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Thread: Correct Zazen

  1. #1

    Correct Zazen

    For a number of months, I've been informally advising and talking with a lady that is in the midst of a contested divorce, just got over cancer, mother just diagnosed with cancer, etc... so things are a bit tumultuous. She has taken to daily zazen with good energy and commitment for perhaps some 6 months now. Though, she was talking to me about her experience last weekend and about in the middle of her session she "went to a large tree in a far away place, a lot like Avatar... and it was beautiful and peaceful..." and later she "hopes to return there" because she felt so protected and at peace.

    Not wanting to rain on her parade - or 'ruin' what seems to be a safe haven or peaceful and therapeutic experience for her... and also not wanting to be an insufferable know-it-all.. I haven't said anything about it. Though I feel compelled to tell her not to seek such an experience and that in fact zazen is not about the transporting of one's self away to some other or far off place but to the trueness and liveliness of here and now.. so to speak.. But I couldn't do it as I felt this pinch of restraint, guilt, worry... so let it go... Seems to me and my insufferable know-it-all-ness that this will stand in the way of the here and now in the same sense that we get hooked on our thoughts or emotions or various attachments. To run from anything, seek somewhere else, etc.. is the antithesis of awareness and acceptance .. but that's easy to say to one that isn't going through all she is or one that is more practiced.

    _/_ Nate

  2. #2

    Re: Correct Zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by natezenmaster
    To run from anything, seek somewhere else, etc.. is the antithesis of awareness and acceptance .. but that's easy to say to one that isn't going through all she is or one that is more practiced.

    _/_ Nate
    I agree with what you wrote here and it does seem like a tough thing to decide, although being able to accept things as it is doesn't come automatically with practice, so maybe not saying anything for the time being is the best. Although that is just me. When the timing is right explaining what you have wrote might be best, but don't just correct someone because you feel like you have to because they might be doing something wrong. No zazen is bad, even the zazen which is bad. If for the time being comfort and a feeling of escape is achieve, then good. As anyone who has practiced before, trying to re-live a state of zazen one had before is almost impossible. The lessons will be taught at their own pace.

    Just me though, disregard if need be

    Gassho

    Seiryu

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Correct Zazen

    Good for you Nate! I feel not telling her because of what she is going through is best. I wouldn't worry about her doing it in a way not fitting whith what we have been taught or how we practice. It sounds like she has gotten what she needs to help in her healing. What could be "wrong" with that. Besides there are plenty of other schools/thoughts on meditation which seek to experience what she has. Are they wrong too! Of course not they are just different. If she expresses to you at some point that she isn't able to get back there(which may be likely) then to comfort her you can explain a little more about the here and now goalless Zazen which we practice in Soto Zen.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4

    Re: Correct Zazen

    Mostly Zen comes to you. We can go shouting up high, but who are we trying to convince. Really. I think it's best that we focus on our practice and let others do what they may. It's more important to have Zen practice "available", then preached I think. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to mention you sit Zazen etc.., or that you practice Zazen, but that's about it I think. Nothing wrong with that.

    I think it was sunryu suzuki who just left a sign outside of his temple with a time for people who wanted to sit Zazen.

    Gassho

    W

  5. #5

    Re: Correct Zazen

    Quote Originally Posted by natezenmaster
    For a number of months, I've been informally advising and talking with a lady that is in the midst of a contested divorce, just got over cancer, mother just diagnosed with cancer, etc... so things are a bit tumultuous. She has taken to daily zazen with good energy and commitment for perhaps some 6 months now. Though, she was talking to me about her experience last weekend and about in the middle of her session she "went to a large tree in a far away place, a lot like Avatar... and it was beautiful and peaceful..." and later she "hopes to return there" because she felt so protected and at peace.

    Not wanting to rain on her parade - or 'ruin' what seems to be a safe haven or peaceful and therapeutic experience for her... and also not wanting to be an insufferable know-it-all.. I haven't said anything about it. Though I feel compelled to tell her not to seek such an experience and that in fact zazen is not about the transporting of one's self away to some other or far off place but to the trueness and liveliness of here and now.. so to speak.. But I couldn't do it as I felt this pinch of restraint, guilt, worry... so let it go... Seems to me and my insufferable know-it-all-ness that this will stand in the way of the here and now in the same sense that we get hooked on our thoughts or emotions or various attachments. To run from anything, seek somewhere else, etc.. is the antithesis of awareness and acceptance .. but that's easy to say to one that isn't going through all she is or one that is more practiced.

    _/_ Nate
    Hi Nate,

    I think your feelings about this are very wise.

    Some people going through hard times, or without a clear understanding or taste for this practice, may need to run to a safe refuge somewhere away from this world ... be it an oasis with a 'sacred tree' or (to be perfectly blunt) the arms of Jesus, Amida Buddha or the like. That is fine, and there is not one of us who ... faced with great trials ... does not hope for a warm and safe lap to hold us and comfort us.

    At some point, however, we may realize that outside is but inside, beyond all thought of "inside and outside". The 'sacred tree', Jesus and Amida are a power and peace that are here all along, no need to run or place to run. We are at home in the calm and lovely place where we sit ... and not even a "we" apart from the sitting.

    So, you take the high road, and I'll to the low road ... all to "right here all along, no place to go".

    Perhaps, if you are talking with this lady, you might encourage her to just find that the "tree" and peaceful place has been right here all along, even when she cannot see it. You might tell her that it is not a place to run to and hide, but right here in life ... and that to see that, she might want to leave that tree behind and just sit.

    However, if that does not work for her ... and she needs her oasis of peace ... that's fine. Not every medicine is for every patient. Some may find the peace and stillness "right here all along" in Zazen ... some may find this as Jesus, Amida or a sacred place, "out there" yet also here all along. Maybe when her life calms down a bit, or she has been sitting a bit longer, you can teach her about how to bring that tree home to the place never left.

    Gassho, J

  6. #6
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Correct Zazen

    Nate,

    In helping others, we have to be humble. Very humble. Sometimes (most of the time) we really have to understand what they are going through and just sh... ..
    You have done well, indeed.

    gassho


    Taigu

  7. #7

    Re: Correct Zazen

    Hi.

    Just to add to Taigu's response, just to sh.. .. and be there for them.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Correct Zazen

    Hi Nate,

    Just the fact that she is sitting is more than enough and I think your thoughts on this were wise and compassionate. And, who knows, she may yet find the path if it is truly her's to walk.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  9. #9

    Re: Correct Zazen

    Nate,

    I think it's great that you've even been able to advise and give her some comfort during this rough time for her! I will just echo the other responses and say that I think you are right, it's best to just "let it be" for now. Maybe later she will be interested in more.

    Gassho,
    Matt

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