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Thread: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

  1. #1

    Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    I have been wanting to bring this subject for some time. I observe that most of the general training-practice activities we see in Zen (indeed Buddhism as a whole) are also a natural result of sitting practice (Zazen, or if you prefer, meditation). Take for example brushing teeth or washing. We are told to be mindful and appreciative while undertaking these daily activities. There are also a host of other guidelines; don’t think in terms of good and bad, be considerate, compassionate, don’t pick the wild flowers just observe them, when walking just walk, be mindful of each morsel of food. The list goes on and on. The key words are ‘be’ ‘do’ ‘dont’ all being clear directions on ‘how to be’ should we wish to advance on the path. – in fact HOW to walk the path. These instruction even extend into our sitting; watch the breath, look into the mind, seek our your true nature .............
    Yet ,with very few exceptions, all of these are a natural progression from sitting practice. Most practitioners having no knowledge of typical Zen protocol who were taught to sit and only to sit with reasonable regularity would develop most of this ‘essential behaviour ‘ without ever being told to. It makes one wonder if somehow, somewhere along the way the traditional training system got its’ wires crossed.

    Regards

    m

  2. #2

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Thank you very much for this.
    Just a few observations:

    1)Zen is not meditation.

    2) Rather than being mindful, I would say do and be fully into it. Apprecitate is a good word. So in the shower I am fully with the shaving, the feel of the blade, the water running along my spine, the shivers when I come out, no judging, no thinking good and bad. Nevertheless you have to plan ahead sometimes otherwise you would get stuck in the shower for ever!!! :lol:

    3) Yes Zazen radiates into the whole day, as I was saying during Rohatsu, the light is shining in all directions at once.

    4)These instruction even extend into our sitting; watch the breath, look into the mind, seek our your true nature .............
    your words are not correct. Please reflect on them. Shikantaza is not watching the breath, shikantaza is not seeking, not even looking...

    gassho

    Taigu

  3. #3

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Taigu - thank you
    I am not going to elaborate too much but I can now tell you that this post (mine) was recently deleted from another forum by a moderator as being too critical of teachers and supporting a view that it possible to effectively practice alone. I thought I had left enough ‘invitation’ within the wording to encourage meaningful dialogue. But apparently not. Never mind, that is in the past and gone.
    It still does remain a subject I find interesting. Kinhin for example; what nicer thing to do than to walk extremely slowly in between intensive sittings? I am not complaining – I like nice things, when they arrive- being mindful/ part-of-it as a result odf sitting for example. Must rush to work now.
    Kind regards
    Michael C

  4. #4

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Hi Michael,

    This post deleted by moderators ?!! It goes to show that these guys talk and act out of their a....
    Ignorance is running the show and people that think they have go it are great at the game of censorship.
    I am not loosing my time on so called Zen forums anymore.
    I only trust practice and my own teacher: every moment of this life, and all sentient beings met.

    gassho


    Taigu

  5. #5

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeljc
    Yet ,with very few exceptions, all of these are a natural progression from sitting practice. Most practitioners having no knowledge of typical Zen protocol who were taught to sit and only to sit with reasonable regularity would develop most of this ‘essential behaviour ‘ without ever being told to. It makes one wonder if somehow, somewhere along the way the traditional training system got its’ wires crossed.
    It is important to remember here that shikantaza is the physical expression of our Way. Your post seems to put the cart before the horse, if I may offer my opinion. It isn't so much that these things stem from the practice of just sitting, but probably co-develop with it. Of course, as with any good practice, each part reenforces the whole - calming the mind helps in the letting go of thoughts during shikantaza, shikantaza helps develop patience which assists in calming the mind.

    We also don't sit in order to develop these things, as Taigu said. The goaless goal and all that.

  6. #6

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Well it is nice to see that you (Taigu) did not think it too imbalanced or provocative. Thank you. Yes Christopher we do not sit to develop things, but we do sit because it assists us in our everyday life, at least I do. Not the only reason for sure, but if we consider how many of us ‘develop’ over time as a result of our sitting there is often a ‘progression’ My Zazen is definitely different to that when I started sitting more regularly 6 months ago. Sure this can be disputed using the ‘only now‘ Zen principle, but what can’t?
    But this is not the issue that interests me most; this is the relationship between entrenched training methods and our natural behaviour as a result of practice. I will give examples later.
    Cheers
    m

  7. #7

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Hi Michael,

    I think that the teachings and methods of Zen have been accumulated over centuries and countless practitioners. I'm sure one can to the same conclusions over his/her lifetime but why ignore all the hard work that has been done already and handed to us on a plate? Sure we may develop our own ways and reject what doesn't work for us, but at least we don't have to reinvent the wheel all over again.

  8. #8

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Quote Originally Posted by andyZ
    Hi Michael,

    I think that the teachings and methods of Zen have been accumulated over centuries and countless practitioners. I'm sure one can to the same conclusions over his/her lifetime but why ignore all the hard work that has been done already and handed to us on a plate? Sure we may develop our own ways and reject what doesn't work for us, but at least we don't have to reinvent the wheel all over again.
    Hi Andy - Yes you have brought up my point perfectly. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel but rather enquire into how and why the wheel we are exposed to was invented? I am suggesting that much of formal Zen protocol was originally (and still can be) a result of practice rather than just a means of practice. Ultimately many of the rules we find in a monastery should come naturally along with Zazen practice - and do. I am not arguing for or against anything here, just being analytical.

    Cheers

    m

  9. #9

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeljc
    I have been wanting to bring this subject for some time. I observe that most of the general training-practice activities we see in Zen (indeed Buddhism as a whole) are also a natural result of sitting practice (Zazen, or if you prefer, meditation). Take for example brushing teeth or washing. We are told to be mindful and appreciative while undertaking these daily activities. There are also a host of other guidelines; don’t think in terms of good and bad, be considerate, compassionate, don’t pick the wild flowers just observe them, when walking just walk, be mindful of each morsel of food. The list goes on and on. The key words are ‘be’ ‘do’ ‘dont’ all being clear directions on ‘how to be’ should we wish to advance on the path. – in fact HOW to walk the path. These instruction even extend into our sitting; watch the breath, look into the mind, seek our your true nature .............
    Yet ,with very few exceptions, all of these are a natural progression from sitting practice. Most practitioners having no knowledge of typical Zen protocol who were taught to sit and only to sit with reasonable regularity would develop most of this ‘essential behaviour ‘ without ever being told to. It makes one wonder if somehow, somewhere along the way the traditional training system got its’ wires crossed.

    Regards

    m
    Hi,

    I will pick up on some points by Taigu and Chris ...

    1 - I don't know how much of what you describe is necessarily a "natural result" of Zazen, and all must be carefully cultivated. Our multi-faceted training and practice serve to do that. I do not think that any of what you list miraculously and naturally springs out of Zazen with nothing more. Zazen is clay spinning on a wheel, but skilled hands must shape it. One example is abiding by the Precepts ... something that is certainly supported and nurtured by Zazen, but not realized by Zazen alone.

    2 - I do not tell folks to be "mindful" brushing or washing. I think that this whole "mindfulness" business is a side show of sorts.

    It seems to me that many people in Zen Practice have come to confuse "being present/mindful in the moment" (for example, "when drinking tea, just drink tea" ... a sometimes appropriate and lovely way to experience life) ... with "being at one with the moment" (allowing and merging with conditions of life "just as they are"). The two are not quite the same, and are often confused, and the latter is much more at the heart of this Shikantaza Path ...

    Yes, I believe that there are times to be "mindful" ... and there are times not. Sometimes when I eat, I just eat ... when I sip tea, I just sip tea ... when bowing, just bowing ... fully absorbed in that action. A wonderful, insightful practice. When doing one thing, just do one thing with all one's body-and-mind.

    At other times, I just grab a sandwich and a coke while reading the newspaper and thinking about the job I have to do. That's life too. Nothing wrong with it.

    (I do not know where the idea started among some folks that the 'goal' of this practice is to live the first way every moment of every day. That would be pretty awful (if not harmful) to live like that all or even most of the time. What's wrong with also sometimes reading the paper, thinking about work, while grabbing a quick sandwich? There is a place for all of that.)

    Further, people get even more confused about "mindful" in Buddhism because the word is used in a couple of distinct ways.

    Another, rather different meaning of "mindful" often found in Buddhism is to develop awareness of the "mind theatre" running constantly in our heads (developing the ability to identify the thoughts and emotions that play through our heads, and how they create our experience of "reality" ... e.g., "now I am temporarily sad" "now I am reacting with anger") That is a wonderful, insightful practice too ... very very important ... but I caution against thinking that you must or can do that 24/7.

    In my view, the heart of this Practice is merely "being at one" with self-life-world just as it is ... dropping the resistance, barriers, separation between our "self" and all the circumstances in which that "self" imagines it finds itself in ... until even the walls between "self" and "life-world" (or self and itself) soften or even fully drop away ...

    viewtopic.php?p=43964#p43964
    3- Around here, we do not "watch the breath" or "look into the mind" to "seek our true nature". As Bodhidharma told Hui'ko, where is this mind and true nature you are looking for?

    4 - I also think the "traditional training system" sometimes has its wires crossed, but do not throw out the Baby Buddha with the Bathwater! Saying that someone can realize such things simply by sitting Zazen, and without the help of a Sangha and teachers, is a bit like saying that a child can raise herself.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Taigu said,
    I only trust practice and my own teacher: every moment of this life, and all sentient beings met.
    Jundo said,
    Saying that someone can realize such things simply by sitting Zazen, and without the help of a Sangha and teachers, is a bit like saying that a child can raise herself.
    Thank you teachers!! This is why I am here at Treeleaf!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel99
    Taigu said,
    I only trust practice and my own teacher: every moment of this life, and all sentient beings met.
    Jundo said,
    Saying that someone can realize such things simply by sitting Zazen, and without the help of a Sangha and teachers, is a bit like saying that a child can raise herself.
    Thank you teachers!! This is why I am here at Treeleaf!
    Agreed!

    One of my buddies who is a professional magician and also teaches magic touched on something once which applies to the statements above. He was once questioned as to why one would even need to study magic under a teacher when there are literally thousands of books, videos, etc. To which he replied the copious availability of materials out there is exactly the reason why one needs a teacher! There's too much information, and most of it isn't good. A teacher will be able to guide students in the right direction and avoid the pitfalls and dead ends of substandard materials one can get endlessly lost in.

    Same thing with Buddhism. There is so much information readily available and as such the need for guidance is of essential importance!

    Gassho,
    John
    P.S. For anyone interested his website is http://tylerteach.com/
    He even teaches online

  12. #12

    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Hi Guys
    I obviously did not make my point clear enough. This was that Zazen develops natural behaviour closely resembling protocols found in monasteries and considered by many to be training. That is the only point I wished to raise.
    Cheers
    m

  13. #13
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    I am suggesting that much of formal Zen protocol was originally (and still can be) a result of practice rather than just a means of practice.
    Separating the result of practice from the means of practice sounds like creating a duality the whole point of practice is about trying to do away with. As for good things being a natural result of practice, I believe there is great historical precedent for behavior going far astray when practice is separated from the morality of the precepts, starting with the samurai and so on. Result/means/precepts all the same practice.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    Hi Michael...My post was in response to Jundo and Taigu, who both continue to clarify this practice (lay/monastic it doesn't matter) for me. Zazen keeps knocking dualities into one for me, but it requires this sangha and its teachers to stop me from adding my own take onto it! At present my practice feels light... which is new for me and zazen keeps any additional thoughts about what this lightness is at bay...'just sit with it', is a phrase Jundo repeats often and this advice keeps all these experiences from building their own momentum. Everyday practice just keeps experience as is! Gassho.

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Everyday practice; cause or effect?

    To quote a dear friend;
    "Shall we sit with that?"

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