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Thread: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

  1. #1

    False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    For a few weeks I have meant to ask Treeleaf's opinion about a recurring reflective thought: that I do not have (granted, my self-imagined) characteristics of committed zen practitioners (elan, frequent laughter, sense of lightness). I think I read somewhere once that many experienced folks laugh all of the time. I also read something once about a person feeling light all of the time, like they literally floated from place to place.

    Thanks to lots of your comments and to Jundo and Taigu's video tutorials, I realize that these ideas of how zen should be can cause suffering. There are times when I catch this and there are times when I don't. But that's like shikantaza.

    Have you ever experienced a sticky thought pattern like this? How did it change over time for you? Are there other ways to look at or consider it?

    I have been sitting daily for about eight months, but I still feel pretty naive about what I'm doing.

    Thank you for checking out my post.

  2. #2

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    There are no doubt a lot of 'fluffy' ideas out there concerning Zen. Also - some Zen masters do seem calm and ebullient in equal degrees! When I witness such calmness I think 'I'll never be like that' but who knows what really goes on within the mind of the calmest, happiest, zenniest individual.

    Charlotte Joko Beck writes

    Wandering in the desert, looking for the Promised Land: this is our life ....... we may have read books that paint a pretty picture of the Promised Land ......... (but) ..... we may come to a discovery: wandering in the desert is the Promised Land.

    So - as a result of practice - I don't expect to laugh all the time, or to float on air - just to be more in tune with what is - walking the beauty and hardship of this life with my feet of clay.

    Gassho

    Willow

  3. #3

    False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Ryokan didn't laugh all the time. Less worry may mean more smiling and laughter, but not always so.

    I think we are all more or less stuck in thought patterns. Being aware of them is the first step towards freedom, so consider yourself lucky! Being naive about practice can also be a great thing, as in beginner's mind!

    Gassho,
    Pontus

  4. #4

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    I don't know about "ALL THE TIME" ... can't think of a Buddha or Ancestor who's perpetually Mr. Giggles ...

    ... but elan, frequent laughter, sense of lightness, a great sense of humor (together with the tears, sometimes all at once) ...

    ... this is vital to life.

    [youtube] [/youtube]

  5. #5

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    I'd say drop it, and see what your practice says. See what "you" really say, when you are not worrying about you.

    All kinds of things come up in practice, but what does Dogen mean by "forget the self"?

    I think he's talking about a lot of the comparing, disappointment, and general egoness that goes on. When you do your practice without any thought of practice, and continue to do your practice. Practice being you, and you being practice. Duality and so on.

    Though, if such thoughts were to arise, and we get attached to them, then I think that's practice as well, and you just let it come and go. All things come and go, nothing is permanent. Study the self.

    Gassho

    W

  6. #6
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I don't know about "ALL THE TIME" ... can't think of a Buddha or Ancestor who's perpetually Mr. Giggles ...

    ... but elan, frequent laughter, sense of lightness, a great sense of humor (together with the tears, sometimes all at once) ...

    ... this is vital to life.

    [youtube] [/youtube]
    Some amazing moves there! Never seen this film(before my time perhaps?) but I'm impressed with the quality of this scene. I'm guessing it's a classic?!

    Gassho,
    Hoyu

  7. #7

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I don't know about "ALL THE TIME" ... can't think of a Buddha or Ancestor who's perpetually Mr. Giggles ...
    Let me say that if one is talking about a certain Joy (Big "J") that shines in, between, behind, around, through-and-through and precisely as all the daily joys and tears of life ... a Still Point that moves, dances and -is- the very ups and downs ... a clear Peace of One Piece (a phrase I cooked up, cause truly no words and talking hold this) that holds all the broken and sharp pieces of this world ...

    Yes, we are the Song Singing in the sunshine and the rain and all the changing weather of life.



    Gassho, J

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoyu
    Some amazing moves there! Never seen this film(before my time perhaps?) but I'm impressed with the quality of this scene. I'm guessing it's a classic?!

    Gassho,
    Hoyu
    Yes, Singin' in the Rain, the greatest of the old MGM musicals, and hilarious to boot. You've GOT to rent it.

    Gassho

    Jen

  9. #9
    disastermouse
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    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Hakuin had his own style and criticized accordingly. Here we are Soto, it's hardly 'do nothing' but it's difficult to say what it is we do. Perhaps frustrating the urge to do something (anything!) is also a path.

    Chet

  10. #10

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Chet wrote

    Here we are Soto, it's hardly 'do nothing' but it's difficult to say what it is we do. Perhaps frustrating the urge to do something (anything!) is also a path.

    Thanks Chet - have just re-read this thread and the import of your reply is neat. 8)

    Gassho

    Willow

  11. #11

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Hello, this is my first post (well, after my introduction). Not to sound to pretentious, but it seems that expectation itself is false. I struggle with the same kind of projections, expectations and sticky thought patterns. What I've learned over the years, though, is that as meditation practitioners we KNOW what we should do - drop it and hit the cushion (or take 10 breathes just to remind us of what is available). As someone mentioned, life plans are pure fiction. So are ideas of what zen should look like. And I think sadness is a natural, wonderful thing. We suffer when we think it "shouldn't be there" and we feel aversion. Sadness itself is just another passing thing. All of that said, 90% of the time I forget that, but that's why we practice and form Sanghas.

  12. #12

    False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Gassho Scoultrane,
    Pontus

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
    ? Albert Einstein

  14. #14

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    Hi Madrone.

    If I could say anything it would be this: BE INNOCENT IN YOUR PRACTICE. By this I mean...open, naive, without any expectation. Just sit, and let happen whatever happens. Remember, it is a joy to not have to do anything, to not have to achieve anything, to not have to be or become anything. It is a joy to just stop, to just sit. Your brain is going to do what it was created to do: think, inquire, doubt, etc. Doubt the doubt. Keep sitting. Nothing is supposed to happen. The joy that arises from sitting isn't a "worldly" type of joy. It's not a joy you get in exchange for something else. It arises from being. Remember, sitting is easy. You cannot do it wrong. Trust yourself. Are you prepared to sit zazen for the rest of your life without ever achieving anything by it? Forget all the romantic stories you've heard about Buddhas and altered states of consciousness, etc. What you are doing right now, where you are, what you are thinking, what your life is, right here, right now, THIS IS IT. There is nothing else to seek. So, sit just to sit. Sit as if there were nothing else to accomplish. Sit like Buddha. Buddha with doubt, Buddha with lots of thoughts. Buddha.

    gassho
    Greg

  15. #15

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    I've had great highs and endured great lows with the sitting and the breathing and the crashing crush of my brain against the insides of my skull, but I've found over the years 1 piece of advice that helps: It's the effort of sitting that's all your after.

    I say sitting, but for me I still count my breaths, and here in lies my struggle with myself: I know I can get a really good "high" (for lack of a better word) if I pay attention to sound. But as soon as I pursue the "high" that comes with just listening I'm no longer pursuing zen, or meditation, or self-control. Which for me is what I'm after, self-control. And a lack of depth.

    I've found the pursuit of "depth" or deeper experience or what ever to be very distracting from the just sitting, or just breathing or just wondering what the hell I'm doing when my dog is screaming at the mail man again.

    The false expectation of Zen is that there is more to it than just sitting. It's just sitting. There are 1000's of ways to go about this and you will find your way to sit. Mine is to count my breaths and maybe yours will be to just breath, or sit, or understand why your dog is freaking out at the mail man. (My mum says it's because the mail man comes and immediately goes, giving my dog a false sense of success. My headache disagrees with this false sense because he is succeeding at something

    I'll end my rare response with one of my favorite koans (paraphrased).

    Do you want to learn zen?

    Yes.

    20 years.

    Is there any way to do it quicker?

    Yes, but that'll take 30 years.

  16. #16

    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    just sit

    gassho
    gilles

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: False Expectation of Zen Practice?

    _/_

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