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Thread: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

  1. #1
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Long story short, I've floated in and out of meditation over the past 25 years, first in the Tibetan tradition, then, on my own. When Treeleaf started, I was one of the earliest visitors, and Jundo motivated me to meditate more often, but, with time, work, and other problems, I drifted away. I come back every now and then - most often when I have problems, such as health problems I've been having recently - but I'd like to try and cultivate the discipline to keep meditating every day, for a long time.

    I guess that some of us have monkey minds that are too strong, or can't commit to long-term practice. Maybe that's my case. But I'm wondering if there's something I can do to improve my discipline.

    Yes, I can hear the answers coming: just sit. One day after the next. And if you say that, you're right. But it's not easy, as many of you know.

    So, those who have tamed their discipline, how did you do it? And those who haven't, what do you do to try and tame it? And, to the bosses of Treeleaf, what suggestions do you have?

    (One note: I live in a rural area, a few hours from a real sangha, so Treeleaf is my only sangha. If I did live in an area with a sangha, that would be more motivating to go daily or regularly. I have never, since I got interested in meditation, lived in such an area.)

    Thanks to all!

  2. #2

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Yes, I can hear the answers coming: just sit. One day after the next. And if you say that, you're right. But it's not easy, as many of you know.
    For me, I don't sit "one day after the next." I just sit. Today. Right now. And if I look back over a week or a month and realize that I managed to sit every day, that's great!

    Then I sit. Today. Right now.

    Now is all I have, and now is all that matters.

    Gassho,

    Stephen

  3. #3

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Do you have this problem with personal hygiene? I'm not being a smartass (ok I am), but this is a serious point.

    I struggle with this as well, but it's usually because I have ideas in my mind of some ideal of discipline. If I fail to meet it, I disappoint myself. I think it helps to get rid of those ideals and wants of a rigid schedule. Sit when you have time. You make time to brush your teeth. Brushing and flossing your teeth are extremely important but we rarely think about those things and just do them naturally. Zazen should be no different. It's natural that it feels special sometimes, especially in the beginning because it is new. But we must just let it be, break out of that romance period, and integrate it into something as natural as taking a shower.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  4. #4

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    KirkMC,

    Don't worry.. you're not alone. My monkeymind is rampant.. let me tell you. I have never had a zazen session where I didn't get distracted by a thought, hooked on a train or thoughts or in some measure bought into a storyline. The way I deal with that.. is that I give myself credit! Seriously.. I give myself credit for seeing the thoughts come and go and come and go.. and when I snap out of a story or hooked thought then I give myself credit. I smile, not only because of my monkey mind but because I can "see" it.

    If you can't sit for health reasons then - as has been mentioned - anything and everything can be your practice. Be as open as possible to whatever you're doing now. Sit in a chair and observe... wash dishes and.. wash dishes. Easy to say, for me, hard to do, for me... but if I can smile at all the ways I avoid the present, get lost in story lines, dream away.. thought after thought.. then that is my practice. I've found it opens up paths. It makes 'me' more accessible to 'me' to the point I don't get so caught and hooked.. Perhaps I am not skilled at 'no thought' meditation but I am becoming skilled at 'watching thought' and in so doing giving up the idea of being skilled... if that makes sense.

    Much metta to you! That is my best advice, as trite as it may sound...

    _/_ Nate

  5. #5

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Do you have this problem with personal hygiene? I'm not being a smartass (ok I am), but this is a serious point.

    I struggle with this as well, but it's usually because I have ideas in my mind of some ideal of discipline. If I fail to meet it, I disappoint myself. I think it helps to get rid of those ideals and wants of a rigid schedule. Sit when you have time. You make time to brush your teeth. Brushing and flossing your teeth are extremely important but we rarely think about those things and just do them naturally. Zazen should be no different. It's natural that it feels special sometimes, especially in the beginning because it is new. But we must just let it be, break out of that romance period, and integrate it into something as natural as taking a shower.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    The problem is, of course, that brushing the teeth (in my case) takes approximately 2 minutes. If I had to brush my teeth for 20+ minutes every day, I would find it hard to keep up as well. Just saying

    @kirkmc: Anyway, I had the same problem, particularly that I just couldn't find the time to sit. Not that I am lazy, but with a wife and two kids, there just isn't time. Early in the morning before family wakes up? Can't set the alarm, because then I will wake the entire family. Then it's breakfast, etc. During the day? My job doesn't allow it (except now when I'm on parental leave). In the evening? Got to spend time with the kids. Later at night? Got to spend time with my wife.

    My solution was shorter periods of zazen. I could easily do ten minutes before bed. Sometimes ten minutes right before work as well. I know it's not optimal, but it's better than nothing. Just to keep this up, until you again have the time or concentration or whatever to do it longer.

  6. #6

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Do you have this problem with personal hygiene? I'm not being a smartass (ok I am), but this is a serious point.

    I struggle with this as well, but it's usually because I have ideas in my mind of some ideal of discipline. If I fail to meet it, I disappoint myself. I think it helps to get rid of those ideals and wants of a rigid schedule. Sit when you have time. You make time to brush your teeth. Brushing and flossing your teeth are extremely important but we rarely think about those things and just do them naturally. Zazen should be no different. It's natural that it feels special sometimes, especially in the beginning because it is new. But we must just let it be, break out of that romance period, and integrate it into something as natural as taking a shower.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    The problem is, of course, that brushing the teeth (in my case) takes approximately 2 minutes. If I had to brush my teeth for 20+ minutes every day, I would find it hard to keep up as well. Just saying
    hahahah, I knew I was being too idealistic :mrgreen:

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Gaining discipline comes from pulling the energy and motivation within yourself to keep moving forward in your practice. Whenever you don't feel like meditating, try to remember the times on how good you felt after you meditated. If you are having trouble committing yourself to meditation everyday, start small like with just 10 minutes of meditation a day then gradually work towards adding more time. Taking small steps is much easier and keeps you from putting too much expectations on yourself and from getting discouraged. Gaining discipline is like building a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. Also, the times that you don't want to meditate are actually probably the times that you need it the most.

    Having perseverance in your practice teaches the value of staying on your path even in the face of obstacles, hinderances and adversity. You can take this learned perseverance and discipline into your daily life and apply to any situation. I have been in martial arts for over 10 years and one the most important things I learned in is the value of perseverance and discipline in martial arts and in meditation. You grow a little bit more each time you use the discipline within yourself to keep going no matter how small it may seem to be.

    One very important note: you need to be relaxed and enjoy yourself in the process. Don't be rigid or try to "bear down" in the your practice. You don't want to be hard yourself and make sure you don't beat yourself up for not sitting in Zazen, we are all human. Gaining discipline more about "just being" and another way to see your true nature in this very moment which is a joyful and peaceful process.

    I hope this helps.

    Thanks,
    Jodi

  8. #8

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jodi_heisz
    Gaining discipline comes from pulling the energy and motivation within yourself to keep moving forward in your practice. Whenever you don't feel like meditating, try to remember the times on how good you felt after you meditated.
    Remembering how I felt after meditating is certainly not what keeps me motivated. I cannot say I feel good or different most of the times after sitting. But what then keeps me motivated you might ask. I have to think about the answer for a while. But I'm motivated thou. Maybe it's just the experience itself.

    Gassho, Edward

  9. #9

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Wow...if you do find an answer let me know...FAST I struggle and have always struggled with discipline, especially when talking about a long term commitment. So sitting zazen everyday for a month...fine...for a lifetime...not so fine....and I have no answer except that after extreme effort-burning myself out cycles repeated all of my life I try again, and again, and yet again, each time with a bit less competitive effort and a bit more compassion toward myself.

    Your sister in the endless process of monkey-taming

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    nadia_estm wrote:
    So sitting zazen everyday for a month...fine...for a lifetime...not so fine....and I have no answer except that after extreme effort-burning myself out cycles repeated all of my life I try again, and again, and yet again, each time with a bit less competitive effort and a bit more compassion toward myself.
    Just take it day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath without being concerned about sitting Zazen for your lifetime. It is easier to have the effort in practice with energy, enthusiasm, mindfulness, compassion and joyfulness. Definitely having compassion and lovingkindess towards yourself is essential to your practice. Every moment we have in our life is an opportunity to practice, from spending quality time with our children especially when they are testing our boundaries to driving with mindfulness on the way home from work and to helping our neighbor mow their lawn when they are sick.

    Thanks,
    Jodi

  11. #11

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jodi_heisz
    Gaining discipline comes from pulling the energy and motivation within yourself to keep moving forward in your practice. Whenever you don't feel like meditating, try to remember the times on how good you felt after you meditated.
    Just one note to say that, in this sitting wholely as what is, just as all is way of Shikantaza ...

    ... we do not sit to feel good after Zazen nor to move forward. Sunny days are sunny, rainy days are rainy. Piercing this is truly moving forward.

    Sitting is the total manifestation of a Buddha's Smile that sweeps in both feeling good or not, smiles and tears, sometimes being "in the grove" and aches & pains, a Peace of One-Piece that holds both the peaceful and not.

    Please have a look here at some of these ...

    viewforum.php?f=23

    Gassho, Jundo

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Wow, what an opportunity to "Say it Again"; i.e. once more with feeling/Mo ichido kudasai

    _/_ Arigato gozaimasu sensei
    Yowza, I will now sit to enjoy the 'scenery of life' along the "ZZ" line :shock:
    We don't do it to feel good, we do it because it's life (it's what we do); living moment by moment !!

  13. #13

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Hello friends,

    May I ask why ten minutes is better than two? Why twenty is better than ten? I understand the need for formal practice, and the importance of forming habits. However, is the difference between "good" zazen and "bad" zazen anything more substantial than what we want that particular sitting to be?

    What happens when one stops trying to make things differently than they are?

    Metta,

    Saijun

  14. #14

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello friends,

    May I ask why ten minutes is better than two? Why twenty is better than ten? I understand the need for formal practice, and the importance of forming habits. However, is the difference between "good" zazen and "bad" zazen anything more substantial than what we want that particular sitting to be?

    What happens when one stops trying to make things differently than they are?

    Metta,

    Saijun
    I just think the 2 minutes is too short. Zazen is combined with periods of getting lost in thought, then dropping those thoughts, getting lost in thought and coming back all over and over again. Maybe it's like REM sleep, you need to repeat that pattern for a specific period of time for it to be effective? 2 minutes definitely does not seem like it would be long enough... at least for me now.

  15. #15

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello friends,

    May I ask why ten minutes is better than two? Why twenty is better than ten? I understand the need for formal practice, and the importance of forming habits. However, is the difference between "good" zazen and "bad" zazen anything more substantial than what we want that particular sitting to be?

    What happens when one stops trying to make things differently than they are?

    Metta,

    Saijun
    I just think the 2 minutes is too short. Zazen is combined with periods of getting lost in thought, then dropping those thoughts, getting lost in thought and coming back all over and over again. Maybe it's like REM sleep, you need to repeat that pattern for a specific period of time for it to be effective? 2 minutes definitely does not seem like it would be long enough... at least for me now.
    Hello Risho,

    I understand your point, and agree with you to a certain extent. But if you put expectations and opinions in the practice, how can that not be a hindrance? If one has five minutes for sitting, sit for five minutes. If one has a week for sitting, sit for a week. Perhaps I have become somewhat misguided, but it seems to me that if one is sitting for sitting, time wouldn't matter.

    If one judges sitting by time, or by calmness, or by any other condition, then is it really sitting?

    Metta,

    Saijun

  16. #16

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    When it comes to 'judging' I think its similar to discussions on "right or wrong". One can make an argument that we shouldn't be so dualistic and so judgmental when it comes to right or wrong.. but fact is.. there are skillful and unskillful efforts. In that sense, causing harm is 'wrong' or unskillful. In the same sense or line of thinking, some measure of discipline is skillful. It helps to overcome the ego. It helps to overcome the tendency to always please or appease 'me' or to feed the story line of how important our job is or life is... Along that line then it is necessary to sit for longer periods of time because its a skillful effort.. a skillful practice.

    Do you judge your sitting? "I'm doing this wrong? Man, I suck.. my mind is all over" or "My mind is clear. I am a Buddha. I should be a Yogi, I'm so awesome.." In this case its unskillful. Surely you shouldn't be judging your sitting..

    From that then... I believe sitting for a couple minutes is more skillful than not sitting at all. Sitting for a half hour is more skillful than sitting for a couple of minutes. It isn't a judgement; its just a part or construct of our existence and a matter of our intent.

    Practicing the many kinds of right
    Naturally purifies the mind.

    For me, I am most skillful and most 'right' when I am sitting daily and for a longer period; some better than none, more better than less.. is that a judgement of 'better' or a truth of my reality?... A story in Shobogenzo (Shoaku-makusa):

    Lay disciple: "What is the Great Intention of the Buddha-Dharma?"
    Master Dorin: "Not to produce wrong, to practice the many kinds of right."
    Disciple: "If that is the Great Intention, even a child of three knows it and can say it."
    Master Dorin: "Although a child of three can speak the truth, even myself as an old man of eighty has to make continuous efforts to practice it!"



    _/_ Nate

  17. #17

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by natezenmaster
    When it comes to 'judging' I think its similar to discussions on "right or wrong". One can make an argument that we shouldn't be so dualistic and so judgmental when it comes to right or wrong.. but fact is.. there are skillful and unskillful efforts. In that sense, causing harm is 'wrong' or unskillful. In the same sense or line of thinking, some measure of discipline is skillful. It helps to overcome the ego. It helps to overcome the tendency to always please or appease 'me' or to feed the story line of how important our job is or life is... Along that line then it is necessary to sit for longer periods of time because its a skillful effort.. a skillful practice.

    Do you judge your sitting? "I'm doing this wrong? Man, I suck.. my mind is all over" or "My mind is clear. I am a Buddha. I should be a Yogi, I'm so awesome.." In this case its unskillful. Surely you shouldn't be judging your sitting..

    From that then... I believe sitting for a couple minutes is more skillful than not sitting at all. Sitting for a half hour is more skillful than sitting for a couple of minutes. It isn't a judgement; its just a part or construct of our existence and a matter of our intent.

    Practicing the many kinds of right
    Naturally purifies the mind.

    For me, I am most skillful and most 'right' when I am sitting daily and for a longer period; some better than none, more better than less.. is that a judgement of 'better' or a truth of my reality?... A story in Shobogenzo (Shoaku-makusa):

    Lay disciple: "What is the Great Intention of the Buddha-Dharma?"
    Master Dorin: "Not to produce wrong, to practice the many kinds of right."
    Disciple: "If that is the Great Intention, even a child of three knows it and can say it."
    Master Dorin: "Although a child of three can speak the truth, even myself as an old man of eighty has to make continuous efforts to practice it!"



    _/_ Nate
    Hello Nate,

    I do agree with you, and you put it much more succinctly than I have heretofore been able. I suppose what I was trying to get across is to be careful that one doesn't puff up because of the volume of sitting one has been doing, or berate oneself because of the lack thereof; "just sitting" is "just sitting," whether it be for ten minutes or an hour.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  18. #18

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Those are good points. I think the way we express it varies because to some extent we just have guidelines from teachers, but then we just have to apply those to ourselves and figure out what works for each of us. I completely agree though, getting into that mental judging that 5 minutes isn't good enough, I'm just not going to sit completely causes problems. Speaking of which, not just with zazen, but with exercise, diet, quitting smoking. I've noticed the inability of the ego to function within this middle path of relax... hey I have 5 minutes that's all I'm going to do. My ego is a purist, it's all or nothing. To my ego, if I miss a day of working out, or I mess up and have a smoke, my plan is out the window.

    The only way I've ever been able to have the discipline to be consistent with working out, diet and quitting smoking is by shutting the mind off. Sometimes I just laugh at my self-sabotage. It's kind of like zazen. You just have to literally do it.. But that is what works for me, I would never establish some principal that should be an end all be all for everyone. I guess that's the fun of it all.

    IN any case good points.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Hey man.

    I do get distracted a lot sometimes. Some days I get too sleepy. Thing is I just do it.

    My main motivation? Silence, understanding... and then again, no goal at all. All I can say is that it's something I enjoy and I simply do it every morning at 6 AM. And it's awesome.

    Maybe you need to read a couple of books about meditation and Zen to start understanding why you need to meditate on a regular basis.

    Now we all have different motivations and while reading about zazen you might find yours.

    Hope that helps.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Hi All,
    The Zazen everyday model is great In theory but anyone with a family, illness, etc knows that this isn't always possible. Though it should be something one strives for!
    Time(if it truely exists in the first place) is relative to the perspective of the observer. So drop all ideas of time being better or worse than time. Its all just time!
    As said before 2 minutes, if thats all you have, is fine.
    Doing something on a larger scale(30 minutes every day) is great, just don't let it over shadow practice on a smaller scale(10 minutes).
    It doesn't have to be an all or nothing mentality.
    Say I one day strive to live in a mansion. It would be unwise to reject shelter in anything less untill I get one!!

    For discipline, an effective way to consistantly do something(good or bad!) is to make it a habit.

    Worrying about such things as time, posture, etc will only make your practice bring you more of(suffering) that which it's supposed to free you from! It's counterproductive.

    Gassho,
    John

  21. #21

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson

    Worrying about such things as time, posture, etc will only make your practice bring you more of(suffering) that which it's supposed to free you from! It's counterproductive.

    Gassho,
    John
    Hello John,

    One could see, though, how such efforts could be a demonstration of the futility of trying to make things as one wants them to be, instead of just sitting with them as they are.

    Perhaps even "bad" sitting could be a vehicle to "good" sitting (understanding, though, that neither is "good" or "bad")?

    Metta,

    Saijun

  22. #22

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun
    Hello friends,

    May I ask why ten minutes is better than two? Why twenty is better than ten? I understand the need for formal practice, and the importance of forming habits. However, is the difference between "good" zazen and "bad" zazen anything more substantial than what we want that particular sitting to be?

    What happens when one stops trying to make things differently than they are?

    Metta,

    Saijun
    Hi Saijun,

    This is a very good question.

    In Zazen, we sit with each moment ... each moment of each moment ... holding all time and space within it, complete and whole. An instant of Zazen is a billion trillion gazzillion years of Zazen ... and the timeless too ... fully realized, held, manifested, whole and complete in each instant.

    On the other hand, as another face of the no-sided coin ... one has to sit for a certain time to allow the body-mind to settle a bit, taste and enter this Timeless Fact. (YES, THIS IS A KOAN!)

    It is rather like swimming in a pool to the "other shore" in which each stroke can be embraced as a constant arriving, and that ultimately there is "no place to go" because all the water is here all along ... and yet, and yet, if one does not do a sufficient number of laps, one cannot realize the point! :shock:

    Taigu and I have actually been talking about this for awhile ... about the length of Zazen we should recommend. What is a sufficient amount of time ... or number of laps ... to allow someone to settle and get to "no place to get"? This "nothing to attain" takes some time to truly sink into one's bones (even if there all along!) :roll:

    In the past, the daily "job" of monks in monasteries was to be ... monks in a monastery, and to sit Zazen as well as do many other tasks ... cleaning the temple, cooking meals in the kitchen, working in the fields, begging, performing ceremonies, keeping the accounting books and paying the bills (yes, even a temple must do that), shopping for provisions. However, they had lots and lots of time for Zazen.

    But, I actually believe that shorter periods of Zazen can be sufficient if "quality time" Zazen (as opposed to "quantity time" Zazen). So, Taigu and I are thinking of making a rule around here recommending 15 minutes of Zazen per day ... so long as one sits at least a few minutes, or even a few moments of that Zazen with each moment holding all time and space within it, complete and whole (and the timeless too ... fully realized, held, manifested, whole and complete in each instant). Of course, if someone wishes and feels that they benefit from sitting longer ... 20 or 30 minutes, or many times a day ... that is fine! However, our recommendation will be, as a standard, 15 to 30 minutes a day of "quality time" ... with 15 minutes being just fine if "quality time" sitting. Our concern is to find the right amount of time for working people who have much to do in their day ... from taking care of kids to getting the job done in the office to walking the dog (our practice leaves --none-- of that out. Although seated Zazen is indispensible and the -only- Zazen is seated Zazen ... rising from the cushion, all of life is 'Zazen' too when seen with a Buddha's eye! YES, ANOTHER KOAN!)

    THUS, hand in hand with that "15 minutes of moments holding all time and space" ... one will ALSO be expected to undertake any number of JUNDO's PATENTED "INSTA-ZAZEN" moments throughout each day ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/with ... zazen.html

    PLUS longer sittings about once a week or so, such as our weekly 90 minute and monthly 4 hour Zazenkais ...

    viewforum.php?f=11

    PLUS, if you can swing it, ideally, at least one (1) longer Retreat or 'Sesshin' of a few days or a week in length, sitting from before dawn to late at night ... each year.

    Now, someone might ask too, "if each moment is all time and space, what is the purpose of an intensive Sesshin?" Well, I often say that, sometimes, we need to practice a bit long and hard, morning to night ... sitting and wrestling with 'me, my self and I' ... all to achieve nothing to attain! Going to Retreats, Sesshin and such is a powerful facet of this Practice and not to be missed.

    This is also a good time to link again to the "litmus test" post on "WRONG AND RIGHT ZAZEN" ...

    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=2783

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Any impressions from the Sangha on this "15 minutes a day, PLUS Insta-Zazen etc." standard ... before Taigu and I make it the "official" recommendation around here?

  23. #23

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    I like the 15 minute a day. I tend to set unrealistic goals for myself, which push me away from the practice. 15 minutes is great.

  24. #24

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Hi.

    Yes, 15 min of "zazen time" a day is good, no need to over do it or make it to hefty.
    Start where you are and work from there.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  25. #25

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    resisting doing something is just a detour, the long way 'round, an obstacle- and hindrance-filled ultra marathon/decathlon way of doing something
    I guess it is a way I get to amuse myself, torture myself, worry myself with something I am going to do. Something I am going to do it when I do it.

    Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Discipline is an interesting subject

    how to cultivate it? (or cultivate anything for that matter) is an interesting question


    There is a very fascinating book written by a Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka called One Straw Revolution in which he set about cultivating his rice fields in such a way they tended themselves. The idea of this approach/method/understanding of farming came to him through his study of the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra.

    so back to discipline, which seems to be a way to take resistance and turn it into ease (an ease of some sort).
    Resistance is to the doing? or to the doing of the doing?
    Discipline--does it help with ease in the doing or in the doing of the doing?

    There is a wisdom within me. I can't bully this around. I can't bribe it.
    It reminds me of Tolkien's Gandalf and hobbits standing about the entrance to the dwarf mines of Moria All that effort, and the answer was right there, for all to see: speak friend and enter.
    This wisdom is profoundly correct: it is not that I enter that is most important. It is the way in which I go about entering...

    I think of discipline like this: as a way to enter, as a way to enter entering.

  26. #26

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Oh, and I would like to add that I really don't see it as discipline anymore. Discipline, for me, is making me do things that I am reluctant to do. This is not the case for me now. Through our Bodhisattva vows, we declare that we will not rest until all sentient beings are free from suffering. In the light of this, it is important to relentlessly continue our practice, for the sake of others who cannot.

    Our way is the karu??m?rga, the compassion-path. Seen this way, it is impossible to not want to practice. The extent of your practice though, is up to you.

    May all beings be free from suffering.

  27. #27
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Many thanks for all the comments. I see many of my problems expressed in this thread, and I see that my problem is common. (Though perhaps some of you manage to deal with it better.)

    As for Jundo's suggestion of 15 minutes, that seems short to me. In my case, if I sit for 20 minutes - western standard meditation time - I find that I get a few minutes of "timeless" time in that period. It often takes what seems like 5-10 minutes just for me to realize that the monkey mind is in control, then another few minutes for me to say, "Monkey mind, do what you want, I don't care." Granted, I'm not sitting regularly enough, and with more regularity, perhaps I would slip into timeless time more easily.

  28. #28
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    At Green Gulch we would sit 40 minutes. I found it took me at least half that time to fully settle my mind. So it wasn't untill that last 20 or so that I really was absorbed into the practice. So for where I'm at in my practice longer seems better. I will assume for now(since I'm still a Zazen fledgling) that beginning duration of mental unrest will shorten as I progress. So perhaps a veteran sitter would get more out of even a 10 minute sit than a beginner?

    Here is an interesting story I heard which relates to sitting time.

    One day a student approached Suzuki Roshi(the founder of several Zen centers in California) and asked why they do 40 minute Zazen when other Zen centers(not under Suzuki) only do 30 minute sits? He wondered if they also could do 30 instead because 40 seemed too much.
    Suzuki Roshi responded. "it's funny that you mention that as I have been recently concidering increasing it to 50."
    To which the student quickly replied "40 minutes is great!"
    and quickly took his leave.

    Gassho,
    John

  29. #29
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc
    Long story short, I've floated in and out of meditation over the past 25 years, first in the Tibetan tradition, then, on my own. When Treeleaf started, I was one of the earliest visitors, and Jundo motivated me to meditate more often, but, with time, work, and other problems, I drifted away. I come back every now and then - most often when I have problems, such as health problems I've been having recently - but I'd like to try and cultivate the discipline to keep meditating every day, for a long time.

    I guess that some of us have monkey minds that are too strong, or can't commit to long-term practice. Maybe that's my case. But I'm wondering if there's something I can do to improve my discipline.
    I wonder if this is a question of discipline, or a question of avoidance (and are the two separate?)

    You say you've been floating in and out for 25 years. I would look at those times you floated out and try to determine what was going on then . . . because I don't think people just drift away from anything, they just passively make a decision to stop doing something. (And I say this as someone who has abandoned yoga, is afraid to write a novel because the first attempt failed, keeps gaining and losing the same ten pounds, sometimes stops driving a car for months or years at a time out of anxiety, etc. etc. etc. )

    In other words, just what is it about zazen and you?

    Gassho

    Jen

  30. #30
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Jundo wrote:
    Taigu and I are thinking of making a rule around here recommending 15 minutes of Zazen per day
    I think this sounds great. I remember reading one of Jundo Sensei's posts from a wile back where he mentioned thinking about making participation in the Zazenkai mandatory. His point was that while being an online forum is fine we are after all a true Zendo, and as such, Sangha members should be participating in this as well. I wish i could find the link to where i heard this but i couldn't
    Perhaps by Jundo and Taigu making things mandatory it will help those who are struggling(and we all struggle from time to time) to cultivate that discipline they are looking for?

    Gassho,
    John

  31. #31

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Until one is committed, there is hesitancy - the chance to draw back
    Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth
    that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
    that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
    All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
    A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
    raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
    which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
    Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
    ~ Goethe... or W. H. Murray's interpretation of Goethe.. : P


    _/_ Nate

  32. #32

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Good thread, and I can certainly empathize. I expect too much as well. Just expecting itself is unnecessary. I get into the "at such and such point I'll have time to do zazen," but of course that never comes. I've had a very stressful few months, and barely have the energy to brush my teeth, let alone sit! Zazen hasn't become enough of a natural habit for me yet, so like exercise it tends to get put aside when I "don't have time."

    Well, I don't have any answers. But you're definitely not alone!

    Gassho,
    Matt

  33. #33

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    You might want to consider one of those motivation tricks that are around the WWW. One that is very simple, but works pretty well is called the "Jerry Seinfeld Method", because the famous comedian helped to popularize it.
    The idea is simple: if you want to do something everyday (meditation in our case, writing something funny in the case of Seinfeld) you get paper calendar, one of those that shows each month, and mark with an X every day you accomplish it. In the beginning it feels like nothing, but as you progress and suddenly you have a segment of 15 contiguous crosses in your calendar, suddenly you feel the urge for not "breaking the chain" so you end up finding time to do "just one more day of sitting".
    Here's the story of the method, and how Seinfeld describes it:
    http://m.lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-se ... ity-secret
    Hope it helps
    Gassho

    Rimon

  34. #34
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Thank you very much for posting this Rimon. It is an interesting idea. Though this is the first time I've heard of it I can relate to the same concept in terms of saving money. I've found when I'm saving for a larger purchase I become motivated by seeing that dollar number grow larger and larger on each statement over time. Sort of like seeing all those red Xes and not wanting to break that chain.
    I then begin to have the desire to spend less and less because each purchase lowers those numbers I've worked so hard to increase. It becomes such a state of mind that when the time comes to actually make that big purchase it is still hard to part with it because you have to see those numbers return to zero!
    If I don't have any savings it becomes too easy to spend without regard. The mentality is with a zero balance I have noting to loose.

    Gassho,
    John

  35. #35

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Hi fellows!
    Thank you all for this thread! I feel sorry I can't be more active on those kind of subjects...
    Anyway, i noticed Jundo saying
    So, Taigu and I are thinking of making a rule around here recommending 15 minutes of Zazen per day
    Wasn't it a clear "rule" in our Sangha that EVERY members of our Sangha should sit Zazen daily? In my silly head it was a very clear statement, maybe Jundo should insist again on this... ?

    Again, thank you all for your practice! sorry because I'm a bit out of the subject again!
    deep gassho,
    Jinyu

  36. #36

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    I am on vacation and was thinking the other day about why I practice. Dogen spent years wondering why he should practice when he already had buddha nature. I mean you can't really verbalize anything that makes sense because you don't really get anything out of it except maybe saying you see more of what is or you feel better in empty space. I think doyen just accepted that just sitting just being is the best you can do.

  37. #37

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    ... just sitting just being is the best you can do.
    _/_

    Saijun

  38. #38
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    I'm glad this conversation came up. It has inspired me to work out every day, and start watching my calories again. (And, of course, to be sure to sit every day. :mrgreen: )

    Gassho

    Jennifer

  39. #39

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    My take on discipline is that it is a daily refusal to allow something we resist to determine our actions. It is returning, day by day, to face discomfort or aversion and working with it and through it. Not so much an act of conquering as much as a coming to terms with ourselves . . . Just as in zazen.

    15 minutes or 15 seconds . . . either are fine. I find that there is a threshold around 20-25 minutes that makes some kind of difference in my sitting, but I recognize that individual experience varies greatly. I think the will and courage to keep returning to the cushion to sit are possibly the most important attitudes developed by sitting.

    Here's to everyone's practice, the virtuoso and the beginner.

    Gassho,
    Eika

  40. #40
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Once you give up on the idea of getting somewhere, grasping something, realizing some mystical state, attaining high peaks...you may open your eyes on what it takes to practice: just be alive now for IT IS ALL THAT YOU ARE. Sunny, rainy, moody, happy, depressed, the ground for practice is endlessly changing and yet, this is it. End gaining is a major sickness of practice and a great hindrance as we spend measuring what separates us from what could be, what should be. Drop the could, would, should and penetrate through this very naked gate. In a train, walking the dog, shopping, dancing, sitting, lying down...it rings into the ten thousand activities, the one thousand arms of Kannon, each one being exactly what it is and yet the very core of perfect practice. If we fail to do so, we come back again and again. That's simple.

    Just a thought: I used to be a chain smoker for 25 years. If my friend doesn't call me, I may start to worry. I realized how addictive my personnality is. How unnecessary this addiction is. It could be everything and anything, chocolate, sex, liquor, people: an addictive personnality is just desperatly trying to play with past and future, to manipulate reality in order to recreate something lost or gaining something yet to be discovered. Once you sit now in now, the addiction vanishes, and this moment is truly complete, nothing extra, nothing missing. This is what our practice is about.

    So 15 minutes of sitting a day, multiple insta-zazen and countless opportunities to open Kannon sun-moon glow.

    gassho

    Taigu

  41. #41
    Stephanie
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    I have found that in my own personal experience, "discipline" does not work to foster long-term change.

    Over and over again, with the healthy habits I've picked up, it has not been because I've forced myself to be disciplined, but because I've found something about these activities or pursuits that I love.

    I started exercising regularly because I started going to step aerobics classes where I had so much fun I just wanted to go back to enjoy doing the class for its own sake. I've been sticking with my weight loss regime because I've found a way to do it that is natural and makes me feel better than I do when I'm not doing it. I have been sitting more now because the energy of the group I am sitting with is inspiring, and the atmosphere of the zendo is one I enjoy experiencing.

    Things I've gotten myself to do through "bootstrapping" are things I almost always stop doing at some point down the road. The artificiality of discipline almost always prevents the habit from sinking in to any more than a superficial level. It's like people who go on dramatic diets and lose a lot of weight and then put it all back on somewhere down the road. You can sustain that kind of bootcamp approach for some time, but not indefinitely. Why? There's no energy coming from anywhere other than your reserves to sustain it, and you run out of what you've got in your reserves if it's not coming through anywhere else. Something you do because of the energy it gives you is a self-sustaining system, because the thing that takes energy to do is also generating energy in return.

    As for struggling with the discipline of sitting... I'm learning that my sitting practice fell apart when it did for very particular reasons. I was wounded in a way that made sitting difficult. I believe that when we don't sit, especially after we've established regular sitting at least once before in the past, there's something in or about ourselves we don't want to face. The ego is more seized up than usual. Now, I'm still struggling to get myself to sit on my own, but I know it's because I'm still healing. The support of a face-to-face, in-person group is really helping me along in that healing process. And instead of judging myself or trying to bootstrap myself into a frequency of sitting that is artificial for me, I'm just letting that process of healing happen, and stepping things up as and when it's natural to do so.

  42. #42

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Once you give up on the idea of getting somewhere, grasping something, realizing some mystical state, attaining high peaks...you may open your eyes on what it takes to practice: just be alive now for IT IS ALL THAT YOU ARE. Sunny, rainy, moody, happy, depressed, the ground for practice is endlessly changing and yet, this is it. End gaining is a major sickness of practice and a great hindrance as we spend measuring what separates us from what could be, what should be. Drop the could, would, should and penetrate through this very naked gate. In a train, walking the dog, shopping, dancing, sitting, lying down...it rings into the ten thousand activities, the one thousand arms of Kannon, each one being exactly what it is and yet the very core of perfect practice. If we fail to do so, we come back again and again. That's simple.

    Just a thought: I used to be a chain smoker for 25 years. If my friend doesn't call me, I may start to worry. I realized how addictive my personnality is. How unnecessary this addiction is. It could be everything and anything, chocolate, sex, liquor, people: an addictive personnality is just desperatly trying to play with past and future, to manipulate reality in order to recreate something lost or gaining something yet to be discovered.
    Once you sit now in now, the addiction vanishes, and this moment is truly complete, nothing extra, nothing missing. This is what our practice is about.
    So 15 minutes of sitting a day, multiple insta-zazen and countless opportunities to open Kannon sun-moon glow.

    gassho

    Taigu
    Sitting now in now, even for just one moment, is the essence of great discipline. Gassho, Shogen

  43. #43

    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Drop the could, would, should and penetrate through this very naked gate. In a train, walking the dog, shopping, dancing, sitting, lying down...it rings into the ten thousand activities, the one thousand arms of Kannon, each one being exactly what it is and yet the very core of perfect practice. If we fail to do so, we come back again and again. That's simple.


    gassho

    Taigu
    Thanks Taigu. Being reminded to come back again and again is inspiring. Just the trying to come back again and again is enough. On that note I am now inspired to finish my tax prep

  44. #44
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    There's this Japanese saying regarding the daruma doll, something like: fall down ninety-nine times, get up one hundred times. Something like that. There's also Nike's "Just do it" slogan. I think these two sum up nicely my approach on discipline.

  45. #45
    Stephanie
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    "You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves."

    -Mary Oliver

  46. #46
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    There's this Japanese saying regarding the daruma doll, something like: fall down ninety-nine times, get up one hundred times. Something like that. There's also Nike's "Just do it" slogan. I think these two sum up nicely my approach on discipline.
    Here is the Japanese saying you refer to:
    Shichi Korobi-7down
    Ya Oki-8up

    This a beautiful saying which I enjoy very much!

    Gassho,
    John

  47. #47
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Here is the Japanese saying you refer to:
    Shichi Korobi-7down
    Ya Oki-8up

    This a beautiful saying which I enjoy very much!

    Gassho,
    John
    I love this!

  48. #48
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Discipline - how to cultivate it?

    Imho, how often or long I sit are hindrances to my practice more so than the reality of their answers..

    Gassho,
    Shawn

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