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Thread: Meditation is pointless...

  1. #1

    Meditation is pointless...

    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently reading Meditation Now Or Never by Steve Hagen. He speaks about zazen being pointless. He doesn't mean that we shouldn't practice zazen, he means that if we are looking for some sort of benefit, or reward, then it would be pointless. I found this a very interesting view and I wanted to know your thoughts. I often find that my ego wants to this practice to have some end point. Some sort of finish line with a banner that reads, "Welcome to enlightenment." I think this is human nature, but I found that the more I sit, the less this thought plagues my mind. After all, there is nothing "out there" to achieve in this practice. Enlightenment isn't something we can grasp; Nirvana isn't a place. To sit is enlightenment; to smile is nirvana. Each time that my ego expects something from this practice, I come back to this moment. I try to focus on what I'm currently doing because zazen isn't practiced only on the cushion. Thank you for your time.

    Gassho,

    Adam

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Hi Adam,

    My view on this has always been much like my signature line from Aitken Roshi: If you go looking for enlightenment you will never find it. After that, I cannot say...but sitting seems to offer a benefit in this world, right here, right now because I'm NOT looking for a benefit from zazen. The rest will either take care of itself or it won't. In all cases, I just sit.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  3. #3

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Yes, I agree, see my signature too!


    By Kodo Sawaki Roshi (http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/kodo-sa ... -you.shtml):

    To you who is wondering if your zazen has been good for something

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What’s zazen good for? Absolutely nothing! This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you’re?truly practicing what’s good for nothing. Until then, your zazen is really good for nothing.

    You say you want to become a better person by doing zazen. Zazen isn’t about learning how to be a person. Zazen is to stop being a person.

    Zazen is unsatisfying. Unsatisfying for whom? For the ordinary person. People are never satisfied.

    Isn’t it self-evident? How could that which is eternal and infinite ever satisfy human desires?

    Unsatisfying: simply practicing zazen.
    Unsatisfying: realizing zazen with this body.
    Unsatisfying: absorbing zazen into your flesh and blood.

    Being watched by zazen, cursed by zazen, blocked by zazen, dragged around by zazen, every day crying tears of blood – isn’t that the happiest form of life you can imagine?

    You say “When I do zazen, I get disturbing thoughts!” Foolish! The fact is that it’s only in zazen that you’re aware of your disturbing thoughts at all. When you dance around with your disturbing thoughts, you don’t notice them at all. When a mosquito bites you during zazen, you notice it right away. But when you’re dancing and a flea bites your balls, you don’t notice it at all.

    Don’t whine. Don’t stare into space. Just sit!


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Gassho,
    Pontus

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Hi Adam,
    When I decided to start practicing zazen I was not looking for enlightenment, what I needed (wanted?) at the time was perspective, and I just thought this might help. I was and still am mostly ignorant of many of the concepts of buddhisim including nirvana, awakining, re-birth, and the like.
    This came up while we were discussing our practice at the Tea Party this Sunday. I made mention that this past week I had been givin a great challenge to face in life, an ongoing situation that is close to hiting a crital point, Mother far away and ailing in health, an abusive, and unstable Alcholic brother living with her, and myself wishing to do something about it, but not welcome to do so by anyone....Anyway not important the point being I said that a year ago (prior to Zen) I know I would have been compleatly freaked out and running about in a frantic state and forcing issuses, basicly causing a bigger mess of things.
    Now I certainly had a couple rough days while on the phone with realatives, and trying to get a handle on the situation, worried, stressed, angry, just upset, Normal.........but I did not loose my cool (as I am prone to do ops: )

    I do not mean to ramble or make it about me, my point is that as I read your post I thought of how I had come to feel that Zen has had an impact in this situation.
    No great enlightenment, I do not feel I have been "FIXED" or gained anything, I just feel that I have learend just a little to see myself from a different perspective, and perhaps be more apt to catch myself when heading in the wrong direction.....I think.
    This is what I have come to expect from myself, and practice...maybe I should not expect or want anything? and I really don't feel I need any reward for sitting ..but I sure am grateful for the practice when I recognized a positive change in myself.

    I don't need enlightenment, I just need to get through each day, as best I can, I have no doubt that Zazen is pointless, but I sure don't feel quite right when I skip it, so it must be having some effect, and as long as it feels right I'll keep on doing it.
    Just wanted to share my view of Zazen, I suspect it means a little something different for all of us.

    Gassho. ~Dave.

  5. #5

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Dave, I agree, in a way.
    But do you think Sawaki the grumpy old fool agrees? :evil: :wink:


    To you who says that you have attained a better state of mind through zazen

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As long as you say zazen is a good thing, something isn’t quite right. Unstained zazen is absolutely nothing special. It isn’t even necessary to be grateful for it.
    Wouldn’t it be strange if a baby said to its mother, “Please have understanding for the fact that I’m always shitting in my diapers.”
    Without knowledge, without consciousness, everything is as it should be.
    Don’t stain your zazen by saying that you’ve progressed, feel better or have become more confident through zazen.

    We only say, “Things are going well!” when they’re going our way.

    We should simply leave the water of our original nature as it is. But instead we are constantly mucking about with our hands to find out how cold or warm it is. That’s why it gets cloudy.

    There’s nothing more unpleasant than staining zazen. “Staining” means making a face like a department head, corporate boss or chairperson. Washing away the stains is what’s meant by “simplicity” [shikan].

    There are bodhisattvas “without magical abilities”. These are bodhisattvas who have even entirely forgotten words like “practice” or “satori”, bodhisattvas without wonderful powers, bodhisattvas who are immeasurable, bodhisattvas who are not interested in their name and fame.

    Zazen isn’t like a thermometer where the temperature slowly rises: “Just a little more … yeah … that’s it! Now, I’ve got satori!” Zazen never becomes anything special, no matter how long you practice. If it becomes something special, you must have a screw lose somewhere.

    If we don’t watch out, we’ll start believing that the buddha-dharma is like climbing up a staircase. But it isn’t like this at all. This very step right now is the one practice which includes all practices, and it is all practices, contained in this one practice.

    If you do something good, you can’t forget you’ve done something good. If you’ve had satori, you get stuck in the awareness of having satori. That’s why it’s better to keep your hands off good deeds and satori. You’ve got to be perfectly open and free. Don’t rest on your laurels!

    Even if I say all of this about the buddha way, ordinary people will still use the buddha-dharma to try and enhance their value as humans.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  6. #6

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam
    After all, there is nothing "out there" to achieve in this practice. Enlightenment isn't something we can grasp; Nirvana isn't a place. To sit is enlightenment; to smile is nirvana. Each time that my ego expects something from this practice, I come back to this moment.
    Gassho,

    Adam
    True, but at the same time, too oversimplified. Awakening is not the same as to smile, sitting is not the same as nirvana. Much of zen terminology is emanating from different aspects of reality. That's why we can say that "there is nothing to reach", but at the same time, "there is plenty to reach". Trying to reach it, though, can make you miss it.

    When it comes to not having to reach something we have already got, the notion of buddhadhatu is to blame. Buddhadhatu is problematic, in more than one way. If that buddha nature is existent in all of us, either it is a) not subject to change, which makes it a kind of atman, or b) is subject to change, but then it's just as illusory as the self. Why mention it at all? I mean, the buddha said it was possible to wake up - no need to refer to our inherent buddha nature, unless you are trying to align the buddhadharma with vedic ones.

    This buddhadhatu is the hardest part for me to reconcile with.

    So, I don't agree that meditation is pointless. There is a perfectly clear point. However, I believe that sometimes it is useful for people to believe that there is no point, in order to make them drop their constant search for nirvana. This belief, which is a tool for our practice, is very much like the belief in pure lands. Sure, the pure land is right here, in your own mind, but it is portrayed as a an actual land in order to make those who practice more diligent in their practice.

    To quote a certain Kenobi: "What I told you was the truth. From a certain point of view".

    There are many truths depending on our own point of view, yet there is only one truth.

  7. #7

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    True, but at the same time, too oversimplified. Awakening is not the same as to smile, sitting is not the same as nirvana. Much of zen terminology is emanating from different aspects of reality. That's why we can say that "there is nothing to reach", but at the same time, "there is plenty to reach". Trying to reach it, though, can make you miss it.
    I agree. However, what I mean is that when one sits with the intention of becoming awakened, then that is pointless because you will never achieve this goal. Any time we strive for awakening, we have already failed. We cannot strive for something that is with us at all times. We should sit, to just sit. Not expecting anything from our sitting, but gaining everything from it. Does that make sense? I am not saying in this post that zazen is in anyway pointless. I'm pointing to the fact that we cannot expect our sitting will lead to awakening, but we become awakened in the process. I hope I'm making sense.

    Gassho,

    Adam

  8. #8

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Some people would argue that even though we deny that we are trying to attain something, we are only fooling ourselves. Subconsciously we still hold on to that idea of enlightenment as something we need to attain. You may call me paranoid, but I don't dare to read books like the Three Pillars of Zen from this reason... I don't want to read about people's Kensho-experiences, because I'm afraid I would subconsciously start longing for it. I'd rather repeat my mantra that Zazen is good for nothing until hopefully one day I believe in it. I'm aware that I may just be deluding myself...

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  9. #9

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Some people would argue that even though we deny that we are trying to attain something, we are only fooling ourselves. Subconsciously we still hold on to that idea of enlightenment as something we need to attain.
    I think I know what you mean. Sometimes, I'll think I am not feeling particularly driven. Later on, in reflection, I'll sometimes realize that I was trying to attain something. My work life is very goal-oriented and that easily comes into my personal life, including my meditation.

  10. #10

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista

    When it comes to not having to reach something we have already got, the notion of buddhadhatu is to blame. Buddhadhatu is problematic, in more than one way. If that buddha nature is existent in all of us, either it is a) not subject to change, which makes it a kind of atman, or b) is subject to change, but then it's just as illusory as the self. Why mention it at all? I mean, the buddha said it was possible to wake up - no need to refer to our inherent buddha nature, unless you are trying to align the buddhadharma with vedic ones.

    This buddhadhatu is the hardest part for me to reconcile with.
    Hello Anista,

    Perhaps Reality is Buddha-Nature? Always exactly what it is, unchanging and eternal at an absolute point of view, even while dynamic and impermanent at a relative. Maybe it would be more accurate to say, "All of us are extant in Buddha-Nature." Reality is reality, Buddha-Nature is Buddha-Nature (whatever that does turn out to mean). Could the whole issue be as simple as holding on to one's concept of what "Buddha Nature" or "Reality" is, or should be?

    Just my thoughts.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  11. #11
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Dave, I agree, in a way.
    But do you think Sadowaki the grumpy old fool agrees?
    Thank you for your reply, and to everyone else. Good stuff to think on and add to the perspective.
    Gassho.

  12. #12
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Not too bad, Saijun, but don't even be attached to this.
    Anista, when you say : there is plenty to reach", who is reaching what?

    Awakening is not a product we may get from the Zen shelf, it is not something we can hold or have, we are it. And when we are it, we are not aware of it. Awakening is not navel gazing. It is the natural activity of reality expressed fully in our sitting. Our sitting is pointless like trees, birds, mountains and stuff like that. when you give zazen a goal, you restrict its nature, you give it a flavour, pointless zazen is absolutely open, unconditionnally open, open on the open itself. We not having a strategy here, pretending it is pointless so we can get the goodies from it, it is truly endless, timeless and pointless. The journey is without goal because it never ends. Sawaki Kodo wanted people to realize that limiting boundless activity was ridiculous.

    gassho

    Taigu

  13. #13

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Rereading "Opening the Hand of Thought". I find it something like this:

    Aiming with the bow at no target, we soon get cocky saying "oh ho ho! no target indeed!" and decide to shoot at something anyway. The arrow ends up in your foot, we just don't realize we've stuck ourselves to the ground sometimes! Still looking off into the distance for our target, our arrow in the bullseye. Doesn't mean we can't pull it out and come back to where we are though :P

    Something like that?

    Gassho,
    Taylor (Myoken)

  14. #14
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Something like that, Myoken.

    gassho


    Taigu

  15. #15

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Some people would argue that even though we deny that we are trying to attain something, we are only fooling ourselves. Subconsciously we still hold on to that idea of enlightenment as something we need to attain. You may call me paranoid, but I don't dare to read books like the Three Pillars of Zen from this reason... I don't want to read about people's Kensho-experiences, because I'm afraid I would subconsciously start longing for it. I'd rather repeat my mantra that Zazen is good for nothing until hopefully one day I believe in it. I'm aware that I may just be deluding myself...

    Gassho,
    Pontus

    Wanting enlightenment is a very good thing. "attaining enlightenment" is merely experience a great understanding in one's whole being.

    I want to know what is this thing called enlightenment and that QUESTION has led me to many significant experiences.

    It is important when sitting to let that desire to find out what enlightenmetn is, to let that drop away from the forefront of one's consciousness because that desire is an in-the-future thing and nothing happens in the future, there is only this moment. And so enlightenment, like everything else, can only happen in This Moment. But it is probably more expedient to turn one's desire for enlightenment into a question.

    And I want to encourage people not to settle for feeling peaceful, being mindful. Or at least perhaps to consider not settling for those things. Because the great promise of zen buddhism is that experiencing enlightenment is not something that just happened to some prince who lived 2500 years ago, it is available to everyone.

    thank you for yoru time,
    gassho
    rowan jinho
    who very definitely doesn't sit zazen just to sit on her butt

  16. #16

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Awakening is not a product we may get from the Zen shelf, it is not something we can hold or have, we are it. And when we are it, we are not aware of it. Awakening is not navel gazing. It is the natural activity of reality expressed fully in our sitting. Our sitting is pointless like trees, birds, mountains and stuff like that. when you give zazen a goal, you restrict its nature, you give it a flavour, pointless zazen is absolutely open, unconditionnally open, open on the open itself. We not having a strategy here, pretending it is pointless so we can get the goodies from it, it is truly endless, timeless and pointless. The journey is without goal because it never ends. Sawaki Kodo wanted people to realize that limiting boundless activity was ridiculous.
    Thank you very much Taigu Sensei. Your words ring very true. Very clear and honest. As do those of Sawaki Roshi.
    I agree we shouldn't pretend it's pointless so we can get the goodies. But it's very hard to accept consciously and subconsciously that there is nothing to attain, when we are so used to having goals and being driven in our everyday lives. As Sawaki says: "This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you’re truly practicing what’s good for nothing."

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  17. #17

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    But it is probably more expedient to turn one's desire for enlightenment into a question.
    Yes, and keep a beginner's mind.

    Thank you,
    Pontus

  18. #18
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Pontus, it is Kodo Sawaki you are refering to. But I am sure he doesn't mind if you change his name a bit...

    gassho


    Taigu

  19. #19

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Oops! ops: ops: ops:
    I had a teacher named Kadowaki once. So I mixed that and Sawaki a little. I blame the sleep deprivation... Making a complete fool out of oneself is very good for your ego!

    I'll edit to avoid confusion.

    Gassho,
    /Pontus

  20. #20

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    As Sawaki says: "This “good for nothing” has got to sink into your flesh and bones until you’re truly practicing what’s good for nothing."
    Until this conviction/experience of "good for nothing" sinks into our flesh and bones" we use to make discriminations to express our relation to this practice. A lot of questions, thoughts, ideas or idealization may appear in our little heads about Zen, Zazen, good, bad... But practicing with the sense of "I don't know" can help to relax sufficiently our mind (better to drop bodymind... but only on good days :lol: ) and maybe just accept this reality of "good for nothing".

    Is the "good for nothing" that Kodo Sawaki express really different from the "I don't know"?
    Not one, not two practices... maybe beyond practices.

    In the end the question is, for me (who is, like a lot of us, easily lost in intellectual ideas about practice), is it important to know if we can get something or not from Zazen?

    No need to answer, we all have one... but looking at this question about our practice with the "specter", the view, the sense of "I don't know" can help to just ... dropping the answers and the questions... and what is left?

    Sorry, it is a bit complicated for me to express myself with nuances in English.
    Hope it isn't out of subject.

    gassho,
    Jinyu

  21. #21

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jinho
    Wanting enlightenment is a very good thing. "attaining enlightenment" is merely experience a great understanding in one's whole being.

    I want to know what is this thing called enlightenment and that QUESTION has led me to many significant experiences.

    It is important when sitting to let that desire to find out what enlightenmetn is, to let that drop away from the forefront of one's consciousness because that desire is an in-the-future thing and nothing happens in the future, there is only this moment. And so enlightenment, like everything else, can only happen in This Moment. But it is probably more expedient to turn one's desire for enlightenment into a question.

    And I want to encourage people not to settle for feeling peaceful, being mindful. Or at least perhaps to consider not settling for those things. Because the great promise of zen buddhism is that experiencing enlightenment is not something that just happened to some prince who lived 2500 years ago, it is available to everyone.

    thank you for yoru time,
    gassho
    rowan jinho
    who very definitely doesn't sit zazen just to sit on her butt
    Very good post rowan/jinho. I agree completely.

  22. #22

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Anista, when you say : there is plenty to reach", who is reaching what?
    Me who is typing here, the sense of self who is illusory, who is clinging to itself, reaches everything that can be reached. Awakening, the end of a sutra, more groceries, a case in point. No? I get a feeling that this is a wrong answer (even if we're passed right and wrong)!

    Awakening is not a product we may get from the Zen shelf, it is not something we can hold or have, we are it. And when we are it, we are not aware of it. Awakening is not navel gazing. It is the natural activity of reality expressed fully in our sitting. Our sitting is pointless like trees, birds, mountains and stuff like that. when you give zazen a goal, you restrict its nature, you give it a flavour, pointless zazen is absolutely open, unconditionnally open, open on the open itself. We not having a strategy here, pretending it is pointless so we can get the goodies from it, it is truly endless, timeless and pointless. The journey is without goal because it never ends. Sawaki Kodo wanted people to realize that limiting boundless activity was ridiculous.
    OK, now I am confused. You say that pointless zazen is unconditionally open, but then isn't that a point to zazen? The openness? We can argue about the semantic nature of the word "point", but since zazen is unconditionally open, without a strategy, that could be said to be the point. The point of having no point.

  23. #23
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Indeed, the point of having no point.

    gassho

    Taigu

  24. #24

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Indeed, the point of having no point.

    gassho

    Taigu
    It may be pointed out that there is one pointed point so open as to sweep in all points without exception. Point at your nose or point to the farthest star, and the point points at the point. In fact, any one point fully expresses and reflects all points, like points of light reflected endlessly in the mirrors of Indra's Net. One cannot even call the point a "point" in space and time, or big or small, or point out where it came from or where it's going ... because nothing is outside to point to for compare! Yet, sometimes the compass needle points north south east or west, sometimes the hands of the clock point to 3:00 or 9:00, sometimes it is a sharp or dull point. Zazen is sat right at such point! "That's Pointless!" 8)

    Sometimes I say that, just because sitting is "pointless", "goalless" ... that does not mean that there is no point, no goal. A wonderful goal is to diligently, energetically attain in one's bones that attainment of no goal and nothing in need of attaining! That's the Pointless point. :shock:

    Get the point? Anyway, pardon my pointless comment ... I am on the 3rd day of the flu, and my head feels pointy.

    Gassho, J

  25. #25

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Get the point? Anyway, pardon my pointless comment ... I am on the 3rd day of the flu, and my head feels pointy.
    Gassho, J
    Hello Jundo,

    I'm sorry to hear that you're ill. It must be going around; part of the issue that kept me away from the internet was my semi-yearly bout with pneumonia. I think I've got it on the ropes, though, and sincerely hope that you get back up to snuff soon.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  26. #26

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Get the point? Anyway, pardon my pointless comment ... I am on the 3rd day of the flu, and my head feels pointy.
    Yes, after reading it a dozen times (my wife was also asking me questions while I was reading, so it took even more readings than usual) I think I finally got the point... I think I also got a headache, but it's probably just the ignorance leaving my head! Thanks for pointing us in the right pointless direction, Jundo, Taigu and Sawaki!

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  27. #27

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I am on the 3rd day of the flu, and my head feels pointy.
    I'm on my first day. :roll:

    Will be doing zazen in the corpse pose today.

    I should've listened to my mom and got the flu shot.

    gassho
    and feel better soon Jundo!
    Greg

  28. #28
    Stephanie
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    I think this pointlessness is a major gate or barrier, a significant koan, in the Soto way, and in any way.

    For me, realizing pointlessness was heartbreaking. It meant realizing all my big dreams were useless, nonreal fluff.

    There is no kumbaya, there is no unicorn in the meadow at the end of the rainbow. We don't get a big cuddle and slap on the back.

    I think this is where the nontheistic aspect of Buddhism really comes in. Realizing pointlessness is realizing that there is no plan for you, no cosmic parent with a design for your life who holds you in his or her loving embrace. You're really alone out here, it really is your life, and it really is just this, and has been just this since the beginning of beginningless time. Let go of all your baggage and ideas, all your goals and fantasies of endless power and control, all your hopes for the happy ending in the script you've written for your life.

    "Coming empty handed, going empty handed, that is human." -Seung Sahn

  29. #29

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I think this pointlessness is a major gate or barrier, a significant koan, in the Soto way, and in any way.

    For me, realizing pointlessness was heartbreaking. It meant realizing all my big dreams were useless, nonreal fluff.

    There is no kumbaya, there is no unicorn in the meadow at the end of the rainbow. We don't get a big cuddle and slap on the back.

    I think this is where the nontheistic aspect of Buddhism really comes in. Realizing pointlessness is realizing that there is no plan for you, no cosmic parent with a design for your life who holds you in his or her loving embrace. You're really alone out here, it really is your life, and it really is just this, and has been just this since the beginning of beginningless time. Let go of all your baggage and ideas, all your goals and fantasies of endless power and control, all your hopes for the happy ending in the script you've written for your life.

    "Coming empty handed, going empty handed, that is human." -Seung Sahn
    There might be no cosmic plan but you can still make plans and work with that plan, even if it is a simple plan for today. You are already queen of the universe.

  30. #30

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I think this is where the nontheistic aspect of Buddhism really comes in. Realizing pointlessness is realizing that there is no plan for you, no cosmic parent with a design for your life who holds you in his or her loving embrace. You're really alone out here, it really is your life, and it really is just this, and has been just this since the beginning of beginningless time. Let go of all your baggage and ideas, all your goals and fantasies of endless power and control, all your hopes for the happy ending in the script you've written for your life.

    "Coming empty handed, going empty handed, that is human." -Seung Sahn
    But this "pointlessness" is not, said the Buddha many times, a pointless, meaningless, nihilism.

    For something still embraces, one is not alone, the baggage is let go and ... there is a happy endingless ending.

  31. #31
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I think this is where the nontheistic aspect of Buddhism really comes in. Realizing pointlessness is realizing that there is no plan for you, no cosmic parent with a design for your life who holds you in his or her loving embrace. You're really alone out here, it really is your life, and it really is just this, and has been just this since the beginning of beginningless time. Let go of all your baggage and ideas, all your goals and fantasies of endless power and control, all your hopes for the happy ending in the script you've written for your life.

    "Coming empty handed, going empty handed, that is human." -Seung Sahn
    But this "pointlessness" is not, said the Buddha many times, a pointless, meaningless, nihilism.

    For something still embraces, one is not alone, the baggage is let go and ... there is a happy endingless ending.
    I am feeling and understanding that more these days... I realized a while back that whatever it is I am, and wherever it is that I and any of the rest of us came from, whatever we are is, was, and always has been embedded in the very fabric of the universe. I can't quite find words to express it, but I realized that the view of science and the feeling of spirituality are not necessarily opposed.

    To use a simile of a computer system, this possibility that we became was embedded in the code from the very beginning. We are not "random," in that our evolution proceeded in an orderly manner according to the parameters already in place. But it wasn't "designed," either, in the sense we imagine. There is no designer or master puppeteer pulling the strings. Everything that is, was already there from the very beginning, and no possibility or outcome is unconnected from the rest. Consciousness lies waiting in stardust.

    We walk together with our fellow humans, yet we ultimately walk alone. It is not a sad or despairing alone, we are not isolated from anyone or anything else, but there is a certain childish fantasy that nonetheless must be dropped somewhere along the way if we want to stop chasing our tails. There is no secret, hidden consciousness that applauds for us every time we do something well when no one is watching. But that's just it... when you break through the barrier of pointlessness, it does not matter, because experience itself opens up to you when you remove the lenses that cause you to see everything in terms of a goal or point. You don't need the applause, because what you did is "its own reward," for lack of a better term. Your feeling of accomplishment is the universe's feeling of accomplishment.

  32. #32

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Perhaps zazen is pointless because when you begin, you have a point in mind. “I will sit to become enlightened.” You can switch out “enlightened” with whatever you want: “balanced”, “happy”, “sad”, “hungry”, “wise”, “itchy” etc.

    But you are always looking outward, trying to see that point coming closer, like when you pick out a tree or a rock and say, “I will walk to that point”. By looking for a “point” you create the separation between “you” and “the point”. Looking for a goal to reach.

    As you sit, you start to stop looking out and start looking in. You start to realize that looking in is looking out and looking up while looking around, all at the same time. The goal disappears, because you know you cannot “look” for it. The “point” broadens and becomes a sweeping stroke, which becomes a bird chirping, which becomes you. The separation melts away and is dropped, the self starts to realize the “self” and soon you wonder, “What was the point anyway?” “What was I looking for in the first place?”

    So now, there is no “point” and instead of trying to reach a point, you find you have become the point, and the point has become like trying to point at a specific point in a clear blue sky, or a certain point on a pure white piece of paper.

    Now you just try to live. Now you “just sit”. See my point?
    :mrgreen:

  33. #33

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    When you dance around with your disturbing thoughts, you don’t notice them at all. When a mosquito bites you during zazen, you notice it right away. But when you’re dancing and a flea bites your balls, you don’t notice it at all.

    I don't know that there's a dance that I could do where I wouldn't notice THAT! :shock: :shock: :shock:

  34. #34

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    Your feeling of accomplishment is the universe's feeling of accomplishment.
    Yea, that's how I feel sometimes. But it's gone and I'm already on to my next little plan

  35. #35

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Hi Adam
    Intrinsic enlightenment is with us at birth. What you do with it from there is entirely of your own making. Gassho Zak

  36. #36

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    I don't know that there's a dance that I could do where I wouldn't notice THAT! :shock: :shock: :shock:
    The definition of absolute samadhi is when you don't notice the fleas biting your balls. :mrgreen:

    /Pontus

  37. #37

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Perhaps zazen is pointless because when you begin, you have a point in mind. “I will sit to become enlightened.” You can switch out “enlightened” with whatever you want: “balanced”, “happy”, “sad”, “hungry”, “wise”, “itchy” etc.

    But you are always looking outward, trying to see that point coming closer, like when you pick out a tree or a rock and say, “I will walk to that point”. By looking for a “point” you create the separation between “you” and “the point”. Looking for a goal to reach.

    As you sit, you start to stop looking out and start looking in. You start to realize that looking in is looking out and looking up while looking around, all at the same time. The goal disappears, because you know you cannot “look” for it. The “point” broadens and becomes a sweeping stroke, which becomes a bird chirping, which becomes you. The separation melts away and is dropped, the self starts to realize the “self” and soon you wonder, “What was the point anyway?” “What was I looking for in the first place?”

    So now, there is no “point” and instead of trying to reach a point, you find you have become the point, and the point has become like trying to point at a specific point in a clear blue sky, or a certain point on a pure white piece of paper.

    Now you just try to live. Now you “just sit”. See my point?
    :mrgreen:

    Thank you for this. I was trying to say the same thing, but you have said it much better.

    Gassho,

    Adam

  38. #38
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Excellent point JohnsonCM.

    gassho


    Taigu

  39. #39
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    I previously prepared an artfully verbose post consisting of quotes seen above and references probably best left unreferenced. My computer immediately agreed and crashed, losing all reference to the non-referenced. The gist of which was simple mindfulness; being aware of what you are thinking/doing when you are thinking and/or doing it.
    Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed
    - anon.
    To which I am compelled to add Taigu's
    Excellent point Johnson
    Rather pointless wouldn't you agree?

  40. #40

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    To which I am compelled to add Taigu'sExcellent point Johnson

    Rather pointless wouldn't you agree?

    Of course, but then, that's the whole point. :wink:

  41. #41

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun

    Hello Anista,

    Perhaps Reality is Buddha-Nature? Always exactly what it is, unchanging and eternal at an absolute point of view, even while dynamic and impermanent at a relative. Maybe it would be more accurate to say, "All of us are extant in Buddha-Nature." Reality is reality, Buddha-Nature is Buddha-Nature (whatever that does turn out to mean). Could the whole issue be as simple as holding on to one's concept of what "Buddha Nature" or "Reality" is, or should be?

    Just my thoughts.

    Metta,

    Saijun
    Sorry Saijun, I completely missed your response.

    Anyway, sure, buddha nature could be reality in the way you describe it. I just think that the concept of buddha nature is somehow strangely specific, seemingly permanent, and slightly ... off ... though. In a way. But the same could be said about for example the alaya-vijnana, I suppose, and other concepts used to describe reality. But really, I have no special insight in this matter, just random thoughts.

    But I agree, holding on to one's concept of what buddha nature really is could really be the root of this issue.

  42. #42

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun

    Hello Anista,

    Perhaps Reality is Buddha-Nature? Always exactly what it is, unchanging and eternal at an absolute point of view, even while dynamic and impermanent at a relative. Maybe it would be more accurate to say, "All of us are extant in Buddha-Nature." Reality is reality, Buddha-Nature is Buddha-Nature (whatever that does turn out to mean). Could the whole issue be as simple as holding on to one's concept of what "Buddha Nature" or "Reality" is, or should be?

    Just my thoughts.

    Metta,

    Saijun
    Sorry Saijun, I completely missed your response.

    Anyway, sure, buddha nature could be reality in the way you describe it. I just think that the concept of buddha nature is somehow strangely specific, seemingly permanent, and slightly ... off ... though. In a way. But the same could be said about for example the alaya-vijnana, I suppose, and other concepts used to describe reality. But really, I have no special insight in this matter, just random thoughts.

    But I agree, holding on to one's concept of what buddha nature really is could really be the root of this issue.
    Hello,

    Every concept is slightly off. "Chocolate pudding" is enligtenment.

    Metta,

    Perry

  43. #43

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista

    Sorry Saijun, I completely missed your response.

    Anyway, sure, buddha nature could be reality in the way you describe it. I just think that the concept of buddha nature is somehow strangely specific, seemingly permanent, and slightly ... off ... though. In a way. But the same could be said about for example the alaya-vijnana, I suppose, and other concepts used to describe reality. But really, I have no special insight in this matter, just random thoughts.

    But I agree, holding on to one's concept of what buddha nature really is could really be the root of this issue.
    You both have "a good point"! Unless you missed the point, and Buddha Nature is not something fixed at one point, like pudding in a mold! :wink:

    Anyway, just be the "chocolate pudding of enlightenment" ... mix it up, stir it in a bowl, enjoy the Chocolatey Richness!

    THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING!



    ... tasted on the pointless point of a tongue hanging in space!


  44. #44

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    a lot of them to do with suicide and homicide --- but as I experience them I realize they are just thoughts and don't mean a damn thing ...
    Yes, please keep that realization!

  45. #45

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello,

    Every concept is slightly off. "Chocolate pudding" is enligtenment.

    Metta,

    Perry
    On a personal level, perhaps, but not when we're talking about buddhist philosophy. Few concepts are so off as the buddhadhatu. Even if I am missing the pointless point. Or the pointlessness of the pointless point, or something like that.

    Philip

  46. #46

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Anyway, just be the "chocolate pudding of enlightenment" ... mix it up, stir it in a bowl, enjoy the Chocolatey Richness!
    Really, I have no idea what that means. :?

  47. #47

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    On a personal level, perhaps, but not when we're talking about buddhist philosophy. Few concepts are so off as the buddhadhatu.
    But buddhadhatu is also a concept right? Like Suzuki Roshi says, there's a positive and a negative side to everything and we can't speak about both at once. He also says that the more we get to know the way, to harder is is to talk about it. This is where western philosophy fails. Buddha gave us a way to see for ourselves. If and when you experience the buddhadhatu in the marrow of your marrow, perhaps it won't be off at all? When we get hung up on a philosophical question like this, maybe we attach ourselves to it, cling to it? Maybe it's best to just practice, try to keep that beginner's mind and view the intellectualizations not as the answer, but as a brain exercise (and probably an exercise in futility)?

    Gassho,
    Pontus

    PS. I've stopped trying to understand some of Jundo's writings intellectually... :wink: I just read through what he writes three to ten times and try to get the general feeling of what he is expressing! :lol: DS.

  48. #48

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    On a personal level, perhaps, but not when we're talking about buddhist philosophy. Few concepts are so off as the buddhadhatu.
    But buddhadhatu is also a concept right? Like Suzuki Roshi says, there's a positive and a negative side to everything and we can't speak about both at once. He also says that the more we get to know the way, to harder is is to talk about it. This is where western philosophy fails. Buddha gave us a way to see for ourselves. If and when you experience the buddhadhatu in the marrow of your marrow, perhaps it won't be off at all? When we get hung up on a philosophical question like this, maybe we attach ourselves to it, cling to it? Maybe it's best to just practice, try to keep that beginner's mind and view the intellectualizations not as the answer, but as a brain exercise (and probably an exercise in futility)?

    Gassho,
    Pontus

    PS. I've stopped trying to understand some of Jundo's writings intellectually... :wink: I just read through what he writes three to ten times and try to get the general feeling of what he is expressing! :lol: DS.
    Sure, and I get that, but what we shouldn't forget is that chan and zen always have been very philosophically inclined, writing ominous volumes about dogma, practice, philosophy, etc. This intellectual side is often dismissed, I feel, in many samghas today, and instead, cryptic answers or other methods to point directly to the truth is employed. Nothing wrong with that, but there is also nothing wrong with having discussions on intellectual matters - it helps, if nothing else, to provide the samgha with the theoretical foundation for the practice. It's a chance to clear up difficult subjects, because there is something to be cleared up, that is our understanding of the subjects. Not everyone is interested in this, and that is fine.

    Furthermore, I just want to say that just because we discuss intellectual matters, that doesn't mean that we're not practicing, that we're not sitting zazen. It's two sides of the same coin, no?

    Anyway, I agree with you that it's best to just practice, but in my opinion, practice is way more than doing zazen, or rather, doing zazen could be more than just sitting still on the floor. You know?

    Philip

  49. #49

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Furthermore, I just want to say that just because we discuss intellectual matters, that doesn't mean that we're not practicing, that we're not sitting zazen. It's two sides of the same coin, no?

    Anyway, I agree with you that it's best to just practice, but in my opinion, practice is way more than doing zazen, or rather, doing zazen could be more than just sitting still on the floor. You know?
    Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. There's a yin and a yang to practice I believe. There's both study and Zazen. I personally need to think things through, get to the bottom of things intellectually, before I can see that there's no truth or answer to be found by thinking longer and harder. That is when I need to just sit. But I don't think I could get to that point without thinking things through, if you know what I mean?

    And I also believe we must have a foundation in the buddhist teachings. But the sutras can (should?) probably be read with two (or more?) different minds, reading with ones heart or with ones head.

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Pontus

  50. #50

    Re: Meditation is pointless...

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Sure, and I get that, but what we shouldn't forget is that chan and zen always have been very philosophically inclined, writing ominous volumes about dogma, practice, philosophy, etc. This intellectual side is often dismissed, I feel, in many samghas today, and instead, cryptic answers or other methods to point directly to the truth is employed. Nothing wrong with that, but there is also nothing wrong with having discussions on intellectual matters - it helps, if nothing else, to provide the samgha with the theoretical foundation for the practice.
    Oh, I wholeheartedly agree! I was sure I was giving a clear philosophical answer! Okay then, let me spell it out.

    We might think that "Buddha Nature" ( buddhadhatu ) is like a box of powdered "chocolate pudding mix". In the mix already there is all the chocolate, all the flavor of Buddha already ... as well as all the potential to become a Buddha (chocolate pudding) too. However, it is also not yet ready, not yet complete! In that way, we might say the mix is all the chocolate, already Buddha, already complete ... but nonetheless needs to be cooked up into pudding (= Buddha) until which it is not ready and complete.



    And this is true!

    We have to make the pudding (= practice) to realize its full flavor. We cannot taste the pudding without first making the pudding ( = practice). The mix by itself is not sufficient without practice, following the recipe. What's more, if we do it badly (practice poorly, not enough, out of balance) ... too much heat, not enough heat, not enough stirring, too much or too little milk (milk = Precepts) ... the pudding will not turn out good, be flat or get burned! Yuck!

    But, if we do it well, PUDDING! We can dip in a spoon ... and taste the pudding! We can taste Buddhaness! Yummy!




    But, then again, the above image of "Buddha nature" is not quite complete.

    Because, once we taste the pudding we realize that ... the whole process, the pans and spoons and stove and whole kitchen and every step of the way, was pudding pudding-ing pudding ... Buddha Buddha-ing Buddha ... the chocolate is Buddha pudding, the milk and heat too, the cooking is the Buddha's cooking Buddha and ... well, the cook is made of chocolate through and through. A chocolate pudding man cooking chocolate pudding!



    In fact, it is quite like the pudding cooking (cooking = pudding-ing) the pudding, then the pudding tasting (tasting = pudding-ing) the pudding. Pudding pudding-ing pudding, then pudding puddhing-ing pudding. PUDDHA PUDDHA-ING PUDDHA! In this way, we realize that the pudding was already made, already ready all along ... everything though and through pudding ... even without our cooking it (but we had to cook to realize that fact). The pudding was everywhere, always and DELICIOUS! ... and be careful in stirring the pot!

    Yummy in the beginning, middle and end. So, the best thing to do is just cook (practice) dilligently to make the pudding ... then stop and taste the pudding as its bubbling, lick the spoon, enjoy!

    Leave any part of the above recipe out and the pudding is flat.

    Something like that. Hard to make it any philosophically clearer. 8)

    And if any of the above recipe is too complicated for you ... no matter. Just sit, savor the chocolate!

    My point is: Why waste too much time having a philosophical debate about pudding and the nature of pudding mix? A chicken and egg debate on "what came first, the pudding or the mix?" :roll: Oh sure, a little debate and comparing notes on the best way to fool with the recipe or the best temperature is fine ...

    but in the end ... just sit down and TASTE THE CHOCOLATE!

    One does not overly philosophize about chocolate, its chemical make-up, or the favorite color of the President of the Jello Pudding Company. One just sits down and TASTES THE CHOCOLATE!

    Gassho, J



    PS - "alaya-vijnana" is like the cupboard where all the ingredients are kept. :twisted:

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