I'm going to withdrawl for a bit and do some exploration in this area.

    Thanks all for your open welcomes and responses.

  23. #23

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Trying is certainly NOT shikantaza.
    You're absolutely right! How silly of me! :lol: Thanks for the correction. I'll edit right away!

    Old grumpy scruffy Bear Taigu
    You're a great fool of a big stupid bear! :mrgreen:

  24. #24

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Being fully aware of the mess, limitations, delusions is OFTEN my experience of shikantaza.
    By the way, doesn't being fully aware of your delusions mean complete enlightenment..? :wink:
    Sorry, old bear, couldn't resist! ops:

    /Pontus

  25. #25
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    2,907

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Enlightenment about being a complete a........ :? :cry: :roll: :wink:

    And thank you for the kind poke.

    gassho

    Taigu bear GETTING older

  26. #26

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Enlightenment about being a complete a........ :? :cry: :roll: :wink:
    Yes, those moments of great insight, you've got to love them! :wink:

    Thank you for being who you are, Cuddly Bear.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  27. #27

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    Thanks for responding all.

    Perhaps what I am most interested in (at this point) is just plain cultivating a kind of mental discipline. Without the strength to have single point awareness and control of my mind, I often spin into almost manic highs and lows. My emotions are so strong and intense, without a kind of rigid control and discipline over my thoughts, I simply ride a rollercoaster of fantastic highs, and then terrible lows.
    I don't think its a matter of control. Its simply attaining the freedom to get off the roller coaster. This way is called the middle way.

  28. #28

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    It's carrying this instruction from my zafu to my life that gives me problems. "Mother, should I build a wall?" sang Pink Floyd. How do I find space in a traffic jam? How do I act like a mountain when all I can think about is escaping myself through alcohol? How do I flow like water when the hours ahead hold inescapeable suffering?

    In a traffic jam I might notice how beautiul the sky looks today. In the midst of wanting that one drink that will be one too many and nowhere near enough I might remember the beautiful eyes of my daughter, and how she says, "But I love you." When tomorrow holds pain that I can't get out of I might remember my father singing in the shower as his hair falls out into the drain from cancer treatments.
    Space in a traffic jam is still there, just less obvious. Escaping yourself through alcohol only results in finding yourself again with a vengance the next morning (take it from someone who walked that path). Flowing like water is flowing like a lazy river on good days, and flowing like rapids on bad days, all still flowing.

    Pain is. Life is. Sometimes life is painful, sometimes pain reminds you you are alive. Don't let the bad days do the acting for you. Even if tomorrow holds unescapable suffering, live right now as best you can. If the painfull times come, they come, if you fight it it hurts worse, but if you ride the currents of the river, remaining mindful, you can ride the river as you become the river. When you become the river or the mountain, who is it who suffers?

  29. #29

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Flowing like water is flowing like a lazy river on good days, and flowing like rapids on bad days, all still flowing.
    Thank you for this. I will carry it with me for a long time. :wink:

    I talk alot (when do I find time to sit!?) about relating my practice to my life.

    What I don't always mention is that the more I sit, the more I stop struggling, the more I become that open space, the more my life becomes a pleasure instead of an enemy. You know you're making progress (even though there's nowhere to go) when even the bad days offer you handfuls of treasure. Now I wouldn't change a single thing about my life. I will work to remove the suffering of others. But I will not struggle against the current of my own karma anymore. So maybe instead of being that water I can work on being the streambed too, and just let the current wash over me.

    gassho
    Greg

  30. #30

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Perhaps you would be interested in 'Mizu no Kokoro', mind like water.

    Here's one essay I found to be quite enjoyable:
    http://www.trans4mind.com/counterpoint/ ... per3.shtml

    Mizu no Kokoro - A Mind Like Water
    By Vincent Paul Cooper

    Water. The vital element that is the difference between life and death. At one moment life-giving and nurturing, only to change in the blink of an eye to a chaotic, destructive force of nature.
    In the East, and in Japan in particular, perhaps because it is an island, water has been used symbolically in philosophy for centuries. The pond, representative of nature's lakes, is a common and important feature of many Japanese gardens. Alternatively, the carefully raked sand of austere gardens found in some Zen temples also betray the influence of water, with the sand symbolizing the ocean. References to water in one form or another can be found throughout Japanese literature and philosophy, but one phrase in particular that stands out is Mizu no Kokoro, or 'a mind like water'.

    The phrase Mizu no Kokoro is sometimes translated as 'a mind like still water' but I find this to be inaccurate and unable to convey a fuller meaning. It should also be noted that the word kokoro in Japanese properly speaking means heart / mind with the implication that our emotional life (of the heart) and our rational life (of the mind) are intertwined and not separated as we tend to distinguish between them in the West.

    With that background filled in, let's take a look at what Mizu no Kokoro means and how meditating upon it can be of value to your life and development.

    Calm Water
    The first thing that Mizu no Kokoro teaches us is that when water is calm there are no ripples. There is no disturbance. The surface of a lake appears perfectly still. On one level of understanding, this is how we should aim to make our mind: perfectly still, calm, collected and relaxed. This is the mind of insight; the mind that has given up its internal dialogue and has nothing more to say but rather acts as an observer, its awareness extending beyond the phenomenal world. It is neutral and is unable to distinguish between 'right' and 'wrong' or 'good' and 'evil'.

    In more practical terms, this particular state of Mizu no Kokoro is able to show calmness in the face of adversity. It is the mind unruffled by events and the stresses of life. Summoning an image of a still, pristine lake in your mind when you are confronted by the hassle that life brings you is a great way to train yourself to remain calm.

    Ripples
    When the surface of a lake is disturbed, ripples are created. Concentric rings spread out from the source of the disturbance. The water is no longer still and no longer calm. But the reaction of the water is measured. The water will never react in any way that is more or less necessary and proportional to the force of the causative agent. Water never over-reacts. Similarly, but with no less importance, it never under-reacts either. The reaction we witness is in perfect harmony with the initial disturbing action, neither more or less than is appropriate.

    Here too we need to learn an important lesson from Mizu no Kokoro. Your reaction should be measured; an equal match to the situation. Too often people over-react. We see this all the time and it is obvious when we witness it. A person's reaction is completely over the top and is more often than not not directly connected to the event that sparks it off. Rather, the preceding event is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. Maybe that person has been having a bad day, barely keeping themselves in check and when something apparently minor happens an over-reaction is the result. The damage done in such moments can be life-altering. A harsh word to a child, spouse or friend that forever changes their perception of you. A physical attack that at the very least can leave the victim mentally scarred. An argument with your boss or a customer that leads to you losing your job.

    Less obvious, but perhaps even more common, is the tendency to under-react. Here we touch on the distinction between Western and Japanese (broad) definitions of the functions of the heart and mind. In the West we are conditioned to keep our emotions in check except in very particular environments. Rationality rules. As described above, the term kokoro doesn't adequately separate mind and heart. Neither our emotions nor our rationality are dominant. The suggestion is that an under-reaction is no less damaging to your self than an over-reaction. Therapists are forever kept busy with patients who have successfully buried their emotions deep inside themselves for a variety of (rational or self-rationalized) reasons. The result is a damaged psyche.

    Mizu no Kokoro teaches us that your reaction should be appropriate, neither an over- or an under-reaction. Your reaction must arise from inside you. It should be natural to you. How one person reacts to a spilt coffee will be different to the next person. Only you know what your true reaction is. This requires self-awareness and an ability to harmonize with yourself.

    When your reaction is complete and has exhausted itself, return to the calm mind you would otherwise normally keep, just as the surface of the lake becomes pristine once again.

    When Calmness Returns
    Water then can quickly change from a state of stillness to movement and back to stillness.

    It is vital to recognize that 'a mind like water' is reactive NOT passive.

    Maintaining your 'cool' while your carefully constructed life is collapsing around you is not what this teaching is about, though unfortunately that is sometimes the message taken from it when the phrase mizu no kokoro is translated as 'a mind like still water'. This is not about passively accepting whatever fate throws at you. But neither is it about dominating your environment. Rather, it is – simple in theory, very difficult in practice – to react appropriately, from your inner self, to events in your life.

    We can see this clearly when we watch masters of different martial arts. Their actions are almost childlike in appearance (as compared to the theatrics of a Hollywood movie). Simple, direct, and always just enough to get the job done with no wasted energy. At this level their minds hardly appear to have been disturbed at the conscious level; rather their technique is born from the unconscious mind.

    When disturbed, water reacts as much as it needs to…but never more than that. Soon after the water returns to its original condition of calmness. This is the lesson to learn and apply to your life.

    Formless
    One of the characteristics that water, like any liquid, has is the ability to adapt to a changing environment. A measure of water placed in different containers will immediately alter its shape to fit its new surroundings.

    The life lesson here from Mizu no Kokoro is obvious: adapt to circumstances. Don't get trapped in old ways of thinking, however traditional they are and however well they may have served you in the past (or not, as the case may be when we witness others fail to understand that doing the same thing repeatedly will not produce different results). Anyone reading this on the internet no longer lives in a world of slow-paced change. At the age of 36, in my lifetime I have witnessed an immense technological revolution and there is no reason to think this will not continue into the future. People can expect to not only change jobs but entire careers several times throughout their life, with each step requiring new and additional training. An inability to be able to learn and apply new skills can be limiting to say the least. Worse, a refusal to face facts and acknowledge this new environment can spell disaster for yourself and your children.

    Adapt to what life gives you. Harmonize with it, don't fight it. Realistically appraise what is going on and make the changes necessary to allow you to continue living your life in a comfortable manner. Does this mean you should be a victim to circumstances? No, not at all. Water is reactive, not passive. Adapt to your true nature and find your own path to walk, your own song to dance to, your own game to play.

  31. #31

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Perhaps you would be interested in 'Mizu no Kokoro', mind like water.
    Thanks, man. Wow, that's alot to take in.

    I read where someone said (I forget who)

    Mind is like water

    put shit in it and you get shit-water

    put vegetables in it and you get soup

    leave it alone and you get clear water

    no thinking, no mind, no mind, no problem

    gassho
    Greg

  32. #32
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    I have only read the first post, forgive me, but I felt compelled to respond.

    After having practiced many different types of meditation for a few years, though I am no expert, the stillness which is the goal feels the same in every style.

  33. #33

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    Thanks, man. Wow, that's alot to take in.

    I read where someone said (I forget who)

    Mind is like water

    put shit in it and you get shit-water

    put vegetables in it and you get soup

    leave it alone and you get clear water

    no thinking, no mind, no mind, no problem
    You're welcome Greg!
    And I laughed! :lol:
    Although I didn't get the soup part. Too profound for me I guess.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  34. #34

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    After having practiced many different types of meditation for a few years, though I am no expert, the stillness which is the goal feels the same in every style.
    I haven't done that many kinds of meditation, but I agree. Samadhi is samadhi. Even though you are concentrating on the breathing instead of doing Shikantaza, eventually, as you drop body and mind, the breathing drops away too and what you end up with is the same. I just happen to like Shikantaza very much (unfortunately).

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  35. #35

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    I think that rivers are a great metaphor for life and our particular practice. If you look at a river, it has slow spots and fast spots, high water lines and low water marks, sometimes calm and even, sometimes rapid and frightening. All the same water, all the same river. The tranquil peace of a placid stream or the savage beauty of a raging river equally amazing.

    All rivers also empty into the sea, some connect directly, some have to seep into the ground and emerge somewhere else before they join the ocean, taking different paths. Full of life, storms, tides, all different, all the same. Every drop of water touches every continent in the world and the rain that falls on us all, that becomes the life giving water we drink, comes from the water evaporated from these lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans. All connected.

    Life is like that. All different, all the same, all connected even if not immediately apparent. The good, the bad, the ugly; all reflections of each other. The things in life that we think of as “good” ultimately are connected to and part of the things we consider “bad”. In the end, the rain just falls, completely and wholly rain. Its journey from calm to rapid to sea to rain, just completely what it is. Just a river, just an ocean, just a sutra.

    Just life.


    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    JohnsonCM wrote:
    Flowing like water is flowing like a lazy river on good days, and flowing like rapids on bad days, all still flowing.

    Thank you for this. I will carry it with me for a long time.
    Thank you, I’m honored that you would consider doing that. But also, don’t get too hung up on these words, they are only the boat, don’t carry them with you after you reach the other shore, and our way reminds us not to take things too seriously. It’s possible that I wrote that because I just bought a kayak………. ops:

  36. #36

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    This business of carrying boats and kayaks and words made me think of this old Zen story!

    Two monks were traveling together, an older monk and a younger monk. They noticed a young woman at the edge of a stream, afraid to cross. The older monk picked her up, carried her across the stream and put her down safely on the other side. The younger monk was astonished, but he didn't say anything until their journey was over. "Why did you carry that woman across the stream? Monks aren't supposed to touch any member of the opposite sex." said the younger monk. The older monk replied "I left her at the edge of the river, are you still carrying her?"

  37. #37
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    After having practiced many different types of meditation for a few years, though I am no expert, the stillness which is the goal feels the same in every style.
    I haven't done that many kinds of meditation, but I agree. Samadhi is samadhi. Even though you are concentrating on the breathing instead of doing Shikantaza, eventually, as you drop body and mind, the breathing drops away too and what you end up with is the same. I just happen to like Shikantaza very much (unfortunately).

    Gassho,
    Pontus

    I am starting to prefer Shikantaza, as well. Starting a meditation off with tricks that used to get me going, now just seem to get in the way of what I already know to be the goal. However, I am always doing Shikantaza in many postures.

  38. #38

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Perhaps you would be interested in 'Mizu no Kokoro', mind like water.

    Here's one essay I found to be quite enjoyable:
    http://www.trans4mind.com/counterpoint/ ... per3.shtml

    Mizu no Kokoro - A Mind Like Water
    By Vincent Paul Cooper

    Water. The vital element that is the difference between life and death. At one moment life-giving and nurturing, only to change in the blink of an eye to a chaotic, destructive force of nature.
    In the East, and in Japan in particular, perhaps because it is an island, water has been used symbolically in philosophy for centuries. The pond, representative of nature's lakes, is a common and important feature of many Japanese gardens. Alternatively, the carefully raked sand of austere gardens found in some Zen temples also betray the influence of water, with the sand symbolizing the ocean. References to water in one form or another can be found throughout Japanese literature and philosophy, but one phrase in particular that stands out is Mizu no Kokoro, or 'a mind like water'.

    The phrase Mizu no Kokoro is sometimes translated as 'a mind like still water' but I find this to be inaccurate and unable to convey a fuller meaning. It should also be noted that the word kokoro in Japanese properly speaking means heart / mind with the implication that our emotional life (of the heart) and our rational life (of the mind) are intertwined and not separated as we tend to distinguish between them in the West.

    With that background filled in, let's take a look at what Mizu no Kokoro means and how meditating upon it can be of value to your life and development.

    Calm Water
    The first thing that Mizu no Kokoro teaches us is that when water is calm there are no ripples. There is no disturbance. The surface of a lake appears perfectly still. On one level of understanding, this is how we should aim to make our mind: perfectly still, calm, collected and relaxed. This is the mind of insight; the mind that has given up its internal dialogue and has nothing more to say but rather acts as an observer, its awareness extending beyond the phenomenal world. It is neutral and is unable to distinguish between 'right' and 'wrong' or 'good' and 'evil'.

    In more practical terms, this particular state of Mizu no Kokoro is able to show calmness in the face of adversity. It is the mind unruffled by events and the stresses of life. Summoning an image of a still, pristine lake in your mind when you are confronted by the hassle that life brings you is a great way to train yourself to remain calm.

    Ripples
    When the surface of a lake is disturbed, ripples are created. Concentric rings spread out from the source of the disturbance. The water is no longer still and no longer calm. But the reaction of the water is measured. The water will never react in any way that is more or less necessary and proportional to the force of the causative agent. Water never over-reacts. Similarly, but with no less importance, it never under-reacts either. The reaction we witness is in perfect harmony with the initial disturbing action, neither more or less than is appropriate.

    Here too we need to learn an important lesson from Mizu no Kokoro. Your reaction should be measured; an equal match to the situation. Too often people over-react. We see this all the time and it is obvious when we witness it. A person's reaction is completely over the top and is more often than not not directly connected to the event that sparks it off. Rather, the preceding event is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. Maybe that person has been having a bad day, barely keeping themselves in check and when something apparently minor happens an over-reaction is the result. The damage done in such moments can be life-altering. A harsh word to a child, spouse or friend that forever changes their perception of you. A physical attack that at the very least can leave the victim mentally scarred. An argument with your boss or a customer that leads to you losing your job.

    Less obvious, but perhaps even more common, is the tendency to under-react. Here we touch on the distinction between Western and Japanese (broad) definitions of the functions of the heart and mind. In the West we are conditioned to keep our emotions in check except in very particular environments. Rationality rules. As described above, the term kokoro doesn't adequately separate mind and heart. Neither our emotions nor our rationality are dominant. The suggestion is that an under-reaction is no less damaging to your self than an over-reaction. Therapists are forever kept busy with patients who have successfully buried their emotions deep inside themselves for a variety of (rational or self-rationalized) reasons. The result is a damaged psyche.

    Mizu no Kokoro teaches us that your reaction should be appropriate, neither an over- or an under-reaction. Your reaction must arise from inside you. It should be natural to you. How one person reacts to a spilt coffee will be different to the next person. Only you know what your true reaction is. This requires self-awareness and an ability to harmonize with yourself.

    When your reaction is complete and has exhausted itself, return to the calm mind you would otherwise normally keep, just as the surface of the lake becomes pristine once again.

    When Calmness Returns
    Water then can quickly change from a state of stillness to movement and back to stillness.

    It is vital to recognize that 'a mind like water' is reactive NOT passive.

    Maintaining your 'cool' while your carefully constructed life is collapsing around you is not what this teaching is about, though unfortunately that is sometimes the message taken from it when the phrase mizu no kokoro is translated as 'a mind like still water'. This is not about passively accepting whatever fate throws at you. But neither is it about dominating your environment. Rather, it is – simple in theory, very difficult in practice – to react appropriately, from your inner self, to events in your life.

    We can see this clearly when we watch masters of different martial arts. Their actions are almost childlike in appearance (as compared to the theatrics of a Hollywood movie). Simple, direct, and always just enough to get the job done with no wasted energy. At this level their minds hardly appear to have been disturbed at the conscious level; rather their technique is born from the unconscious mind.

    When disturbed, water reacts as much as it needs to…but never more than that. Soon after the water returns to its original condition of calmness. This is the lesson to learn and apply to your life.

    Formless
    One of the characteristics that water, like any liquid, has is the ability to adapt to a changing environment. A measure of water placed in different containers will immediately alter its shape to fit its new surroundings.

    The life lesson here from Mizu no Kokoro is obvious: adapt to circumstances. Don't get trapped in old ways of thinking, however traditional they are and however well they may have served you in the past (or not, as the case may be when we witness others fail to understand that doing the same thing repeatedly will not produce different results). Anyone reading this on the internet no longer lives in a world of slow-paced change. At the age of 36, in my lifetime I have witnessed an immense technological revolution and there is no reason to think this will not continue into the future. People can expect to not only change jobs but entire careers several times throughout their life, with each step requiring new and additional training. An inability to be able to learn and apply new skills can be limiting to say the least. Worse, a refusal to face facts and acknowledge this new environment can spell disaster for yourself and your children.

    Adapt to what life gives you. Harmonize with it, don't fight it. Realistically appraise what is going on and make the changes necessary to allow you to continue living your life in a comfortable manner. Does this mean you should be a victim to circumstances? No, not at all. Water is reactive, not passive. Adapt to your true nature and find your own path to walk, your own song to dance to, your own game to play.
    Well, the theme of the little talk during our Zazenkai today was to be water!

    viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3398

    I will bring some of these drops of wisdom into it .... going with the flow! 8) Thank you.

    I hope it is not, as we say in English slang ... "all wet".

    Gassho, Jundo

  39. #39
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Sparrow,

    Part of the Buddha's life story is that when he first left the palace to seek wisdom, he studied with two well respected yogis of his time. Both were masters of mental disciples, and the Buddha was an apt student of both. He mastered all the mental disciplines they taught, including the ability to cultivate various samadhis and control the mind. But what the Buddha found was that no matter how much bliss he experienced in meditation, he still had not resolved the matter of suffering. He was still not at peace.

    I can tell you from my own experience that cultivating concentration practice led to some nice experiences on the cushion, but it did not change my life in any way. It did not still the cycle of samsara or take away the inner darkness. Cultivating mental bliss states is the same as pursuing physical bliss in some key ways. Chasing after experiences that are pleasant is the definition of samsara.

    And chasing after control is a game of illusion, a dead end. I can tell you that you are going in the wrong direction. Control does not bring peace or happiness. Surrender does. It is the illusory self that needs to define itself by deciding what fashion of spiritual practice makes its butt look best in the mirror that causes the intense suffering you describe.

    You will not be able to control your way to what you seek. Open your mind to that now and you will save yourself time and sorrow.

    Stephanie

  40. #40
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
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    Plymouth, Devon, UK
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    1,259

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Thank you Stephanie that’s right...we do not need or really have any ‘control’, however shikantaza does allows us to see our life as something different.
    I am drawn back to the current water metaphor. ops:
    In ocean waves, a wave of energy travels through water. Antarctic storms create waves that travel south to north, the length of the Pacific, to break in Alaska as ripples that have fanned out over hundreds of miles along the Alaskan Pacific coast.
    The breaking of the wave is the only point at which the energy of the wave actually moves the water, thus breaking its relationship with the water as it transferred onto the beach and into the air as sound.
    The energy of ‘our life’ thus travels through our bodies, undetected or apparently invisible, and is only seen as ‘water’, our bodies, the cells of which are constantly being exchanged with our environment (the whole body totally exchanges every 7 years or so). Now it has been shown that waves interfere and merge as they travel, just as our lives do. Shikantaza allows us to merge rather than interfere, allows us to be the energy rather than the water, to flow and let water be.

    I'm not sure that the analogy is a total fit but please feel free to amend!

  41. #41

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Yes, Stephanie, your words ring true. To us. But before one has realized the truth behind those words, all they can do it maybe plant a seed. As you say, we can't control our thoughts and emotions by wrestling with them, trying to discipline them, keeping them away by force. It's the same with trying to control humans. As Suzuki says in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, the best way to control a person is to give him freedom, (like giving an ox a large pasture to graze on) keep watch over him and not try to lock him in.

    So I think Sparrow may need to continue his frantic search for stillness for a while yet, running in this direction and that, trying this path and that, before he can feel the truth of your words in his marrow, that the solution is right there in front of him.

    And sadly, that is the case with all of us I believe. :cry:

    /Pontus

  42. #42

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    ...So I think Sparrow may need to continue his frantic search for stillness for a while yet, running in this direction and that, trying this path and that, before he can feel the truth of your words in his marrow, that the solution is right there in front of him...
    Pretty much all the different faiths or paths believe theirs is the only one true solution

  43. #43

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    ...So I think Sparrow may need to continue his frantic search for stillness for a while yet, running in this direction and that, trying this path and that, before he can feel the truth of your words in his marrow, that the solution is right there in front of him...
    Pretty much all the different faiths or paths believe theirs is the only one true solution
    I think the important thing is that you find your true path and make it your own. Then you won't need yogis or buddhas or jesus . But if one degree of separation remains you will have to practice something like everyone here is trying to do.

  44. #44

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    ...So I think Sparrow may need to continue his frantic search for stillness for a while yet, running in this direction and that, trying this path and that, before he can feel the truth of your words in his marrow, that the solution is right there in front of him...
    Pretty much all the different faiths or paths believe theirs is the only one true solution
    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that our practice is the only true one. There are many paths up the same mountain! All practicioners prefer their path of course, but especially in the buddhist world, I believe many see the similarities between the different traditions.

    /Pontus

  45. #45

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    ...So I think Sparrow may need to continue his frantic search for stillness for a while yet, running in this direction and that, trying this path and that, before he can feel the truth of your words in his marrow, that the solution is right there in front of him...
    Pretty much all the different faiths or paths believe theirs is the only one true solution
    I think the important thing is that you find your true path and make it your own. Then you won't need yogis or buddhas or jesus . But if one degree of separation remains you will have to practice something like everyone here is trying to do.
    Actually the something is no thing which is just sitting.

  46. #46

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    ...So I think Sparrow may need to continue his frantic search for stillness for a while yet, running in this direction and that, trying this path and that, before he can feel the truth of your words in his marrow, that the solution is right there in front of him...
    Pretty much all the different faiths or paths believe theirs is the only one true solution
    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that our practice is the only true one. There are many paths up the same mountain! All practicioners prefer their path of course, but especially in the buddhist world, I believe many see the similarities between the different traditions.

    /Pontus
    No offence taken. Like I said, I'm a little touchy about the potential 'stink' of Zen.

    All that "Here but not here" and "the path of no path" stuff.
    Never mind when folks who don't even know me think they might know what's best for me. :shock:

    Take care guys. Looks like you've really succeeded in making an online Zendo/group work. Very cool.

  47. #47

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by The Sparrow
    No offence taken. Like I said, I'm a little touchy about the potential 'stink' of Zen.

    All that "Here but not here" and "the path of no path" stuff.
    Never mind when folks who don't even know me think they might know what's best for me.
    I agree with you. However, every "group," whether religious in nature or secular, seems to develop its own jargon over time. That just happens. It's how we communicate. But there is a truth that all that gibberish points too. Zen just has fun with it. You already seem to posses alot of good sense. You don't want anybody else's interpretation of truth for yourself. Might save you alot of pain. But it might cause some too. We don't have any such truth just for ourselves as we are all connected to each other. You end up where you started you from. I wish you all the best on your journey. What really matters is just how we treat each other. Not religious experiences. Every high has a low. Find your path. Make it your own. Then widen it so many people can travel it with you. Take care.

    gassho
    Greg

  48. #48

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    I know what you mean by the paradoxes, I found them very peculiar when I just started sitting. After a while though you begin to understand what they point at, so it's not just trying to sound mysterious (at least not in all cases). It's just that some experiences from meditation are very hard to describe with words. If you read what Sawaki Roshi says in my signature for example, it may seem like complete jiberish, but when you realize what it means it's very profound and vitally important.

    And like I said we're all doing the running around in different directions, when in fact we could be just as content exactly where we are. Or just choosing one direction and follow it for a while to see what it's actually like. I have done it alot in the past and I'm still doing it. I have for example tried many different martial arts in an attempt to find the 'best one'. Now I know I could have been content with either one and made it into my own and that there is no best one. And it's the same with my jobs. Why was it so important to find the 'best' job? Many times we have no choice but to chase these ideas until we realize we're chasing a mirage. Try to tell a poor man that money is unimportant. Someone who has built a fortune and realized it didn't make him any happier will more easily understand what it means.

    I would choose a practice that speaks to you and stick with it for a while, even when the first doubts appear.

    Good luck in the future and welcome back if you decide to return!

    /Pontus

  49. #49

    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Trying is certainly NOT shikantaza.

    My mind is ALWAYS a mess.

    Being fully aware of the mess, limitations, delusions is OFTEN my experience of shikantaza.
    If nothing more is said on this subject, has this not said it all?

    What sets this path apart? The fact that when you look for it, this path is no path at all.

    IT IS LIFE. AS IT IS. THAT IS OUR PRACTICE.

    Thank you for this, Taigu.

    Now, in the words of someone we all know, "SHALL WE SIT WITH THAT?"

    gassho
    Greg

  50. #50
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Pinpoint precision attention = no thoughts

    Thank you Pontus for the story of the monks! That was great.

    Gassho,
    John

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