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Thread: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

  1. #1

    7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Hello Everyone,

    Welcome to our reading of ZEN SEEDS, REFLECTIONS OF A FEMALE PRIEST by Rev. Shundo Aoyama.

    I am to make an "INTRODUCTION" here. Since my copy of the book does not have a section called "INTRODUCTION", I guess that means I should just say something!

    Rev. Aoyama is well known in the Zen Buddhist world in Japan. She is the Chief Priest of the Aichi Semmon Niso-do, one of the main (and few) training monasteries for women in Soto Zen in Japan. She was a student of Kodo Sawaki Roshi and Uchiyama Roshi, who are each very cherished in our corner of the Soto world. If you would like to see a little video about Aoyama Roshi's life and work at her monastery, here it is (soundtrack in French and Japanese) ...

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xg70tq ... 2-2_webcam

    Now, folks will be taking turns each week to start off the discussions. Here is what I suggest you do:

    Just write a paragraph or two, or more or less, about something in the essay that actually had relevance to your life and practice. Maybe toss out a couple of questions to get the discussion rolling. Folks can then talk about that, or anything they want regarding the essay though.

    Let me try to do that today with the first two essays:

    P. 11

    Imagine this big river constantly flowing flowing flowing ... river of life ...

    I once crashed into an alligator in the Everglades in Florida while paddling a canoe (true story). I wrote this:

    True Story. Visiting Florida last week, in a canoe on the Loxahatchee river, my wife at the front, me in back paddling, wind comes up suddenly and blows us sideways toward the muddy bank ... right into the backside of a sleeping 4-foot alligator. (Now, it's not so easy to hit a gator, even in the Everglades with lots scattered about. Just, I suppose, where chance brought all of us) Gator is none too pleased, you know. Bangs the little boat with his tail a couple of times, lets out a mean roar, shows some teeth, scampers away into the tall grass.

    Shaken, but still afloat, we steer the canoe back to the center of the channel and proceed with our journey ... rather glad he was not a 5-foot gator, rather glad we hit the backside and not the front.

    Suddenly, whole meaning of this Zen thing is clear. (For those not picking up the literary symbolism, gator represents the problems of life, river is life, the wind is fate, a balanced canoe - equanimity of body and mind, a disturbed vessel a disturbed mind, the paddling is just moving forward. My wife represents my wife.) Here goes:

    In the canoe of life, you, your wife, the canoe, the paddle, the river, the alligator, the grass, the mosquitoes and the whole damn Everglades are just One Great Swamp. Accept all alligators, and seek to embrace their existence, for they -- and you too -- are the life of the river. But, at the moment your canoe crashes into the alligator's backside, try explaining that to the alligator ... or to yourself (or to your wife in the front of the boat, also baring her teeth). It is okay to paddle furiously to get away, if that is possible.

    (If not possible, practice famous Zen parable about plucking a strawberry when chased over cliff by hungry tiger)
    ...

    In the canoe of life, you may not know who (if any "who") made the canoe, the river, you, your wife, the gator, etc. etc., the Whole Darn Swamp. But, here you find yourself, in life's canoe, with a paddle, heading down that river. River runs before you, seems like you came from behind. You do not know why (if any "why"). What to do?

    .... Just paddle paddle, sometimes drift drift, try to stay in the middle of the channel.

    Oh, and where possible, avoid gators.
    QUESTION: MAYBE DESCRIBE A TIME IN YOUR LIFE YOU FLOWED WITH LIFE'S EVENTS LIKE A RIVER. MAYBE A TIME YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT.

    P. 13

    Although we should not judge a book by its cover, we can tell much from a face ... peaceful face ...



    ... stressed face ...



    ... angry face ...



    QUESTION: LOOK AT YOUR OWN FACE IN THE MIRROR FOR A MINUTE. DESCRIBE THE KIND(S) OF FACE YOU SEE.

    ALSO, CAN YOU FIND THE FACE BEFORE YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER WERE BORN?

    Gassho, J

  2. #2

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Hi.

    When i first read the first essay, i immediately thought of sewing the kesa.
    I did my first Kesa, while my life was in utter turmoil, and you can see that in it.
    I don't think there is one like it anywhere, just like an drop of water in the river.
    In that you actually see where i have been totally in "the zone", no distractions, no entangelments, perfect sticthes.
    Then suddenly someting happens, and you see how the thread goes astray.
    Missing the pace, not going straight.
    Getting entangled in life; sewer, thread, fabric.
    All the while, the kesa is perfect, just as it is.
    Perfectly sewn, perfectly viewed, perfectly worn.

    The second essay...
    I hope that people that look at me think "he did a good practice".
    And maybe that is a good header for my gravestone, if i ever get one...

    The second question, well, i have to say an smiling face, perhaps even an smiley face...
    But although smiles tell alot, i believe the eyes "are the doorway to the soul" as the saying goes, and as Billie holiday sings, "Them there eyes"...


    [youtube] [/youtube]

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    QUESTION: MAYBE DESCRIBE A TIME IN YOUR LIFE YOU FLOWED WITH LIFE'S EVENTS LIKE A RIVER. MAYBE A TIME YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT.
    I have one example in my life which sometimes feels like I'm flowing downstream and at other times a battle against the current. Marriage!
    I remember a talk given by Jundo Sensei where he mentions that up until 130 years ago priests in Japan did not marry. It wasn't until the government forced them to that they began to live outside the monastery walls and deal with poopy diapers, bills, homework, wives and all the other "real life" issues. Sure they may know all the rules, rituals, sutras, and principals of Buddhism but imagine their shock to find out that with domestic life "no" can mean "yes" and "yes" can mean "no" and the dreaded "I'm not mad" doesn't always mean you're off the hook buster! All the virtues of this practice are better spent on more realistic human relationships than living up in the distant mountains somewhere. Perhaps this is an over simplification but I really feel like it is the difference between just studying music and actually playing the instrument.

    The other thing which cane to mind when viewing life in the context of a stream was something which spiritual guru Wayne Dyer talks about. He uses this simple song to express spiritual insight:

    Row, row, row your boat,
    Gently down the stream.
    Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
    Life is but a dream.

    In essence he talks about living life gently, happily, not fighting but rather going with life's flow, and finally concluding by reminding us that this whole thing is but a dream.



    QUESTION: LOOK AT YOUR OWN FACE IN THE MIRROR FOR A MINUTE. DESCRIBE THE KIND(S) OF FACE YOU SEE.
    The thing about looking in the mirror for me is that I sometimes feel a certain disconnect between the image of who I am vs how I perceive myself to be inside my head. It's not a depressive thing. It's Kind of like when you read a book and then go see the movie. You swear that is not how the characters are supposed to look. You have already given them a face, or even a voice(as strange as that sounds!) in your mind and the two just don't match up. I guess what it comes down to is that the person on the inside feels unchanging while the image of that same person on the outside easily tells a different story, mainly through the aging process.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    PG 11:
    Sitting in the garden, picking weeds. Some pull out easily; extracting the entire, or at least most of the root. You feel that it may take a while for another weed to grow in that spot. Others break off and you make mental note to slow down and do a better job of it. Soon an area is cleared and then you become aware of more weeds in that space; as if they are growing as you are picking. Is this so or was it that you didn't notice them in your blind spot. As well, you become aware of the micro life going on before your very eyes. Tiny bugs busily moving to and fro. A worm may appear and slither away. A beetle scurries by and you are impressed by its agenda. All is flowing, stay long enough and you will hear the stones. Suddenly, you return to the realization that you too belong in this flow. You are not alone.

    PG 13:
    The reason we grow old is because we expect too. Billions of human cells are replicating themselves as we speak (or listening or reading or whatever you are doing right now ) It's been said that the human body replaces itself every eleven months; other estimates offer a number of years. Hard tissue and nerve tissue replace at a slower rate so goes the argument but, the crux of the matter is we look the way we do because of the crockful of mis-beliefs and thoughtless comments that we have accumulated over our lifetime. If all of our experiences had been positive, if all the criticisms had been truthful, you would have nothing but a smile to put on your face. Throw all that baggage away. You are what you think and it is never too late to change your mind.

  5. #5

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    PG 11:
    I've come to accept the "big swamp," I can deal with gators, and as Dori in the film "Finding Nemo" says, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming." What I can't figure out how to deal with is the darn tension headache that accompanies me the rest of the way down the river! Case in point, our air conditioning isn't cooling the house, and we're in the middle of a heat streak. I know, First World problems... anyway, that's great except for it's brand new. So waiting all weekend, pissed off and fuming, irritated to spend so much money on non-functional equipment, not able to focus on anything, waiting until Monday when I can call service.

    All the while *realizing* that I'm reacting in this completely irrational, unuseful way (at least I've gained that much insight from practice, I guess). But I can't shake it. I know it will be fixed in the end, and it's such a ridiculously minor thing to be upset about considering some of the things people have posted about lately, actually embarassed to use it as an example. But it is what it is. So I'm paddling, paddling (slamming the oars into the water, irritating the wildlife). Just keep sitting. "This too shall pass".

    PG 13:

    I was "immortal" until I turned 30 and had kids. Now I see my mortality in every childhood milestone, in every new ache and pain, in every disappearing hair... Not in a death-obsessed sense, just a realization of our fleeting lives and how significant each moment really is. I don't care about beauty, I just want people to look at pictures of me long after I'm gone and think, there was a loving father and husband, kind and patient and wise. I hope I can live up to it!

    Matt

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Answer #1
    Right now in this moment of our lives, my husband and I are either flowing with life or really feel like we are going against the stream because we are PARENTING A TODDLER!!! :shock: When we are attune to Hunter's super-charged energy and provide a safe environment for him to play that allows him to be who he is, life flows much easier. But when we fight and resist his natural tendencies to explore and behave like most toddlers do, life does not quite flow so easily (in other words, major toddler melt-down!) Obviously we do set boundaries and limitations, like not crawling up the metal spiral staircase or trying to touch the fuzzy, buzzy bumblebee on the living floor. However by viewing and understanding in my mind that toddlers are supposed to be full of energy without the maturity to control their emotions yet, I am able to go with the flow of the moment instead of fighting against it.

    Answer #2
    Every time I look into the mirror, I see something different depending on the state of my mind or attitude. There is confidence and uncertainty, joy and disappointment, peace and anxiety, energy and weariness. Developing equanimity along with a few more wrinkles on my face has grown stronger and deeper over the years. I definitely would rather have a bunch more wrinkles on my face and have more balance and wisdom than be the clueless 21-year old I was again. I feel more accepting of myself no matter what mood or state I am in even if I am having a bad hair or "fat" day. By doing my best to be good person without harming anyone, I am comfortable with who I am no matter where I am at or what I look like.

    Jodi

  7. #7
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Waiting for trains and planes has always allowed me to see stillness among 'busy'ness. Waiting without worry that is... just sitting and watching everyone from every corner of human life coming and going in all kinds of moods and demeanours, just living their lives, and me just sitting waiting. The best is when their is no thinking about who they are or what they are doing...just watching and in that watching being part of the motion but not in motion. It's stepping 'out' for a moment, seeing the flow rather than being part of it...until the time to board!!

    I've never been happier in my life than right now; being active enough to enjoy it and old enough not to attract any attention whatsoever doing it!

  8. #8

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    PG 11: Sitting in the garden, picking weeds. Some pull ... ... belong in this flow. You are not alone.
    Great Answer, Richard, thank you.

    My thoughts (are they mine ? :roll: ):

    Page 11 Hearing the Voice of the Valley Stream

    Every once in a while, on each and every day, when I get back to the very moment, I feel the tension in my body. Its almost always there. And when I look into the tension, I often find it comes from the resistance, it seems as if I always find something to resist against, even if its a small thing. So I swim against the river over and over. But just by coming back to the moment, its like turning around, flowing with the stream, effortless.


    Page 13 I Want to Become a Beautiful Person

    The face before I was born? That question has been pondered in every second book about zen, how can I reply to you with anything thats not just a quote ? :-) My heads so stuffed with that pre-programmed replies that its hard to find my own answer, one thats not just a copy. I try ... you and I, we both see it right now and in every moment.

    _()_
    Peter

  9. #9

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Question 1: There is this road I take lots of days from the University to the Train station. I've passed it so many times that I never pay attention to the surroundings, either distracted with my own thoughts or rushing to catch the train. Last week, after dokusan with Taigu, I followed his advice to try to be less reflective and more open to what's happening right here, right now, in a non-judgmental way. As I enter the road, I was able to realize that there were plenty of crickets singing. I'm sure they've been singing for at least some weeks, but since then I was completely deaf to them. I stopped and just enjoyed the view. The view isn't memorable at all: some trees and bushes and suburban buildings in the background. There is even a small river, that usually carries detritus from the big factories up the stream. The really memorable thing is how my mind was outside the picture in that moment; there was just all of us together, the trees, the bushes, the crickets, the cement road, the buildings and the river flowing.

    Question 2: My facial expression changes from a forced smile to a genuine one as I relax. Then it gets forced again if I keep paying attention to it. The original face is in the mirror that surrounds the face and just reflex what is in front of it. I still can't see it, but I keep on trying, nevertheless.

  10. #10
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Hello all,

    pg. 11 - the valley stream

    Having just gone through a few major life changes in the last year, I can tell you that I have both flowed with it and have fought (to no avail) against the current. To say that the nature of our lives is ever-changing is an understatement. Every few years, my husband puts in for new jobs (usuallly a promotion) to multiple places/multiple states. He does this because it is kind of a requirement in his current work path in order to move up in "rank" so to speak...not unlike many military families. For the most part, I'm open to new experiences, new places, "new adventure" - as I tell my children. However, this makes for a rather lonely life. It is hard enough for most adults to make friends, but when you move around, and are always deemed an outsider it makes it even more difficult. So I find that I don't want to make close relationships because I know that I will be leaving them behind, like I did with this last move. From the moment we find out we are moving until we get to our new destination - I put myself in "work" mode. I flow with the changes, because I have to for my husband and my children. Whatever problems arise, as they always do, I deal with them (although rather stressfully) and move on. But, once we get settled into our new life, I begin to resist my own feelings on it all. I fight my husband when he brings up the fact that we will eventually move again and we have to figure out what is "right" for us all over again. It is a cycle of flowing and resisting...it won't change any time soon. So....

    pg. 13 - becoming a beautiful person

    I try to avoid mirrors on most days. I look to make sure I'm presentable on the outside, but I never spend much time "looking" at my reflection. I work with children (teacher's aide) - and I've been told that I always look happy or content, and that I never get angry. But, on most days, I feel my face hides "me". I don't always feel that my reflection matches my inner feelings. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I want to be authentic, but I guess that nasty little thing called fear prevents me from doing so. Or at least that's how I feel...who knows, maybe others know me better than I know myself. I do hope to have a heart at peace someday, and then maybe I will be a beautiful person too.


    Thank you to all who are sharing, this is where I truly learn.

    gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  11. #11

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Gassho, everyone, especially Rimon, Jodi, and Kelly (more on why below!). Like you, Kelly, I have a spouse who is very committed to her profession, which I support wholeheartedly -- as best I can! She works at a high level in the state department of education, and her work is intense, requires last-minute changes of plans, and often disrupts our family life.

    Or so I thought. Upon greater reflection (and sitting, lots of sitting!), I realized that her work disrupted my feelings about changes that her work brought, often daily, to our family life. Looking back on those changes, I can see the extent to which much of my anger and frustration grew from being unable to confront a truth Aoyama describes neatly:

    We make every effort to keep things as they are, because human beings, alone, lament transience.
    It's not an overstatement to say that, upon getting a text message saying she had been unavoidably delayed and would arrive ~10 minutes later, I was lamenting transience! I cannot say I've worked this through to perfection (ha!), but it's been remarkable how a few minor things -- better communication and planning -- and one major thing -- shikantaza -- have reduced this dukkha, most days, to a few blips here and there at worst. And our mutual appreciation for supporting and loving each other in the life we actually lead has increased dramatically.

    So, to the questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    QUESTION: MAYBE DESCRIBE A TIME IN YOUR LIFE YOU FLOWED WITH LIFE'S EVENTS LIKE A RIVER. MAYBE A TIME YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT.
    See above! One more thing, in reference to this sentence:

    Though theirs is a much slower flow, stones, trees, houses, and towns are flowing too.
    I think about this slower flow quite a bit, try to embrace the idea that flux unfolds on a grander scale than I usually perceive. The town reference is particularly apt for me: I've lived in Providence RI most of the last 30 years, starting when I was 18, meaning that the city itself has been and continues to be a significant condition in nearly every aspect of my life. In addition, at critical moments, some of the darker aspects of the city have reared their ugly heads, reminding me how little control I have in this life. I've had to learn how to watch horrible things unfold ever so slowly, things that I knew a lot about but could do nothing to alter....

    QUESTION: LOOK AT YOUR OWN FACE IN THE MIRROR FOR A MINUTE. DESCRIBE THE KIND(S) OF FACE YOU SEE.
    I had to laugh when I read this question, and was glad for Rimon, Jodi, and Kelly's responses about smiles! There's a joke in my family that I have the worst camera smile in the world, and it's accurate. My dad worked on the film assembly line at Polaroid when I was growing up, and nearly every weekend he brought home a few packs of test film that had to be shot. Suffice it to say that the smile I learned to make is nearly impossible for me to let go if I have a camera pointed at me -- or if I'm looking at myself in a mirror!

    So, to quote Radiohead, when I look in the mirror, I think, "That there? That's not me."

    [youtube] [/youtube]

    ALSO, CAN YOU FIND THE FACE BEFORE YOUR MOTHER AND FATHER WERE BORN?
    Working on it. :wink:

  12. #12
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    I've been keeping Jundo's first question subconsciously for the past few weeks, so I'm grateful to be able to think of it directly. Both my sons, and myself, have food intolerance issues. After discussing it with the wife for some time, we decided to undergo a strict elimination diet. I could go on about the feeling of giving up your favorite foods for six weeks (and possibly forever), but I won't. The heart of the matter is that this is something I chose to do because I knew it was right, and stands a good chance of helping my family. In that sense, I feel I am swimming with the current. In parallel, however, I realize that some of my friends & extended family probably think I'm a lunatic. Going ahead with the diet also feels like swimming against the current. I'm not necessarily fighting, I'm just headed in a different direction. It's a novel experience.

    When I look at myself in the mirror, I see an overly serious face. This is my work face. After a few seconds, a smile plays at the sides of my mouth. There's a happy person in there, but he won't come out when I'm wearing a mask. I start to think that I'm over analyzing the situation. I go to check on a pot of milk I've left to simmer. While busy being serious, the milk has boiled over.

    gassho,
    Shujin

  13. #13

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Hello all,

    Perhaps no better time to write about than the present (and recent past)…..I had been planning to write about these issues and had even drafted a post, but my life seems so fluid…I never am able to keep up with it. I wanted to let everyone know at Treeleaf why my participation has been rather limited in recent months. This seems to fit…..

    So here’s the flow –

    Most of you have heard about the protests in Wisconsin over the Governor of the state trying to do away with public sector unions. Well same deal here in Ohio and I am in a public sector union at a state university. Not to get overly political here, but since last January, I have been thrown into a fight to keep our union….attending protests … networking with individuals involved in labor movements from Wisconsin to Egypt. It caught me off guard and as I am one of the union reps for our campus and I have spent a lot of time on the road. Political issues never really had much impact on my job…now I feel under attack and blindsided by all of this.

    My wife’s dad and my mom entered hospice within the same week this spring. Both died within a week of one another. My wife’s family lives in Arizona and my wife was actually out helping her mom, when my mom passed away. In the past, my dad has refused me to help him deal with his finances and now he has bill collectors after him. Others are threatening law suits against him and he is receiving letters from lawyers. Last week he handed it all over to me to solve….he yells at me constantly.

    My dog has kidney issues and needs sub-cutaneous water treatments. This does not hurt him, but he gets pretty upset during the procedure. He shows little signs of being sick or in pain, but his appetite is a major issue and I am constantly working with him to eat and to keep up his weight. I do not mind a bit working so hard to keep him healthy but I do worry about him so much.

    We usually spend part of our summers on an island at a small cottage we own, but our relationship with some of the people has gone bad and my taste for the cottage has been soured. The cottage has been in my family since I was four and I usually associate it with a place to get away from problems…now I go there and feel stressed.

    Each of the aforementioned issues are gators. They make me very anxious…as of late it seems like I am constantly anxious. I’m paddling down this stream and starting to get shell shocked….when will another gator pop up? At times hypervigilance sets in.

    We may think of gators interrupting our “flow”…as we bump into them we get the feeling of discontinuity, but they are as much a part of the flow as the river itself. Although my participation at Treeleaf has been somewhat limited in recent months, I have kept up a regular practice of zazen. As stated in by Rev. Aoyama, zazen helps us to hear the river….to feel the flow….to perceive the continuity.

    I have a bit of a different slant on impermanence. I see impermanence as connecting all of reality…the river constantly flows, but that unities one small particle of water at the beginning of the river to one small particle at the end of the river. Impermanence is the temporal expression of emptiness. Thus, if you can experience the change, you can feel the connection…..we are the river…it all becomes one.

    I can’t tell you all that I am doing great, but I am doing at least OK. Zazen and the practice are my constant companions. I did experience a very special event surrounding my mother’s death, which I will share at a later time. Sorry for the big “unloading”, but it just seemed to fit with Jundo’s story.

    Gassho,
    BrianW/Jisen

  14. #14
    Friend of Treeleaf Daido's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    PG 11:
    Flow should be simple so im going to try to do this using just a few words (with a less serious example). Here's my flow:

    Daughters sing and play
    In their bedrooms upstairs
    Inhale, exhale without care

    Here’s my current:

    Daughters conflict roars
    In their bedrooms upstairs
    Inhale, exhale lose my hair

    So I swim against the river over and over.”

    swimming against the river is great explanation of how my life was (and still is) before I came to zen practice. Now regardless of the flow (pleasant or not) I try to let go and come back to center. It is way easier for me to say than do. I still swim. Sometimes I swim hard. But now I sometimes float.

    PG 13:
    When I look in the mirror I see change and my relationships with friends and family

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Thank you all for your sharing, It appears we all have good reason to keep sitting.
    The response to this thread is wonderful and Thanks to Rimon, I learned a new word

  16. #16
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Thank you all for these great contributaions. What can be said after these?

    Against the stream?
    A long period of unemployment and failure that ended with an acceptance and then a sun-lit clearing in my life.

    With the stream?
    Bobbing up and down since then.

    The face in the mirror?
    I have a friend who has been a travel writer for 20 years. She has been EVERYWHERE. Interestingly, she has always made a point of never travelling with a camera. Of her many long journeys and adventures, after 20 years she doesn't own a single picture.

    Gassho,
    Soen

  17. #17

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    I don't know what the tradition is here on Treeleaf concerning book club postings, but several people mentioned being affected by others' posts. I'd like to suggest that those who desire to do so indicate what it was that others contributed that touched them.

    I've been thinking about these two paragraphs of BrianW's since I read them:

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianW
    Each of the aforementioned issues are gators. They make me very anxious…as of late it seems like I am constantly anxious. I’m paddling down this stream and starting to get shell shocked….when will another gator pop up? At times hypervigilance sets in.

    We may think of gators interrupting our “flow”…as we bump into them we get the feeling of discontinuity, but they are as much a part of the flow as the river itself. Although my participation at Treeleaf has been somewhat limited in recent months, I have kept up a regular practice of zazen. As stated in by Rev. Aoyama, zazen helps us to hear the river….to feel the flow….to perceive the continuity.
    When I read that, I thought, jeepers, if you can occasionally recognize that those gators are of the flow of the river itself -- and those are scarier gators than the ones I deal with! -- well, gassho to you, BrianW.

  18. #18

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Chris,

    Thanks for your comments!

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    I don't know what the tradition is here on Treeleaf concerning book club postings, but several people mentioned being affected by others' posts. I'd like to suggest that those who desire to do so indicate what it was that others contributed that touched them.
    I believe that comments on other peoples posts is one way to build the feeling of community and as it was my post even better(LOL)! But seriously, I am teaching, and developing at the same time, and online course. I teach at a university. I encourage my students to read, consider, and read other peoples posts. I believe this helps students process the information in a different manner....perhaps it is the social aspect. I usually post in the book club and I am often humbled by the insight by others commenting on the reading. At times I integrate those insights into my posts....anyway just my thoughts.

    Yes I usually have far less drama in my life....just seems to be the current flow. BTW love Radiohead!

    Gassho,
    BrianW/Jisen

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Chris wrote:
    I don't know what the tradition is here on Treeleaf concerning book club postings, but several people mentioned being affected by others' posts. I'd like to suggest that those who desire to do so indicate what it was that others contributed that touched them.
    Hi Chris,
    I understand what you are saying here. I too was a little unsure wether to post replies to the many things which touched me or not. I think it's a great idea because there is so much here which speaks to me!

    Thank you very much to all who have contributed thus far! I have learned from each and everyone's stories and look forward to what everyone has to share in the conning chapters!

    Gassho,
    John

  20. #20

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Hello,

    thank you all for your very wonderful and intimate contributions.

    Question 1: One summer morning during my final year at university I ran down the stairs of the place I stayed at, ran towards the door to the outside, riding the waves of each moment like a child speeding down a hill with a sled towards a snow covered, wide open valley. Circumstances were all good, it was easy to feel no wants then. Couple of years later I was caught in a web of my own making, not understanding where I went wrong when I didn't do anything wrong and why I didn't feel half as free as way back then.


    Question 2: There is this guy looking at me that seems very familiar in a strange way, yet he changes all the time. He's quite hairy and has wrinkles that seem to be based on an abundance of laughter throughout most of his life. Once in a while there's a flash of melancholy, but whatever the face is like, I just wash it and get on with my day.

    Gassho,

    Hans

  21. #21

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Question 1: I feel like I'm swimming upstream fighting against the current, and if I stop, I might drown, or those who are swimming with me might drown. I also feel like this is not what I want to be doing, but I don't know exactly what I want to do, and I don't see any way to really get out of what I am doing now. I'm trying to salvage a struggling business that could take all my husband’s and my retirement savings and my house with the pond that I love. But when I saw a bankruptcy attorney, just to see what my options were, I started to give up in my mind and some things didn't bother as much. I guess if you think you’re going to lose it all away, you don’t care so much what could go wrong, employee gripes, frivolous law suits, thefts, or putting more money into a losing business. You think, “what does it matter? That con man won’t collect anything anyhow and the employees will have to go find the perfect job somewhere else. Let it go. Quit working so hard and paying for the privilege.” Then, just when you are ready to let everything go, you think you should try some more. Maybe you can do something, if only you were to try hard enough. Isn’t that what all the self-improvement books and business gurus say? Make goals, be persistent, give 110%, and you will succeed?”
    I can just imagine what you might all say: “Fight without fighting.” However, don’t know how to do that yet. My chest flutters every time the phone rings, because I’m afraid it will be something bad. I think that this might even be a learning experience-- if only I were younger--because I don’t really believe I can start all over at 60. And I may only have 10 summers left and I don’t want to work 55 hours a week and I don’t want to try so hard. Yes, I know that if my husband were sick, I would give every penny to get him well, so this thing of a failing business is really not such a big thing to be so upset over, but ahhh, my chest still flutters, except when I sit.
    Question 2: When I look in the mirror, I see an aging face, even though I've never been that concerned with looks . I’ve never even worn makeup. But all the same, that my face is starting to look like the face of a 60 year-old woman is hard on me. My husband loves me anyway.

    Gassho, Grace.

  22. #22

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianW

    Impermanence is the temporal expression of emptiness. Thus, if you can experience the change, you can feel the connection…..we are the river…it all becomes one.
    Wow, Brian. What a beautiful quote! I'll remember it. Gassho, Grace.

  23. #23

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Chris wrote:
    I don't know what the tradition is here on Treeleaf concerning book club postings, but several people mentioned being affected by others' posts. I'd like to suggest that those who desire to do so indicate what it was that others contributed that touched them.
    Hi Chris,
    I understand what you are saying here. I too was a little unsure wether to post replies to the many things which touched me or not. I think it's a great idea because there is so much here which speaks to me!

    Thank you very much to all who have contributed thus far! I have learned from each and everyone's stories and look forward to what everyone has to share in the conning chapters!

    Gassho,
    John
    Yes, do reflect on each others' stories and insights if touched, back and forth. This is a book club, all sitting together in a circle ... sometimes silently sitting, sometimes just talkin'.

    Gassho, J

  24. #24

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by Graceleejenkins
    rianW wrote:
    Impermanence is the temporal expression of emptiness. Thus, if you can experience the change, you can feel the connection…..we are the river…it all becomes one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Graceleejenkins
    Wow, Brian. What a beautiful quote! I'll remember it. Gassho, Grace.
    Thanks Grace, but the first part of the quote I can't take credit for as I heard or read this somewhere ....just can't remember where or when.

    Gassho,
    BrianW/Jisen

  25. #25
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Life goes well for me when I am in the flow, when I view it and all that happens as process. Inevitably, when things are awry, I discover that I got stuck in an outcome. Once I get back to the process of things, then all gets better. Process vs. outcome - yeah, it's a duality, but one works better than the other. Both are important and have their place, but life-as-process seems much more in accordance with our Buddhist Path.

    I own this face! I earned every wrinkle and blemish and gray hair, etc. It might be nice to be pretty, but that would not be me, would it? :twisted: I discovered my first gray hair when I was 21 years old. I was home from college getting ready to go to Christmas services with my parents when I saw it in the mirror. I immediately went out to announce this great discovery. My mom and dad both said something like, "Don't worry about it. You can just cut it off." But I said, "No, this is great. I earned this! " They looked at me like I was crazy for a second and then they realized what I meant. They said, "Yeah, you did." Now I got a whole head of the gray stuff. Great stuff.

    How many Zen Buddhists go for plastic surgery to make their self look better? I wonder. Isn't that sort of an oxymoron?

  26. #26

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    A bit late getting my book, but just in time!

    Impermanence is a concept I work with daily. So often I look at something and forget that it is changing, I am changing, as the moment comes and goes. It's easy to pay lip-service to impermanence, "Yes yes all will fade", but hard to really get it into my head. Loved ones have passed away, days have turned to 20 years and it's all a bit of a mystery how I got here, but I'm grateful for it. You never step in the same stream twice, you never greet the same morning. What a difference it makes when we feel our lives are just "same-old-same-old".

    The days do add up, so do my choices. I've learned that regret for the past has no place in my life, it's a waste of time, energy, and suffering. Learning from the past, growing into each moment, that's what carves out the face of someone at peace with themselves. Comparing myself to others, even my former (no) self, is silly.

    Gassho,
    Taylor

  27. #27

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Question 1: flowing and not flowing

    My life is pretty busy right now, so in the present I can say work presents me with a lot of great opportunities for practice. If I get a new project, I can feel a fear of failure (funny that Chet brought that up in his other post, because that's something I confront A LOT). So if I let that control me it will, but if I focus on the changes, on the work, and truly become one with it, there is a flow. There is no fear or impatience; there is a new energy of vitality. I really enjoy that. It's not always easy to get to that place, but that's all my mind theatre (as Jundo sensei would say). That's the practice. I used to think the practice was just on the mat, but it's everywhere.

    This first essay really speaks to me. Why can we hear or see when we are in practice but when we are not we fail to hear anything but what's in our own minds? We're used to listening to the junk that floats round and round. I caught myself the other day, and thought "Really? This thought again?"

    Another area where I really feel not flowing is when I get a feeling of boredom. It's probably why I used to smoke. I have an addictive personality. It's like this child within me, what next? what next? So I just try to feel that boredom, and sit with it wherever I'm at. The same with fear, or anger. I don't try to reject those feelings. Easier said than done, but it's interesting. Why am I bored? What would I rather be doing? Why isn't thsi moment enough? Why is this never enough?

    But the practice allows me to come back and flow instead of constantly grasping.


    Question 2:

    "I look in the mirror and what do I see. A lone wolf there staring back at me" - Travis Tritt

    I don't know who I see. I look so different now. I think I see a more honest and down to earth person. I used to care so much about my looks in college. Now that I'm 35, I'm balding, and I think God took the hair on my head and put it on my chest. hahaha

    But all superficiality aside, it is just amazing how much I've changed. Not just externally but internally as well. The path has taught me that we never really stop the search for who we are. At least that's where I'm at now. Things change, and we aren't static. That discovery is fun.

  28. #28
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    1) Being a laid back person I tend to not get very upset about things disrupting my 'flow'. If they do, I tend to repress them until I can let them go. Maybe it's too passive, but that's ok. That being said, much of my life I see as flowing down the river. Since reading Zen Mind back in the 'beginning' of my practice I feel that Suzuki Roshi's discussion on how we being droplets in a river, temporarily separated speak my mind. The pain and joy we feel are only when we separate ourselves from our lives and the 10k things around us.

    2) In my mirror I see someone who is content. However, I also see someone who is striving to maintain that contentment. Lastly, I see someone who is trying to not strive. All the while just being content with the striving and non-striving.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  29. #29

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    Thank you all for your sharing, It appears we all have good reason to keep sitting.
    The response to this thread is wonderful and Thanks to Rimon, I learned a new word
    I hope it wasn't a four letter word ;-D

    Gassho

    Rimon

  30. #30

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Hello friends,

    I'm a little late to the party. ops:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    QUESTION: MAYBE DESCRIBE A TIME IN YOUR LIFE YOU FLOWED WITH LIFE'S EVENTS LIKE A RIVER. MAYBE A TIME YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT.
    Most of the time I try to flow "with life's events like a river" However, the only time that it really happens is when I see that by trying to force it, I'm "swimming against the current." And not in a good way; this whole path of practice could be said to be "swimming against the current" of society by offering an alternative to the systemic delusion, greed, and fear encountered every day.

    No, every time I take that "backwards step" and look at myself, I see that there's a constant, unconscious struggle to fit myself into some ideal; either mine or someone else's. "Am I sitting right?" "Am I working hard enough?" etc. But when I notice this, the whole system comes down. And builds right back up. Again and again, seeing delusion in my thoughts and actions, a thousand times and a thousand times more.

    So, when I try to "flow with life's events" I've learned to see how I'm "swimming against the stream." But when I see how I'm "swimming against the stream," I start to flow like a river.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    QUESTION: LOOK AT YOUR OWN FACE IN THE MIRROR FOR A MINUTE. DESCRIBE THE KIND(S) OF FACE YOU SEE.
    Too much of a good thing (food) always leaves one (me) looking round (like a ball). :shock:

    Seriously, though, looking very carefully I can see very clearly the effect that everything I have ever come into contact with has had; happy and sad times, too much sun and too much food, all recorded and visible in every movement.

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

  31. #31
    disastermouse
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Answer #1:

    When I first came back from art school and began sitting and walking meditation, there was an event that symbolizes 'going with the flow' for me. My father, my brother, and myself were on our way into town one night during a typically sub-zero UP winter driving the old Ford Escort my father had just inherited from his father who had very recently died. We lived way out in the woods at that time and at some point, maybe 3 or 4 miles out from home, the car broke down. I don't remember the nature of the malfunction, but it necessitated abandoning our trip and walking home. My father was pissed and began a tirade of urgent complaints directed at the unreliability of cars in general (He was a mechanic). My father was a world-class complainer - a real champion of the craft. Once he got on a roll, frequently a multi-hour roll, he was like a force of nature. Of course, being the eternally contrary son that I was, I would very often try to inject positive counter-arguments, complaints of my own, anything I could think of to stop the incessant bitching. (Side note: I inherited this trait from him, LOL.) As you might imagine, this only infuriated him all the more. On this particular night, I'd been quite recently enjoying a lot of my meditation. I ignored his complaining and just enjoyed the walk...after a while, I started commenting on how beautiful the night was and how lucky we were to all be walking together (we didn't get very much time like this anymore), I wasn't trying to get my father to stop complaining - for all I cared, he could complain the whole time - I still loved him. I didn't argue with him, I just enjoyed myself. And then something weird happened...my father was silent for awhile, and then before I knew it, we were all laughing and joking.

    As for swimming against the current....let's just say that there's a reason the previous event stands out in my mind.

    Answer #2:

    When I look in the mirror, I see curiosity....but I know that many other faces also appear. I don't even want to try at the koan, sorry.

    Chet

  32. #32

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by shards
    In my mirror I see someone who is content. However, I also see someone who is striving to maintain that contentment. Lastly, I see someone who is trying to not strive. All the while just being content with the striving and non-striving.
    Ditto that -- at least on days when I can go with the flow! (I'm a bit less laid back than you, I think, Shawn!)

  33. #33
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    QUESTION: MAYBE DESCRIBE A TIME IN YOUR LIFE YOU FLOWED WITH LIFE'S EVENTS LIKE A RIVER. MAYBE A TIME YOU FELT LIKE YOU WERE SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT.
    For the majority of my life I have tried desperately to swim against the current and not with it. A view from above would invariably found me flowing with the tide when taking a larger view, but upon closer inspection find that I was doing everything possible to convince myself I was "winning" by swiming upstream. Complete and utter delusion of my true flow with the events of life's river was my constant companion...until finding all of you folks. It is impossible to pinpoint one instance where I did this more than any other as it was a life dedicated to denial and never just allowing myself to be. This was the lesson I was taught as a child and a teaching my parents still follow to this day. I am grateful that Treeleaf and its participants allowed me to see what I had been doing and showed me another path. But it is not like I immediately chose to stop flowing against the tide and never have again. I do it every day! But fortunately for me I have seen that there is a unified river to travel; one that accepts us even when we have fought for so long, accepting us back every time and showing us the way that is clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    QUESTION: LOOK AT YOUR OWN FACE IN THE MIRROR FOR A MINUTE. DESCRIBE THE KIND(S) OF FACE YOU SEE.
    When I went into the bathroom to look at my face and although I look into the mirror every day I'm not sure I had looked at my face in a very long time. Some of this is because of how hurried we are in the morning and night to do other things, but also because I usually don't have my glasses on! I saw some winkles and gray hairs I do not remember being there before, but a hesitance to look deeply was clear. I shall have to try this again sometime...soon. Perhaps I will find even more of interest. But that hesitance is based in the idea that I am ugly. For example, I have never noticed that one of my ears appears significantly lower than the other. However, when I say ugly I speak of something deeper...but I am not ugly nor is anyone really except for that sense of self we dwell in where we tell ourselves lies. Some were told to us by other children, some by adults with so much pain they automatically deflect it onto others. But shall I ever see my true face? I think so...just not yet. Practice, practice.

    Thank you for your teachings.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  34. #34

    Re: 7/15 ZEN SEEDS: P. 11, P. 13 (INTRO)

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    QUESTION: LOOK AT YOUR OWN FACE IN THE MIRROR FOR A MINUTE. DESCRIBE THE KIND(S) OF FACE YOU SEE.
    When I went into the bathroom to look at my face and although I look into the mirror every day I'm not sure I had looked at my face in a very long time. Some of this is because of how hurried we are in the morning and night to do other things, but also because I usually don't have my glasses on! I saw some winkles and gray hairs I do not remember being there before, but a hesitance to look deeply was clear. I shall have to try this again sometime...soon. Perhaps I will find even more of interest. But that hesitance is based in the idea that I am ugly. For example, I have never noticed that one of my ears appears significantly lower than the other. However, when I say ugly I speak of something deeper...but I am not ugly nor is anyone really except for that sense of self we dwell in where we tell ourselves lies. Gassho,
    Dosho
    Dosho, if you are ugly on the outside, you must be be very photogenic and take a great picture! I know from Tea Parties and the sound of your voice that you are definitely not ugly on the inside! Gassho, Grace.

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