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Thread: 21/10 Zen Seeds Pages 64-66

  1. #1

    21/10 Zen Seeds Pages 64-66

    Self-restraint

    Shundo Aoyama describes how we depend on the opinion and judgement of others. I certainly do, and more than I would like. If I look back in my life I see long periods where I solely valued my actions on base of what others said about it. And if I look around me, I see that this is a common behaviour; its nothing that only a few people seem to have, everybody somehow seems to try to impress others, get some recognition and confirmation from others. Maybe thats some essential part of living in a society, maybe its even vital for a society to survive ? What if such behavior is just to make sure that we react as a group, everybody trying to be in line with the group ? Would that be a bad thing ? I'm really split about this question, I feel its a very good thing to value our actions just by ourselves, not depending on others, but I see it could be seen different too, how do you feel about it ?


    From Possession to Possessor

    Yep, I confess I like to possess. And I see how simply what I wear makes a difference how I feel, isn't that strange ? I feel its indeed like Shundo Aoyama writes, we're playing roles, I'm a businessmen, I'm a poor victim, I'm a dad and I'm a Buddhist. But can we really play, or is tha maybe real? When reading this section a quote from Kodo Sawaki came to my mind, he said (I quote from memory, so forgive me if its not exact), "When you sit down in zazen, you play being Buddha". We play, pretend to be ? I dont know, honestly, but I'm pretty sure our possessions are not what we are, what do you think ?

    Thanks for reading
    Gassho
    Peter

  2. #2

    Re: 21/10 Zen Seeds Pages 64-66

    Great questions, Peter.

    On self restraint
    I have to agree that it is a very complex issue. There's a very thin line between being autonomous and not acting just to please others, and becoming selfish.
    After so many years of trying, falling, standing and trying again -to fall again- I found that, so far, the strategy that works best for me is one I borrowed from the Stoics: to set for inner goals instead of external goals. That is, when I cook for other people, instead of trying to do something that will please everybody -which in the end is impossible- I aim at cooking with focus, putting all my best efforts. When I'm finished, if I really was able to do a mindful dish then I'm happy, even if not everybody finds it a great dish.
    I remember reading an interview to a famous piano concertist -I forgot his name, sorry in which he was asked whether he thought about the public when he was performing. I was expecting to read "yes" instead he returned a plain "no". To play thinking about your public -he says- is like becoming a waiter: one person wants an espresso, the other asks for a cappuccino, so in the end you may end up doing a very normal, boring performance. "When I play in public" he finally stated "I just play for myself".






    From Possession to Possessor

    I dont know, honestly, but I'm pretty sure our possessions are not what we are, what do you think ?
    Indeed, indeed, and then, we identify so much with them. New digital gadgets, I'd say, only makes this trend even worse. The more expensive and more stuff an smartphone does, the more we get attached to it, and end up identifying with it. I look at my library full of Buddhist texts and I can't help but feeling proud of them, it is as if they "show" that I'm a Buddhist, even if there are plenty still I haven't read, and others I don't remember much about what I read :roll:
    Trying not to identify with my posessions is one of the many things I'm struggling with. I wish I could be like the woman in this story:

    A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
    "I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone."
    Gassho
    Rimon

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: 21/10 Zen Seeds Pages 64-66

    Hi all,

    Self-restraint

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lin
    What if such behavior is just to make sure that we react as a group, everybody trying to be in line with the group ? Would that be a bad thing ? I'm really split about this question, I feel its a very good thing to value our actions just by ourselves, not depending on others, but I see it could be seen different too, how do you feel about it?
    I think that, whether we look inward or outward for answers to the question, "How should I behave in this situation?", we can stray from the path. I often think that if I were to totally abandon the views of others, how can I not become a complete asshole? But throughout my life I have put what others think of me very high on my list of priorities and find that when I step back from that I have a much more positive outlook. I would hazard a guess then that it is all the delicate balance of the middle way we are talking about here and is something that can never quite be quantified.


    From Possession to Possessor

    But can we really play, or is tha maybe real? When reading this section a quote from Kodo Sawaki came to my mind, he said (I quote from memory, so forgive me if its not exact), "When you sit down in zazen, you play being Buddha". We play, pretend to be ? I dont know, honestly, but I'm pretty sure our possessions are not what we are, what do you think ?
    I'll openly admit that I can feel better wearing a certain piece of clothing and I don't tend to look on that as a bad thing until I realize that I feel worse when wearing a different piece of clothing. So, I suppose the idea is to feel how we are going to feel and not to label it "negative" or "positive" (see my comments for PPE 8 on that little brain teaser!) and allow outside stimul to affect how we feel about ourselves. Other than that I don't think I value myself according to my possessions, but as I say that I'm quite sure that I do to some degree. But as a statement, I would definitely say that our possessions are not what we are...or at least they shouldn't be. And I think we'd all be a lot happier if we just took what we had today and weren't so focused on what we don't have today or what we'd like to have tomorrow.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  4. #4
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: 21/10 Zen Seeds Pages 64-66

    Self-restraint

    ....we fervently wish to act with always with prudence. This ardent desire is accomplished through self-restraint.
    I think Aoyama is talking about those situations where the boundary of 'right' and 'wrong' are blurred. There was agame show last night on TV where Derren Brown a 'mentalist' gave an audience options to act generously or maliciously towards an unsuspecting audience member e.g at one point to let him have £1000 or trash his flat.
    On each occasion the anonymous mass (the audience were all given masks) chose the negative option.
    The idea was to demonstrate how we deindividualise in our choices when our identities are hidden. In such circumstances I agree that self-restraint is the quality necessary to prevent ourself getting carried away.
    However in more everyday experiences I find an accompanying feature of self-restraint is in harmonising with situations in an empathetic response to a situation. For example, helping where I am needed rather than where I would like to help...cleaning the bathroom again!


    From Possession to Possessor

    Erich Fromm's 'To Have Or to Be' discusses this subject, in describing two modes of existence which he states are in tension within us and humanity as a whole: having which focuses on materiality, possession, power and agression; and being which emphasises love, sharing and productive activity.
    He does use some of DT Suzuki's work but did not go further i.e. Dogen.
    I have personally strived to be rather than to have and although I do have things, they are necessities and tools rather than a source of happiness...but I have to be careful ....about my children because it is a powerful instinct to derive pleasure and pain from your children's sucesses and failures!
    I have had to learn to accept that I have certain 'selfish' ways of being, but if these are accomodated within the universal view of self as a part of the 'myriad dharmas,' then I can maintain asome kind of equilibrium and not be overturned by arising emotions. Either way it's a struggle though! Practice and practise.

    Thanks Peter for this.

  5. #5

    Re: 21/10 Zen Seeds Pages 64-66

    Nigel you said, " However in more everyday experiences I find an accompanying feature of self-restraint is in harmonising with situations in an empathetic response to a situation. For example, helping where I am needed rather than where I would like to help...cleaning the bathroom again!"

    Well I've heard of a musician's musican and now I've heard of a person of self restraint quietly self restraining. Thank you for the teaching. Gassho Shogen

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