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Thread: On losing motivation..

  1. #1
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    On losing motivation..

    During my meditation this morning, my mind wandered, my breath was unnatural, and all I could/or wanted to think about was weather my 15 month old son would wake up during and what my next move in my hockey pool would be... (sorry, canadian here...)

    My motivation for zazen has typically been to reduce my suffering, to help me be more present for my family/friends...and foes...and to truelly wake up and enjoy this life.

    I have been here before, I would plateu in my meditation, and steadily fall off the horse, I then would quickly fall back into monkey mind...before realizing I needed meditation and return. This time I am determined to push through it and keep going.

    How do you return to this internal motivation/or increase it, when at times, it is just so much easier to give in to the suffering of the mind, particuarily when "everyone is doing it.."

    I have really grown to respect you all, many of your posts have really assisted me in my practice. If you have a perspective, please share.

    Shawn

  2. #2

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by zen_rook
    How do you return to this internal motivation/or increase it, when at times, it is just so much easier to give in to the suffering of the mind, particuarily when "everyone is doing it.."
    There's really nothing to do except to get your butt on the cushion. In my experience, motivation follows practice as much as practice follows motivation.

    I think this is a cycle that repeats endlessly. I'm certainly not one of those (are there any?) whose commitment is unwavering. Spouses, kids, jobs, etc etc, it can all wear on you quickly. Some days, after a tough day at work, then housework, getting the kids to bed and all that, by the time it's all finished the last thing I want to do is sit. I'd rather crash on the couch and vegitate. But don't feel guilty about it. Just veg sometimes. But always return.

    That's just me. I don't know.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. #3

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Shawn,

    In my own experience, I have had PLENTY of trouble finding the motivation to sit, my mind wandering, I want to get off my zafu to do something else (I'm sure evryone has this problem from time to time). I think this is natural. We have to remember that this is also a discipline and the most important thing is to just "sit". When I do get into these situations, I start to ground myself with counting my breath. Before you know it I'm back to where I think I should be, here right now doing this.

    This is just my humble opinion and I'm sure you will get much more insightful help from others in the sangha.

  4. #4

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Hiya from a fellow canuck and probably one of the few that does not follow hockey (sacrilege I know!).
    This Happens, over and over, dare I say to almost everyone at sometime.

    While i would like to offer some cure for this there is little I can offer you. Perhaps just sit and drop the idea, of plateau or better/worse meditation for the time being.
    Do not punish your self or lay on guilt to boot. Just see the error and get on with it again. The more practice the less you fall off, like most thing!

    Fifteen minutes is not a lot of time considering, I bet you (just like me and others), can sit still and open to what ever is being spewed from the TV or whatever whim we are chasing on the internet, right?
    Just sit there for you (thus all those you mentioned and more) and you will find the more you sit the easier it is to return to do it!

    lots more and wiser posts will follow I am sure!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  5. #5

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Motivation comes and comes. Just like everything in life. Spring leaves us, winters comes...winter leaves us buds begin to come back...such is the nature of our world.

    Do not try to manufacture motivation, because then it will be fake and you will be missing a very important lesson. How to just allow yourself to be when you lose all motivation. It is very easy to sit and be excited about practice when we are filled with motivation and vigor, but this is simply another state of mind.

    We also have to learn to sit with those states of mind we rather not sit with, and this is where the "difficult" part of practice begins to come in. We are always looking for something else, looking for that state of mind we had last week where our practice went perfect and we were sure that we were one breath away from becoming the next Buddha...but what about right now?

    No motivation, not energy, no desire, sit with that. Allow yourself to fully experience that. We always try to run away from such emotions and thoughts without ever really seeing and understanding where they come from? Who is it that has lost motivation? Who is it that wishes it to come back?

    It is very difficult to sit during a period of lack of motivation, but it is during that very period that the Dharma is so available if we allow ourselves to watch and stay present to our experience...

    A monk once went to see the Abbot of the temple and told him "I am very discouraged. What should I do?" The Abbot replied, "encourage others."
    Forgive me if what I said is not of much help

    May your practice go well

  6. #6

    On losing motivation..

    To calm down the wild monkey and make sitting more natural and easy, I've found it useful to calm down life off the Zafu too. If you're stressed out to the extent that you can't even take a dump without picking up a shampoo bottle to read the label on the back, then how can you just sit?

    Add small moments of breathing, mindfulness or just plain boredom and things will slow down a little. Then just sitting is no effort.

    /Pontus

  7. #7

    Re: On losing motivation..

    There are a lot of excellent responses, so I don't want to repeat what has been said, but I'm in a period like that now.

    When it comes down to it, our willingness to do zazen or not do zazen cannot be based on motivation. That waxes and wanes as everything does in the universe. We have to just do it, just sit. It's easier said than done sometimes, but for me it's the Sangha, the Buddha, the Dharma. Not to sound cliche' but it comes down to that.

    Sometimes, I find myself getting really iconoclastic like why should I do any of this? Then life hits me upside the head, the 4 noble truths prove themselves to me again, or I read something on here that helps me.

    We are human, we falter, but it's all part of it. I think that's why the precepts are so important and the ritual, e.g. bodhisattva vows, etc. Even if my practice is on the lowdown (i.e. sorry American slang for not being so passionate or strong) at the moment, I'm still here with you all. The precepts and the vows are here to support us.

    I do notice when I stop sitting, I forget my mortality. But when I'm presented with it, and face it and face the suffering, I'm open and willing to practice. I think that is another example of our rituals supporting our practice.

    Evening Gatha

    Let me respectfully remind you,
    Life and death are of supreme importance.
    Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
    Each of us should strive to awaken.
    Awaken!
    Take heed, do not squander your life.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    If you're stressed out to the extent that you can't even take a dump without picking up a shampoo bottle to read the label on the back, then how can you just sit?
    OT This just totally cracked me up ... I guess I've been there :shock: :lol:

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo
    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    If you're stressed out to the extent that you can't even take a dump without picking up a shampoo bottle to read the label on the back, then how can you just sit?
    OT This just totally cracked me up ... I guess I've been there :shock: :lol:
    You beat me to it!

    Ron

  10. #10

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Practice or go to hell. I'm not kidding. It sounds like something from the middle ages, but... "Me" is fine when things are "going my way", or when there is just an ordinary level of problems and tying loose ends. But everything, absolutely everything I love will perish. Everything I make will dissolve. My world and all its compass points, all its familiar landmarks, will convulse. It is only a matter of time. In and of itself this is all "just so", no problem, just change, but if "I" have built "my house" upon it. "I" will experience hell..... even if it is a nifty little zen lifestyle house. Been there. No thanks, there is a choice.


    Omoi Otoshi wrote:
    If you're stressed out to the extent that you can't even take a dump without picking up a shampoo bottle to read the label on the back, then how can you just sit?
    ..

    Yup been there :lol: ....its like being a drop of water on a hot griddle... sucks.

  11. #11

    Re: On losing motivation..

    If you're stressed out to the extent that you can't even take a dump without picking up a shampoo bottle to read the label on the back, then how can you just sit?
    Quote Originally Posted by rculver
    OT This just totally cracked me up ... I guess I've been there :shock: :lol:
    Ditto (probably tmi but so well said!)

  12. #12
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Keep sitting Shawn, it's the only answer. Slowly and surely the dynamic silence that is not your mind will prevail. I can't tell how often I thought it wasn't possible but just stick with it and it arrives..can't say when but it does!

    Beats reading shampoo labels ..or even foot moisturiser bottles!!!

  13. #13

    Re: On losing motivation..

    My response Shawn is that you are placing value on different occurrences in your sitting and wanting ‘results’ What value are monkey thoughts? Are they not of your very mind and your very life? You might try embracing and welcoming everything as being part of your Zazen.
    Just my thoughts
    m

  14. #14

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Risho

    Evening Gatha

    Let me respectfully remind you,
    Life and death are of supreme importance.
    Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
    Each of us should strive to awaken.
    Awaken!
    Take heed, do not squander your life.
    Let me also respectfully remind everyone of the empty mirror reflection of the Gatha (not quite as poetic, but this author is no poet ... ) ...

    No "me" no "you", no life or death.
    No time to pass, no opportunity lost.
    No "us" to strive, no goal or striving.
    Thus Awakended! AWAKENED!
    How could one squander this life?


    I feel that if we ever forget either this Timeless Gatha or the Evening Gatha, then we miss something vital about this Practice, about all life. LIVE BOTH AT ONCE, AS ONE!

    Be gentle and good, be diligent and sincere ...

    ... even though beyond "good or bad" and all to attain!

    Great Attainment!


    Gassho, J

  15. #15

    Re: On losing motivation..

    I think Kaishin nailed it:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaishin
    There's really nothing to do except to get your butt on the cushion. In my experience, motivation follows practice as much as practice follows motivation.
    Highlight mine.

    Don't desire motivation. Just sit. Regularly, if at all possible, and without any sense of attainment.

    Sounds crazy, I know. But until you've had one of those sits where you start without motivation and you end annoyed that the timer went off....

    Hard to explain. Sorry. Zen is like that sometimes. A lot, actually.

  16. #16

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA
    Don't desire motivation. Just sit. Regularly, if at all possible, and without any sense of attainment.

    .
    If only Chris. People sit for a reason. You sit for reason. There is no-reason in sitting, but there is a reason to get to that cushion. That reason is call Dukkha, the First Noble Truth. Why do people come to Zen Buddhism, and not the casino, or another trip to the fridge?

  17. #17

    Re: On losing motivation..

    I found in the past that doing something simple like reading again some Zen material strengthened motivation and regularity of sitting. Furthermore, our lifestyles have a strong influence over reasons not to sit. My current lifestyle is very conducive to sitting. I can easily find time to sit 3 times/day. Soon that will change. What then?

    In my own case motivation has changed from that relating to a living benefit to that relating to just sitting. I now sit to sit. That may change again. Who knows? In the end who here can say that any one sit in the past was a waste of time? I cannot.

    m

  18. #18
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Thank you so much for your responses. I took something of value from each post, and will apply it to my practice.

    Time to sit.

    Good night.

    Shawn

  19. #19

    On losing motivation..

    There may be is a reason. The four noble truths may be the reason, if we, ourselves, have realised them. If we have not, faith may be the reason. But sometimes we just sit down on the Zafu and don't know why, don't need to consciously think of any reason why. What else would we do? Go to the fridge? Yes, if we are hungry, maybe we should go to the fridge instead of sitting. Most other activities that we find so much more important than practice are a useless chasing after illusions, from reasons invented by our egos. Zazen is useless too. As Kodo Sawaki Roshi said, until you realise that Zazen is a useless activity, it will indeed be completely useless. The Koan of Nothing to Attain...

    When we brush our teeth every morning, we don't think so much about the reason why. Once, as children, we were told why by mom or dad and realised the truth of it. Before that, we were told to just do it. Now we don't skip the tooth brushing just because we have other things to do. Even though we have a choice, we just brush the teeth without thought.

    Also, a wise woman once said:
    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    Why practice?

    Why, practice!

    the why shows up in the doing/not doing of practice

    the question becomes its own answer
    /Pontus

  20. #20

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    There may be is a reason. The four noble truths may be the reason, if we, ourselves, have realised them. If we have not, faith may be the reason. But sometimes we just sit down on the Zafu and don't know why, don't need to consciously think of any reason why. What else would we do? Go to the fridge? Yes, if we are hungry, maybe we should go to the fridge instead of sitting. Most other activities that we find so much more important than practice are a useless chasing after illusions, from reasons invented by our egos. Zazen is useless too. As Kodo Sawaki Roshi said, until you realise that Zazen is a useless activity, it will indeed be completely useless. The Koan of Nothing to Attain...

    When we brush our teeth every morning, we don't think so much about the reason why. Once, as children, we were told why by mom or dad and realised the truth of it. Before that, we were told to just do it. Now we don't skip the tooth brushing just because we have other things to do. Even though we have a choice, we just brush the teeth without thought.

    Also, a wise woman once said:
    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    Why practice?

    Why, practice!

    the why shows up in the doing/not doing of practice

    the question becomes its own answer
    /Pontus
    I agree completely Pontus. To be just doing is the way. When it is like that. ....and when it is not like that?.... when illusion holds sway, and it is compulsion instead of spontaneity?... and going to the fridge again with those words is just my zen spin?...... Nothing to do, yet something to do... there is a koan. I make no pretense of realizing it whole, but maybe the practice involves telling myself I have? All I can say is that sitting is "useless", but not sitting Dukkha.

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Shawn,

    As you can see this is a recurring problem for most of us.

    Perhaps you are putting goals on your sitting? Just sit without expecting anything and when you just don't feel like sitting because TV is much mor entertaining, SIT! There is no better time to sit that when you don't feel like it.

    It takes commitment and discipline in a simple and relaxed way. Just do it.

  22. #22
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by chocobuda
    There is no better time to sit that when you don't feel like it.
    Well said.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Great posts everyone!

    We all struggle with lack of motivation from time to time and it happens to all of us so you are not alone. This comes with anything you are committed to whether it's Zazen, playing sports, attending college, your career, etc. When motivation wanes or when you feel like quitting, that is the most important time to sit. It's easier to quit sitting than to sit during the difficult times. Continuing to sit when you feel frustrated is good practice for the challenging and less inspired times in your life. The ups and downs are a part of the practice, just like the ups and downs experienced in our everyday life. So just keep on sitting!

    Also, it is important to sit when we are overly driven and/or too excited. Cultivating the open, spacious awareness is more difficult when are over energized or hyperactive. During those times it's best to sit and let the excitement go to create equanimity and harmony.

    Gassho,
    Jodi/Ekai

  24. #24

    On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    ....and when it is not like that?.... when illusion holds sway, and it is compulsion instead of spontaneity?
    I'll let a teacher answer that one, because honestly I don't know.

    Personally, I don't want to force myself to sit. To me, practice is not about ascetism, willpower or discipline, but putting down, letting go, being, accepting. Continuing practice is important, but I wonder if some people don't quit permanently because they push themselves too hard. A quiet, steady, natural practice may be key here. Life and practice go hand in hand. During rough times, I feel the need to sit. When life is completely balanced, sitting comes naturally, spontaneously. A while ago I quit practice. I felt confident I would be back soon and I was. In retrospect, it was good for my practice, but I couldn't be sure beforehand. Maybe my practice needed a reboot!

    But there is also the too-lazy-to-get-up-from-the-sofa type of not wanting to sit, which is more like not wanting to get out of bed in the morning... Adults drag their comfortable asses out of bed in the morning and comfortable Zen practitioners drag theirs to the Zafu.

    /Pontus

  25. #25
    Senior Member Marek's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Practice or go to hell.
    I love it !

    I' ll use it before every zazen now

  26. #26

    On losing motivation..

    Zen T-shirt?

  27. #27

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    Zen T-shirt?
    Maybe that would be "Practice like your hair's on (hell)fire".

    I just listened to a 12 CD biography of Thomas More, and have a 15th century ear worm. :lol: .....though one popular reading of the time was the contemplative text.. "The cloud of unknowing", interesting.

  28. #28
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    To your point Seiryu, I do from time to time, forget about "just sitting with it." I often view rising distractions as negative, and then judge my self for following those distractions. Your message, and others, were a good reminder that the good, and the bad, they are one in the same. Just sit with it.

    I have kept this in mind during the last few days of practice. I am realizing that sitting does not require motivation, it just requires action..

    Michaeljc, regarding your comment about wanting results, that has really been a big part of my approach to zazen. The positive results of my practice are quite evident in my life, but wanting results and staying present at the same time has just lead to attatchment.

    Thanks again

    Shawn

  29. #29

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Another assistance to making that decision to sit is to plan beforehand; “tonight I will come home, run with the dog, have a shower and sit 40 m”
    An extremely common reoccurring thought I experience relates to the moment immediately before I sit. On approaching the cushion: ‘Wow, this is just so simple and easy’, Just one cushion representing a doorway into the entire universe - past present and future. What a miracle.
    A subject relating to all this is the influence of our state of mind when we sit. On occasions I sit with the attitude ‘to sit for ever’. It is very powerful. We cannot control our attitude. It is what it is, so therefore it is not a technique but rather an influence.
    Over the last month or so I have been sitting without a timer. I have come to prefer it.
    Kind regards
    m

  30. #30

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Hellos to all posting here!
    Shawn -- this is one of my most favorite posts ever--
    I very much appreciate the sharing of all who have contributed comments.
    As is plain to see, this practice is very individual
    No one can do this practice for me. That leaves me

    I have used times when I have not sat, but thought about sitting, or rather thought about my not sitting.
    I have considered if these 'thoughts about sitting' are a kind of form of sitting.
    Whatever it is I am doing when I am 'not sitting:' staying in bed, taking a shower, fixing my decaf, getting my clothes on and driving to work: none of these is 'sitting,' But on days I 'don't' I find that I spend moments in my regular routine in a 'sitting' mental frame of mind.

    Zazen does come off the cushion, it grows two legs and goes at my same speed, arrives with me at the exact same moment and is with me at all times, maybe it isn't YOUR lack of 'motivation' as much as it is zazen's 'motivation' to enter the mainstream of your life. Maybe it is zazen's way to say--hey, no cushion for you for a while buddy--not 'till you zazen up your daily morning routine for starters--

    This seed planted within me, this karmic seed of practice...there is no denying it will continue to continue to continue

    so there it is: my faith


    how we each get to express and experience our faith in our own practice/in ourselves is highly individualistic

    I hope I am not leading anyone astray here. I am not playing games with myself or saying that 'thinking' about something is the 'same' as something.
    I present here an aspect of open inquiry: the wall is sometimes my shower sitting is sometimes soaping up and rinsing off. When I sit, zazen is like giving my brain a bath: leaving that tell tale dingy ring of thoughts behind when I step off my zafu with my freshly washed mind!
    Not sitting zazen doesn't make sitting 'go away' it becomes another form of 'sitting,' albeit a non-sitting form.

    At least this is what I have found in my own personal experience.

  31. #31

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    maybe it isn't YOUR lack of 'motivation' as much as it is zazen's 'motivation' to enter the mainstream of your life. Maybe it is zazen's way to say--hey, no cushion for you for a while buddy--not 'till you zazen up your daily morning routine for starters--

    This seed planted within me, this karmic seed of practice...there is no denying it will continue to continue to continue
    This is very true in my life also. Thank you!
    As you say, once the seed is planted, it will continue to grow. There have been times when I have tried denying it, sometimes even for years, even starving it, but in vain. It finds a way back into my life, time after time. I have now surrendered, finally.

    And what you write about Zazen's motivation for entering our lives, that's EXACTLY what it feels like. Sound mad, but that's what it's like for me as well. There are some keys to Zazening up one's life. Practicing stillness, silence, peace is one key. Being truly altruistic is another. There are many more found in the eightfold way. The problem is, there's a catch 22 in that the factors that make Zazen natural, spontaneous, are also the results of Zazen. We may sometimes need to expand our views and try new ways, new activities, new parts of practice to purify our minds. Ritual comes to mind and I thought I'd never say that!

    /Pontus

  32. #32
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    I believe that is why I continued in my cycle of returning to zazen again and again after putting it out of my life, it would always return. It had to. Recently, the more I practice, the more I sense an awareness, or an understanding, I am not grasping it, it is just there. Surrendering to this is a great word to describe my recent resistance, that is, accepting not retreating, and continuing on when I had previously faltered.

    Keishin, I too have really benefited from the posts. To your comment, I often would, and still, think about not sitting. That would become a thought which I would follow. If I missed a sit due to my schedule, I would actually get caught up in that thought. Problem being, when I would work, spend time with my son..etc it would be more about when I could sit next, or make up for my missed sit, instead of just being with whatever it is I was doing.

    Shawn

  33. #33

    On losing motivation..

    I try to keep an eye on that when it happens. During the times when sitting is wonderful, rewarding, effortless, it's easy to become addicted to it. It's like a drug. When issues in life feel too hard to deal with, sitting can become an escape from it all. But we can't live our lives sitting like a bump on a log. That is a serious Zen sickness, getting caught in emptiness for egoistical reasons.

    /Pontus

  34. #34

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Keishan, thx for sharing your experience. Makes sense to me.
    Motivation- even though it seems crazy at times it seems to work so just do it. So far gone that even monkey mind is ok -)

    Give peace a chance- lennon

    Motivation is right in front of you so pay attention

  35. #35
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Pontus, what is this zen sickness you mentioned. Simply individuals using zazen as an escape ? I have heard this term used somewhere else..Could someone explain this?

  36. #36

    Re: On losing motivation..

    More experienced folks here probably know better than me, but isnt there something about this shikantaza practice that's different from zazen as you originally imagined it? Instead of trying to achieve perfection or clear one's mind, just developing the skill to return to the present? My earlier attempts at meditation all fizzled out because I kept feeling discouraged at my own shortcomings. Now I still feel shortcomings. It I just keep breathing and they fade away / change / come back / go away / quiet down / go away. . .

    Shawn, take this fwiw from a father of two (ahem) lively girls and a near obsession for college football. Big kudos to you for finding time to sit with a 15 month old.

  37. #37

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by zen_rook
    Pontus, what is this zen sickness you mentioned. Simply individuals using zazen as an escape ? I have heard this term used somewhere else..Could someone explain this?
    You asked Pontus, who can probably explain eloquently, and a teacher can probably answer definitely, but you are also asking an open question here.....

    Zen Sickness, or Emptiness sickness... one way of looking at it is that there are two sides to practice, nothing to do, and something to do. Maybe we could call form sickness getting stuck in something to do, and emptiness sickness getting stuck in nothing to do... as in.. "I'm already enlightened, and being rude to my friend is "perfectly imperfect". etc.

    Emptiness sickness can also mean fixing on an imagined absolute truth that is "real" and perceiving conventional truth as unreal, with the result of losing ethical perspective and empathy, as you act out of...well, pure egotism, and it doesn't matter what you do, it's o.k. because you "dwell in the absolute"

  38. #38

    On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Kojip
    Quote Originally Posted by zen_rook
    Pontus, what is this zen sickness you mentioned. Simply individuals using zazen as an escape ? I have heard this term used somewhere else..Could someone explain this?
    You asked Pontus, who can probably explain eloquently, and a teacher can probably answer definitely, but you are also asking an open question here.....

    Zen Sickness, or Emptiness sickness... one way of looking at it is that there are two sides to practice, nothing to do, and something to do. Maybe we could call form sickness getting stuck in something to do, and emptiness sickness getting stuck in nothing to do... as in.. "I'm already enlightened, and being rude to my friend is "perfectly imperfect". etc.

    Emptiness sickness can also mean fixing on an imagined absolute truth that is "real" and perceiving conventional truth as unreal, with the result of losing ethical perspective and empathy, as you act out of...well, pure egotism, and it doesn't matter what you do, it's o.k. because you "dwell in the absolute"
    I am myself relatively inexperienced in these matters, just wanted to offer a word of caution not to neglect the kids, wife, dog, work etc only to dwell in emptiness.
    I have absolutely nothing to add, nothing to take away from what you said!

    (English is not my first language and sometimes things are intuitive rather than crystal clear, so I seldomly explain my experience or understanding very eloquently!)

    /Pontus

  39. #39

    Re: On losing motivation..

    I know little about this emptiness/Zen sickness as I have had minimal contact with steady practitioners. But, my interpretation is that it is a persistent psychological state. Going on what I feel in my own practice I sense it would be very easy to sit more and more resulting in a lackadaisical indifferent attitude regarding the hard realities of bread winning ie work – in particular physical work. One could easily become a dropout in terms of family responsibility and the commercial realities of life. If I am right about this then it is a dangerous situation unless we are single and prepared to live the life of a spiritual tramp or bludger. I am not implying here that being a genuine sage in this modern age is impossible. This is still doable and respectable but very rare. Genuine monks fall into this category.

    In short I will be watching myself very carefully so as not to fall into this trap. Work matters, as does life-balance (for most of us). This is why I have said in other posts that ‘attachments are healthy’ ie those that do no harm.

    Just my views right now

    m

  40. #40

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Michael, I guess what you say is possible but 15-30 minute sittings morning and evening doesn't seem too much. Anyway getting zen sickness isn't dependent on how much yoou sit. Making some special state or being attached to some zen concepts is the sickness. Have heard many teachers say zen is ordinary everyday mind, just this right now.

  41. #41

    On losing motivation..

    If you're a monk or on a Sesshin, sitting attentively for 10-16 hours per day is your responsability, your job, and no sign of any sickness. If you're a single parent and neglect your kids by sitting for hours, then you have to ask yourself what your true practice really is. 15-30 minutes of formal Zazen when the kids have gone to bed might suffice in that case.

    /Pontus

  42. #42

    Re: On losing motivation..

    I have found these posts very helpful - particularly Keishin's. I like the idea that zazen is flowing - flowing into everyday life.

    For me - big problem is that when I feel I'm struggling with sitting - I turn to reading. There is nothing wrong with reading - essential
    at times to understand precepts, etc but I can't help feeling I do this to shore up my 'shaky' practice. It's like I'm trying to intellectually convince
    myself that this is the right way to go for me - that zazen is an authentic part of my journey.

    When zazen goes well the doubts disappear - but then they return - helpful to know most people struggle with this.

  43. #43
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Re: On losing motivation..

    Willow, thank you for putting into words what I could not. Like you, I turn to reading (treeleaf forums), but also youtube videos "searching Zen or Buddhism" to reafirm my practice. I often ask myself, why do I need to confirm what I already know or feel is the right direction. My only explanation, is that I live in a part of the world, like many, that is very materialistic, very -all about me-. When I go outside, I am bombarded with these messages of needing to get better, needing to make more money, achieve something special, be the best. Sometimes when I get caught up in that, my meditation practice serves to bring me back, but hearing or reading thoughts from others with like minded paths always makes me feel more centred and perhaps reafirming..I feel its similar to going to my meditation weekly group, or talking to my friend chris about buddhism. It is seeking a community to share, or hear about that which helps me stay here and now. Maybe that isn't similar to your experience, but I identify with your post in that way.

    Thanks

    Shawn

  44. #44

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Shawn - you wrote,

    'Why do I feel the need to confirm what I already know or feel is the right direction?'

    I'm sure we all have this inner dialogue of uncertainty and the need to re-affirm our belief/faith in the direction we are taking.
    We do live in a very materialist world and there are always material concerns. I think to deny this probably results in the 'zen sickness'
    mentioned. I guess we strive to find a way of making peace with the the 'self' that exists in the material world (and all the demands it puts upon us) and the part of us that searches
    for spirituality and a fleeting sense of the spaciousness of 'no-self'. I'm sure these two aspects aren't mutually exclusive - and can flow in the way
    that's been talked about - but it's not easy to keep the flow going!

    Yes - it's good to have a sense of community. There are no Zen centres (here in the UK) near where I live - so re-assuring to talk with folks on this site.

    Best wishes,

    Willow

  45. #45

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    Motivation comes and comes. Just like everything in life. Spring leaves us, winters comes...winter leaves us buds begin to come back...such is the nature of our world.

    Do not try to manufacture motivation, because then it will be fake and you will be missing a very important lesson. How to just allow yourself to be when you lose all motivation. It is very easy to sit and be excited about practice when we are filled with motivation and vigor, but this is simply another state of mind.

    We also have to learn to sit with those states of mind we rather not sit with, and this is where the "difficult" part of practice begins to come in. We are always looking for something else, looking for that state of mind we had last week where our practice went perfect and we were sure that we were one breath away from becoming the next Buddha...but what about right now?

    No motivation, not energy, no desire, sit with that. Allow yourself to fully experience that. We always try to run away from such emotions and thoughts without ever really seeing and understanding where they come from? Who is it that has lost motivation? Who is it that wishes it to come back?



    Thanks so much for this post because the replies will really help further my practice. The reply above actually draws me to the cushion to just sit.

    In addition, iI think This is what jundo means when he Says there iw no bad zazen.

    Gassho

    Ray





    It is very difficult to sit during a period of lack of motivation, but it is during that very period that the Dharma is so available if we allow ourselves to watch and stay present to our experience...

    A monk once went to see the Abbot of the temple and told him "I am very discouraged. What should I do?" The Abbot replied, "encourage others."
    Forgive me if what I said is not of much help

    May your practice go well

  46. #46

    Re: On losing motivation..

    Sorry Seiryu,

    I replied using my i pad and would not let me get to the end of your quote before i started writing my reply.

    Gassho

    Ray

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