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Thread: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

  1. #1

    Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Hi, all.

    Let me tell you something that happened some time ago, and let my mind full of questions...

    I was doing zazen, when here it came the image of a mirror reflecting a mirror, that "infinite" perspective, and a thought crossed my mind:

    "Who is thinking?"

    Despite my efforts on follow to where that thoughts started (on the mirrorīs images), I couldnīt find the point.

    Well, when the period ended, I was kinda "scaried" on that new perspective... is there a "me"?

    If thereīs not a "me", who am I? In a flow of "happenings" why do I think something is produced by me?

    Of course I did not expect you to answer things like that, here.

    I just want to know...should I follow this kind of thoughts when it arouses in my mind during Zazen time? or should I let it be and not give importance to it? because it brought to me new perspectives on my life, the way I think about me...the world, reality... is that just more mental "garbage"? illusions? what should I do?

    Can we use Zazen to pursue thoughts like that?

  2. #2

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    I thought it was important to mention that despe the fact that I am currently doing zazen in a Zen Temple, I am doing it by myself, so I never had an opportunity to ask nobody about anything that happened during those periods... (Iīm kind of shy, also...)

  3. #3

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Good questions Marcos. The mirror analogy is used a lot in zen. Like mind is a mirror reflecting what comes before it. The mirrors reflecting mirrors reminds me of all the individual mirrors reflecting each other. But unless I'm analyzing or considering a situation I don't pursue such thinking.

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Hi Marcos,

    In sitting, we don't chase or pursue thoughts, thoughts about Buddha are not Buddha, just thoughts. Thoughts about the nature of enlightenment can be impresive, entertaining and we relinquish them, drop them, let them go. Thoughts will take you away from this place, this body-mind, and all we do is to stay here and now. I am sure Jundo has a lot more to say about this.

    gassho

    Taigu

  5. #5

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I am sure Jundo has a lot more to say about this.
    I will try not to pour too many more thoughts on top of thoughts. 8)

    In a mirror reflected in a mirror, where do the reflections begin and end? GOOD QUESTION! :shock: However, I would just "let it be" as Taigu says ... especially while sitting Shikantaza, don't think about them.

    Shikantaza is just sitting -AS- the mirrors without thinking, philosophizing and pondering about what is reflected in them. The mirrors (like Buddha) reject nothing appearing in the mirrors, holding and showing all ... big and small, beautiful or ugly to human eyes. Sit like that.

    Zen Teacher Taigen Leighton recounts this story about Fazang, a great teacher of Huayan (Flower Ornament) Buddhism ...


    Another time, Fazang illustrated the Huayan teachings for Empress Wu by constructing a hall of mirrors, placing mirrors on the ceiling, floor, four walls, and four corners of a room. In the center he placed a Buddha image with a lamp next to it. Standing in this room, the empress could see that the reflection in any one mirror clearly reflected the reflections from all of the other mirrors, including the specific reflection of the Buddha image in each one. This fully demonstrated the unobstructed interpenetration of the particular and the totality, with each one contained in all, and with all contained in each one. Moreover, it showed the nonobstructed interpenetration of each particular mirror with each of the others.

    ...

    A frequently cited expression of this vision of reality is the simile of Indra’s Net from the Avatamsaka Sutra, which was further elaborated by the Huayan teachers. The whole universe is seen as a multidimensional net. At every point where the strands of the net meet, jewels are set. Each jewel reflects the light reflected in the jewels around it, and each of those jewels in turn reflects the light from all the jewels around them, and so on, forever. In this way, each jewel, or each particular entity or event, including each person, ultimately reflects and expresses the radiance of the entire universe. All of totality can be seen in each of its parts.

    http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/index.html


    Just sit with that ... no need to think about that ... especially during Zazen.

    Gassho, J

  6. #6

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    ....something that confuses me - I experience a contradiction between 'letting be' and 'investigating?'

    Also, if I sit 'with' - how is this 'not thinking' - or concentrating in some way which inevitably involves thought? :?

    Sorry - this is surely one of those perennial questions which Jundo and Taigu have to keep answering over and over again. ops:

    Gassho

    Willow

  7. #7
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    If there is no one to see a reflection in a mirror reflected in a mirror, does that reflection exist?

  8. #8

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    ....something that confuses me - I experience a contradiction between 'letting be' and 'investigating?'

    Also, if I sit 'with' - how is this 'not thinking' - or concentrating in some way which inevitably involves thought? :?

    Sorry - this is surely one of those perennial questions which Jundo and Taigu have to keep answering over and over again. ops:

    Gassho

    Willow
    In a previous 'lifetime' when I had a difficult problem at work to solve, I would spend hours analyzing and investigating possibilities and no solution seemed to work. When I completely let go of the problem sometimes a solution would appear seemingly out of nowhere. This ability to let go seems to allow wisdom to function. Some of my thinking and feeling habits are so deep it will take a lifetime of practice to let them go but the freedom to just be is ...........

  9. #9

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Hi Rich - I think I might have been coming from the opposite direction (probably not very clearly).

    Also - still reflecting on Will's post 'Investigate'.

    What I was trying to express is a contradiction that my mind puzzles over (possibly a misunderstanding on my part)
    between 'we should investigate one thousand points ....' (Dogen - on sitting) and 'to study the self is to forget the self'.
    It's like be vigilant/investigate - don't be vigilant/investigate - at the same time.

    I find I naturally gravitate to 'not thinking' - or at least to hold 'thinking on not thinking' . I'm sure that's because I live a fairly peaceful
    life just now -and 'am fortunate to have a breathing space from having to make major decisions. It is of course just a brief respite,
    something will no doubt come along - dukkha is only ever a single breath away. But what is really noticeable to me is that zazen has
    helped me to release my mind from endless rumination. Even when the present is peaceful we can always trash it by fixing on pain
    from the past!

    I'm probably just complicating things - better to just sit - yes?

    Gassho

    Willow

  10. #10

    Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    What I was trying to express is a contradiction that my mind puzzles over (possibly a misunderstanding on my part)
    between 'we should investigate one thousand points ....' (Dogen - on sitting) and 'to study the self is to forget the self'.
    It's like be vigilant/investigate - don't be vigilant/investigate - at the same time.
    Hello Willow!
    Yes, it may seem like a contradiction! But this investigation doesn't have to involve discursive, analytical thinking. If and when during Zazen you find yourself in a state where this discursive thinking drops away completely, that is where this non-thinking investigation is most obvious, at least for me. If you don't, no worries. Zazen shouldn't turn into chasing after any special states and I suspect in some ways it may even be better to learn this form of mindful, curious, non-thinking exploration of what is in this moment the hard way and not be dependant on any special circumstances. Sometimes, when I have the time to do nothing, I like to just ask myself "what is this", open the hand of thought and just sit, walk or whatever it is that I'm doing. But I'm afraid I almost always feel I have something more important to do...

    I'm probably just complicating things - better to just sit - yes?
    That's what I'm telling myself!

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  11. #11

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Yes we always seem to be complicating things so its better to just sit. But since you brought up dogens. Investigating 1000 points. And study the self to forget the self. Here's my free opinion.
    Without investigation we don't understand how to live- what to do. But with too much investigation we miss the whole point of living. So there has to be some kind of balance and that's forgetting the self.

  12. #12

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Hi Rich - yes, thanks for that. It is important to have a balance.

    Pontus - your comment about non-discursive thinking - that really helped. It's almost like I'm having to give myself permission
    to enjoy/feel at ease with non-thinking :roll:

    Gassho

    Willow

  13. #13

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    mpdalles
    and a thought crossed my mind
    There you go. Practice.

    ------------

    What Taigu and Jundo said.

    Gassho

    W

  14. #14

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Thank you all for the kind answers, most specially Sensei Taigu and Sensei Jundo.

    So, letīs zazen! (can I use this word as a verb?)

    (I just canīt hold curiosity, sorry!) - If there is no start nor end on thinking neither "individual" beings, why do we think as individuals? why do we think we are individuals? who is the "I"? thatīs the kind of thinkings that are arising since that zazen...

    Another question, sorry, but If I wasnīt provocating that kind of thoughts during Zazen (mirrors, that question - "whoīs thinking", et cetera.) why did those thoughts/questions arose?

    Iīm becoming most interested in Zen, as Iīve ever been truly interested in the "awakening"... I can say this is my "life" interest... so I beg you sorry if I ask so many questions, or if my questions seems like children mish-mash...

  15. #15

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by mpdalles

    (I just canīt hold curiosity, sorry!) - If there is no start nor end on thinking neither "individual" beings, why do we think as individuals? why do we think we are individuals? who is the "I"? thatīs the kind of thinkings that are arising since that zazen...

    Another question, sorry, but If I wasnīt provocating that kind of thoughts during Zazen (mirrors, that question - "whoīs thinking", et cetera.) why did those thoughts/questions arose?

    Iīm becoming most interested in Zen, as Iīve ever been truly interested in the "awakening"... I can say this is my "life" interest... so I beg you sorry if I ask so many questions, or if my questions seems like children mish-mash...
    No probs. Questions come up during practice, but practice is pretty subtle. That's possibly your koan. Have a look at some the books that they teach around here ie. Shobogenzo and some others.

    Gassho

    W

  16. #16

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    ....something that confuses me - I experience a contradiction between 'letting be' and 'investigating?'

    Also, if I sit 'with' - how is this 'not thinking' - or concentrating in some way which inevitably involves thought? :?

    Sorry - this is surely one of those perennial questions which Jundo and Taigu have to keep answering over and over again. ops:

    Gassho

    Willow
    Quote Originally Posted by mpdalles
    If there is no start nor end on thinking neither "individual" beings, why do we think as individuals? why do we think we are individuals? who is the "I"? thatīs the kind of thinkings that are arising since that zazen...

    Another question, sorry, but If I wasnīt provocating that kind of thoughts during Zazen (... why did those thoughts/questions arose?

    Marcos
    Hi Willow and Marcos,

    When we sit Shikantaza, we may sit in a room that happens to have a table in our line of vision. Our eyes are open, and we see the table as light waves reflected from it enter our eyes. However, in Shikantaza ... we don't start thinking about the table ... thinking "beautiful table, I like it" or "ugly table, I hate it" or "ugly old wooden table" or "ugly old wooden table with a missing leg" or "I must trash this ugly broken table and go shopping for a new table next week." Basically, in Shikantaza ... we see it without particularly trying to notice the table, focus on the table, label the table, think about the table, analyze the table or philosophize about the table ("Is a table with a missing leg still a table? When does a table become a chair?"). It is just there, perhaps not even particularly registering in our conscious awareness ... seen but not noticed.

    In fact, our mind becomes much like a glass mirror which may be reflecting an image of a table ... but the mirror does so without thinking about the table, judging the table, labeling the table as a "broken table" or "good table" or even a "table." The table is just there, perfectly just what it is even if without a leg ... suchness.

    In Shikantaza, we sit in such way with ... not just the table ... but all of the room, our questions, problems, the world, life and all reality. All is just what it are.

    And in doing so, a wonderful miracle may happen ... that you, me, lightwaves, tables, the room, questions, problems, the world, life and all reality may manifest as a Magnificent Whole ... Indra's Net ... Mirrors reflecting Mirrors, all a Great Mirror. Buddha.

    So, stop thinking about chairs, problems and philosophical questions like "what is an 'individual'?" and "why do questions about questions arise?" "if a square is round is it a circle?" and "when is a table a table?" ... put such question down in a moment of Shikantaza ... and ...

    ... just sit the Great Mirror, Great Buddha-Mirror with nothing outside it or apart ... containing mirrors reflecting countless mirrors reflecting countless mirrors. So many question will evaporate or become clear. So many problems may prove to be "non-problems" ... and the broken pieces of life are somehow Wholly Holy Whole. "I" and "individuals" are seen/pierced/lived in new ways. As Dogen said, thus there is "investigated one thousand points ....' and 'to study the self is to forget the self'

    By the way ... I often say "just sit with that". But the "with" in "sit with that" is a bit misleading, as it implies a separation of 'the sitter' and 'the sat'. In fact, in what I am describing, there is just the Sitting-Sits-Sitting.

    Gassho, J

  17. #17
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    A very interesting thread! So thank you Marcos for starting it!

    Sometimes, when I have the time to do nothing.............. I'm afraid I almost always feel I have something more important to do...
    This is a real hill for me!
    However yesterday nothing happened and I didn't 'worry' about it! :shock:

  18. #18

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Thanks Jundo - that is very clear. (I do agree that the words 'sit with that' is a little confusing for those of us new to sitting but that
    is now clarified).

    I think what is interesting/challenging is how to integrate the insight of 'wholeness' - which may be oh so fleeting - and sometimes
    can't be experienced/grasped at all in zazen ( though understanding - no such thing as 'bad' zazen as such) - into everyday life. This seems to
    be the greatest challenge of all - how the fruits of practice play out in our relationship to our lived world?

    Gassho

    Willow

  19. #19

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by mpdalles
    If there is no start nor end on thinking neither "individual" beings, why do we think as individuals? why do we think we are individuals? who is the "I"? thatīs the kind of thinkings that are arising since that zazen...

    Marcos
    Now, rising from the Zafu cushion ...

    ... it is important to know that there are Buddhist Teachings ... cherished teachings in Zen and all Buddhism, some of the most ancient ... on where the "individual" arises, this sense of "me" and a "small self" somehow apart from the "not myself" world. In fact, the Heart of Buddhist practice ... from Zazen to all the Sutras ... might be said to be focused on both explaining the origins of that "gap" and bridging the gap.

    There is room for some study and philosophizing in Buddhism ... including Zen Buddhism ... so long as one does not just limit oneself to that, trapped in armchair Buddhism and getting lost in mental wheel spinning and "angels on the head of the pin" questions ... and one knows how to sit Zazen dropping all that and thus "bridging the gap" on the Zafu too!

    So, what are the main Buddhist doctrines on the origin of the "I" and the "self/other" divide?

    There is Dependent Co-Origination ...

    viewtopic.php?f=21&t=2929

    Another set of teachings not different from Dependent Co-Origination (just looking at the same process of self/other creation from another angle) is traditional Buddhist psychology, attempting to describe the workings of the dividing, naming, categorizing, judging mind and its creation of our experience of reality, as described here ...

    viewtopic.php?p=47830#p47830

    (The Lankavatara Sutra, recently published in a lovely new translation by the great Red Pine ... although not particularly "easy reading" ... is also pretty much on this very same framework of Buddhist psychology)

    Now both those systems ... about 2000 years old each ... are a bit dated (and have been subject to a great variety of interpretations), but both were certainly on the right track. As a matter of fact, much of what modern science now understands about our mental creation of a sense of "self" as a separate entity (and the workings of the dividing, naming, categorizing, judging mind) seems to be saying much the same on the key points of the process.

    Those are long posts, but most Zen practitioners need some familiarity with the subject matter (and the object matter ... and no subject-object too. Little pun there! :roll: ) Just don't get caught up in "thinking, analyzing, analizing, and philosophizing" too much about these things. Rather ... get back to the cushion and experience.

    By the way, "Indra's Net" can also be viewed as another perspective on this same "process" ... as each jewel in the net can be seen as a separate "individual" ... but a separate "individual" made possible by all the surrounding jewels and circumstances which support it ...and really all just the whole, every jewel supporting and interpenetrating each other and all just the Great Net!

    Gassho, J

  20. #20

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Sensei Jundo,

    Thank you SO MUCH for bringing more light to this discussion. After I could see the topic youīve posted on "The Twelve-Fold Chain" this became a lot more clear for my comprehension. So, thanks, thanks, thanks.

  21. #21

    Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by chugai
    Just sit , you're going to think like a brook babbles.

    Just sit there, no enlightenment as to your total enlightenment --- nevermind the thinnest shred of delusion convincing you to polish a tile instead.
    Yes!

    And when you are finished with just sitting there, you can always polish a tile, can't you?

    As long as you don't try to turn it into a mirror!

    Just polish. Pure, perfect, whole-hearted polishing in every rubbing motion. No goal. No need for the tile to be something else, something cleaner, more like a mirror. No idea of an end result. Just polishing like there is nothing more to life than polishing. No hurry. No worry. Nothing that needs to be finished. Nothing else that needs to be done. Just the whole world, the whole universe at once, polishing as one. No you. No tile. No polishing. Just a mirror.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  22. #22

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Amazing stuff here. Thanks all.

    gassho
    Greg

  23. #23

    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    First thing I thought of.


    Attached files

  24. #24
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Mirrors reflecting mirrors

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    First thing I thought of.
    Nice one! I love the way you think
    Don't know if you've ever seen this awesome clip? Enjoy..........
    [youtube] [/youtube]

    Gassho,
    Hoyu

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