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Thread: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

  1. #1

    Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Hi all!

    Here I am again with these silly begginer questions about the practice!

    First: despite being "not recommended" to follow thoughts that may arise on Zazen periods, has someone got any PRECIOUS insights? I mean, almost lessons for life (in a practical way, too) or about these "philosophical" questions which almost everyone shares ("who am I", "where am I going", "what is life"...)?

    If yes, tell me, what do you made of this? do you write it down? do you apply it in your everyday life?

    It became a litte contraditious for me to simply "abandon" thoughts which seems-to-be somewhat expressions of Truth.

    Many times those insights are truly new points of view on questions I put on my life...

    Without thinking on that "attachment" Zen tells us to abandon, what is the possibility for it to be true ideas, which we may use for good?

    Are those just mind illusions?

    Iīm asking again because amongst all thoughts that arises during my Zazen periods, sometimes at least one seems to be so good ideas that I keep thinking if I should take or abandon it AFTER I leave the Zafu.

    Thanks again,

    Marcos

  2. #2

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Last Zazen, here came that thought:

    What we call "Mind" is like a child in a house full of windows on various styles, sizes.

    "He/she" wants to look through all the windows, that is the way it manifests itself.

    A flow, like the wind.

    One, many.

    :roll:

    Is this true?

  3. #3

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Marcos, I'm sure one of the teachers here will give a more complete and correct explanation but I'll share my opinion on insights. The most important thing is to just sit, just do it. This is true insight. From here correct action appears. We can make up 10000 insights or models of reality but the truth is we just don't know what this is or what's going to happen to it. Now I'm not saying that the thinking mind is completely useless - it 's a tool for us to use but not get totally lost in. Now I'm going to take this opinion, flush it down the toilet and get to work.

  4. #4

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Here are some random thoughts about Zazen and insight from another noob: :lol:

    The small insights I may have had have come both on and off the cushion, when the causes and conditions have been right, when I have been more open to seeing things in another way, letting things be the way they are, and not so full of myself, my desires and my problems. Sitting Zazen can be viewed as a simplification of our ordinary chaotic life. For most of us it's easier to let go, put down all of the things our mind is busy with and just experience everything as is, when you take a break from your chaotic everyday life, sit down on the zafu and open the hand of thought. Jundo sometimes calls it the flight simulator, where you can practice flying in a less stressful and hazardous enviroment. I wouldn't voluntarily spend my time on the cushion pondering things. You have other moments during the day when you can do that, don't you?

    There may be some moments during Zazen that forever changes the way you think about yourself and the world around you, but (for me at least) sitting is more about getting used to a simpler, more natural way of living and viewing things, non-doing instead of doing, letting go instead of struggling and resisting, seeing the whole instead of the pieces and so on. In Zazen you realize that there doesn't have to be a constant chatter going on in your head all the time, that this egocentric chatter may not be the real "you", that there is another you beneath all the noise, which is more subtle and only noticeable when you are silent and more mindful/aware. When you practice this non-practice regularly, it automatically changes the way your mind works off the cushion too, and you may have new insights during the most mundane activities, seeing things in a different light.

    I like to just keep questions like "who am I" and "what is mind" in the back of my head, without trying to come up with a definite answer. Sometimes a new preliminary answer pops up and that may be seen as an insight, but both the questions and the answers change over time.

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  5. #5

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by mpdalles
    One, many.

    :roll:

    Is this true?
    I would say yes!

    /Pontus

  6. #6

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    The most important thing is to just sit, just do it. This is true insight.
    I forgot to say, sitting is not just a flight simulator, it is also enlightened action, actualizing buddha completely.

    /Pontus

  7. #7

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Insights, just like all thoughts and ideas, are just scenery. Let them come, let them go. Scenery can be pleasant, scenery can be painful. But it makes the ride more interesting. Enjoy sitting. Drop all expectations and judgements. Doubt the doubt. Just keep sitting. Life lived is the greatest insight, takes no effort, no technique, just drop all picking and choosing and enjoy the roller coaster 8)

    Insights into the nature of reality help us live better lives, but they can never be the reason we live. We just live life. And as we grow, so does our capacity for effective living. It's like watering a plant. Nobody pours water on the leaves expecting a plant to grow. But when you water the root, the plant is sure to sprout. Shikantaza is like water. Your nervous system is the root. By sitting, day after day, we create balance in our lives that in turn creates balance in our world. Growth is effortless. Ironically, when stop striving to be better people, we become better people. Take care and enjoy the ride, brother.

    gassho,
    Greg

  8. #8

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    By sitting, day after day, we create balance in our lives that in turn creates balance in our world.
    I like how you put that!
    The middle way could be seen as keeping all pairs of extremes in balance, at once, as one. In that effortless balance, our world may be experienced as is, thus, in suchness.

    Thanks Greg,
    Pontu

  9. #9
    Senior Member Marek's Avatar
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    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    IMHO, so called precious insight are ,,precious" only when we have some expectations about practice. But if you will sit longer you will notice that any kind of insight are simply:

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    just like all thoughts and ideas, are just scenery
    and you will consider zazen as:

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    natural way of living and viewing things, non-doing instead of doing, letting go instead of struggling and resisting, seeing the whole instead of the pieces and so on.
    And then you will notice that:

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    The most important thing is to just sit, just do it.

  10. #10

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    As they stand together in the Dharma Hall, the attendant opens for the Master this venerable patchwork robe. The old sage turns and whispers,

    "What is really going on beneath this ragged robe?"

    The successor, deeply prepared for the transmission of light, remains poised in silence. Intensely, the master continues to whisper,

    "To study and practice the Buddha way without reaching what is beneath the robe creates the greatest pain. Please ask me the question."

    The successor repeats the sage's words,

    "What is really going on beneath this robe?"

    With almost no sound, the Zen Master responds,

    "intimacy".

  11. #11

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marek
    IMHO, so called precious insight are ,,precious" only when we have some expectations about practice. But if you will sit longer you will notice that any kind of insight are simply:

    Quote Originally Posted by ghop
    just like all thoughts and ideas, are just scenery
    and you will consider zazen as:

    Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi
    natural way of living and viewing things, non-doing instead of doing, letting go instead of struggling and resisting, seeing the whole instead of the pieces and so on.
    And then you will notice that:

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    The most important thing is to just sit, just do it.
    So many wise folks we have around this place, as those above! Yes, when sitting ... just sit. In Zazen, do not look for or think about shiny and sparkling insights, no matter whether they are real gold or just fools gold.

    Otherwise, it is like visiting the Grand Canyon and ... instead of silently experiencing the Wonder and Vastness, letting it wash through and fill one ... one is instead spending the whole time thinking up word descriptions to express it and yapping about how wonderfully big it is, trying to capture the thing with a cell phone camera, thinking about getting to the gift shop to buy postcards!

    Got the point? Put down the postcards, camera, talking and thinking ... and just be Grand! That's Real Gold!

    Now, that being said ... in the Wholeness and Stillness of Zazen, sometimes ... once in awhile ... the Still, Small Voice inside will whisper some insight. Yes, this happens. The Quiet and Openness allows us to see this self-life-world in new ways, old memories to rise from the subconscious, and all kinds of things like that!

    And you know what? Sometimes they are good insights that are real "keepers" to be cherished ... Koans will open, Teachings will become clear, self-discoveries made ... and sometimes they are just plain wrong or crazy (In fact, people tend to take the craziest ones and build whole new cults, Holy Books, Sutras, and world religions around them! Maybe most cults and religions start that way! :shock: ). Feel free to try to figure out which is which ... between sittings. Maybe, better yet, don't even bother ... and let time and life just sort them out.

    So, my advise is ... when sitting, just sit. This Practice will change you, and some Wise and Compassionate Insights will come to penetrate you right to the marrow ... but often in subtle ways. We sometimes compare Shikantaza Practice to passing through a light morning mist that, slowly and steadily, will soak one through and through as much as a great rain shower!

    Just a comment from another "noob" ...

    Gassho, J

  12. #12
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    We sometimes compare Shikantaza Practice to passing through a light morning mist that, slowly and steadily, will soak one through and through as much as a great rain shower!
    Beautiful! _/_

  13. #13

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    To go along Bro Jundo and go one step further I would say: chuck them out!
    Don't become a living clutter, a collection of piled up items.

    Practice is meant to free you out.

    When freedom is, wisdom blooms.
    I don'get my wisdom from quotes, books, or experiences.

    from this moment,as is, it comes.
    And often it doesn't.
    And I could not care less.

    Do you want to be like a pretty dead dry fish
    of just alive, fish in the sea, sea in the fish, sea-fish boundlessly here?


    We don't need insight.
    We don't need whaou moments.
    When they happen, let them happen. They will soon vanish.

    In just being, no insight:

    the seen and seing are one.


    One more thing:?the first koan of the book of equanimity points at something like that, among other things.

    gassho

    Taigu

  14. #14
    disastermouse
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    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Sometimes the really seemingly significant stuff doesn't actually 'hit' until you get off the cushion. If you're a creative person and are afraid of missing an idea, sit with a notepad nearby. Oddly, you'll rarely use it - but having it there assuages the fear that you'll miss something. It has helped me during times of extreme distraction about that particular worry.

    Chet

  15. #15

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    In just being, no insight:

    the seen and seing are one.
    Everything already in sight!

    Thank you Taigu and Jundo,
    Again, I'm glad to be here!

    Gassho,
    /Pontus

  16. #16

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Taigu wrote
    'To go along Bro Jundo and go one step further I would say: chuck them out!
    Don't become a living clutter, a collection of piled up item

    When freedom is, wisdom blooms.
    I don'get my wisdom from quotes, books, or experience.'

    Taigu what you write is so true - but the doing of 'uncluttering' can be a hell of a process - each person must surely have their personal journey with this?

    It may be written about someplace on this site - I keep discovering new links - but I'm wondering how did this happen for you?
    Was it easy to get rid of all the books/words? I think at one time you were an academic?

    You also wrote

    'One more thing:?the first koan of the book of equanimity points at something like that, among other things.'

    The Book of Equanimity is on my bookshelf - with all the other books on Zen - by the above principle do I also throw this book out?

    This is the difficulty - is anything really worth keeping - worth investing time in? Do we reach a point in life where in our innermost hearts
    and being we grasp how to be a fully functioning/caring individual living this one precious life? 'Nothing to add - perfect as is' as Jundo teaches.

    Zazen seems so 'pure' in a way - but the written paraphanelia around Zen is mind boggling. :roll:

    Perhaps we need the words there in the first place in order to reject - work out the unnecessary.

    We are perhaps fortunate in having a choice?

    Gassho

    Willow

  17. #17

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Jundo

    Feel free to try to figure out which is which ... between sittings. Maybe, better yet, don't even bother ... and let time and life just sort them out.
    This one I like.

    Gassho

    W

  18. #18

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by willow
    'Nothing to add - perfect as is' as Jundo teaches.
    Just a footnote ...

    I never say that, that things or people are "perfect as they are" or "perfect as is".

    Maybe I say that everything and everybody be perfectly just what they are. Each Buddha, although drenched in flaws. All perfectly-imperfect specimens! Cracked Buddhas.

    Nothing to add or take away to make you more you, or Buddha more Buddha, or you more Buddha ... but best to be rid of those flaws to be&act more like a Buddha. 8)

    Heck, best to just forget judging "perfect" and "imperfect" at all!

    End of footnote.

  19. #19

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Jundo - sorry I misquoted you. ops:

    Gassho

    Willow

  20. #20
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Practically speaking, when I uncover or discover some great insight during zazen, I go "Wow!" and then drop it and go back to zazen. Later, after zazen is over, if the insight was important enough (which it often isn't), I write it down. Even later, if it wasn't important enough (which it often isn't) I forget about it entirely. And on those rare occasions where the insight truly was important, so important that it changes my life in some way... well, writing it down to remember it isn't really necessary, is it?

    Insights are not outcomes, just small way stations on the Path. By all means, check out their scenery, but don't mistake the scenery of insight for the journey itself.

  21. #21

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Have just watched new video Taigu - thankyou, my questions are answered.

    Gassho

    Willow

  22. #22
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Practically speaking, when I uncover or discover some great insight during zazen, I go "Wow!" and then drop it and go back to zazen. Later, after zazen is over, if the insight was important enough (which it often isn't), I write it down. Even later, if it wasn't important enough (which it often isn't) I forget about it entirely. And on those rare occasions where the insight truly was important, so important that it changes my life in some way... well, writing it down to remember it isn't really necessary, is it?

    Insights are not outcomes, just small way stations on the Path. By all means, check out their scenery, but don't mistake the scenery of insight for the journey itself.
    Wonderful! Deep gassho _/_

  23. #23

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    If all these "insights" are meaningless (and sometimes may be false concepts, illusions, points-of-escape of the intellectual mind), why did the Shakiamuni Buddha Himself paid so much attention to them (when structuring His doctrine)?

    The teachings which composes his "dharma" seems to be based on the insights He had along the Way.

    Logical deductions (maybe in other levels of comprehension, but still logical deductions) about the causes of suffering and all of this.

    I still cannot see where is my intellectual mind (it (begins to) seems to me that is no "mind" neither "mine" nor "intellectual" - thatīs what I understood from that experience I wrote here), if I wasnīt thinking in nothing special during practice.

    All being just a flow, if we catch a leave flying in the wind, can we say we put that leave there?

    Iīm trying to understand that simplicity of the practice: Drop away mind and body... or so, as Master Dogen Zenji said.

    But how can I say something like it is "my mind" or "my thoughts" if I didnīt started them, I just catched it on that flow of "opening windows" Zazen seems to provocate?

    (Dear friends, sorry but many times "my" limited english doesnīt help me to put things exactly how I want to expose it to you. Hopefully I could give you an idea of what is going here. :-) )

  24. #24

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    One more thing:?the first koan of the book of equanimity points at something like that, among other things.

    gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu Sensei,

    Iīve looked for this book on internet, read the 1st case, but I donīt understand when it relates to the questions/experience Iīve described...

    For me, when I read it (on google books), it seemed that when we think on Buddha as a superior being, outside of us, he is visible, on the platform (above us) but when we truly comprehend His dharma, he "leave the platform" to be among us, it tells me he and us are in the same level - we are the same.

    Still, I donīt understand, can you help? What is Koan? Is it used in Zen? what the objectives of it? how can we study them?

    And for you all: Today on the Zendo Iīm practicing, it will begins a group of studies "basic level" on Buddhist doctrine... I think Iīll be there, what do you think of it? can it be good for me to study buddhism intellectually? :wink:

  25. #25

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    The buddhas words were orally transmitted for over 200 years before being written down. Then they were translated and interpreted many times by many people. So there is some disagreement about meaning. From my study what the buddha actually did is repeated again and again by most people. He did a lot of sitting meditation, he walked around the countryside alot, and he did a lot of dharma talking. Personally I feel that just sitting is the core teaching and the walking and talking is to help everyone with this and whatever else they need.

  26. #26

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Marcos,

    We will all soon start to read the book of equanimity, part of the book club.

    koan are seen in our Soto tradition not as tools to generate understanding and breakthrough but as the ten thousand ways to look at the same reality.

    this, from Jundo might help:
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with understanding a Koan intellectually ... so long as one does not stop there.

    Most of the Koans do have some "point" being made arising out of Zen and Buddhist perspectives/non-perspectives and philosophy (for example, a lot of the Koans are about Emptiness or the Relative/Absolute or the nature of a Buddha) ... and it is baloney for one to say that one must ignore, or not "think about" that aspect of the Koan and that it is not helpful to understand it on an intellectual level. BULL & BALONEY! Few if any legitimate teachers of Zen assert such an extreme opinion (at least if you read them closely), although many people bandy such assertions about.

    Such assertions come from (1) people who ignore the fact that most monks of old were very highly trained and familiar with the central questions and perspectives of Zen Buddhist philosophy and teachings, and so were able to "pick up" the implied message in the Koans ... for example Dogen, Matsu, Ta Hui, Hakuin and about everyone else were very much highly educated and immersed in Buddhist culture, history and teachings and thus knew the back story on the Koans and what the discussion was about "between the lines", (2) certain radicals who, although a minority, misused the Koans by emphasizing some extreme view of "A Way Beyond Words And Letters" that overlooked the fact that all the great teachers first understood the letters in order to go beyond them! , (3) the modern foolish types who think that, because the Koans are written in a way that is hard to understand to modern readers 1000 years and several cultures removed from their writing, that they are not supposed to be understandable! Don't believe the propaganda!

    As we shall encounter when we delve into the Book of Serenity, such is not the case. Often the Koans can be understood by the intellect ... although the message is often shocking, MIND BLOWING, an attack on our ordinary suppositions about who we are and how the world is!

    HOWEVER, the point is that one must not stop with an intellectual understanding, but go beyond and live it! Do not just get trapped in your head, armchair philosophizing and spinning mental wheels!

    Simply, it is like the difference between understanding the rules of baseball (important in playing baseball) ... and actually taking the field and playing baseball. It is the difference between understanding music and how to play a guitar (important in playing a guitar) ... and actually playing a guitar with all one's heart. It is like the gap between an intellectual understanding of romance and sexual reproduction (a bit of knowledge is helpful even here ) ... and making love.

    Got the point? Give the Koans some time ... don't be too worried that they are too hard to understand the first few times, or that they don't ring your bell right away. Like playing baseball, guitar ... or making love ... one does tend to get better at it with time!



    For now, just give space and time to just sitting. Attending a group studying Buddhism is a good idea. It may make things clear.

    If you want to meet the real practice and ultimate study, the study of the self, open your heart-mind, fold your legs and sit.

    The chapter called genjokoan in Shobogenzo, a letter Dogen wrote to one of his students, would be helpful to you.

    viewtopic.php?f=40&t=4160


    gassho


    Taigu

  27. #27

    Re: Precious Insights during Zazen - What do you make of it?

    Quote Originally Posted by mpdalles
    If all these "insights" are meaningless (and sometimes may be false concepts, illusions, points-of-escape of the intellectual mind), why did the Shakiamuni Buddha Himself paid so much attention to them (when structuring His doctrine)?

    The teachings which composes his "dharma" seems to be based on the insights He had along the Way.
    If one reads the Suttas and Sutras (I am reading slowly the wonderful new translation by Red Pine of the Lankavatara now), one finds that the Buddha spends as much time pointing to mistaken or partial views that arise in meditation, practice and life as pointing to right views. Sometimes, he even corrects or rejects teachings he seemed to make in other Suttas and Sutras! And, in the Mahayana anyway, the Ultimate View is somehow the view of no views and all views.

    So, the problem is not insights ... it is separating the gold from the fools gold (i.e., the medicines that work in life's dis-ease and those that don't), all while not failing to live the No View of All Views.

    Sit when sitting. (And also don't let the mind run wild like a run-a-way train of thoughts and suppositions between sittings! One might even find that there is no "in between!")

    Quote Originally Posted by mpdalles
    But how can I say something like it is "my mind" or "my thoughts" if I didnīt started them, I just catched it on that flow of "opening windows" Zazen seems to provocate?
    Reminds me of another Koan about Bodhidharma and his student, Hui'ko ...

    Hui-k'o, who would be the Second Patriarch of Ch'an, ... said, "Your disciple's mind has no peace as yet. Master, please, put it to rest." Bodhidharma said, "Bring me your mind, and I will put it to rest." Hui-k'o said, "I have searched for my mind, but I cannot find it." Bodhidharma said, "I have completely put it to rest for you."

    Like a mind imagining an imaginary man searching for his imaginary mind where he imagines feeling imaginary "no peace". That's an imagined insight once that arose while sitting imagined Zazen! 8)

    Like the mirror giving image to a mirror searching for that mirror where the mirror reflects "no peace". That's a reflection that lit up once while sitting mirror Zazen!

    Like the wetness of the ocean looking for ocean water where waves are sometimes not "at peace." :wink:

    Good insights perhaps? Maybe not? No matter, let them go ... and just sit~live this dream Zazen as a mirror, as flowing ocean.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J


    Ps -

    Lovely, Rich ...

    just sitting is the core teaching and the walking and talking is to help everyone with this and whatever else they need.

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