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Thread: Don't meditate, just sit.

  1. #1

    Don't meditate, just sit.

    A thought from one of the successors of Joko Beck. How often do we sit down to zazen and begin "meditating"? The word carries a heavy burden of stigma and expectations. Instead of meditating, just sit. Sit sit sit sit sit.

    Nothing special.

  2. #2

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Indeed!! if you do not mind I will toss in an extra
    Just sit,
    and that everything is sacred and very special!!

    Thank you for this very timely reminder Myoken!


    Gassho
    Shohei

  3. #3
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thank you Myoken, meditation is extra.
    That lineage of simplicity to which we belong has a taste of fresh water, deep woods and nice clouds crusing along.
    Meditation is something for spiritual VIPs and inspired egos.
    All we do is to sit anywhere like fools and cats.
    It sounds simple and very childish and we all know that nothing can be more difficult.

    gassho


    Taigu

  4. #4
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Deep gassho for that.

    Julia

  5. #5

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Meow!

    Rimon

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thank you Myoken.

    I some times forget to see things in a more simple way, just for what they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    All we do is to sit anywhere like fools and cats.
    Taigu: I was just thinking about that yesterday. A cat just sits wherever it wants for hours if it wants to. Why can't I do that too? A lot of lessons from Tesla, my cat.


  7. #7

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thanks Taylor and all who've commented.
    I've just finished reading William Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy". Irvine came to Stoicism through Zen. Although he sees many similarities between the Stoics and Zen, he says that he couldn't come to grips with just sitting and "emptying the mind". He likes the analytical side of Stoic spiritual exercises better.
    Well, I think Stoicism is admirable, but I'd have to say that, at the end of a day occupied largely in analysis, I find "just sitting" the very thing I want and need to do.
    Horses for courses, perhaps.

  8. #8

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Hello,

    thanks for the wonderful cat picture. I'll have to upload some of my recent "portrait" photographs soonish.

    I might pose as a 33 year old male Unsui, but truly, when the night falls, I am the secret super hero called "mad cat lady!!".



    [/quote]


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  9. #9
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    This is a great thread!
    Gassho

  10. #10
    Friend of Treeleaf Daido's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    From Fukanzazengi

    Think of not thinking. Not thinking: What kind of thinking is that? Letting thoughts go (Nonthinking). This is the essential art of zazen. ??Zazen is not a meditation technique. It is simply the Dharma gate of joyful ease, it is practicing the realization of the boundless Dharma way. Here, the open mystery manifests, and there are no more traps and snares for you to get caught in.??If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true Dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.?

  11. #11

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Gassho everyone!

    Tesla the cat. I love that

    Edit:
    At first when I read thsi post, I didn't know what to write. I usually say meditate, but now I'm going to say Just Sit and mean it. After Taigu's response about just sitting like cats and fools, that hammered it home.

    Sitting like a fool,
    Is the true way to sit,
    Meditating to get it,
    is the way of a fool.

    Ok, I know I'm no poet. lol Just was inspired by everyone :mrgreen:

    Gassho,

    Risho

  12. #12
    disastermouse
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by chocobuda
    Thank you Myoken.

    I some times forget to see things in a more simple way, just for what they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    All we do is to sit anywhere like fools and cats.
    Taigu: I was just thinking about that yesterday. A cat just sits wherever it wants for hours if it wants to. Why can't I do that too? A lot of lessons from Tesla, my cat.

    You're cat's name is Tesla? That's pretty friggin' awesome. /threadjack

    Chet

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    thank you Myoken and Choco, somewhere in our house we have a sign that says, "If you want the best seat in the house, move the cat!"

  14. #14

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    I think meditation is great and has it's time and place.

    But yes, zazen is not meditation. Just you sitting zazen, and zazen sitting you... zazen sitting zazen... zazen... poof!

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thanks, guys! Her name is Tesla because here we are huge fans of science. So naming the cat after our favorite mad scientist was a no-brainer.

    And yes, I love the way cats just sit for hours. Sometimes they sleep all day, but sometimes they just stare at space for hours. I need to learn to do that. :P

  16. #16
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thank you Mike foe the quote!

    And once again thanks Shokai for the laugh...always welcomed.

    Gassho
    Shawn

    Sent from my I897 using Tapatalk

  17. #17

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Well...to some point I think you're right in making a distinction between "Zazen" and "Meditation".

    At the same time I think "just sit there like a fool" doesn't hit what Zazen is at all. If you would tell someone who is completely new to meditation/zen/buddhism/zazen to "just sit there in the posture and that's it!" that person would sit there and simply daydream.

    That's why you probably will tell a beginner to sit there and when he/she gets "distracted" from "just sitting" into daydreaming to wake up and come back to "just sitting", letting go the thoughts whatever they are, without trying to chase them away.

    To do so you need some kind of awareness of what's going on in your mind, otherwise you would not be able to notice that you just got lost in thought or that your posture is off.

    And well...now we're no longer that far away from "meditation" or mindfulness practice or whatever you want to call it anymore. It's for sure not just "sitting there like a fool". You're training your mind/awareness while sitting there...

    Just my thoughts on this

    Take care,

    Daniel

  18. #18

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by danny
    Well...to some point I think you're right in making a distinction between "Zazen" and "Meditation".

    At the same time I think "just sit there like a fool" doesn't hit what Zazen is at all. If you would tell someone who is completely new to meditation/zen/buddhism/zazen to "just sit there in the posture and that's it!" that person would sit there and simply daydream.

    That's why you probably will tell a beginner to sit there and when he/she gets "distracted" from "just sitting" into daydreaming to wake up and come back to "just sitting", letting go the thoughts whatever they are, without trying to chase them away.
    It is a subtle art, this sitting non-sitting. We do not try to quiet the mind, nor do we leave our self to get lost in distraction ... rather like letting turbulent water settle neither by shaking the jar nor by aggressively trying to pat the water smooth and flat with one's hand. Just let it settle of its own accord. What is more, though we allow the stillness of mind to happen naturally by our "doing nothing", we simultaneously let the water be just what it is ... a Stillness (capital 'S') ultimately not dependent even on being outwardly quiet and still ... for water is always pure water, whether frozen or flat or moving in waves or even as a violent Tsunami! :cry: I spoke about that a bit in yesterday's Xin Xin Ming talk ...

    viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4250

    Zazen is not "meditation" because we do not try to attain something, change something, run towards some special state. Yet, in this "not running" we thus attain a very special state, and the change is revolutionary, becoming one and whole with the stillness that is change! Funny how that works!

    I often say this:

    So, if someone were to think I am saying, "All you need to do in Zazen is sit down on one's hindquarters, and that's enough ... just twiddle your thumbs in the 'Cosmic Mudra' and you are Buddha" then, respectfully, I believe they do not get my point. But if they understand, "There is absolutely no place to be, where one needs to be or elsewhere where one can be, than on that Zafu in that moment, and that moment itself is all complete, all-encompassing, always at home, the total doing of All Life, Time and Space fully realized" ... they are closer to the flavor. . Then, if they rise up from the Zafu ... sensing that they are "Buddha" ... and then try to act in life a bit more how a Buddha would act, they get the point.

    This is the truly amazing Koan of "goalless Just Sitting" ... Our way of sitting is sitting as a totally Whole and Complete Action ... but that does not mean we fall into complacency on the cushion. We sit "with the Mudra" perfectly round ... not twiddling our thumbs.

    Zazen seeks no change, needs no change, is complete and whole ... and that realization works a revolutionary change. ...

    Does that make sense ... in a Zenny way?
    Gassho, Jundo

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Danny wrote:
    If you would tell someone who is completely new to meditation/zen/buddhism/zazen to "just sit there in the posture and that's it!" that person would sit there and simply daydream.
    Hi Daniel,

    In modern times, especially in the west, there is much direction(perhaps to much?) on how to sit for new students. But, from my understanding, this typically wasn't the case in Zen of "yesteryear" where students coming into the monastery would plainly be told to just sit without all the fancy explanation(if any at all!). I think the idea behind it was that the more information you give to weigh their minds down with, the further you pull them away from the essence of Shikantaza.

    Gassho,
    John

  20. #20

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    A brillant Koan indeed

    Sit and see for yourself...

  21. #21

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thanks for your input/answers. I agree to most of it.

    My point was more directing into that we shikantaza-zen-guys are probably not as special and different from other "meditators" as we often think or would like to be. For sure Dogen and others had their very own way of showing how to sit but when it comes down to it, what we actually do is not that different from other schools of sitting.

    We just have a somehow very own way to explain it I think (and I think that's good basically if we don't think we're too special because of this)

    Take care,

    Danny

  22. #22
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    How often do we sit down to zazen and begin "meditating"?
    Coming from a Yoga background, this happens to me a lot! :lol: Most of the meditation I've had experience with prior to Zazen have all had a goal of some kind attached to them, whether it is imagining golden light, or going on some kind of creative visualization. So yeah, sometimes when I sit Zazen, I do it with that goal to "meditate," as if I'm doing something! :roll:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike
    From Fukanzazengi

    Think of not thinking. Not thinking: What kind of thinking is that? Letting thoughts go (Nonthinking). This is the essential art of zazen. ??Zazen is not a meditation technique. It is simply the Dharma gate of joyful ease, it is practicing the realization of the boundless Dharma way. Here, the open mystery manifests, and there are no more traps and snares for you to get caught in.??If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true Dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.?
    _/_

    Saved to my collection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    It is a subtle art, this sitting non-sitting. We do not try to quiet the mind, nor do we leave our self to get lost in distraction ... rather like letting turbulent water settle neither by shaking the jar nor by aggressively trying to pat the water smooth and flat with one's hand. Just let it settle of its own accord. What is more, though we allow the stillness of mind to happen naturally by our "doing nothing", we simultaneously let the water be just what it is ... a Stillness (capital 'S') ultimately not dependent even on being outwardly quiet and still ... for water is always pure water, whether frozen or flat or moving in waves or even as a violent Tsunami!...
    _/_ Thank you, Jundo, I saved some words from this too.

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    I think the idea behind it was that the more information you give to weigh their minds down with, the further you pull them away from the essence of Shikantaza.
    I feel there is a lot of truth to this-- I sat better when I knew less about sitting! 8)

  23. #23

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Hellos to all posting here!


    When I first started sitting regularly, the directive "SIT!" would come to mind.
    Sometimes I'd want to jump off that zafu and jump out of my skin...I had an image of myself, holding my hand out like a dog training and said (to myself sitting) 'Stay.... Staaaaay...Staaaaaaaaaay.'
    It was helpful.
    A bit silly, but helpful. This business of "SIT!" and "Staaaaaaay...." didn't last very long, but during the time period it was around, it was helpful.

    In my experience, it takes a long time to find out what 'just sitting' is. It is very likely I will come to the conclusion of this particular life without anywhere near coming to know what it is....and yet, never having been far from it!

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    I sometimes wonder what my dog thinks when told to sit. However, He sure likes to get in on the goings-on when I sit zazen

    He's a 12 yr old, 75 lb puppy that likes to sit in my lap during zazen !

    Do you think dogs have Buddha nature? :lol:

  25. #25
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    I just read this in "The path is the goal" by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I love his exaggerations :wink:

    Let us discuss the term meditation at this point. When we talk about the practice of meditation, we are talking about a way of being. Unfortunately, the term meditation is not quite an adequate translation of the Sanskrit term dhyana or samadhi. Whenever we use a verbal form like “to meditate” or “meditating,” that automatically invites the question “What are you meditating upon?” or “What are you meditating in?” That is a common question that always comes up. But according to the Buddha’s philosophy, there is no verb “to meditate.” There is just a noun, “meditation.” There’s no meditating. You don’t meditate, but you be in a state of meditation. You might find it very hard to swallow this distinction. We have a linguistic, a grammatical problem here. Meditating is not part of the Buddhist vocabulary, but meditation is.

    “Meditation” is a noun that denotes that you are being in a state of meditation already. Whereas “meditating” gives the idea of an activity that’s taking place all the time, that you’re meditating on this or that, concentrating on flickering candlelight, watching an incense stick burning, listening to your pulse, your heartbeat, listening to the inner tunes of your mantric utterance going on in your head—whatever. But according to the buddhadharma, meditation is a simple factor. You don’t meditate, you just be in the meditation. Dhyana is a noun rather than a verb. It refers to being in a state of dhyana, rather than “dhyana-ing.” Meditation in this case has no object, no purpose, no reference point. It is simply individuals willing to take a discipline on themselves, not to please God or the Buddha or their teacher or themselves. Rather one just sits, one holds oneself together. One sits a certain length of time. One just simply sits without aim, object, purpose, without anything at all. Nothing whatsoever. One just sits.

    You might ask, “Then what does one do if one sits? Shouldn’t one be doing something? Or is one just sitting there hanging out?” Well, there’s a difference between sitting and “hanging out” in the American idiom. The term hanging out means something like “grooving on your scene.” And sitting is just being there like a piece of rock or a disused coffee cup sitting on the table. So meditation is not regarded as hanging out but just sitting and being, simply.

    Questions often come up like, "Why the hell am I doing this, behaving like an idiot, just sitting?" And people also experience a lot of resentment. But If we learn to sit properly, thoroughly, and fully, that is the best thing we could do at this point.

    Before we discuss techniques, let us point out the very merit and sanity and wakefulness you are going to get out of this, out of just simply being willing to sit like a piece of rock. It's fantastically powerful. It overrides the atom bomb. It's extraordinarily powerful that we decide just to sit, not hang out or perch, but just to sit on a meditation cushion. Such a brave attitude, such a wonderful commitment is magnificent. It is very sane, extraordinarily sane.

    It is outrageous [to sit on a cushion without any purpose]. Nobody would actually ever do that. We can't even think about it. It's unthinkable. It's terrible - we would be wasting our time.

    Now there's the point - wasting our time. Maybe that's a good one, wasting our time. Give time a rest. Let it be wasted. Create virgin time, uncontaminated time, time that hasn't been hassled by aggression, passion, and speed. Let us create pure time. Sit and create pure time.
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=r6KG...ots=BC4fRDyTTR

  26. #26
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    I sometimes wonder what my dog thinks when told to sit. However, He sure likes to get in on the goings-on when I sit zazen
    My poor doggie makes annoyed noises at me, wondering if I'm okay. :lol:

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    Do you think dogs have Buddha nature? :lol:
    MU

    :P

  27. #27

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo
    It is outrageous [to sit on a cushion without any purpose]. Nobody would actually ever do that. We can't even think about it. It's unthinkable. It's terrible - we would be wasting our time.
    Sounds familiar!

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny
    My point was more directing into that we shikantaza-zen-guys are probably not as special and different from other "meditators" as we often think or would like to be. For sure Dogen and others had their very own way of showing how to sit but when it comes down to it, what we actually do is not that different from other schools of sitting.
    From a certain perspective, I'd kind of agree. After all, look at the excerpt Nindo posted above. That's a Vajrayana guy... yet everything he writes sounds just like a description of zazen...

  28. #28

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    The practice itself doesn't matter. Its the intention to grow that is of importance. Because the practice can't do anything for you. Its what happens to you that is different. Eventually the practice becomes so annoying, so utterly frustrating that you surrender, you give up. It is then that you will really start to practice, because it is then that the ego has dropped.
    The practice remains the same, but how we engage it will be different.

    And this can happen with anything. If we are committed to grow, then all of life is our path, and anything, even the things we think are bad can helps us to grow.

    The point is not to deny anything. Not to take anything out, just look and see.

    The knots will untangle themselves in due time...

  29. #29

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trungpa
    You don’t meditate, you just be in the meditation. Dhyana is a noun rather than a verb. It refers to being in a state of dhyana, rather than “dhyana-ing.” Meditation in this case has no object, no purpose, no reference point. ...

    Questions often come up like, "Why the hell am I doing this, behaving like an idiot, just sitting?" And people also experience a lot of resentment. But If we learn to sit properly, thoroughly, and fully, that is the best thing we could do at this point.
    Thank you for this. Trungpa could be very "Shikantaza" in his descriptions. He was good friends with Suzuki Roshi too. One thing, though, is that I have heard other teachers describe Zazen and all of reality (not two, by the way) as a VERB ... ongoing, action, lively, the dancing of emptiness ... more than a fixed, categorized NOUN!

    They have a good perspective as well for, after all ... Truth is each and all (shining in/as/right through adverbs and adjectives too!), as well as beyond all words and phrases! 8)

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    The practice itself doesn't matter. Its the intention to grow that is of importance. ... If we are committed to grow, then all of life is our path, and anything, even the things we think are bad can helps us to grow.
    Ah, it is good to have intentions in life and in our Zen practice (not two, by the way). Intentions are needed, or else we might not even bother to crawl out of bed and head to the Zafu each day (let alone pay the rent and feed the babies).

    But ... do plants and trees grow because they have "intentions"? Do clouds "try" to float through the sky? Do mountains 'mountain' and become mountains because they have intention to be better or grander mountains? They do just fine as they are. So, when we sit ... and in all of life ... perhaps we must do so more with such "non-intentions" ... as tall and full of life as trees, floating like clouds unobstructed even by the mountains, sitting as vibrant mountains living grand as they are.

    When the ego finally drops ... and the knots untangle ... perhaps this is what is realized.

    Some fellow wiser than you (named Seiryu on another thread) 8) wrote ...

    What dualities exist from the perspective of the water and clouds?
    Are we just those very water and clouds ourselves...?
    Wanting to see things clearly as oppose to seeing things un-clearly
    you fall deeper into the well.
    When we see with our full body and mind, through the eyes of the trees and great oceans,
    what do you see? Is it clear or unclear?


    (I would write more ... but I must move on, so much to get done today to pay the rent and feed the babies).

    Gassho, J

  30. #30

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    I'm a very logical (and cynical sometimes) person, and I have hang ups. Those hang ups definitely express themselves in my habitual responses to things and my misunderstanding of the Dharma.

    Please forgive the tone of my question. I am sincere and do not mean any cynicism or sarcasm (although I am very much of both and have really great impromptu humor based on that.. well my wife doesn't always laugh but I do. :mrgreen But is it a fair comparison to compare human beings, with consciousness, to something like mountains and clouds? I remember Jesus says that in The Bible, and I'm paraphrasing, something about the lilies in the field don't worry, so why do you? But the lilies in the field do not have a mind or consciousness. The mountains and clouds don't either. Maybe they do, I don't know... But even if they do it's impossible for me to really know what they are doing anyway. Mountains just do what mountains do because they are mountains. There is no thinking. We don't want to take the example that way right? I mean thinking is a good thing, unless we become imprisoned by it.

    If we separate our intentions from ourselves, we really never act. We just sit around twiddling our thumbs. If we just act blindly then we are just acting without any point to our action. But if we merge both intent with action, then that's the sweet spot. Is that the point? Is that what is meant by non-intention?

    Gassho,

    Risho

  31. #31

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    I'm a very logical (and cynical sometimes) person, and I have hang ups. Those hang ups definitely express themselves in my habitual responses to things and my misunderstanding of the Dharma.

    Please forgive the tone of my question. I am sincere and do not mean any cynicism or sarcasm (although I am very much of both and have really great impromptu humor based on that.. well my wife doesn't always laugh but I do. :mrgreen But is it a fair comparison to compare human beings, with consciousness, to something like mountains and clouds? I remember Jesus says that in The Bible, and I'm paraphrasing, something about the lilies in the field don't worry, so why do you? But the lilies in the field do not have a mind or consciousness. The mountains and clouds don't either. Maybe they do, I don't know... But even if they do it's impossible for me to really know what they are doing anyway. Mountains just do what mountains do because they are mountains. There is no thinking. We don't want to take the example that way right? I mean thinking is a good thing, unless we become imprisoned by it.

    If we separate our intentions from ourselves, we really never act. We just sit around twiddling our thumbs. If we just act blindly then we are just acting without any point to our action. But if we merge both intent with action, then that's the sweet spot. Is that the point? Is that what is meant by non-intention?

    Gassho,

    Risho
    Philosophy has a tendency to mess with our head so I am in accord.

    Nothing wrong with comparing ourselves with mountains and clouds, because those mountains and clouds are our very body, They are our very mind. They are a part of us. When you look at a mountain, you see an image essentially being reflected by your eye. In part, the mountain you see is simply your very mind's mountain not the mountain in itself.

    Comparing to mountains and clouds is that it teaches us not to look for any point, because there is none, that’s the beauty of it, that there is no point. Our whole lives we are brought up to look for the point in things, to constantly look for some future moment instead of looking at what is in front of us now. To see the present, to see the now, is to truly see the world we live in, not the world we think we live in. A mountain just is, a cloud just is, yet we run from that, we run from just being. We wish to be something else, somewhere else. Lets us be like the mountain and just be open to what is.

    Just some thoughts...

  32. #32

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thank you Seiryu... That does make sense.

    P.S. I thought I remember you saying you are a Philosophy major; I was a Philosophy major as well. They've warped us. hahaha

    Gassho,

    Risho

  33. #33

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Deep gassho for this reminder. Just.Sit!

  34. #34
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    The point is not to deny anything. Not to take anything out, just look and see.

    The knots will untangle themselves in due time...
    Unrelated to the thread, reading this sparked some kind of understanding in me and was very appropriate for me at the moment. Thank you. _/_

    ...Wanting to see things clearly as oppose to seeing things un-clearly
    you fall deeper into the well.
    When we see with our full body and mind, through the eyes of the trees and great oceans,
    what do you see? Is it clear or unclear?
    --------------------------------------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    I'm a very logical (and cynical sometimes) person, and I have hang ups. Those hang ups definitely express themselves in my habitual responses to things and my misunderstanding of the Dharma.
    We're all human.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    In part, the mountain you see is simply your very mind's mountain not the mountain in itself.
    _/_

  35. #35

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    But is it a fair comparison to compare human beings, with consciousness, to something like mountains and clouds? I remember Jesus says that in The Bible, and I'm paraphrasing, something about the lilies in the field don't worry, so why do you? But the lilies in the field do not have a mind or consciousness. The mountains and clouds don't either. Maybe they do, I don't know... But even if they do it's impossible for me to really know what they are doing anyway. Mountains just do what mountains do because they are mountains. There is no thinking.
    Hi,

    Some wise teachings on this by Seiryu.

    Nothing wrong with comparing ourselves with mountains and clouds, because those mountains and clouds are our very body, They are our very mind. ... Our whole lives we are brought up to look for the point in things, to constantly look for some future moment instead of looking at what is in front of us now. To see the present, to see the now, is to truly see the world we live in, not the world we think we live in. A mountain just is, a cloud just is, yet we run from that, we run from just being. We wish to be something else, somewhere else. Lets us be like the mountain and just be open to what is.

    We humans think we are so smart, with such big brains filled with thoughts, goals, analysis. AND WE ARE! THAT IS WHAT HAS MADE US KINGS OF THIS PLANET! But we also may have lost a certain way of "just being" that the mountains and clouds" teach, for they are each majestic. We can taste some of that by sitting "mountain like" in Zazen, letting life float freely like clouds.

    Please don't analyze this too much! 8) Simply experience and be this in Zazen.

    Thus, Master Hongzhi writes in his "Guidepost of Silent Illumination" ...

    Dew in the moonlight, a river of stars, snow-covered pines, clouds enveloping the peak. ...
    The ten thousand forms majestically glisten and expound the dharma.

    For Master Dogen, mountains sit, preach, get up to walk, flow and dance. He wrote ...

    Mountains and waters right now are the actualization of the ancient Buddha way. Each, abiding in its phenomenal expression, realizes completeness. Because mountains and waters have been active since before the Empty Eon, they are alive at this moment. Because they have been the self since before form arose they are emancipation realization. ...

    Green mountains master walking and eastern mountains master traveling on water. Accordingly, these activities are a mountain's practice. Keeping its own form, without changing body and mind, a mountain always practices in every place. Don't slander by saying that a green mountain cannot walk and an eastern mountains cannot travel on water. When your understanding is shallow, you doubt the phrase, "Green mountains are walking." When your learning is immature, you are shocked by the words "flowing mountains." Without full understanding even the words "flowing water," you drown in small views and narrow understanding. Yet the characteristics of mountains manifest their form and life-force.
    (Shobogenzo Sansuikyo)

    Gassho, J

  36. #36

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Gassho... I do tend to over-analyze. Then I do catch myself and realize that I don't even remember why the question seemed so important or what I'm questioning anymore.

    You teisho during this month's 4 hour zazenkai was very timely.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  37. #37

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    The only thing I'll add is that I think certain different types of meditation are good things, like medicine for different ills. Even though shikantaza is our central practice, I still frequently use guided/voice meditation for stress relief or relaxation. But I don't see them as the same thing, nor do I think they conflict.

    Meditation is good for relaxing. Zazen is good...for nothing! Or as Shohaku Okamura says, "zazen has no market value!"

  38. #38
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matto
    The only thing I'll add is that I think certain different types of meditation are good things, like medicine for different ills. Even though shikantaza is our central practice, I still frequently use guided/voice meditation for stress relief or relaxation. But I don't see them as the same thing, nor do I think they conflict.
    I agree. I know many different types of meditation, and occasionally I will move from my main practice of Shikantaza by sitting differently, or lying down, closing my eyes, and following the wandering of my thoughts and fantasies. I also used to be a big fan of using mantra to meditate. Because of my Shikantaza practice, however, I am better able to separate "myself" from those visions (even though "I" am those visions) and better understand this body and mind that "I" am in.

  39. #39
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thanks for sharing the link to this article Chugai. Very interesting and enjoyable read. Especially the part about his meeting with the speech consultant.

    Gassho,
    John

  40. #40

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho
    Please forgive the tone of my question. I am sincere and do not mean any cynicism or sarcasm (although I am very much of both and have really great impromptu humor based on that.. well my wife doesn't always laugh but I do. ) But is it a fair comparison to compare human beings, with consciousness, to something like mountains and clouds? I remember Jesus says that in The Bible, and I'm paraphrasing, something about the lilies in the field don't worry, so why do you? But the lilies in the field do not have a mind or consciousness. The mountains and clouds don't either. Maybe they do, I don't know... But even if they do it's impossible for me to really know what they are doing anyway. Mountains just do what mountains do because they are mountains. There is no thinking. We don't want to take the example that way right? I mean thinking is a good thing, unless we become imprisoned by it.
    Exactly. Sort of. Mountains mountain and clouds cloud, because that is their Buddha nature. We are thinking creatures and that is good because to deny that aspect of ourselves is to deny a part of the human condition. However, that being said, allowing the thinking to run away with us and dominate our lives, such that we begin to use thinking for things it wasn't meant to be used for, like discriminating thoughts, clinging to phenomena, and grasping at things is like clouds trying to mountain without realizing that they already ARE mountains, just as much as ever they were clouds. That's the danger of "thought". It probably has the greatest perpensity for misuse out of all the rest of our faculties, simply because there is no end to it. We become bored or complacent with the wonder of the everyday, and we begin to "think up" new ideas, new discriminations, new things to grasp on to and suffer over when lost, broken, damaged, or unattainable.

    It is a double edged sword. Best to think, "I will have breakfast now." in stead of "I don't like eggs."

  41. #41

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM

    Exactly. Sort of. Mountains mountain and clouds cloud, because that is their Buddha nature. We are thinking creatures and that is good because to deny that aspect of ourselves is to deny a part of the human condition. However, that being said, allowing the thinking to run away with us and dominate our lives, such that we begin to use thinking for things it wasn't meant to be used for, like discriminating thoughts, clinging to phenomena, and grasping at things is like clouds trying to mountain without realizing that they already ARE mountains, just as much as ever they were clouds. That's the danger of "thought". It probably has the greatest perpensity for misuse out of all the rest of our faculties, simply because there is no end to it. We become bored or complacent with the wonder of the everyday, and we begin to "think up" new ideas, new discriminations, new things to grasp on to and suffer over when lost, broken, damaged, or unattainable.
    Chris speaks my mind ... and, I feel, the mountain and cloud mind too. 8)

    Gassho, J

  42. #42

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Tenzo Brown wrote in the essay Chugai linked to ...

    So what do you do with thinking during meditation? This first strategy, which is basic to Buddhism, especially Zen, emphasizes posture and breathing. With energy and commitment, give your attention fully to them rather than to your thinking.

    This means emphasizing a straighter spine, including the small of the back curved slightly in and the neck long. ... you can also have your thinking count the breaths, say on the exhalation, or note the breath as it proceeds in and out. ...


    The second strategy involves giving your thinking a task. Good ways of doing this include koan study, the vipassana practice of noting, and any host of other creative endeavors. ...

    A third approach is to make a deal with your thinking: Leave me alone for now and I'll check back with you later.
    I am not sure that I fully followed the description in the article of the "third approach", but I believe that the flavor of Shikantaza Zazen encouraged at Treeleaf is perhaps this category ... open, spacious awareness focused on 'everything an nothing in particular' ... letting thoughts come and go without grabbing on to them or stirring them up ... dropping judgments, aversions and attractions, thoughts of this and that. I believe in this flavor of Shikantaza as most flexible, spacious and open for bringing off the cushion into all of life.

    I have written about the various flavors of Shikantaza here ...

    There are many small variations in Shikantaza, teacher to teacher. One has to place and focus (and simultaneously not place/focus) the mind somewhere!

    So, for example, Uchiyama Roshi was a "bring your attention back to the posture" guy. Nishijima Roshi is a "focus on keeping the spine straight" fellow, and there are others who emphasize focusing on the breath or the Hara (also called the "Tanden", the traditional "center of gravity" of the body, and a center of Qi energy in traditional Chinese medicine) ...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dantian

    Some recommend following the breath for a lifetime, others for just a time.

    All are forms of Shikantaza ... so long as the objectless nature of sitting is maintained even if focused on an object.

    In fact, all forms of Shikantaza have an "object of meditation", a place to focus or place the mind to build concentration and quiet the thoughts (hopefully to soften the border and pass through "object" and "subject"), while dropping all effort to attain and releasing all judgments. At Treeleaf, I teach counting the breaths, or observing the breath, merely as a way to settle the mind for beginners or to settle down on particularly cloudy, stormy days. As our central "objectless" object of meditation, I recommend open, spacious sitting centered on everything and nothing at all ... sitting with open, spacious awareness ... sitting with the whole world but without being lost in trains of thought (which I also sometimes describe as having the mind focused on "no place and everyplace at once"). That open stillness is our "object of concentration". My reason for that is simply that I believe it makes it a bit easier to take this practice off the Zafu and out into the world.

    If you need a place to feel you are "placing the mind", I recommend on the top of the palm in the left hand while in the Mudra (another traditional place for the focus in Shikantaza). Yet, keep that "spacious, unobstructed, everywhere and no one place" emphasis.

    If you have not read it before (or even if you have), Uchiyama has one of the most elegant "diagrams" of Shikantaza's way in his book "Openning the Hand of Thought". Lovely.

    Please go here, search the word "line", find page 52, entitled "Waking Up To Life", and read to page 60 (about the diagram drawing on page 54) ... notice especially the part where he says "Zazen is not being glued to line ZZ'" (what I might call "returning to the clear, open, blue sky 10,00 times and 10,000 times again")

    http://books.google.com/booksid=fOU_...q=line&f=false

    Whether you focus on the posture, the breath, the top of the left hand, the Hara, or the sensation of clear, open blue sky (with clouds drifting out) that I recommend ... one should eventually sometimes attain to an open, unobstructed, holding everything without discrimination or division feeling ... What Uchiyama calls "line ZZ" in his essay, and what I call clear open sky.

    However, I say "sometimes" (and Uchiyama says "don't stay glued to ZZ") because the whole thing is the trip, reject nothing ... not the thoughts and emotions that drag you away from ZZ", not the clouds which sometimes block the clear blue sky. It is all life, all perfectly what it is. Sometimes it will be "bare awareness", sometimes awareness of this or that. Drop all judgments, drop all goals and need to get someplace else or to be any other way.

    Yet, nonetheless, return again and again to ZZ, to the clear blue sky (allowing the thoughts and emotion clouds to drift away). If you notice you are engaged in trains of thought, release them, drop them, and return to ZZ. Repeat endlessly.

    All that, at once, is "Shikantaza".
    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-01-2013 at 05:47 AM.

  43. #43
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Suzuki had a marvelous saying regarding thoughts arising during Shikantaza - "let them in but do not invite them for tea...."

    In my case, we just pound the espresso shots together... :lol:

    gassho

    Yugen

  44. #44

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yugen
    Suzuki had a marvelous saying regarding thoughts arising during Shikantaza - "let them in but do not invite them for tea...."
    Wonderful.

  45. #45

    Re: Don't meditate, just sit.

    Thank you
    One of a 10000 times my teacher told it
    But doing that was hard
    And still is sometime
    Just sit

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