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Thread: My lesson in attachment

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    My lesson in attachment

    Recently I was sitting in my nice chair listening to nice jazz sipping a nice glass of wine and enjoying my nice home in a very nice mood. I found myself taking a mental inventory of all that was in my sight. I looked at each picture on the wall, each Buddhist statue, each table, chair, and so on. Everything had significance in some way to my life; everything had meaning, a story behind it. And I sat there quite comfortably recalling all those stories. Some were simple, some were not, but all had value. Then I wondered what I would miss if it all went away in some tragedy. Would I miss each item, I wondered? I looked around at all my stuff and realized no, that I would not miss all the items in my home that I have taken so many years to collect. What I would miss is the reminder they give me of theirs and my wonderful history together. If I don't have that picture anymore I will forget about Gloria giving it to me. If I don't have that book I will forget about finding it in that used book store. If I don't have that couch I will forget about Robbie helping moving it here for me. And so on. Every item had a story, I realized, and I was not attached to all of my things nearly as much as I was attached to my story behind each of them. But who tells that story? Me. I do. So, following that logic train I realized that really what I am attached to is the story teller, which would be ME, this thing I call a SELF. Hmm... sound familiar?
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  2. #2
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Very much so. However, by dropping the story there can be no teller.

    Thank you.

    Gassho,

    Dokan
    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Anas Nin

  3. #3
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Indeed. Brillant realization. But let me tell you the story of Jean Cocteau when asked on the French radio what he would choose to save in his house on fire filled with memorabalia and precious art, which object, which painting, which book?...
    He simply answered: i would save the fire.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  4. #4
    I love that "save the fire". Gasso Risho

  5. #5
    Alan,

    Thank you for the insight. It is revealing to realize that most of things, events and persons in my life are there because in some way they reflect me: I am attached to how they reflect my interests, my desires, my...my repeatedly. Just relaxing and letting them be themselves is difficult.

    Gassho

    Charlie

  6. #6
    Thank you for this Alan ... very nice.
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  7. #7
    Thank you for that. It's funny how the layers can get pealed back.
    Gassho,
    Onken

  8. #8
    " this thing I call a SELF. Hmm... sound familiar?"


    Its all about dropping the "I" but that doesn't mean not enjoying the stories, the memories. But the greatest story is the one happening right now. Does sound familiar but maybe call it a 'being view'

    There was another thread I read today about dreams. Had to laugh because I'm not sure if I get stuck in a dream or a dream within a dream.
    Well, got to go and make a dream come true.

    Oh, and remember 'practice is realization'.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  9. #9
    _/\_


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    [size=150:m8cet5u6]??[/size:m8cet5u6] We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life---John Cage

  10. #10
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Thank you Alan
    Gassho
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

  11. #11
    Hi,

    Spoke to a number of folks this year who lost their loved ones, homes, possessions, photos, treasures in the Tsunami, or the recent tornado here in Tsukuba ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post76083

    Buddhas do teach us to let go of our stuff, let go the people who leave us, and even of our attachment to the memories of each. Yes, it is your 'little self' which clings to things, people and memories as part of its desperate need for "self identity". Open the hand, let all blow away with the wind.

    But once again, this is not an "either/or" practice. So, we can learn to fully savor and appreciate and embrace the times and people in our lives when they are with us, yet clutch them lightly too. We can also learn to let each go without resistance, when the time comes for going.

    All At Once, As One. Appreciate the bird resting on the branch, let it fly away when it flies.

    Time for one of my favorite corny country songs ... this ain't nothing (ain't nothing ... That's Somethin'! ... Emptiness ... )



    ... a bit off topic, but this is also a pretty good country tune ...



    Darryl Worley - sounds like life to me LYRICS

    Got a call last night from an old friends wife, said, I hate to bother you
    But Johnny Ray fell off the wagon, hed been gone all afternoon
    Well, I know my buddy, so I drove to Scullys and found him at the bar
    Said, Hey Man, whats goin on, He said, I dont know where to start
    Sarah's old car startin to fall apart and the washer quit last week
    We had to put Mama in the nursing home and the baby's cuttin teeth


    I didnt get much work this week and I got bills to pay
    I said, I know this aint what you wanna hear but its what Im gonna say
    Sounds like life to me, it aint no fantasy
    It just a common case of everyday reality
    Man, I know its tough but you gotta suck it up
    To hear you talk youre caught up in some tragedy
    It sounds like life to me

    Well, his face turned red and he shook his head
    He said, you dont understand, three kids and a wife depend on me
    And Im just one man, top it off we just found out that Sarahs two months late
    I said, Hey, bartender, set us up a round, we gotta celebrate
    Sounds like life to me, aint no destiny
    Yeah, the only thing for certain is uncertainty
    You gotta hold on tight, just enjoy the ride
    Get used to all this unpredictability, sounds like life
    Man, I know its tough but you gotta suck it up
    To hear you talk youre caught up in some tragedy
    Sounds like life to me (sounds like life to me)
    Sounds like life
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-01-2012 at 02:52 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    All true, Jundo, but even though I may understand at some level the emptiness of all the stuff we have in our homes, my heart breaks when I watch the heartbreak of this woman towards the middle of this story about the Colorado wildfires. But the man mentioned at the end does reflect back on the videos above.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_16...ag=mncol;lst;5

    And this video story is a little more uplifting at the end, though still heartbreaking.
    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bes...evacuation.cnn

    Metta for all the people devastated by this tragedy.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 07-01-2012 at 05:48 AM.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    All true, Jundo, but even though I may understand at some level the emptiness of all the stuff we have in our homes, my heart breaks when I watch the heartbreak of this woman towards the middle of this story about the Colorado wildfires. But the man mentioned at the end does reflect back on the videos above.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_16...ag=mncol;lst;5

    And this video story is a little more uplifting at the end, though still heartbreaking.
    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bes...evacuation.cnn

    Metta for all the people devastated by this tragedy.
    Hi Alan,

    That is because those poor, crying, heartbroken women are not experiencing events with a Buddha's Eyes. If they were Zen folks well along this path, they would not feel that way. Because they do not see clearly, they are not free.

    Oh, don't get me wrong, for a Zen person is a human being ... and we cry, we feel loss, we long for the way things were, we are frightened for the future, grieve for loved ones taken from us in death. Our hearts break like anyone.

    However, on this Way, we are free of all that, to the marrow ... nothing to be lost, no way things should otherwise be, no attachments and clinging. We smile in the face of fire, as all the things and people return to ash. We see through and through death and birth, coming and going. We are the Heart that can never be broken.

    Sometimes we may be more tears, sometimes more Buddha ... in Wisdom and Compassion, both at once and completely, seeing no loss even in the loss and flames.

    In our Compassion, as Bodhisattvas, we seek to save all Sentient Beings. How to save those women? By pulling them out of the burning house, finding and restoring their old photos, bringing back the people they love? We can, and we try.

    But that is not the central way Bodhisattvas save all Sentient Beings.

    In fact, we save all Sentient Beings by showing the Sentient Beings that there never were Sentient Beings in need of being saved, nothing ever to be lost, nothing in need of gaining.

    Here is a Bodhisattva I know, in the very heart of devastation. Greeting all with equanimity. Of course, statues are made of wood and stone, but we have within each of us a Boundless Diamond.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 07-01-2012 at 02:02 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    Recently I was sitting in my nice chair listening to nice jazz sipping a nice glass of wine and enjoying my nice home in a very nice mood. I found myself taking a mental inventory of all that was in my sight. I looked at each picture on the wall, each Buddhist statue, each table, chair, and so on. Everything had significance in some way to my life; everything had meaning, a story behind it. And I sat there quite comfortably recalling all those stories. Some were simple, some were not, but all had value. Then I wondered what I would miss if it all went away in some tragedy. Would I miss each item, I wondered? I looked around at all my stuff and realized no, that I would not miss all the items in my home that I have taken so many years to collect. What I would miss is the reminder they give me of theirs and my wonderful history together. If I don't have that picture anymore I will forget about Gloria giving it to me. If I don't have that book I will forget about finding it in that used book store. If I don't have that couch I will forget about Robbie helping moving it here for me. And so on. Every item had a story, I realized, and I was not attached to all of my things nearly as much as I was attached to my story behind each of them. But who tells that story? Me. I do. So, following that logic train I realized that really what I am attached to is the story teller, which would be ME, this thing I call a SELF. Hmm... sound familiar?
    Alan - I've been pondering on this and the following posts.

    I feel there's an implicit tendency in Zen (buddhism in general?) to load 'attachment' with a lot of negativity and difficulty. When I read your post I though it wasn't just a vignette of your story - but of your friends aswell. It is also a story about connectivity and the way in which we cherish relationships/memories. Suffering through attachment/loss feels inevitable - but is that always such a bad thing?

    I couldn't get the later video (of the woman who had lost everything) to play - but surely she is in a state of shock and I found myself questioning why her response would necessarily be different if she were a buddhist? I would think the most that could happen through being a buddhist is that the working through/ the turn around - might take less time -be easier to access?

    Perhaps there is something missing from how I view this - but I see equanimity as a process and I have difficulty understanding how it's possible to be in two states of mind at the same time in intense situations - unless as Jundo says one is some way along the path?

    I'm clearly still at the starting line

    Gassho

    Willow

  15. #15
    disastermouse
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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Alan - I've been pondering on this and the following posts.

    I feel there's an implicit tendency in Zen (buddhism in general?) to load 'attachment' with a lot of negativity and difficulty. When I read your post I though it wasn't just a vignette of your story - but of your friends aswell. It is also a story about connectivity and the way in which we cherish relationships/memories. Suffering through attachment/loss feels inevitable - but is that always such a bad thing?

    I couldn't get the later video (of the woman who had lost everything) to play - but surely she is in a state of shock and I found myself questioning why her response would necessarily be different if she were a buddhist? I would think the most that could happen through being a buddhist is that the working through/ the turn around - might take less time -be easier to access?

    Perhaps there is something missing from how I view this - but I see equanimity as a process and I have difficulty understanding how it's possible to be in two states of mind at the same time in intense situations - unless as Jundo says one is some way along the path?

    I'm clearly still at the starting line

    Gassho

    Willow
    I think it may be a matter of being connected to the narratives of life without being completely invested in them.

    Let me share something that struck me at work the other night. A lab tech came by and had a bit of a negative reaction to something that had happened the night before. It involved a.....very negative outcome (I don't know how much detail I can really go into) and a doctor crying with family members. The tech was astonished because she thought that doctors were supposed to be 'above' that sort of emotionality. This is not remarkable in itself, but later that night she also mentioned that she could never be a nurse because she WOULD be too easily affected, and she also revealed that she used to be a soldier and how she could never endure working with terribly wounded or dead soldiers because, as a soldier, they were all one.

    This woman is very invested in this identity as a soldier, even though she is no longer an active soldier. This is not an accident. In boot camp, they tear apart your identity, your ego, to such a weak state that it leaves a vacuum of sorts - and then into that vacuum they offer the identity of 'soldier', knowing that someone will cling to that identity for life rather than ever face that near-vacuum again. Much the same thing happens in prisons, albeit much less intentionally. I remember my brother coming out of prison with a VERY strong identity as a 'convict'.

    I was struck with an immediate feeling of deep empathy for this lab tech, because I could see that she is far too invested in this identity of 'soldier' to ever let it go no matter how painful it might make her life. I also had a sense that her revulsion for the doctor's display of what might be seen as weakness was also very wrapped up in this identity.

    Chet

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Alan - I've been pondering on this and the following posts.

    I feel there's an implicit tendency in Zen (buddhism in general?) to load 'attachment' with a lot of negativity and difficulty. When I read your post I though it wasn't just a vignette of your story - but of your friends aswell. It is also a story about connectivity and the way in which we cherish relationships/memories. Suffering through attachment/loss feels inevitable - but is that always such a bad thing?

    I couldn't get the later video (of the woman who had lost everything) to play - but surely she is in a state of shock and I found myself questioning why her response would necessarily be different if she were a buddhist? I would think the most that could happen through being a buddhist is that the working through/ the turn around - might take less time -be easier to access?

    Perhaps there is something missing from how I view this - but I see equanimity as a process and I have difficulty understanding how it's possible to be in two states of mind at the same time in intense situations - unless as Jundo says one is some way along the path?
    Hi WIllow,

    I could have said it better than she is "not a Buddhist/Zen Practitioner" (I changed it to "That is because those poor, crying, heartbroken women are not experiencing events with a Buddha's Eyes."). However, I believe that a Zen student would come to experience loss and tragedy in a very new way. In fact, I believe this to be the central point of Buddhism ... since the original days when the Buddha taught how not to experience sickness, old age, death, loss of treasure or those we love, not in the same deluded way as most folks.

    Now, please do not misunderstand ... my heart goes out to those women, to anyone in crisis, to anyone suffering from the grief of having lost things or people they love.

    Also, please do not misunderstand ... because I would (and have been even recently) myself extremely heart broken, fearful, distraught, grieving and all the rest when I have experienced and witnessed loss (such as last year during and witnessing the tsunami, earthquake, nuclear disaster, almost losing our daughter to a sickness).

    As well, I agree with you that cherishing friends and relationships is lovely and healthy, and we should do so. Nothing wrong with valuing and keeping keepsakes that remind us of those people and connections. The walls of our home are covered with old family pictures of those we loved, many now lost.

    HOWEVER, the heart of Buddhist Practice is non-attachment, letting go, non-clinging, going with the flow. We do experience a realm in which there is no heart to break, nothing to fear, no possible loss or anywhere to go. A Wholeness so Whole, there is no one to be lost, no one to lose them. Buddhism 1o1.

    The marvelous thing is that, in the Mahayana Way**, one can experience all of the above At Once As One ... a broken heart and "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom" at once. Yes, one can shed tears and experience a Buddha's peaceful smile at once. One can cherish the people and stuff we have, yet be willing to let it go when it goes ... all at Once. (Yes, the former "attachment" without the latter "non-attachment, willingness to let go" is a source of Dukkha, Suffering.).

    I did not mean to express a coldness or lack of empathy and sympathy for those poor women on the tape. Far from it! I would cry with them, offer a shoulder to cry on too. It is just that ... more than restoring their homes and furniture, their money or family's health and lives (though I wish them that too), we can teach this great, clear Way of Liberation.

    Gassho, J

    ** (Perhaps the so-called "Hinayana" schools were rather more into attaining the peace and equanimity of Buddha totally free of and removed from the tears and like emotions, property and emotional human relationships of ordinary life ... but the Mahayana and Zen Schools found how to have one's Dharma Cake and Eat it Too in life).
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-01-2012 at 02:00 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Hi Jundo - I do not doubt your empathy - I have a sense of you as a human being with a big heart.

    The questioning is really aimed at myself - I doubt my own ability to hold peace and anguish all at once.

    I agree with your point Chet - it's difficult to maintain a balance between connectivity and investment in identity.


    Gassho

    Willow

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Hi Jundo - I do not doubt your empathy - I have a sense of you as a human being with a big heart.

    The questioning is really aimed at myself - I doubt my own ability to hold peace and anguish all at once.
    But don't we humans do such all the time? Feel something as "bitter sweet", have "mixed feelings", see "both sides of a situation"? For example, when our children grow and leave the nest, aren't we happy-sad all at once? When a loved one dies after a painful illness in a broken body, perhaps, do we not feel sorrow and peace at once? Don't we feel a satisfaction at finishing the housework for the day, yet know the job is never done? So, the human mind is quite capable of experiencing things from many sides at once.

    Zen Practice may be just a rather refined, wide and special way of seeing things from many sides, and No Side At All ... a Sweetness that holds both the bitter and the sweet of life ... a Peace that embraces all the broken pieces ... work and living that is constantly Complete yet never finished ... a growing and going, simultaneously living with no place in need of going ...

    Don't sell one's capacities short!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-02-2012 at 12:50 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    For example, when our children grow and leave the nest, aren't we happy-sad all at once? When a loved one dies after a painful illness in a broken body, perhaps, do we not feel sorrow and peace at once? Don't we feel a satisfaction at finishing the housework for the day, yet know the job is never done? So, the human mind is quite capable of experiencing things from many sides at once.
    So true Jundo ... it is interesting how we have such great capacity, yet sometimes fall short of the signs in front of us.

    Gassho,
    Michael

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    I remember how i used to retreat when my father would tell his stories over and over. Always told myself i didn't want to get like that. Suddenly, one day I realized i was doing IT! Utilizing Mindfulness, I was able to stop short and apologize if they had heard it before. Since then, gradually, I have stopped telling the stories (at least verbatim ) And, gradually, i find i'm living more and more in the moment. Do you think zazen had anything to do with that?
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  21. #21
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Wow, lots added here. Let me start with the issue of seeing both sides at once. I am very much attached to all my possessions, and they are all about relationships. Many of my things remind me of people, many others of places, and everything I have is in relationship to me. I would most definitely grieve terribly were I to lose all my possessions in a fire or some other tragedy, and that grief would be an expression of attachment. But I also see through that attachment, how empty it is, where the source of it is. So I think I would cope rather well overall with such loss because of my practice, which is not not say I would not have some bad moments along the way.

    Is attachment inherently negative? Nothing is inherently anything; it's all empty. But some attachments are healthier than others. I think my little experience that started this thread helped me make my attachments to my possessions healthier. We need at least some attachments; we can't live without some of the basic ones like love and shelter, etc. You know, the big stuff. Such attachments in and of themselves are not negative, but they can become negative if we aren't careful.

    One of our biggest and strongest attachments is to our identity, but it's made up of stories just like my house is. But it's a lot easier to let go of possessions than it is mind constructions (stories) about who we are. It all traces back to "me." Do my possessions define me? In the relative sense, yes, all those stories make up who I am. But my possessions do not define me at all in the absolute sense because there is no "me" to be defined. My starting post was an attempt at a bridge between these two views.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 07-02-2012 at 02:49 PM.
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  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    _/\_ Thanks Al
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    But don't we humans do such all the time? Feel something as "bitter sweet", have "mixed feelings", see "both sides of a situation"? For example, when our children grow and leave the nest, aren't we happy-sad all at once? When a loved one dies after a painful illness in a broken body, perhaps, do we not feel sorrow and peace at once? Don't we feel a satisfaction at finishing the housework for the day, yet know the job is never done? So, the human mind is quite capable of experiencing things from many sides at once.

    Zen Practice may be just a rather refined, wide and special way of seeing things from many sides, and No Side At All ... a Sweetness that holds both the bitter and the sweet of life ... a Peace that embraces all the broken pieces ... work and living that is constantly Complete yet never finished ... a growing and going, simultaneously living with no place in need of going ...

    Don't sell one's capacities short!

    Gassho, J
    Jundo - these are good examples - and of course there are many situations where life is bitter sweet, we could not survive as human beings without the mental (and spiritual) capacity to experience the ups and downs of life in such a way.

    But I'm sure there are situations where people are broken - and I don't see myself as beyond this.

    I'm not at the stage where I can fully accept that there is a 'peace that embraces all the broken pieces' - in every moment and every situation.

    This calls for great faith (and diligent practice) - I'm simply not there yet. But that's not so say I disbelieve others who experience such peace - or that I do not - mosy fleetingly - experience this myself.

    I would not give the time to Zen practice if I did not believe that it has it's own special way.

    I'm kinda hoping that doubt might lead to faith and meanwhile my mind's a bit

    Gassho

    Willow

  24. #24
    Hello,

    what to say....just another one of my "vanilla" flavoured thank yous. The sharing of all these experiences is so precious and generous of you all.

    May we all find clarity and peace.

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post

    I'm not at the stage where I can fully accept that there is a 'peace that embraces all the broken pieces' - in every moment and every situation.

    This calls for great faith (and diligent practice) - I'm simply not there yet. But that's not so say I disbelieve others who experience such peace - or that I do not - mosy fleetingly - experience this myself.
    Hi Willow,

    Well, that's why they call it Practice, Enlightenment, and why we sit Shikantaza ... to Realize this (have it get in our bones) and Realize this (bring it to life in life).

    But it is really not rocket science, does not even require much faith. It is a little tricky to master, but not so hard to explain really.

    The little self is always thinking "good and bad for me", gain and loss for me, what "I" want, how "I" want things to be, "My house", where "I" need to get, what "I" can't accept about "you and the other things of the world". Such is to be human.

    However, Buddhists also call it "delusion", and in Shikantaza we taste a realm that gets the "I, me, mine" out of the equation to Great and lesser degrees, tasting a realm of Wholeness so Whole that it washes away into Wholeness all that good/bad/gain/loss/need/can't accept etc etc of the "me/myself/I". Buddhism 101 in pretty much all schools and flavors of Buddhism in general, Zen Buddhism in particular, that I know. We get beyond or see through that "I, me, mine" and all its needs and demands on life and the things it thinks of as "not me".

    In the Mahayana flavors of Buddhism, we tend to encounter the "not I" and the "I" as not mutually exclusive ... e.g., "needs" and "no needs" at once, "radical, total acceptance" and "no acceptance" at once, etc. etc., the former shining a light which lightens and enlightens the latter (Short side note ... not necessarily in "every moment and every situation" as you call it, although many of the old Zen writings give the impression that once someone is "Enlightened" they are done. In fact, Wisdom can come and go ... and we do need to get better at it like riding a wild bull ... so another reason we call this "Practice").

    It is so logical, in fact, that I dare say it is not really a matter of faith.

    Keep trying. Some "me/mine/I" do not want to go quietly, and clutch on for dear life. However, if you ever truly want to be Free, and at Peace among all life's seemingly broken pieces, there is no better way to do so.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-05-2012 at 01:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    I truly mean that most of the Mahayana Buddhist, and especially old Chan/Zen teachings, really boil down to just what I wrote above. They had a fancy way of saying things, and the old Teachers had many special terms and phrases to convey this, but it really comes down to that. Here is an example, chosen pretty much at random by me, an 8th Century Chan Text called (quite a mouthful) the "Treatise on the True Sudden Enlightenment School, Opening up Mind and revealing Reality-Nature." (combining J.D. Cleary and John McRae translations]. It is a dialogue between a Master and his student, a lay person.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Question [by student]: The Buddha Dharma is abstruse and mysterious, unfathomable to ordinary people. Its literature is vast, its meanings hard to understand. May we inquire about the Chan Master's essential teachings? Let us have some provisional words, some expedient means, a direct approach through direct words without secrets, that does not abandon us worldly types. (JUNDO: HEY, THESE BUDDHIST TEACHINGS ARE REALLY COMPLICATED, SO CAN YOU JUST BOIL IT DOWN IN A NUTSHELL AS BEST YOU CAN IN WORDS AND SAY IT STRAIGHT FOR US ORDINARY FOLKS)

    [The Master] answered: Excellent! Excellent! Observing your question, I see that your basis as a bodhisattva is about to become pure and ripe. I am forty-five; it has been more than twenty years since I entered the Path, and there has never been anyone who has asked about this. What concerns do you have? What doubts are you trying to resolve? Speak directly; there's no time to bother with elaborate speech. [JUNDO: OH, I SEE YOU HAVE A GOOD KNACK FOR THIS! IN MY 20 YEAR CAREER NOBODY HAS JUST ASKED ME TO LAY IT OUT STRAIGHT LIKE THAT. GO AHEAD, ASK ME, AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT FANCY WORDS YOU USE OR HOW YOU SAY IT) ...

    Questioner: If we wish to enter the Path, what Dharma should we practice, what Dharma should we study, what Dharma should we seek, what Dharma do we experience, what Dharma do we attain, in order to proceed toward enlightenment? [JUNDO: WHAT SHOULD WE PRACTICE, STUDY, SEEK, EXPERIENCE, ATTAIN TO GET ENLIGHTENED?]

    Answer: No Dharma is studied, and there is no seeking. No Dharma is experienced, and there is no attaining. No Dharma is awakened to, and there is no Path that can be cultivated. This is enlightenment. [JUNDO: NOTHING TO PRACTICE OR STUDY OR "GET", SEEK, EXPERIENCE, ATTAIN OR AWAKEN TO, CULTIVATE ... AND AWAKENING TO THAT IS FINALLY GETTING, ATTAINING AND CULTIVATING AWAKENING. THIS IS HOW WE ATTAIN NON-ATTAINING, AWAKEN TO NON-AWAKENING. RADICALLY STOP TRYING TO "GET" SOMETHING, AND YOU WILL FINALLY GET IT!] ...

    Question: ... What is our true nature?

    Answer: [The non-activated mind that] does not give rise to false states of mind: it is forever formless [without characteristics] and pure.[JUNDO: THE MIND THAT DOES NOT GET CAUGHT IN THINKING THOUGHTS WHICH ARE DIVIDiNG INTO PIECES, JUDGING, LABELING THIS, THAT FROM THE OTHER THING).

    Question: What is self-identity?... How is it born? [JUNDO: WHERE DOES THE "ME/MYSELF/I" AND THE "NOT ME" COME FROM?)

    Answer: It is born from false mind. [JUNDO: IT IS THE DECEPTIVE MIND THAT CUTS UP, DIVIDES, JUDGES, RUNS TOWARD OR RESISTS THE WORLD, CUTTING IT UP INTO LITTLE PIECES]

    Question: How can one detach from self-identity?

    Answer: When false states of mind do not arise, this is detachment. [JUNDO: JUST STOP ALL THAT DIVIDING, JUDGING, RUNNING TOWARD AND RESISTING ETC.]

    Question: What is Enlightenment? What is the Principle [JUNDO: "PRINCIPLE" IS A CHINESE BUDDHIST CODE WORD FOR THE WAY A BUDDHA ENCOUNTERS STUFF, BEFORE DIVIDING, JUDGING, LABELING, RUNNING TOWARD OR RESISTING ETC.] ? What is the mind?

    Answer: ... Since mind is capable of equanimity [and to experience the world as universally same], it is called Principle. Since Principle is aware and can illuminate clearly, it is called mind [JUNDO: THE MIND CAN TAP INTO THIS WHOLE, UNBROKEN PRINCIPLE, AND IS JUST PRINCIPLE]. Since mind and Principle are equal, it is called buddha. When mind finds this Principle, you do not see birth and death: ordinary and sage are no different, objects and wisdom are not two, principle and phenomena are both fused, defiled and pure are one suchness [JUNDO: THE WHOLE, UNBROKEN PRINCIPLE and ALL THE BROKEN, MESSY PIECES OF THE WORLD ... INCLUDING "YOUR HOUSE" BURNING DOWN ... ARE NOT SEPARATE. ARE NOT BROKEN]. With true awareness according to Principle, nothing is not the Path. Transcending both self and other [JUNDO: GETTING PAST THAT "ME/MYSELF/I" and the "NOT ME"), you practice all practices at once. There is no before and after and no in between [JUNDO: EVERYTHING IS SEEN AS THE WHOLE ENCHILADA]. Bondage and emancipation occur spontaneously [JUNDO: LIBERATION IS FOUND RIGHT IN AND AS THIS WORLD OF BONDAGE] Your bonds are untied and you are free: it is called the Path, Enlightenment.

    Yes, those old Zen Masters had some fancy ways to say it (even in something like the above, which is supposed to be "saying it simple and straight"}, but it all comes down to about the same.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-03-2012 at 06:44 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #27
    Hi Jundo - I appreciate the teaching you are giving here.

    It's clear to me what the teaching points at - and I agree - as you say - it isn't rocket science.

    I'm having difficulty because I'm struggling (pretty sick just now) and feeling
    guilty and upset that I'm not coping as well as normal. (A judgement I know - and an attachment to an idea of how I should be)

    I had come to an acceptance of my situation through what you might call Zen principles
    (but without the 'language' of Zen) many years ago - but as you say it is a constant process - not acceptance one day and then enlightened/free for ever more).

    Perhaps, here and now, I should have just asked for Metta instead of getting involved in a discussion - but I find it difficult to ask.

    That 'little self' is for ever judging 'self' - I find it natural to give to others - but I am not often compassionate toward the broken pieces of my own life.

    Gassho

    Willow

  28. #28
    disastermouse
    Guest
    It's not hard to understand, but getting prior to the start of the mental shit-storm requires an immense openness to freedom. It really is the first step off the 100-foot pole.

    IMHO, of course.

    Chet

  29. #29
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Perhaps, here and now, I should have just asked for Metta instead of getting involved in a discussion - but I find it difficult to ask.
    Here's Metta to you Willow. I hope you will feel better soon.



    This thread is very helpful. Thanks to all.

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  30. #30
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Question: How can one detach from self-identity?

    Answer: When false states of mind do not arise, this is detachment. [JUNDO: JUST STOP ALL THAT DIVIDING, JUDGING, RUNNING TOWARD AND RESISTING ETC.]
    But *how* do you detach from self-identity? How do you just let thoughts go so that you can get to that point? I really need some solid tips on how to do that, more than "just practice." I know I'm not supposed to hang any expectations on the practice, but I'm really feeling like I'm just putting in time when I'm sitting and that I'm never going to progress past this point. Whenever I have a thought come in my head, such as, "Am I doing this right? Is my posture correct? What would others think of how I'm sitting?" ect., I consciously bring my attention back to my breath, since I can tell when I have these thoughts, my breathing becomes shallow and uneven.

    Do I need to be practicing longer? Is it like exercise where you just don't get up to speed and break a sweat until the 20 minute mark, and I'm missing out on the "meat" of the practice? What am I doing wrong?

    Gassho,

    Lisa

  31. #31
    Alan, thank you for starting this discussion.

    _/\_
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by ZenHarmony View Post
    But *how* do you detach from self-identity? How do you just let thoughts go so that you can get to that point? I really need some solid tips on how to do that, more than "just practice." I know I'm not supposed to hang any expectations on the practice, but I'm really feeling like I'm just putting in time when I'm sitting and that I'm never going to progress past this point. Whenever I have a thought come in my head, such as, "Am I doing this right? Is my posture correct? What would others think of how I'm sitting?" ect., I consciously bring my attention back to my breath, since I can tell when I have these thoughts, my breathing becomes shallow and uneven.

    Do I need to be practicing longer? Is it like exercise where you just don't get up to speed and break a sweat until the 20 minute mark, and I'm missing out on the "meat" of the practice? What am I doing wrong?

    Gassho,

    Lisa
    Hi Lisa,

    Well, it may sound counter-intuitive, but our way is Shikantaza, which is sincere and dedicated sitting that's, radically and to the marrow, free of the need to get somewhere, attain some prize, which drops the hunger to attain something ... thus finding the True Home here along. In a life filled with the constant need to get somewhere else, fill some lack, fix what is broken, all that stuff the "me/myself/I" screams for ... dropping all need to get, fill and fix is a powerful medicine ... and the result is (counter-intuitive as it may seem) finally getting somewhere, attaining one's True Home, filling all holes as Whole.

    And, yes, believe it or not ... that includes tasting a Buddha's peace and equanimity even in the face of a house burning down, a stillness right at the heart of the greatest tornado!

    Here are a couple of talks I ask you to look at ...

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: WHAT'S NEXT!?!
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-S-NEXT%21-%21

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: WHOLLY HOLY WHOLE
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...LLY-HOLY-WHOLE

    Right Zazen and Wrong Zazen
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...nd-Wrong-Zazen

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-05-2012 at 01:25 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    I'm with matt on this one; this a great post.

    Gassho

    Risho

  34. #34
    Just 2c from someone who is an long time beginner, hardly making any progress, if at all, so dont take that for any kind of truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenHarmony View Post
    But *how* do you detach from self-identity? How do you just let thoughts go so that you can get to that point? I really need some solid tips on how to do that, more than "just practice."
    Just practice is right. When you say how, you actually ask, how can I speed this up, how can I get there faster. But there is no shortcut.

    I know I'm not supposed to hang any expectations on the practice, but I'm really feeling like I'm just putting in time when I'm sitting and that I'm never going to progress past this point.
    I think that we tend to look for a method, a solution, a way of doing something to achieve something. But to me the whole point is to stop achieving, stop getting beyond some point and just allowing life to flow, dharma to unfold, things to happen, allowing us to change.

    Whenever I have a thought come in my head, such as, "Am I doing this right? Is my posture correct? What would others think of how I'm sitting?" ect., I consciously bring my attention back to my breath, since I can tell when I have these thoughts, my breathing becomes shallow and uneven.
    Sounds as if you do it right to me. I had and have these thoughts 1000 times (literally!), at some point you can laugh about the thought "Am I doing this right", but it might take long. I fount that when I think the same stuff over and over I at some point notice how silly this kind of thinking is. You not have to force these thoughts to stop, they will vanish eventually. That being said from Myoku, the guy with the tv show in his head.

    Do I need to be practicing longer?
    Try it ... we're all different. But dont approach it with thought but feeling.

    What am I doing wrong?
    As said in the beginning, I'm no expert, but to me it seems: absolutely nothing, just walk on
    Gassho
    Myoku
    Last edited by Myoku; 07-04-2012 at 12:46 PM. Reason: removed double words in a sentence

  35. #35
    Jundo,

    Thank you for reposting those.

    Gassho.

    Charlie

  36. #36
    Member glow's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone for this thought-provoking thread. I'm new to the Forum, & appreciate new ways to look at old attitudes. Metta to Willow, and, as always, many thanks to Jundo. (Loved the Country & Western songs!)
    Gassho,
    Glow

  37. #37
    Senior Member ZenHarmony's Avatar
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    Thank you, Myoku! You are right; I'm probably looking for a way to get there sooner, but even more so, looking for validation that I'm "doing it right." I know I have a problem with looking for approval, I need to stop doing that and start trusting myself more. Your practical advice was most helpful.

    Thank you, Jundo, for the links! You are correct, I need to learn a lot more of this Path I'm on, so that I can stop asking these silly questions!

    Gassho,

    Lisa
    Last edited by ZenHarmony; 07-04-2012 at 09:14 PM. Reason: edited to add new smiley (Psst, Chris, can we save this one?)

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by ZenHarmony View Post
    ... so that I can stop asking these silly questions!

    Gassho,

    Lisa

    There are no silly questions.


    Last edited by Jundo; 07-05-2012 at 02:24 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  39. #39
    disastermouse
    Guest
    Never stop asking silly questions. 'Who am I?' is a silly question, but if you exhaust all the easy answers, and the hard ones too....it may be all you need.

    You think you're doing it wrong because you're not finding what you expected - look into that. What do you expect and what does it have to do with reality? It's not as though people get better at this practice and then find what they were looking for. As we practice we realize the absurdity of expecting anything at all. Then if you sit without any idea what you'll find....well, try it and see - I don't want to shackle you any more than you already are.

    Chet

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by ZenHarmony View Post
    I know I have a problem with looking for approval
    Something more we share, welcome to the club,
    Gassho Lisa
    Myoku

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