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Thread: Zen Emoticons

  1. #1

    Zen Emoticons

    I've been seeing many posts lately regarding anger and by extension, emotion in general. The main thing I've gotten from these discussions is that these emotions, especially the ones that touch on passion, like anger or desire, seem to be contrary to our Way. It seems to me, that the questions mostly revolve around how one is to reconcile these feelings with the non-attachment of Zen Buddhism. How to deal with it, in a sense. There are many answers to these questions, and they are very helpful, but I would like to put in my two cents. This is how I see the situation, through my current understanding of the dharma, limited though it is.
    These emotions are strong, mainly because we have been used to expressing them for most of our lives. They are reinforced in our everyday interactions with others and in our past times, movies, competitions, all have an underlying ability to play on our emotions. We are taught that holding in our emotions leads to psychological issues and is unhealthy, so we express them. Buddha never told us to be stoics. He never advised us to be devoid of these emotions. We are born with them, they are as much a part of us as our hair color and our height. They are emotions that, as sentient beings, we have been gifted with to fully experience this world, and as such we should not seek to disassociate ourselves from them.
    This is not to say that we should allow them to control us, for we are not hedonists either. No, our way is the Middle Way of acknowledgment and experience, and then acting from a place of clarity and balance. In this way, anger, love, are like tools. Take a shovel. It is inherently faithful to its original nature. It is a shovel when engaged in digging a well and a shovel when hanging in the shed. Use it too often and it becomes dull, its structure becomes weakened and it will break. Don't use it enough and it will dry out, splinter and rust away. Use it as appropriate, care for it and nurture it, and it will always be there, ready to do what it was intended to do.
    So how do we deal with it? Usually the answer is “just sit.” And I believe that is the best answer. When we sit we gain many things, even though we have no thought of gaining and we do not sit in order to gain. We become patient, because we learn that this is a never ending process, and enlightenment is rarely (if ever) sudden. As we practice mindfulness to ensure that we are wholly here, completely now, that mindfulness and patience becomes the standard for how we live every day, and it gets applied to situations where emotion might other wise have overruled reason. In sitting, we come to a deeper understanding of ourselves and we let that self go, leaving nothing for these emotions to grasp hold of and direct. We understand that these emotions are what they are, and we understand that we do not have to be beholden to the karma generated by them and follow their existence with clouded action.
    I think that the following koan is illustrative of that point, but again, this is just my view, and I hope it is taken with a liberal helping of salt.


    There was an old woman in China who had supported a monk for over twenty years. She had built a little hut for him and fed him while he was meditating. Finally she wondered just what progress he had made in all this time.
    To find out, she obtained the help of a girl rich in desire. “Go and embrace him,” she told her, “and then ask him suddenly: ‘What now?’”
    The girl called upon the monk and without much ado caressed him, asking him what he was going to do about it.
    “An old tree grows on a cold rock in winter,” replied the monk somewhat poetically. “Nowhere is there any warmth.”
    The girl returned and related what he had said.
    “To think I fed that fellow for twenty years!” exclaimed the old woman in anger. “He showed no consideration for your needs, no disposition to explain your condition. He need not have responded to passion, but at least he should have evidenced some compassion.”
    She at once went to the hut of the monk and burned it down.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Zen Emoticons

    I think it is good to treat anger with respect and with compassion. I try to recognize when it is there with mindfulness and the name the emotion with like "there is anger". This helps me to be present with the experience without indulging in it, self-judging, condoning it or pushing it away. Allowing the emotions to be there without being reactive to it and to feel the physical sensation in my body, keeps me in the present moment without my mind spinning off into stories and from reacting in a habitual, non-constructive or hurtful way. By treating anger with compassion, it helps to transform and let go of the energy and to see the situation from a different perspective. This gives an opportunity to act with choice at the right time as opposed to acting out in anger which can be very damaging. It is also good practice to look at the subject of our anger with compassion and empathy even if we feel we are "right". Thich Natch Hah talks about in one of his books on planting the seeds of compassion instead of planting the seeds of anger within us. I think that it is true, the more compassion seeds we plant, the less anger we will have within us. I have felt as my capacity for love and compassion has grown, other things in my life don't make me angry anymore or at least not as as angry as they used to. There will always be moments in our life when we will feel anger and that is an opportunity to be "one" with our practice and feel how it truly can help us. And there will be times when we let our emotions get the best of us because we are not perfect and make mistakes. When this happens just learn from the experience, apologize if you can, and let it go. I admit that I don't get it right all the time (I am woman you know and most of us ladies have deal with our lovely emotions on a daily basis ops: ) but the more I practice, the better it gets.

    Thanks,
    Jodi

  3. #3

    Re: Zen Emoticons

    Thank you Jodi, you make excellent points. That I believe is the freedom from karma that we learn about - the mindful ability to make a choice, instead of being controlled by our emotions.

  4. #4

    Re: Zen Emoticons

    Returning to original face
    Feelings and perceptions are perfectly as they are
    Dwelling in feelings and perceptions is perfect delusion.


    I think I read that somewhere but it makes sense. Returning is letting go. Dwelling is attaching . Its all a continuous practice.

    Thanks chris and jodi for helpful insightful comments.

  5. #5

    Re: Zen Emoticons

    Thank you for sharing Christopher.

    Gassho,
    Matt

  6. #6
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Zen Emoticons

    Christopher,

    Very nice post.

    But the koan you quote is not about compassion or not compassion. It is not about what your mind or my mind make of it. And the translation you give here sounds to my aging ears very very westernised and over the top.

    In this, if he kisses and makes love to the girl, he fails. Pushing her away, he fails.
    There is no escape. This is about the non-dual. This gate is the silence of Vilamakirti that you will find in the book of equanimity, case 48.

    and yes, raging and loving emotions could well be more than the tools you describe: Bodhisattvas in disguise! ( in other words, the middle way is not to sit with our bum in between two chairs)


    gassho


    Taigu

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Zen Emoticons

    What's with the aging ears you young pup !!

  8. #8

    Re: Zen Emoticons

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Christopher,

    Very nice post.

    But the koan you quote is not about compassion or not compassion. It is not about what your mind or my mind make of it. And the translation you give here sounds to my aging ears very very westernised and over the top.

    In this, if he kisses and makes love to the girl, he fails. Pushing her away, he fails.
    There is no escape. This is about the non-dual. This gate is the silence of Vilamakirti that you will find in the book of equanimity, case 48.

    and yes, raging and loving emotions could well be more than the tools you describe: Bodhisattvas in disguise! ( in other words, the middle way is not to sit with our bum in between two chairs)


    gassho


    Taigu
    Thank you Taigu, I limited the limitless in my attempt to explain something beyond explanation. That case adds great perspective, and was actually my original point, though I got lost on my way to it. The point I was trying to make was that we should not try to separate ourselves from the emotions we feel and call that 'practice'. I have seen what seems to me to be a thought that if we can distance ourselves from the emotions that often overwhelm us, then that is the basis of a spiritual life. This is not something I have picked up only on this forum, but from many other sources. To me, this would be a denial of being spiritual, because there is no separation between body and mind, and the middle way should encompass both with out falling prey to either.

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