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Thread: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Hi all,

    Appetite Is Also a Blessing

    About two years ago, my youngest son was born. The delivery, a c-section, went as smoothly as it could...something my wife and I didn't take for granted because with my oldest my wife pushed for nearly 4 hours and had 3 (yes, I said 3!) botched epidurals. But everything had gone wonderfully and after a very full day we let our newborn sleep in the nursery so we could get some rest ourselves. But in the middle of the night we awoke to some very scary news: Our son was turning blue every time he was fed and was being rushed to the NICU. I'll cut the suspense; he's fine now! He stayed there for a week before we were able to take him home and it wasn't until the last day or so that he had anything to eat. Our doctor only told us later that no one in the NICU, not even the director, had ever seen a case like his where, everytime you tried to feed him, he would turn blue. Eventually they disagnosed him with gastroparesis, a condtion where the contents of his stomach empty very slowly, and developed a method to feed him with bottles designed for premature babies, but for the next two years he didn't even appear on the growth chart. His offical designation for most of those two years? Less than 3rd percentile. At his last visit about two weeks ago? 3rd percentile. He's a small little guy and has a hearty appetite now, but since that time we have never taken having appetite for granted.

    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?

    Plum Blosssoms Open the Early Spring

    We have all at one time or another thought of things that would make us happier. As pointed out in this section, money can seem like a very global elixir since its reach extends not just into material goods, but also in the longing for fame and status. Before coming to practice I searched long and hard for every new toy that could make me happy. When I was a child, it was actual toys. As an adult, it was the best food, the nicest car, the cleanest house. But even the best tasting food would just make me want more, the new car would lose its luster, and the clean house would just wait until it was dirty again. It was as if I were trying to fill a hole that could never be filled. But even as I learned about zazen and was welcomed into the sangha here at Treeleaf, there continues to be a longing for something I feel my life has lacked: Friendship. It is a worthy goal, especially as part of our sangha, but will finding a "best friend" fill the empty hole I often feel inside me? I have heard other people, even here at Treeleaf, refer to the friends they have in their daily lives as their "real" friends. But if tomorrow all your friends were gone and no one else wanted to be your friend, would you feel whole? This is a tough one since you can always make a new friend, but what if you couldn't? And I don't mean if you were stranded on a desert island. What if you were constantly surrounded by people, but none ever extended their hand in friendship? Could you be whole? I have to logically answer, "Yes." And I would try to embrace it with open arms, but could you? The human, non-logical, part of me isn't quite so sure!

    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?

    Thank you all for your practice...deep bows.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  2. #2

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Appetite Is Also a Blessing
    As i get older my own body is teaching me not to take things for granted, but its nothing compared to the story of your little boy, Dosho. Nothing is for sure, except the end of our lives in this body. And still, I take almost everything for granted, my health, waking up in the morning, a nice breakfast, my job. Why is this so ? I dont know. However, I think its even ok to take things as they are, as long as we not make a drama when things change, and suddenly something is not available anymore.

    Plum Blosssoms Open the Early Spring
    I have certain times where I just need to buy something. I know its crazy, i know it makes me happy only for a short while, but I feel a strong desire. I tried to fight it, but that was not satisfying. I'm not buying expensive stuff anyway, but I do not because its really needed but because there is a desire, or call it hope for happiness. Its not working of course, and I think when I gone through that process for some time, always experiencing my desire and disappointment later on (after the short period of happiness), it eventually will get better.

    _()_
    Peter

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Appetite Is Also a Blessing
    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?

    Dosho thank you for sharing the story of your son! I have two answers to this question. The first one from my own experience the second what I have learned from the experience of others.

    My own experience.
    My infancy is similar(though not as severe) as Dosho's son. When I was born I hungered but became ill everytime I ate. Turns out I had MANY allergies. I was Lactose intolerance(had to have soy milk), had other food and sun allergies, etc. Bottom line is without the vitamin D from the sun and lack of proper nutrition I was very small and sickly. So hunger and the ability to properly satisfy it is truly a gift. Which leads me to my next answer.

    Learning from the experience of others.
    As I've mentioned before I work in the kitchen of hospital. Just seeing what some people are reduced to eating is enough to be grateful for my appetite! From clear liquids 3 meals a day, pureed food, or worst yet, tube feedings. I see people who will stay with us for 3 months or more and only get tube feedings the whole time
    Even my wife, while pregnant, had hyperemesis(a condition of severe "morning sickness") and was unable to eat or even keep fluids down for 3 months. Honestly I never would have believed you could get sooooooo sick from pregnancy if I hadn't seen her vomiting 20+ times a day! She lost over 20% of her body mass and we had to have her on a TPN(meaning she was slowly fed and hydrated intravenously 16 hours a day, every day) for those 3 months. With nothing by mouth for so long her hunger manifested into her having dreams about food. But every time she would try to eat, there was always something in the dream which prevented it. It Reminds me of the hungry ghost realm in Buddhist teaching.

    Gassho,
    John

  4. #4

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    But even as I learned about zazen and was welcomed into the sangha here at Treeleaf, there continues to be a longing for something I feel my life has lacked: Friendship. It is a worthy goal, especially as part of our sangha, but will finding a "best friend" fill the empty hole I often feel inside me?
    Dosho, isn't your wife your friend? In my life, I have found that you don't have many deep friends like the kind you are idealizing. It's just like with wives , there isn't time. But even the unidealized kind of friends are good, too. I think you might also find that these friends, even as they may become separated from you over time or distance, still have feelings for you that are still there--frozen in time. I know if any of my friends were to come and ask me for anything, even after many, many years, I would still feel the same toward them and would do everything I possibly could to help them, even though I may not have spoken with them in decades. All friends are different, and the idealized friend doesn't really exist, though the closest would be your wife or husband.

    In answer to your first question: I thought that my brother would always love me. Now he hangs up if I call. He’ll probably never talk to me again, and there is probably nothing that I can ever do about it. Long story, but I think he has gone off the deep end mentally. He won’t even let his wife talk to me, even though we had also been close, and I also feel this loss. (There go two of my best friends.)

    I have been married 33 years. Before, I have always been 100% sure that my husband will always love me, even if I am a success or failure, young or old, fat or skinny, pretty or ugly. This experience with my brother has made me realize I can take nothing for granted. My husband and I are very lucky now.

    I don't know what to say about your second question: As with a lot of people, I think that I would be able to be really happy if I only had success, health, money, time, freedom, and a great body! :lol: Because I am almost really, really happy now!

    Thanks for your thoughful quesitons, Grace.

  5. #5

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Appetite Is Also a Blessing

    if you can't taste, it doesnt matter if its the juiciest in the world.
    And it would be the sweetest if there weren't the sourest, will you taste that to?

    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?

    Yes, every moment.
    But especially, From a Treeleaf standpoint, The Treeleaf Teaparties, which happen each sunday, and each one unique, new and a good practice.

    Plum Blosssoms Open the Early Spring

    The way to escape unhappiness is to not seek happiness.
    If you want one, you will get the opposite as well.

    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?

    Yes.
    I have those moments when i really want something, and then "take a step back" and kind of see if i really want/need it.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  6. #6

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Hello Dosho,

    thank you for your very intriguing questions. My answer was just swallowed somehow by the forum software So I guess I'll try to re-write what I had written once more tomorrow.

    Have a great weekend!

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  7. #7

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    It Reminds me of the hungry ghost realm in Buddhist teaching.

    Gassho,
    John
    That's what I was thinking as well. That too much desire of wishing things were some other way leads to Dukkha, but that doesn't mean we should kill desire (or appetite). Just like with appetite; sometimes we can eat too much, or buy too much or whatever, but we should be thankful for that appetite. It keeps us alive but let loose, it can keep us in chains.

    Thank you Dosho and John for sharing your experience! Having a loved-one in ill health is no fun. I can't imagine what it must be like having your child in that position.

    Appetite Is Also a Blessing

    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?

    I take things for granted every day. I try to chant the meal gatha before every meal. What I can get in excess and for like 30% of my income, others in the world cannot get at all, or it costs them much, much more. I think our daily liturgy is important as it helps us take time to be thankful for what we have. Zazen itself (and this practice) is a thankfulness for this life, not taking it for granted that we have the capability to stop being so self-destructive and destructive to others through greed, anger and ignorance.

    But yes, I get caught up in the moment. When I'm cognizant enough, I try to remind myself of how lucky I am to have a job to complain about, or have enough food to be angry that I overate or be thankful that I have food at all and I don't have to worry where my next meal is coming from, be thankful that I have all the senses and bodily abilities that I do which not everyone does. Thankful that I have a loving wife and family and friends. The list goes on and on.


    Plum Blosssoms Open the Early Spring

    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?

    Like Peter said, I too look at consumerism as an emotional relief. I do that with food and alcohol as well. I even do that with Zen. Maybe if I were enlightened I wouldn't have any more problems. But happiness is to be found within the "problems" we have. And if we flow with the stream (from a previous reading) and take ourselves out of being the perceived center of the universe, these problems add a richness. Problems at work, for instance, are a double-edged sword. On one hand they get frustrating; on the other hand, without them my job would be boring. Solving those problems is a lot of the fun.. in life too; although, I don't if solving is the right wording... more like getting out of the way to observe what is happening.

    I thought Julia mentioned this blog in another post, but I really like "Breathe Zen Habits", and I've been reading more on minimalism which is an anti-consumerism movement. I guess you could say now I'm trying to find happiness by getting rid of stuff, but that's not the point. And I surely have not gotten rid of stuff yet. I do have strong attachments to my material possessions but they are loosening. In any case, I think a lot of our "problems" are self-imposed. And I really do believe that a lot of my problems stem from consumerism. We already have enough; the challenge for me is actually realizing that instead of constantly searching. That searching can get tiring. But I guess that is part of the practice... just wear that searching out until one realizes how futile it is.

    Anyway, enough of my rambling this Sunday morning

    Gassho,

    Risho

  8. #8
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Mongen wrote:
    My answer was just swallowed somehow by the forum software
    I find the irony that your very post on appetite was swallowed by the software, most interesting.
    There's definitely a profound teaching in this little accident!

    Gassho,
    John

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    We can all relate and learn from Dosho's experience. Thank you Scott for sharing that. And, thank you all for your contributions and practice.

    Last evening an F2/3 Tornado devastated the downtown area of Goderich, a small city 100 km north of here. By the miracle of a cell phone call that slipped out before the area's infrastructure caved to the pressures of hydro outages, fallen trees and phone demand, we heard that our nephew's family was unharmed. Shortly after, I was summoned to our back deck by my best friend and teacher (spelled w-i-f-e) to see the most beautiful rainbow I can recall; especially as it's purple band was shockingly vivid. We stood and watched as it faded away and felt renewed. Moments later, we discovered the moon flower which our daughter-in-law had given us back in May and had so far done exceedingly nothing, had blossomed.

    and this morning, one of Canada's foremost politcal leaders, Jack Layton has succumbed to cancer; may he now rest.

    Lesson of the day: none of us can afford to take the least phenomena for granted

  10. #10

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Gassho Shokai. Your words always touch me.

    Risho

  11. #11
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Your words always touch me.
    I agree. Sometimes they touch the heart, others, they tickle the funny bone
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Gassho,
    John

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    What better place to tickle you my darlings :roll: :roll: :roll: :lol: :lol:

    [a page straight out of Goldilocks]

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Appetite is Also a Blessing

    I was thinking about this one today as I saw an acquaintance who has not been able to eat solid food or keep anything down for months. It started shortly after she had gallbladder surgery, so everyone assumed something went wrong there, even though the doctors couldn't figure it out. A recent last-ditch effort of going to a chiropractor revealed that the vertebrae in the base of her neck are straight where they should be curved, putting some pressure on her brain (she had been in a car accident a year ago). So treatment there has been a bit helpful so far. I've never had anything quite so serious, maybe a nasty bout of stomach flu once, but I remember the joy of being able to eat again without feeling sick. Or swallowing without pain--I had strep throat once and it was awful.

    There isn't any one specific thing that has taught me not to take things for granted . . . it's a lesson I learn over and over. I do know that the recent economy crash and all the lost homes and jobs have made me very, very grateful for what I do have, even if it is modest.

    Plum Blossoms Open the Early Spring

    Something that could bring me happiness . . . I sometimes think I should have written Some Brilliant Novel by now and be A Brilliant Voice of My Generation, but I am still just an asshole who writes greeting cards from time to time on a freelance basis. (Speaking of gratitude, I like getting checks in the mail, which I rarely got writing short stories!) Some times I have a great day with my husband or my friends and I wonder if some kind of professional success could make me any happier (and having seen enough documentaries on brilliant writers, I really, really doubt it. :roll: ) And yet . . . and yet . . .

    All good practice.

    Gassho

    Jen

  14. #14
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?
    I went on a medication that gave me panic attacks for about two weeks near the beginning of the month. I am still having residual anxiety over the tiniest changes, and it has really challenged my practice. I have stopped the medication. Now, feeling "normal" is such a blessing-- I need nothing else! Regaining my appetite has also been a blessing, as my weight dropped to ninety-five pounds at that time.

    Also, the death of my Papa (grandfather), Nonie (great-grandmother), and my boyfriend's Papa (grandfather) over three consecutive years shocked me so horribly into reality that now I don't ever take a moment with a loved one for granted. Thank you, Papas and Nonie, for your lives and your deaths. _/_

    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho
    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?
    My own home... even better, a farm... with my boyfriend... who I would like to be my husband... those things.

  15. #15

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Appetite is also a blessing:

    I can't think of a specific instance, but more often than not life gives me a good old slap on the back of the head saying, "APPRECIATE IT D*MNIT". Everyone is our teacher, and thus we should consider everything a blessing.

    Plum Blossoms Open in Early Spring:

    I'm newly single, and college has just come back into session, so of course I think every attractive girl will make me happy! It's just a matter of childish possessiveness fueled by raging hormones but man, does it ever feel real sometimes :P Really though, I have my toys that I think make life better, easier, more complete. But spending time away in a country where so many have so little, has left me with a different perspective. I've seen what damage (socially, economically, and environmentally) this idea of "gimme gimme gimme!" has done, and I'm a bit tired of it. But, we move on.

  16. #16

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    I am about to turn 43 years old. When I look back in my life and see what I have achieve, I feel very disappointed at myself. All I am going towards, now, I think that I should have done 20 years ago. That is the voice reverberating in my mind. The self-disappointment is so much, that even if I achieve all I wanted it would not be enough to satisfy me, because, saying once again, I feel like I should have achieved all those things long ago. This mind of mine is a hungry ghost for sure, saying to himself that even if he eats all he wants, he still won't be satisfied. Maybe the satisfaction of a hungry ghost is on being eternally hungry, and building pride on it. Strange, isn't it?

    That is no shame in suffering, because every suffers in a way or another. The problem is to become attached to suffering, and looking at it as a source of self worth.

  17. #17

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Zen_Fire,
    I can relate to what you report; being 46 I at times felt I wasted large parts of my life. But thats not the case, never,
    I'm sure we just not have been ready earlier. And there is no reason to be sad about it; in many ways. Not only we can
    be lucky to have met the teaching of the buddha at all, we also should not compare ourselves to other, or to what might
    have happend. Such comparison can make us feel unworthy, but thats just some thought of our mind. At least I feel so.
    When thinking this way, there is always something that could have went better, no ?
    _()_
    Peter

  18. #18
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    Sometimes I feel I should be farther in my life too. I made a lot of mistakes when I was young but all I can do now is learn from my past. I try to make most of life and do the best I can without dwelling on what could have been. What matters is what I do now, in this moment.

    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?

    When I hear stories from my mother-in-law about all the things she and her family went through (I won't get into any detail), I try not to take for granted what life has given me. She has experienced many turmoils but continues to take everything in stride with unwavering strength and peace. She is not a Buddhist but has a natural Zen-like presence with the capacity to find humor in any situation. It is very inspiring and keeps me in perspective that I am lucky to have a loving husband who is there for me and our family.

    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?

    I really enjoy my career but I wonder if this the "right" career for me and would be happier doing something else. I am a good designer but sometimes I feel this is not my true path. Or am I just being overly judgmental of myself?

    Thanks,
    Jodi

  19. #19
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    I just wish to keep my appetite for shikantaza and this practice.... and to let go my appetite for suffering!

    When 'plum blossoms open the early spring' this one reality becomes spring... blossoming in an ever flowering universe.

  20. #20

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?
    Yup: my wife. From Aoyama, page 17, in "Loving":

    To paraphrase Rabindranath Tagore, "May my loving you not become a burden to you, for I have freely chosen to love you."
    One could add "All that I care for and everyone I love is of the nature of change" and get the gist.

    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?
    Yup: "I".

  21. #21

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?

    I think that every time I hear of someone who has went through a divorce or has had problems with their children I am thankful for my immediate family. Sometimes divorce cannot be prevented, but it seems to cause so much pain for so many couples and children as well. Of course with abusive relationships and such it may relieve suffering. I am just glad our family has had such good fortune and my wife and I have a great relationship with our daughter. I am especially grateful when we have experienced loss.

    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?

    We are experiencing many problems with my father as I have taken over his finances and it has been a mess. He has been argumentative and has said many mean and hurtful things to my wife and myself. I think sometimes that if we just didn't have this burden, which consumes much time and energy, we would be much happier. If he would have been a better father to me, I would be more well adjusted....etc... But then I think that these experiences make up who I am. Put another way these experiences make up what is right now...it is just there in front of me. I find it comforting to just accept "this" right now as it is and all that goes along with "it." Somewhat as was discussed in last weeks example of going along with the flow of the river.

    Gassho,
    Jisen/BrianW

  22. #22

    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?

    I recently donated my car to someone in need and now take the city bus to and from work (we now have a one car household). I can safely say that I will never take having a car for granted again. Most of the passengers on the bus in my city ride because they have no other choice. Many are elderly, or cannot afford cars. Now, every time I sit behind the wheel of our other car, I remind myself how lucky I am.

    QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?

    I don't ever want to "Keep up with the Joneses", but I still envy them. I don't think that will ever change. Nice cars, nice houses, nice clothes--of course these things are attractive. I have come to understand they don't bring satisfaction or peace, but that doesn't mean they aren't attractive. I admit to still daydreaming from time to time about winning the lottery, moving to some private island, being waited on hand and foot. But then I snap out of it.

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: 8/19 - Zen Seeds: Pgs 23-25

    I recently bought a $98 Ralph Lauren Polo shirt for $19.95 on sale @ Macy's. I washed it yesterday and it came out covered in lint. Almost heart broken, i spent one hour with a roll of tape. Namu kie ... kept repeating in my brain. I managed to ignore the noise and once again have a spiffy lookin' shirt. :roll: Hey, it's soft and confortable and feels real good :lol:

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