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Jundo
03-07-2015, 08:03 AM
Let's begin our chat on INSIDE THE GRASS HUT: LIVING SHITOU'S CLASSIC ZEN POEM by Ben Connelly ...

This week, we are with the first section "Things Change", which is the first part of Chapter 1, "Living Simply in the Changes: I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value". It is only a few pages long. We will see if that is a good pace (later we can all decide whether we might pick up the pace a bit, perhaps a couple of sections each week).

If your book copy has not arrived, all of "Things Change" appears to be available at the Amazon preview, from page 13 ...

http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Grass-Hut-Shitous-Classic/dp/1614291217

A partial excerpt is also available here, but it is somewhat shortened ...

http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/inside-grass-hut/selections

You can discuss anything you wish about the section or the book. I will toss out a couple of questions, but feel free to ignore them and comment on whatever strikes you. They are merely to stimulate your reflections. You can talk back and forth with other folks here, or simply express your own feelings. Anything goes!

Suggested Questions & Reflections:

-1- Do you think it possible to keep and cherish something or someone (a person, a relationship, a thing such as a house), and work to maintain it and preserve it, and feel a bit sad if it is lost ... yet also be totally non-attached, able to roll with the changes and let it go, flowing with the impermanence? [Here's a hint: YES! Zen Practice let's that happen! gassho1 ]

-2- Give an example about a time you were not so "allowing and flowing" about a person, relationship or thing in your life, and became a prisoner of your attachment. How would the situation have been better or different [please imagine] if you had handled things like in Question 1 above?

Gassho, J SatToday

PS - I will be closing previous threads as we move through. I want to keep the discussion on the "same page", literally, much as would be in any book club.

Jishin
03-07-2015, 02:02 PM
1. - Not possible. Siting helps though.

2. - I am a prisoner to my attachments, everyday, all the time. More siting helps.

Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

Shingen
03-07-2015, 02:23 PM
Thank you Jundo, I will read, contemplate, and reply shortly. =)

Gassho
Shingen

SatToday

Byrne
03-07-2015, 06:24 PM
In my life the line between keeping and losing the things I love is razor thin. long chains of physical and emotional abuse in my family and my wife's family constantly threaten our security in various ways. At the end of 2014 the very real possibility of everything blowing up into face face presented itself. I decided to take Buddhism more seriously to help cope with those possibilities and to help find some clarity. I wondered if something like Treeleaf existed and whattayaknow? It did! Sitting has been extremely helpful and has given me a great deal of confidence with dealing with potential tradgedies. But honestly, nothing catastrophic has happened so far so I dunno.

Gassho

Sat Today

bcaruthers
03-07-2015, 06:45 PM
1. I think that being completely unattached from someone or something you care deeply for is a very difficult thing. As Jishin stated sitting does help but I'm just not sure if complete detachment can be obtained.

2. Once again, I have to agree with Jishin about being a prisoner to my attachments daily.

Gassho,

Bryan

orangedice
03-07-2015, 11:21 PM
Impermanence/things changing has always been difficult for me--not the concept of it, but the acceptance of it. I've thought about things dying/ending/changing ever since high school, after the first time I realized, "Holy shit, I'm going to DIE one day." Even now, I get that feeling of dread, of fear of death and nonexistence. For awhile, I considered myself a "reluctant atheist," knowing deep in my heart that there isn't a God like the Christian God, or even a God/Goddess/life force like Wiccans believe (I dabbled in that a bit in high school), but I wished there was. For awhile, my thinking felt nihilistic, nothing matters, so why even bother? This happens mostly during my major depressive episodes mostly.

But with mindfulness practice, I've slowly... VERY slowly... have started practicing accepting it. It's not easy, and I have a long way to go.

As to the questions asked in OP, I'm still trying to figure this out. Logically, yes, it's possible, but can I do it? When things are great with my boyfriend, I think, "This is great, but one day we might break up, or eventually one of us will die, etc., but you know what? That's okay." But then we have a fight, and I think, "THIS IS AWFUL! Are we going to break up? I don't want that to happen! I want things to go back to when we were happy!" So I've a long way to go on that front.

--

I'm excited to be able to join the book club this time around, and looking forward to further discussion!

Gassho,
June

#SatToday

Jundo
03-08-2015, 12:57 AM
1. I think that being completely unattached from someone or something you care deeply for is a very difficult thing. As Jishin stated sitting does help but I'm just not sure if complete detachment can be obtained.

2. Once again, I have to agree with Jishin about being a prisoner to my attachments daily.

Gassho,

Bryan

Hi Bryan,

Although there are some flavors of Buddhism that emphasize being detached from or unattached to the world (cutting off all connections to family and separating from worldly obligations, for example), the Mahayana and especially Japanese Zen over the centuries had a more subtle view. I typically say the following ...

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

I usually tell people that our Way is attachment without attachment ... simultaneously holding but not holding, embracing but nothing to clutch ... as if out of one eye we live one way, from the other eye are beyond all need to attach or choose. Two eyes not even one, all a Buddha Eye.

I sometimes write on the related question of what is the difference between a Buddha's "non-attachment" and being detached or apathetic ...


Our way is to be "non-attached", not "detached" and "unattached". That means that one can emotionally savor, to the marrow, what is happening in life right now ... and one can commit to that and pour oneself into that ... but just do not cling to that, be willing to let it go. Appreciate this life while it is here (whether for our self or for those selfs we love) ... and when it is over, release (feeling grief when grief at loss of those we love is called for). Feel all emotions, yet simultaneously see through them as mental theatre, do not be imprisoned or made a puppet, seek to keep moderation and balance (although ... even then, moderation may not always be best when it comes to love).

I think of this quite frequently as our son gets bigger. He is getting older, a time of bitter-sweet happiness. I do not want to be emotionally detached from that, but neither do I want to cling to this moment, try to keep him from growing up, and be unwilling to see it all pass.

Early Buddhism did emphasize emotional detachment more than the later Mahayana. As I said, now we tend not to see our thoughts and emotions (i.e., the "self") so much as the "enemy" as bits of theatre that have to be seen through, handled wisely, not allowed to tie us up. That is a big difference. Same with ordinary life, which is no longer seen as something to "escape", but as something to also be seen through, handled wisely, not allowed to tie us up.


One can be attached to Zazen or Buddhism, the people we love and such. Just cling lightly, even as you fully savor each. Also-also (a double also :cool:) know the Buddha's View free of all views and attachments, All At Once, As One. ... squeezing hard, squeezing lightly and also-also fully open handed AT ONCE! Attached and present, yet not attached in the least. A kind of healthy schizophrenia ... not a "split" personality, but a Whole!

Yes, it is possible! :encouragement:

Gassho, Jundo

Jundo
03-08-2015, 01:08 AM
... Even now, I get that feeling of dread, of fear of death and nonexistence. For awhile, I considered myself a "reluctant atheist," knowing deep in my heart that there isn't a God like the Christian God, or even a God/Goddess/life force like Wiccans believe (I dabbled in that a bit in high school), but I wished there was. For awhile, my thinking felt nihilistic, nothing matters, so why even bother? This happens mostly during my major depressive episodes mostly.

If there is God/Goddess/Life Force ... there is birth and death, change and heart break, smiles and tears ... so just flow.

If there is No God/No Goddess/No Life Force ... there is birth and death, change and heart break, smiles and tears ... so just flow.

In either case ... there is birth and death, change and heart break, smiles and tears ... so just flow.

But whether "God/Goddess/Life Force" or no "God/Goddess/Life Force" ... there is also no birth and no death, nothing to change and a Heart which cannot be broken, holding "smiles and tears", beyond and right through "existence" or "nonexistence" ... just flowing.

Perhaps this "just flowing" and this "no birth and no death amid birth and death" is the Heart which words such as "God/Goddess/Life Force" seek to express?

A bittersweet Buddha Smile holding smiles and tears. :buddha:

Gassho, J


http://tamilnation.co/images/intframe/buddha_smile.jpg

Jundo
03-08-2015, 03:54 AM
If you are interested, the little Talk during our Zazenkai this month was a visit to the Grass Hut (from the 1:50 mark, about 30 minutes) ...

http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?13273-March-6th-7th-2015-OUR-MONTHLY-4-hour-ZAZENKAI!&p=150300#post150300

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoQ8Pbwh-7o#t=8440

Gassho, J

SatToday

Nindo
03-08-2015, 04:47 AM
I thought there was an interesting parallel in "Living by Vow", chapter 1, p.43 where Dogen is cited about Master Guishan:


There he made friends with bears and animals, lived at a thatched hermitage, and kept practicing. ... There were neither temple buildings nor temple provisions.

And then Dogen rants:


The buddhas and ancestors never had desires for buildings. Many people today meaninglessly construct a Buddha hall or other temple buildings although they haven't yet clarified the eye of their own self.

Reminds me of the recent discussion about temples falling into disrepair here (http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?13242-Want-to-buy-a-temple).

Other than that, so many images come into my mind. A house in Vienna from the 15th century. The foundation walls of a Roman villa in the woods near my school in Germany. The 100 year old bridge in Edmonton that is being replaced. The downtown church that has fallen into disrepair and may be lost. A story about settlers leaving tipi stone rings untouched on their farms. The Anasazi ruins in Arizona. How do/ did things get preserved, or lost?

lyn
03-08-2015, 10:05 AM
As my life lessons change so do the people. Some I let go with great sadness. Some I let go with great relief.

Joyo
03-08-2015, 03:45 PM
Thank you, Jundo. I have started the reading and since I missed that part of zazenkai this week, I plan on listening to your talk also.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Shinzan
03-08-2015, 04:05 PM
I think back to failed relationships and feel the tug of attachment. I'm wishing it to be otherwise (WITBO). People I felt close to, but our conditioning, reactivity, and attachment to "being right" made it unbearable or unwholesome to continue in a relationship. A boundary was needed.

On the other hand, being attached to detachment is just as much a trap. This is the path to disconnection and numbing out of life. It is avoiding dealing with our real human needs.

On the third hand, can non-attachment arise simultaneously with deep caring and vulnerability to the pain that being human entails? Can I learn to see the hooks of attachment, know what they are, love the person and myself, and just hold all the hooks in soft non-judging awareness? And see how they drift off in the next moment.

Just my musings.
_/st\_ Shinzan

Christopher
03-09-2015, 01:32 AM
I think I should start my post with asking all of you if you have the same highlights in your copies as I have in the Kindle version I downloaded. Is this early piece highlighted ...?

"Everything that comes to be....to......Liberation arises from facing it fully." ?

I don't have a Kindle I am using the 'Kindle for PC' software.

I do see that this quote is chosen specifically to make a point about impermanence ...which is the whole purpose for living in a grass hut. Shitou is inviting the lessons of impermanence to be before him at every moment.

Gassho
Christopher
sat2day

Jundo
03-09-2015, 02:46 AM
Suggested Questions & Reflections:

-1- Do you think it possible to keep and cherish something or someone (a person, a relationship, a thing such as a house), and work to maintain it and preserve it, and feel a bit sad if it is lost ... yet also be totally non-attached, able to roll with the changes and let it go, flowing with the impermanence? [Here's a hint: YES! Zen Practice let's that happen! gassho1 ]

-2- Give an example about a time you were not so "allowing and flowing" about a person, relationship or thing in your life, and became a prisoner of your attachment. How would the situation have been better or different [please imagine] if you had handled things like in Question 1 above?



I will take a turn with these questions with my own life this morning. I really threw my lower back out this week, maybe one of the worst times in my life. It it painful to get out of bed, I need help to put my pants and shoes on, going to the bathroom involves a good deal of creativity, sneezing is crisis, and I moan to get in and out of the car, I cannot play on the floor with my 4 year old daughter, I cannot sit (either in a chair or on the floor or Zazen) for more than a few minutes. I am feeling every bit of my 55 years. Of course, I am not bedridden or terminal, but it is enough to throw life out of balance this week.

Fortunately, having a bad back is bringing me very close to a fellow patient: Shakyamuni Buddha. The old Suttas are filled with references to his bad back, which sometimes put him out of commission. (Later Buddhist interpreted these very human passages to mean that the Buddha, being beyond all human things, was merely "pretending" to have a bad back as a teaching ... but I don't think so. I think he was just an aging dude like me). Even the buddha could not escape sickness and old age, and in some of the old Suttas (such as quoted here from the Sekha Sutta) had to give up Teaching on days when feeling too poorly:


Shariputra, you think of a discourse on Dhamma to give to the monks. My back aches, I want to stretch it."

"Very good, Lord." Replied Shariputra.

Of course, there is an aspect of me that resists the pain, the inconvenience, the embarrassment, the weakness and sense of impermanence. I am doing all I can to get better.

But years ago, before all this Zen Training, I would have been totally depressed, frustrated, self-absorbed, obsessed, "woo is me"-ing right and left.

Now, there is a certain Joy (Big "J") that sweeps in all the pain and sadness, a great Peace which somehow perfumes and clarifies all the seeming frustration. There is, amid the ache and aging, that which cannot grow sick and is not a matter of time. It doesn't make putting on my pants or sneezing any easier, but it sure does shine a light right through the whole experience. In fact, though present, the pain sure seems smaller ... and I no longer feel it's prisoner ... even though it is just as much present.

If you are interested, I spoke about this experience in an old sit-a-long talk:


Zazen can't even fix a bad tooth (you need to see a dentist, not a Zen Master, for that!) For the most part, Zazen will not relieve human pain.

But "pain" is not "suffering" (Dukkha) in a Buddhist sense. This Dukkha is a special Buddhist word, perhaps best rendered as “dissatisfaction,” “anxiety,” “disappointment,” “unease at imperfection,” or “frustration” — the conditions wherein your little “self” wishes this life/world to be X, yet this life/world is not X. The dissatisfaction and anxiety at the "gap" is "Dukkha". For "Dukkha/Suffering", Zazen is absolutely a complete and thorough cure for everything that ails us! How?

Well, on the one hand, the buddha left us a way to encounter a realm (also called "Buddha" ... but with a Big "B") where there is no pain, no disease, no birth or death, no separation, no loss, no bad teeth from the start ... because no individual selves to feel it! Zazen is the door. Of course (like the buddha's bad back), one will certainly continue to encounter days of pain, sickness, oral cavities and all the rest so long as one is alive in a human body (until we all leave this visible samsaric world and become Big B Buddha through and through!). Unfortunately, so long as we are alive in this messy world there will still be cancer, broken bones, broken hearts, broken relationships and all the rest. However (and strange as it may seem) through our Zen Practice, we also encounter a view free of a "we" to encounter any of that ... At Once!

Strange as it may seem, when these two views are combined, we experience pain AND freedom from pain at once, separation AND wholeness at once, death AND no death at once, holes in life or broken dreams AND nothing ever missing or breakable at once. A bad tooth AND a Buddha's Smile At Once, As One.

We also encounter a Buddha's Way of living filled with total allowing, letting be, radical acceptance of the pain, embracing of every loss and tragedy. That is so even as part of us, the human part, still cannot allow, tolerate or accept the pain, loss and tragedy one bit. When the two are combined as one, what results is an allowing-though not allowing, a 'letting be' even while (simultaneously) passionately resisting, and an acceptance without acceptance of pain, loss and tragedy. Such seemingly contradictory ways of living with pain and tribulations can be lived at once, as one. We are better able to bear it all, shoulder it, endure. Thus (as counter-intuitive and contradictory as it may sound) we experience human fear and a Buddha's fearlessness at once, sadness and endless peace at once, physical pain which we scream from -and- spiritual calm at once, a broken heart and nothing ever broken at once.

SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Pain, Suffering & Freedom
http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showthread.php?9947-SIT-A-LONG-with-JUNDO-Pain-Suffering-Freedom

Gassho, Jundo

WalkedKinhinToday

Anshu Bryson
03-09-2015, 10:14 AM
While I can see reference to impermanence in the body of the poem, I hate to seem critical, but I think Ben is perhaps over-reaching a little to pull so much out of that first line... I am, of course, likely to modify that opinion as we get further into the text... :)

What I get from "I've built a grass hut where there's nothing of value" (the line in isolation) are the following initial thoughts:

- I now have a place
- It is the result of my own efforts
- It is a simple place
- There is nothing of value in it, but I need nothing of value
- Emptyness is form; form is emptiness
- What is a 'thing of value' anyway?
- The value of this hut is in its utility, limited as that might be; I have no need for embellishments
- Because it's a grass hut, I will be perpetually working on it, due to the impermanent nature of the materials (as those of us who have ever lived in a thatched-roof house know!)
- Any opportunity for samu is an opportunity for practice

I know that's a bit random; I'll try to make things a bit more cohesive as we go forward... :)

Gassho,
Anshu

sat today

Tb
03-09-2015, 10:26 AM
Hi.

Living simply in the Changes, built a grasshut where there is nothing of value.

Great line about impermanence of all things.
It also iterates the Treeleaf saying "Life is our temple", because what is life if not a grasshut where there is nothing of value in a state constant change?

It also puts a perspective on the value of Words. Words like Life, simply, Changes, nothing, of, value.

Thank you for your practice.

May the force be with you
Fugen

Kyotai
03-09-2015, 04:26 PM
Have not read any of your posts on this yet. Thought I would share my perspective first. I am hoping my book comes in the mail today but I read the short link Jundo provided.

This reminds me of a man, who lives in Toronto during his season. Known as "van man" he lives off a small income from his savings account. He is a 21 year old surfer dude. He parks his van behind a Walmart while he is at work. Many of the employees think he is homeless. He is not, he lives in a van. He uses a head lamp to write in his journal and enjoys reading jack kerouac. He Lives off $800 per month. Is he a lazy hippy? Not exactly, He is a millionaire. His name is Daniel Norris and he plays for The Toronto blue jays baseball team.

"Nothing lasts, everything changes"

Wonderfully simple and true.

1. Yes

2. A person I know making terrible decisions almost daily. I get annoyed and feel down just thinking about it. But, it is out of my control, is as it is. They did not ask my opinion, nor would I volunteer it unless asked. Thinking of how our relationship was, and how that is changing maybe not so good now. But, letting that go, it was a good friendship while it lasted. Things change, spring is coming.

Gassho, Kyotai
Sat today

Rich
03-09-2015, 05:26 PM
Jundo, hope your back heals quickly. I've been in your situation and someone told me that the key to a strong back is strong abdominal muscles. So for almost 25 years I start most days stretching and doing crunches and leg lifts. This hasn't cured my back completely but it keeps me going.

My grass hut is the 10x12 den where I sit, read and work.

Sat today

orangedice
03-10-2015, 01:43 AM
If there is God/Goddess/Life Force ... there is birth and death, change and heart break, smiles and tears ... so just flow.

If there is No God/No Goddess/No Life Force ... there is birth and death, change and heart break, smiles and tears ... so just flow.

In either case ... there is birth and death, change and heart break, smiles and tears ... so just flow.

But whether "God/Goddess/Life Force" or no "God/Goddess/Life Force" ... there is also no birth and no death, nothing to change and a Heart which cannot be broken, holding "smiles and tears", beyond and right through "existence" or "nonexistence" ... just flowing.

Perhaps this "just flowing" and this "no birth and no death amid birth and death" is the Heart which words such as "God/Goddess/Life Force" seek to express?

A bittersweet Buddha Smile holding smiles and tears. :buddha:

Gassho, J





Thank you.

On this path, I'm very new. Perhaps it'll take me a lifetime to accept or understand most of what you mean... but for now, what I can understand and what I've been trying to do is... just flow...

Thank you again.


While I can see reference to impermanence in the body of the poem, I hate to seem critical, but I think Ben is perhaps over-reaching a little to pull so much out of that first line... I am, of course, likely to modify that opinion as we get further into the text... :)

What I get from "I've built a grass hut where there's nothing of value" (the line in isolation) are the following initial thoughts:

- I now have a place
- It is the result of my own efforts
- It is a simple place
- There is nothing of value in it, but I need nothing of value
- Emptyness is form; form is emptiness
- What is a 'thing of value' anyway?
- The value of this hut is in its utility, limited as that might be; I have no need for embellishments
- Because it's a grass hut, I will be perpetually working on it, due to the impermanent nature of the materials (as those of us who have ever lived in a thatched-roof house know!)
- Any opportunity for samu is an opportunity for practice

I know that's a bit random; I'll try to make things a bit more cohesive as we go forward... :)

Gassho,
Anshu

sat today

I really like your first impressions. Poetry isn't my strong suit, so I never would have gotten all that meaning like you have. I particularly like, "It is the result of my effort," which I feel can be a metaphor for our practice.

But I find it interesting that you think Connelly was over-reaching, since you came to a similar conclusion (what I bolded in the quote above). What particularly did you think was off-base or overreaching?

--

I'm very much enjoying reading these posts!

Gassho,
June

#SatToday

Anshu Bryson
03-10-2015, 04:05 AM
But I find it interesting that you think Connelly was over-reaching, since you came to a similar conclusion (what I bolded in the quote above). What particularly did you think was off-base or overreaching?




Hi June,

As I also said: "I am, of course, likely to modify that opinion as we get further into the text..."

Maybe I'm there already...?! [morehappy]


Gassho,
Bryson

sat today

orangedice
03-10-2015, 05:05 AM
Hi June,

As I also said: "I am, of course, likely to modify that opinion as we get further into the text..."

Maybe I'm there already...?! [morehappy]


:p

I'm still very much struck by your initial impression of "this was a result of my labor." I've been thinking about it some more, and to me, it feels like a sense of contentment, maybe even some pride, of building something with your own two hands. There's a sense of peace of a job well-done, even if you know that you'll have to continue maintaining it as it crumbles around you. But when it falls down, you build it up again and again. But there's nothing else to do but re-build each moment. And each time, a sense of contentment of building again. I really like that idea.

Gassho,
June

#SatToday

Joryu
03-10-2015, 05:10 AM
I'm coming to the place called "acceptance" in my life, believing that life is winding itself along exactly as it should, so I let go and bob along. Many things have been lost in these past few years but the losses opened up some surprising finds....both brought tears and laughter - tears first then laughter once all was played out. I have things, people, places, ideas etc that I deeply love but the losses now cause more of a puzzling/curious "huh???" as opposed to overwhelming sadness - Huh as in "I wonder where this is going." Zazen and oddly enough Brad Warner's words/style gave me the "ok" to let go and flow with my "anchors." All things change.....


I once chose to love a person that in reality I didn't even love.....I was simply very attached to her life experiences and all the "fresh air" she was breathing into my world. We were not compatible but we both refused to accept that...over the years we each tried at times to exit the relationship but our individual insecurities made that a very tricky proposition. In the end it was messy as all the fresh air turned sour and I lost a person that would have made the perfect best friend....Had I been then where I am now I would have relaxed and accepted the "clouds in the zazen" and I would have allowed our relationship to flow into a friendship......I would have been able to recognize and let go of my ego..... maybe. That's the hardest for me....saying " I'm acting the way I am because of my ego, I want what I want because of my pride, I want this because I need to be perceived in ____ way" This is still my challenge, I want to say it's not.....but that would be my ego speaking for me :D ramble ramble ramble... Gassho Joryu sattoday

Myosha
03-10-2015, 06:06 AM
Hello,

It's not trite at all realizing affection is truly universal.


Gassho
Myosha sat today

Kokuu
03-10-2015, 08:31 AM
Hi all

This poem speaks to me as I feel that all I have at the moment is in a very small space. Due to my health I have not left my two bed flat for six months now, and sometimes I only have the energy to shuttle between two rooms. It is my hermitage and Shitou reminds me that everything I need is in this small space.

I don't have a grass roof but am fortunate to be surrounded by trees and in summer can leave the door open and get visited by a squirrel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfMplPDh3uk

One thing I would say about change is that even when things get bad, they are always enough. Beforehand we might think that we could not cope with certain events of loss or change in circumstance but we do, and find small things that make life worth living.

I have a small hut with nothing of value but it protects me from the wind and rain and has everything I need within it. For that I am truly grateful.

gassho2
Kokuu
#sattoday

Ongen
03-10-2015, 03:36 PM
Hi all,

1: Yes it is definitely possible. In fact, if one truly cherishes something or someone without clinging to ones fixed idea of that thing or person, that love and cherishing includes the objects impermanence and its changes. It includes everything.
2: I can think of many times things would have turned out differently if I had experienced things more as above. Speaking of relationships but also of owning objects, handling of my reaction to damage to my 'property' due to an error of someone else. In retrospect I can usually conclude that things turned out way different that I expected them to. It was the expectations that came from the attachment. If I had flowed along with it all, there would have been no expectations, nothing to fight against. All would have been OK.

Gassho

Gassho,


Ongen / Vincent
Sat Today

Shingen
03-10-2015, 03:48 PM
Hello everyone,

Yes! Through acceptance and gratitude just as it is ... without trying to fixated it to our own needs and desires.

I have made many experiences in life that could have been that much better if I had just been gracious and accepting of them as they were. But instead, I wanted them to fill the empty pockets and voids in my life, which ultimately pushed them away, thus causing more suffering and emptiness.


Clinging does not eradicate impermanence, it blinds us from reality.

Gassho
Shingen

SatToday

Meishin
03-10-2015, 04:22 PM
Hi,

It depends. Long story but recently I lost one of my front teeth. I didn't think I was attached to that tooth, but as it turns out I was. Of course the dentist gave me a temporary, then a crown. But there was a bit of death in my mouth and I am still sitting with that loss. It changed things.

There will be other body parts that will wear out and drop away. Not all of them can be replaced. I am 72 years old, so this trajectory is not a mystery. All I can say is that I am doing my best to sit on that cushion every day and accept whatever it is that comes my way. But I do not have one of those once-I-was-lost-now-I-am-found reports. I do trust those who have much more experience in Zen than I do that this is the way of practice. So this answers the second question as well. Just about everything would have had a better outcome if flowing with impermanence were the norm.

Today I am grateful that I can eat, albeit in a new way to which I am having to become accustomed. And I am grateful that others have made it possible for that food to be available.

Gassho
Meishin
Sat today

Shingen
03-10-2015, 04:46 PM
I lost one of my front teeth. I didn't think I was attached to that tooth, but as it turns out I was. Of course the dentist gave me a temporary, then a crown. But there was a bit of death in my mouth and I am still sitting with that loss. It changed things.


I know this lose you speak of Meishin, I too lost a side tooth (eye tooth) in an accident. For the longest time I worried about what others might think of me, would they judge me because I was missing a tooth - I was feeling self-conscious. I couldn't afford to have it fixed. But I have to say, that little tooth taught me so much more then I thought it would.

The impermanence of that tooth taught me about the impermanence and importance of this life. The tooth didn't define who I was, nor did any part of my body. What defines me is my actions, my values, my compassion, the stillness and openness in my heart. This is what people will see and remember long after I am gone. =) So in someway I am thankful for karma, for gravity, and for the lose of that tooth ... each and every action has been a wonderful teacher. =)

Gassho
Shingen

SatToday

Jika
03-10-2015, 06:18 PM
Thank you for discussing this, Meishin and Shingen.

I was thinking about "nothing of value", and how we tend to associate beauty, good looks to be of value.
A virtuous person, someone you can trust, is good-looking. Show me a badly scarred buddha statue.

But in fact, I am experiencing what Shingen says.
So, nothing to repair, while still applying ointment so the scars will fade.

Gassho,
Danny
#sattoday

Meishin
03-10-2015, 06:22 PM
Thank you Shingen and Danny. I said to my wife: In the total scheme of things, this is nothing. Being a therapist, she said, "Yes but it is your nothing." I will sit with it all in trust that this nothing will be my teacher.

Gassho
Meishin
Sat today.

Myosha
03-10-2015, 07:15 PM
nothing will be my teacher.

Gassho
Meishin
Sat today.

Hello,

What else?^^


Gassho
Myosha sat today

Rich
03-10-2015, 07:59 PM
I don't always understand change, much less the needs of others. Yet I'll offer to help any way I can. I wonder how shitou got his food, did he have a relationship with the temples and monasteries in the area, did he have lots of students? Or was he a mountain monk living alone.

Sat today

Theophan
03-10-2015, 09:12 PM
I can let go of my attachments. But it can be quite difficult depending on what it is that I'm trying to let go of. Zazen does help me to do what I need to do.

Leaving the Orthodox Christian Priesthood was one of the hardest choices I ever made. I felt at the time I was throwing myself off a cliff into a dark, deep fissure. It didn't take too long to realize I didn't lose my identity. I found my true self instead. This was the blessed fruit of zazen. For that I am grateful.

Gassho
Theophan
Sat Today

KellyRok
03-11-2015, 01:52 PM
Hello all,

I'm enjoying being back in the book club and sharing with you all.
Jundo, I hope your back feels better. I can relate to your troubles. It is difficult when things like this happen and it is just hard to breathe, and find a comfortable position to just “be.”

In response to the questions:
1. Yes, I do believe it is possible to let go while still holding on a little. Parents do it every day – granted it takes much practice. I'm going to have to practice this so very soon, when my boys graduate, move out and get on with their own lives apart from me.
2. Two years ago, I had a job I enjoyed. I had friends I enjoyed. My kids loved school and we felt like we belonged to a community. Then my husband got promoted and we had to move (not for the first time, mind you) to a different area in that same state (Kentucky). Since moving is not new for us, you’d think we could just roll with it. But I resisted, and I clung to the life I had set up for us. My kids were devastated, they didn’t want to leave all that we had built there and neither did I. Their devastations became mine. I knew our home there was temporary, yet I had immersed myself so much into my job and the people, that the thought of giving it up crushed me. I also knew that with my husband’s new position, it meant that we would/will be forever “transient”. I had a mental breakdown. I had panic and anxiety attacks constantly, I even thought about packing up my kids and leaving my husband. I was physically sick and lost 12 lbs. I had a pure fight or flight reaction…I wanted to find anything so we wouldn’t have to move again…and again. It took some medication, some therapy and continual mind-talk to get me to a place I feel comfortable again.

I wish I could tell you that now, I’m a pro at letting go of things. That saying goodbye to people I’ve met is easy and leaving a home that we’ve built is simple. I wish I could tell you that there is no way I will allow myself to get caught up and crash again, but I can’t! All I can do is practice…practice. Practice being here, right now, in this bigger home that is all of life. I can face my anxieties, one at a time, not fearlessly mind you; but with a sense of courage that it will all be okay when I come out on the other side. I can’t look too far into the future. I don’t know what it holds, or where we will be. But I know that even if I do crash again, all will be okay because I’ve done it before and I’m still here…doing it daily…practicing….still holding on, but trying to let go.

So many wonderful perspectives here, thank you for sharing.
Gassho,
Kelly/Jinmei

sattoday

Joyo
03-11-2015, 05:14 PM
Hi Jundo, here's my response to your questions...

1. Yes, it is possible, but not easy. With practicing Zen, you can start to view all of life as impermanent, therefore, all has more meaning in the moment.

2. An example, hmmm, well I have a dear friend that I lived in fear of losing for a long time. Instead of enjoying the moments, I would live in fear of this person dying. A better way of handling it is to accept the impermanence of life, enjoy our time together, knowing that if I lose this person, there will be much pain, but also fond memories that I will always hold in my heart.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

p.s.---amazing book, it goes with me almost everywhere I go and I try to read at least a page or two every day.

Sekishi
03-11-2015, 06:54 PM
Hi everyone, thank you for taking part and sharing your perspectives on this wonderful book.

1) Yes, I believe it possible to both cherish and hold lightly all the precious forms in our lives.

Last summer at the Virginia retreat, I learned a tiny thing (that I'm sure the Unsui and many of you likely already knew) about how to accept and hold artifacts and other items during ceremonies (passing bowls during oryoki, etc.). The item sits on the hands, protected by the thumbs, but is not grasped. This physical posture is an amazing little teaching -- holding a precious item, yet offering it freely to the world, making no claim to it. I've found myself holding things this way (or at least with this attitude) sometimes since the retreat.

I am also reminded of a teaching by the Thai Forest master Ajahn Chah:


"Do you see this glass?" he asked us. "I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.

This sounds so pessimistic, to say the glass is already broken, but to really see it as such: a conditioned form which by definition must "break", "dissolve", change form -- to fully accept that is to free ourselves from grasping at holding onto a particular form, and to accept something for the beautiful and precious instant that it is.

I cannot bottle a sunset, nor take a photo of the smell of a fresh apple pie, and being freed of those duties, I love and enjoy both when I encounter them. Neither can I bottle youth, nor take a photo of what it feels like to have a body free from pain, but those I grasp at, falsely believing (while knowing the belief to be false) that they can be captured and grasped. What suffering is caused by that grasping! But knowing that I can smell a pie without grasping and feeling sad when the smell fades, this plants a kernel of faith that it is possible to face our lives this way. To hold the Rakusu or Kesa as precious, literally the Buddha's robes (not belonging to us, and also "ours" in a boundless way), this is also a peek at what I think Jundo alludes to.


2) I think I am "not so allowing and flowing" nearly every moment of every day, but the grasping is lighter than it used to be. [tranquillity]

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the evening with Dosho, Shingen, Joyo, and some of the regulars in the 11EST group, when I had a sneezing fit. Like 20 sneezes in a few minutes. Each sneeze brought more embarrassment and worry that I was disturbing my friends' practice. I finally turned off the camera until it passed a few minutes later. For a few minutes, I was in a tiny but real hell realm. You cannot push back against a sneeze, you cannot bargain with a sneeze, you can really only open yourself to sneezing!

Anyhow, at some point during all this aversion I realized that every single person sitting has experienced that same: maybe a sneeze, maybe a yawn, maybe a leg that fell asleep. The feelings of embarrassment and worry were not unique. I did not "own" them. By linguistic convention we say "my pain", "my suffering", "my anger", but during that Zazen, I came to see them as not "mine" at all. These feelings are universal, only the details differ. These feelings arise from conditions, and pass away. We can claim no ownership of them!

If I had to go back and do it again (or should I say, next time around when it happens), I am confident that I will see the emotions that arise around sneezing to be "not mine" and the suffering will be less. I still don't know if I'll turn off the camera on the first sneeze, or get up and blow my nose, but at least I do not think I will suffer from worry in the same way, because it was never mine. So I bow to sneezing, a miniature "practice crises", that maybe I can learn from in future crises (minor or not-so).


3) I wanted to say that one passage that really spoke to me from the first chapter this time through is the past paragraph of the chapter(pg 22):


The contents of this hut are nothing of value, which is to say, not valuing things is not of value. Our monk does not claim to have made a place where he has moved beyond valuing things, for then he would have acquired a fantastic treasure, to which he would surely be very attached. He is not claiming or offering any magical teachings or infinite wisdom. He has not invited you into his mountainside home to show you that he has some incredibly special enlightenment. He invites you in and says there’s nothing of value you [sic] here, nothing special.

"not valuing things is not of value". This is such a vivid teaching. It is so easy (for me anyhow) to get attached to not being attached! Related, there is a difference between non-attachment and detachment, and there is a difference between non-attachment, and repressed attachment.

I can imagine that *I* built a grass hut, then put up a tumblr about it, posted artful filtered photos of the grass hut at sunset, and high-key photos of the mountainside obscured by fog. And if you asked, I could say "Man, I am so not attached to this hut, I built it out of grass", but you would know better!

Ok, thats enough. Thank you all. Sorry for the long ramble.

Gassho,
Sekish
#sattoday

Kyonin
03-11-2015, 08:28 PM
Hi all,

This first chapter has really stroke home for me, especially the part about how we go about giving value to stuff and then we generate our own attachments. They end up being huge chains to our necks and prevent us from moving or even thinking straight.

In many ways I live pretty much like Master Shitou did. I have nothing, I am nothing and my house is pretty simple.

-1- Do you think it possible to keep and cherish something or someone (a person, a relationship, a thing such as a house), and work to maintain it and preserve it, and feel a bit sad if it is lost ... yet also be totally non-attached, able to roll with the changes and let it go, flowing with the impermanence?

Yes, it is. I do have a family (girlfriend, parents, cats), a home, and a lot of other personal relationships. I cherish them all and I have lost a lot of them too. It hurts every time, but I am fine with that because I realize life is movement and transitory. If you fight against that truth, only suffering will come your way.

-2- Give an example about a time you were not so "allowing and flowing" about a person, relationship or thing in your life, and became a prisoner of your attachment. How would the situation have been better or different [please imagine] if you had handled things like in Question 1 above?

So many things to say! I've had a lot of experiences in life where I wasn't allowing and flowing. And every time I got a ticket for the Suffering Train. It took years and years for me to understand to let go and how to do it. I still do a very poor job at this, of course, but at least I am more open to watch my feelings and thoughts. More often than not I am able to stop attachments before they cause harm.

I will sit with this chapter a couple of days and then I'll get back to read it :)

Gassho,

Kyonin

Ugrok
03-11-2015, 11:24 PM
About question 2 : for me, it's even worse than not letting things flow ! I get upset with myself when i get stuck on stupid stuff and can't help it. Sometimes i've been in situations where i could see myself clinging to "what the situation should be" instead of being with it, and I was so frustrated to not be able to let go... So i guess one thing i learned is also to not be too harsh with oneself about "letting go" or "allowing". For me, nowadays, "allowing" the situation to be what it is means also allowing myself to struggle and fight the situation if i cannot do otherwise. As long as we are conscious of it, of course... Sometimes we see that we were stuck a long time after the situation...

I wonder if Shitou felt no attachment to his grass hut. I'm sure he did but dealt with it as well.

Jundo
03-12-2015, 04:45 AM
Last summer at the Virginia retreat, I learned a tiny thing (that I'm sure the Unsui and many of you likely already knew) about how to accept and hold artifacts and other items during ceremonies (passing bowls during oryoki, etc.). The item sits on the hands, protected by the thumbs, but is not grasped. This physical posture is an amazing little teaching -- holding a precious item, yet offering it freely to the world, making no claim to it. I've found myself holding things this way (or at least with this attitude) sometimes since the retreat.

... This sounds so pessimistic, to say the glass is already broken, but to really see it as such: a conditioned form which by definition must "break", "dissolve", change form --

One sees such ways of holding lightly yet securely, reverentially, throughout Zen Ceremony and in Japanese Tea Ceremony too ... such as this way of holding the tea bowl, with balance and appreciation of the moment, secure yet free of grasping.

Some antique and modern Japanese tea bowls, by the way, can be worth a small fortune ... thousands and thousands of dollars ... and are cherished by the tea masters as treasures. I am sure the tea master experiences first hand the light of impermanence when one falls and breaks to pieces.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-gepmv8d7xC0/UrCgVG0SEaI/AAAAAAAAEeg/Twc3S8z_iTg/s1600/monk.jpghttp://fuji-travel-guide.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/42987a2502547fbb0d3dcc87c89a99a4_m.jpg

Gassho, J

SatToday

Ansan
03-13-2015, 02:57 AM
I am a lover of animals, especially my own pets. I think most people are like me and are very sad when they die. We all know they die too young and we somehow survive their final days with us. In answer to question #1, yes, I have learned how to cherish a precious pet, take special care of it, feed it, bathe it, take it for walks & rides, clean the poop off their rear ends, trim their fur, and let go when it is time to say goodbye. I learned that by knowing that it is inevitable. This was never a Zen thought; it was always that way for me.

But, just in the past year, I had an occasion to find my way discovering flowing & allowing. We had a delightfully nasty cat that owned the household. He was 19 and showed no signs of ever dying. Some cats don't know how to kick the bucket. In fact, he was so noisy and nasty that sometimes I thought that…no, no, no…I couldn't bring myself to wish for his demise. Most of the time. Until he performed his performances. He yowled at night when I tried to sleep. I was convinced that he missed the litter box, on purpose. He scratched holes in my couch and then, like the Cheshire cat, grinned at his destruction. He would throw-up his furballs and other yuck on my pillow. Normal, old, nasty cat stuff. So many times, I felt guilty about this love/hate relationship when he sat on my lap purring, with an occasional little lick of his little pink tongue and a loving look at me with his one good eye. The time did come, though, when he died.

We cried and buried him deeply next to other pets that died since we moved out here into the desert, where there are no laws about burying your animals…or at least no one who really cares because there is no one around us for miles. Just desert and mountains. We placed large rocks on his grave and said our goodbyes and paid homage to our other long buried furkids. That night, after their usual romp in the desert, our two big dogs returned home. They both smelled a little funny but I couldn't figure out what the familiar aroma was. The next morning on our walk, my husband announced that our cat had been dug up. His bones were partially eaten and there was nothing much else left of him. We had no evidence of who or what did the digging except our memory of that smell. And the dirt on our dogs feet.

Normally, I would have been appalled and weirded out, but in recent years I had seen the movie "Kundin", a loose rendition of the Dali Lama's life, where the dead in Tibet were fed to the vultures. This sight, at first, was very repelling to me but after the culture shock, I realized that it was the most appropriate way to dispose of a dead body, especially in certain climates. With that thought, I could let go, truly let go and was content knowing this was the way it was supposed to be, just as it was.

However, in the last 2 years (in answer to #2), I came to realize I am not so accepting of the inevitable when it comes to my husband. I have been living a kind of lie for years thinking that we were kinda-sorta immortal, knowing that, sure, someday we will die, but felt that we were much too young and healthy. Nothing bad has ever happened to us physically except an occasional broken bone or tooth. We planned on living for at least another 50+ years even though we are both in our 70s. One night, my husband wakened me at 2AM to state he was having a lot of pain in his arms. At the ER, we were told he was having a massive heart attack. He had 3 stents put in and stayed in the hospital for 4 days. During this period, I was a walking shock victim. I functioned well but was in a daze.

When he came home, he looked old to me. I looked in the mirror and, like the Wicked Witch, I saw an old woman.

This event changed both of us, even though we had been changing all along but refused to be aware of that. After a long depression, I decided to make some more changes. Finding Zen and then Tree Leaf was the beginning of learning how to accept. Am I attached to my husband? Yes, of course, but we both sit in Zazen daily and realize that it is THIS moment now. Just as we are. And that is very good. I still worry about him, and sometimes about my dogs & cat, too, who I love dearly, but know and realize that we can only live today or even just in the present which is not permanent as nothing is…even though I am still trying to think of something that is. Nothing. Everything changes. Even nothing. Is that a Mu?

Gassho,
Ansan

SatToday

Joyo
03-13-2015, 03:04 AM
Thank you for sharing, Ansan. I was very touched by what you had to say. I am very sorry to hear about your husband and I do hope his health is improving. I am glad you have found zen and Treeleaf to help learn acceptance.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Shingen
03-13-2015, 03:59 AM
A lovely expression Ansan ... thank you for sharing about love, loss, and acceptance. I wish all the best you and a healthy recovery for your husband.

Gassho
Shingen

SatToday

Jundo
03-13-2015, 04:04 AM
gassho1

Jinyo
03-13-2015, 08:20 AM
Thank you for sharing Ansan - my husband is also in his 70's and my health is not good. I feel as we get older the value of living fully in this moment is thrown into sharp relief perhaps with greater clarity. It also becomes a more urgent imperative not to waste precious time - because realistically our time on this earth is running out - though in reality this is always so - we can never be certain that our lives will continue beyond this moment. I do often struggle with this
because there is much in life to 'value' - by value I mean care about.


I feel this is part of the paradox. There is nothing of material value in Shitou's hut yet as we read on we will gather that the hut contains everything of value. It contains the entire world of our loves and hates, our attachments and practice. and desire to live in peace and at peace with the 'weeds'.


I have always loved this poem - if I had to lose everything but was allowed to keep one piece of writing this would be it. The first nine lines of the poem head the beginning of a novel I've just published and I return to the line 'Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely' at the end, so it has been deep
in my thoughts for a number of years.


Looking forward to reading each section of Ben Connelly's book and sharing our responses.


Gassho


Willow


sat today

Byokan
03-13-2015, 10:21 AM
Hi all,

Thinking about impermanence. Life is so fragile; it changes in an instant. This has happened to me a few times, and it comes always with a feeling of shock that what I thought I held securely in hand, of course I really didn’t. We don’t own anything, we’re all renters and borrowers. Our life, our health, our possessions, our relationships... all moving and flowing all the time. Realizing this, I’m finding now that practice is not so much about letting go, but more about accepting that ‘having’ or ‘owning’ is an illusion. So yes, keeping and cherishing, caring for things and people carefully and wholeheartedly, feeling very grateful for what is with me today. And when the moment comes that things shift, when change or loss comes, saying yes, this was part of it all along. Realizing in that moment, even with feelings of resistance, that I still ‘have’ everything I need. It’s not a cold distancing but an allowing, a less-conditional and wider opening of the heart. It’s a freedom, really.

Gassho
lisa
sat today

Tai Shi
03-13-2015, 10:53 AM
Willow,
thinking of you and your husband--take the time now for all that love you both share--all my best, Elgwyn, sat, Gassho _/\_

Daiyo
03-13-2015, 12:58 PM
Hi all, I'm going through quite busy times these days and couldn't find the time to adequately express my thoughts on this wonderful book we're sharing.
I've read the first part of the chapter three times, and each time a lot of ideas came to me, but when I could finally sit and write here they've all lost distiguishable form or simply vanished.
Another lesson in impermanence perhaps, as if images or ideas grew like weeds to be shortly blown away with the tornado of thinking.

However I wanted to thank you all for your comments, and sharing of ideas, since they do enrich our learning.


Gassho,
Daiyo

#SatToday

Matt
03-13-2015, 02:46 PM
One thing I would say about change is that even when things get bad, they are always enough. Beforehand we might think that we could not cope with certain events of loss or change in circumstance but we do, and find small things that make life worth living.

I have a small hut with nothing of value but it protects me from the wind and rain and has everything I need within it. For that I am truly grateful.



Thank you for this, Kokuu. I feel that your story captures the essence of these opening lines from Shitou.

For me, Shitou's words are a reminder that our needs are few. That our practice offers an opportunity to engage with something more significant than our material things.

Gassho,
Matt
#SatToday

Joyo
03-14-2015, 05:21 PM
Hello again everyone, I would like to share something. Most people do not know this, but I have two extremely strong-willed boys. Years and years of parenting them has left me tired, sad, and often feeling very trapped and depressed. (my oldest is 9) Today, for example, we were going to go to a local park and spend the day hiking, but due to their behaviour we are not going and instead I am dishing out consequences. :( I'm sitting on my bed feeling sad, defeated, wondering why this has happened to me, why did I get these two kids that just push and test and try me so hard??

And I read the above posts and it's like a trickle of water in the dessert, or a small seedling popping out of the bare soil. It gives me peace, hope, to sit with my life and accept, instead of wishing it was something else. As Jundo would say, one eye on what is (accepting) and one eye on doing what I can do to make this situation better.

So thank you, all of you who have posted here.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Jishin
03-14-2015, 05:34 PM
I am so sorry Joyo. Rest and get better soon.

Gassho, Jishin, #SatToday

Jinyo
03-14-2015, 06:22 PM
Take care Joyo - parenting can be really hard at times. Please be kind to yourself.

(Haven't sat today yet - been visiting my mum in the old folks home. First things first :) )

Gassho

Willow

Shingen
03-14-2015, 06:53 PM
Take care Joyo, get some rest, and know you will make it through this. =)

Gassho
Shingen

Sattoday

Jundo
03-15-2015, 05:38 AM
From one parent to another ... gassho2

Gassho, J

SatToday

Kyotai
03-15-2015, 07:50 AM
Still waiting for my book to arrive via ebay :(

Gassho, Kyotai
Sat today

Josan
03-15-2015, 10:04 AM
I'm sitting on my bed feeling sad, defeated, wondering why this has happened to me, why did I get these two kids that just push and test and try me so hard??


I sometimes think that dealing with death and sickness if probably easier than parenting for some reason. They can be thought about in the context of impermanence and how everything is in constant change. Parenting is a tough nut to crack.

Joyo, my wife bought this book some years ago and found it very useful http://www.amazon.com/Buddhism-Mothers-Approach-Yourself-Children/dp/1742373771

However, I suspect that all the answers may be in this wonderful, wonderful book that we are reading here at Treeleaf.
Gassho, David

sattoday

Kaishin
03-15-2015, 02:45 PM
Hello again everyone, I would like to share something. Most people do not know this, but I have two extremely strong-willed boys. Years and years of parenting them has left me tired, sad, and often feeling very trapped and depressed. (my oldest is 9) Today, for example, we were going to go to a local park and spend the day hiking, but due to their behaviour we are not going and instead I am dishing out consequences. :( I'm sitting on my bed feeling sad, defeated, wondering why this has happened to me, why did I get these two kids that just push and test and try me so hard??

And I read the above posts and it's like a trickle of water in the dessert, or a small seedling popping out of the bare soil. It gives me peace, hope, to sit with my life and accept, instead of wishing it was something else. As Jundo would say, one eye on what is (accepting) and one eye on doing what I can do to make this situation better.

So thank you, all of you who have posted here.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Thank you, Joyo, for sharing. I hear you - our two daughters often leave my wife and I feeling completely drained and aggravated. I can't think of anything insightful to say...just wanted to commiserate :)

With regard to attachment, I am waiting to be tested. By that I mean, I have never suffered a devastating loss. Part of that may be that I'm the kind of person who doesn't get close to many people. I hold only a few people very dearly, so I fear that when the inevitable happens, I will be unable to cope let alone accept. Material things--I really do feel that I hold them lightly, that I have no attachment to them--easy come, easy go. But people....we'll see.

i think we need people like Shitou to remind us that we need little to live. But it seems to me that, for us lay people, it's important to remember Jundo's warning not to become a pratyekabuddha, not to run off and hide in a hut in the forest. If our purpose, as Connelly says, is to alleviate suffering in the world, then we must remain amidst the suffering and help (and not add hurt) the best we can.

Joyo
03-15-2015, 03:51 PM
Thank you everyone. It is very, very difficult for me to share, but thank you for making this a safe place. I feel sometimes that I am the only one dealing with this, to this extreme I mean because other people (in my real life) seem to be so happy parenting and just love it.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Myosha
03-15-2015, 04:11 PM
-1- Yes

-2- Vowed to marriage with individual who admitted, previous to making vows, an inability to maintain in relationship, life nor death any interest outside herself. Ego thought, "Yummy, a new challenge." Fourteen years later I died: family gone,
businesses gone, doggone, home gone, sanity gone . . . BUT life is eternal. Life before, during, and after. Life as it is. No attachment and constant attachment. No thought WITH thought. Life as it is.


Gassho
Myosha sat today

Ansan
03-15-2015, 09:59 PM
Thank you for sharing, Ansan. I was very touched by what you had to say. I am very sorry to hear about your husband and I do hope his health is improving. I am glad you have found zen and Treeleaf to help learn acceptance.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today


Thank you for sharing Ansan - my husband is also in his 70's and my health is not good. I feel as we get older the value of living fully in this moment is thrown into sharp relief perhaps with greater clarity. It also becomes a more urgent imperative not to waste precious time - because realistically our time on this earth is running out - though in reality this is always so - we can never be certain that our lives will continue beyond this moment. I do often struggle with this
because there is much in life to 'value' - by value I mean care about.

I feel this is part of the paradox. There is nothing of material value in Shitou's hut yet as we read on we will gather that the hut contains everything of value. It contains the entire world of our loves and hates, our attachments and practice. and desire to live in peace and at peace with the 'weeds'.

I have always loved this poem - if I had to lose everything but was allowed to keep one piece of writing this would be it. The first nine lines of the poem head the beginning of a novel I've just published and I return to the line 'Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely' at the end, so it has been deep
in my thoughts for a number of years.

Looking forward to reading each section of Ben Connelly's book and sharing our responses.

Gassho
Willow
sat today


A lovely expression Ansan ... thank you for sharing about love, loss, and acceptance. I wish all the best you and a healthy recovery for your husband.

Gassho
Shingen

SatToday

Thank you, Joyo, Willow and Shingen, for your comments and support. My husband has recovered immeasurably and actually, because of Zen and TreeLeaf, he has changed dramatically. At first, he was very angry and in denial. I was not in denial...I was just anxious and in controlled depression. He has not committed formally to Buddhism nor has he joined TreeLeaf but finds that daily Zazen and discusssion of our readings (most recently, "Opening the Hand of Thought" by Uchiyama and now beginning Dogen's "Moon in a Dewdrop") have allowed him to drop the anxiety that he so carefully camouflaged. Me too. Willow, I truly understand about getting older and feeling the urgency to be aware of the present. It goes by too quickly and that is the reason Zazen has made such an impact on both of us. And so has Shitou. Home or the Grass Hut or the Village is Zazen for us. Each time I read the Grass Hut (not before meditation but in the evenings before bedtime), I find something new to discover, even though I cannot express those internal words.

Loss is not difficult to accept when there is the present that is so joyous at times and at others, just ordinary life. Life is all I know. As Dogen states "In a time called life, there is nothing besides life." It is all happening right now, in our Grass Hut.

Gassho,
Ansan
SatToday

Ansan
03-15-2015, 10:24 PM
Hello again everyone, I would like to share something. Most people do not know this, but I have two extremely strong-willed boys. Years and years of parenting them has left me tired, sad, and often feeling very trapped and depressed. (my oldest is 9) Today, for example, we were going to go to a local park and spend the day hiking, but due to their behaviour we are not going and instead I am dishing out consequences. :( I'm sitting on my bed feeling sad, defeated, wondering why this has happened to me, why did I get these two kids that just push and test and try me so hard??

And I read the above posts and it's like a trickle of water in the dessert, or a small seedling popping out of the bare soil. It gives me peace, hope, to sit with my life and accept, instead of wishing it was something else. As Jundo would say, one eye on what is (accepting) and one eye on doing what I can do to make this situation better.

So thank you, all of you who have posted here.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Joyo, you express your thoughts so beautifully, even with such despair. I have never parented but do sympathize on a very teeny-tiny scale. I do tutoring of second-graders with reading difficulties at a local school. Most of the children are energetic, quick to learn and open up easily. One child has problems that are not readily deciphered and she is very reticent and shy. And nearing failure. I was making headway in seeing a miniscule of improvement until I developed pneumonia and had to terminate my position (I have COPD and exposure to bacteria causes reoccurring infection). I am quite saddened that I cannot continue but I do get reports from my husband who continues tutoring. Children are...well...children but they too change. Apparently, you are a very conscientious and loving mother. And from what I gather from my observation of parents and their children, it is extraordinary, frustrating, rewarding, and life-altering. You are very definitely living in the present but perhaps a little sigh of relaxation and realization that because of your concern, acceptance and love, your situation will get better. It is part of your karma.

Gassho,
Ansan
SatToday

Joyo
03-16-2015, 02:04 AM
Ansan, I am happy to hear that your husband is doing better, and that zen has brought such a peace to both of you. I hope your pneumonia gets better soon. I actually work as an EA (Educational assistant) so I had to laugh when I read about your job as I can so relate!!

And also, thank you everyone who responded to me here today. My husband had them busy all day swimming, playing outside etc. etc. and that seemed to help, for now anyways. lol!! I am in much better spirits today, as I had a wonderful chat with my best friend, who helped me see things more clearly.

This is definitely part of my practice, and like any parent can relate to.....parenting is not easy at all!!!

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Joyo
03-16-2015, 02:12 AM
-1- Yes

-2- Vowed to marriage with individual who admitted, previous to making vows, an inability to maintain in relationship, life nor death any interest outside herself. Ego thought, "Yummy, a new challenge." Fourteen years later I died: family gone,
businesses gone, doggone, home gone, sanity gone . . . BUT life is eternal. Life before, during, and after. Life as it is. No attachment and constant attachment. No thought WITH thought. Life as it is.


Gassho
Myosha sat today

That is some rough stuff to go through. I like what you said "No thought with thought. Life as it is." I commend you on being strong enough to endure all of that and go on.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

BrianW
03-16-2015, 02:24 AM
Hello all,

Oh my how I loved the Sandokai book club we did a few years back…. I would say the Sandokai is my top book on Buddhism! Anyway I was pleased to see us reading another of Shitou’s works.

1. I’m not sure if it is a yes or no. On the attachments were I am really attached I seem to slide back and forth…sometimes letting go, or holding softly, and then finding myself grasping on for dear life. I guess more practice is needed!

2. Much in my life would be easier if I could let go a bit. Between my childhood experiences and, what appears to me to be a genetic predisposition, I’m pretty wound up. Perhaps just letting those emotions and such just flow or watch with some detachment?

Time to sit and work/not work with this all a bit.

Gassho,
Jisen/BrianW

Daiyo
03-16-2015, 04:53 PM
I feel sometimes that I am the only one dealing with this, to this extreme I mean because other people (in my real life) seem to be so happy parenting and just love it.

Trust me, you're not alone.
All kids are demanding and a challenge to our patience.
We have to learn to deal with them, deal with guilt, deal with comparison and the resulting anger.
It's hard.
Practice has helped me a lot but sometimes I still fail to stop anger or bad feelings on time.

Gassho,
Daiyo

#SatToday

BrianW
03-16-2015, 05:15 PM
I thought this was of interest .... One CBS Mornings they had a segment on a sculptor who works with sticks. He is in fact, in some respects, making "grass huts." When asked about the impermanence of his work he said the following:

""There's a way that you look at this work and care about it and care for it knowing that it's not going to exist, " he said, 'cause you know what's gonna happen to sticks. I mean, you see a stick and you kind of know that it's like a leaf. It's gonna break down. Something's gonna happen. It's gonna blow away. But in a sense the most powerful part of it is that it's not lasting. And we all recognize that we have a limited lifespan ourselves."

"Does it pain you as an artist to see it deteriorate?" Werner asked.

He replied, "It doesn't currently, 'cause I'm working on a new piece, you know? So I'm already on to the next piece."
Link to the segment below:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-north-carolina-sculptor-branches-out/2/
Gassho,
Jisnen/BrianW

Myosha
03-16-2015, 07:31 PM
Hello,

Thank you for the link.


Gassho
Myosha sat today

Ansan
03-18-2015, 04:56 AM
I thought this was of interest .... One CBS Mornings they had a segment on a sculptor who works with sticks. He is in fact, in some respects, making "grass huts." When asked about the impermanence of his work he said the following:

""There's a way that you look at this work and care about it and care for it knowing that it's not going to exist, " he said, 'cause you know what's gonna happen to sticks. I mean, you see a stick and you kind of know that it's like a leaf. It's gonna break down. Something's gonna happen. It's gonna blow away. But in a sense the most powerful part of it is that it's not lasting. And we all recognize that we have a limited lifespan ourselves."

"Does it pain you as an artist to see it deteriorate?" Werner asked.

He replied, "It doesn't currently, 'cause I'm working on a new piece, you know? So I'm already on to the next piece."
Link to the segment below:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-north-carolina-sculptor-branches-out/2/
Gassho,
Jisnen/BrianW

Thank you, Jisnen!! Fascinating article but it might have been even more admirable if he attempted to live in that grass hut.

Gassho
Ansan

SatToday

Stacy
03-18-2015, 06:10 AM
-1- Do you think it possible to keep and cherish something or someone (a person, a relationship, a thing such as a house), and work to maintain it and preserve it, and feel a bit sad if it is lost ... yet also be totally non-attached, able to roll with the changes and let it go, flowing with the impermanence? [Here's a hint: YES! Zen Practice let's that happen! gassho1 ]

Yes, very much so. :)


-2- Give an example about a time you were not so "allowing and flowing" about a person, relationship or thing in your life, and became a prisoner of your attachment. How would the situation have been better or different [please imagine] if you had handled things like in Question 1 above?

In my hometown, I have started a CoderDojo, a group for teaching youth coding and about technology that is run by volunteers. The high school no longer offers the one coding class they had when I went there, and it really would've been disappointing for me to not have had that opportunity. After five meetings, happening once a month unofficially at the library, I have not yet really gathered any members--neither volunteers nor young learners.

I have a couple long-distance friends who support me how they can in their encouraging words and input, and I have managed to get my sister to tag along with me in putting fliers at the nearby college and university. It made me happy when she came to the last meeting and made some attempt to play with the tools I had available.

When I really think about it, I am very pleased at my efforts. I may not have something big, but I have been putting together learning materials and have learned so much in the process of doing so. I've gotten to play with so many neat things. I even managed to talk the high school into taking part in Code.org's Hour of Code this past December.

But I become disappointed when someone inquires about the group and I have to figure out how to explain that I do not have any who attend. I mean, I do my best to say it in a positive way, but it seems like I do not hear back from folks after my answer. I get down that I lack the networking and knowing of a lot of people, or even just having good friends nearby to lend a hand. Also, tackling learning materials (especially in areas no one else has seemed to) takes a good deal of effort. It makes me think about dropping the whole thing and making life easier without.

But I just gotta remember, and I usually end up doing so at some point, that I am doing the best that I can. I am making a difference. The difficulty in getting it going just goes to show how much this place needs it. The fact that I'm even trying to lead a group when I'd rather be behind the scenes is amazing, even as scary as that might seem. Go me! [claps] And if someone turns their nose at my efforts because they did not meet some standard they made up, then I can do without them. I already am. It's not like it could get any worse. It's only up from here.


Gassho,
Stacy

#SatToday

Kyotai
03-18-2015, 11:38 AM
Best of luck with your efforts Stacy,

Sadly, I know nothing of coding :) Be well, you are. Doing great.

Gassho, Kyotai
Sat today

Ed
03-18-2015, 02:41 PM
Thank you all for sharing these wonderful posts.
Non-attachment grows out of zazen: whether we know it or not we live in the ground of being BEFORE mind splits reality into this and that; but we also live, temporarily and quite quickly , in the split wolrd of samsaric retribution, of choices and consequences, and we grab, hold on to, identify with delusions.
Zazen makes us see this delusions and, with time and consistency, they become fantasies and so more manageable, they lose solidity, but always remain with us.
Our lives have no intrinsic value.
Our practice makes us see how valuable our lives are.

Gassho.

Hotetsu
03-18-2015, 04:24 PM
1. I think it is possible, though difficult. To see everything as impermanent and interconnected can put things into perspective, but practicing it can be hard.

2. Living is a continual journey to realize the Dharma. Not just once, but many times, I have found myself attached to the very things I thought I was not. But I continue to sit zazen, and continue to realize life as it is.

Gassho,
Hotetsu

#SatToday

Risho
03-18-2015, 09:22 PM
-1- Do you think it possible to keep and cherish something or someone (a person, a relationship, a thing such as a house), and work to maintain it and preserve it, and feel a bit sad if it is lost ... yet also be totally non-attached, able to roll with the changes and let it go, flowing with the impermanence? [Here's a hint: YES! Zen Practice let's that happen! gassho1 ]

-2- Give an example about a time you were not so "allowing and flowing" about a person, relationship or thing in your life, and became a prisoner of your attachment. How would the situation have been better or different [please imagine] if you had handled things like in Question 1 above?



Catching up from a business trip; sorry for not responding sooner.

1. Absolutely!

2. Actually on this business trip. A new application was being unveiled. We'd seen previous incarnations, and it just didn't meet our requirements. We sort of held onto our impressions, but when we saw it this time, things had changed. It really did work out well. This goes for people and situations as well. The past is dead and can be helpful, but people always deserve a chance.

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

Shoka
03-19-2015, 02:34 PM
Hi everyone,

As with most poetry it takes me a long time to come around to understanding the meaning and applying it. But I finally had this funny moment the other night that truly illuminated this chapter for me. I have a plot at a local community garden. During the winter I didn't work the garden much because I was busy with other things and not really sure what I was doing. But as spring is here, I'm back at the garden. The community garden is an interesting place, there are people from all walks of life who have plots there. It's often strange because I don't see a lot of my neighbors but I always admire their gardens.

The other night I was working the garden with my significant other (SO) and a neighbor I haven't meet before came over to say he had never seen us there before. And then went on to inform us that we needed to put a lock on our garden gate, because if there isn't a lock someone else would come in and treat it as their garden. I laughed and said, "it's ok, they can water and take what they need." My SO wasn't as amused and joked he would put up video cameras and barred wired if the simple fence wasn't enough for people to know it wasn't their plot. The conversation ended, and we both set to our tasks. As it typical he finished first, so he went off to look at other gardens, what people had planted, how things were growing, etc. Before long I heard him and the neighbor in another conversation, they were talking about watering. I joined them and we admired his garden with its sturdy fence and well made planting beds. It started getting dark so we said our goodbyes.

The next day I went to the garden again and saw the same neighbor working his garden. He came over to say hi, and asked if I needed the hose then insisted on getting it for me. We chatted for a minute then went about our work. My SO joined me, and again ended up in the neighbor's garden talking about what work he had done. We left that night with a squash plant and an offer of several more if we wanted them.

So the answer to the first question, yes it is possible. I cherish my garden, want all the plants to grow well and produce lots. But I know if a plant dies it's ok, if tomatoes are taken by squirrels it's ok. If someone comes in and takes veggies from my garden, well I hope they needed them and enjoy them. (While of course I'll still be upset).

The lesson the other night was exactly the answer to question 2. We could have taken our neighbor as being a pain and threatening to essentially steal our plot if we didn't protect it. But instead we took a moment, let go of that first impression and now have a friend in the garden.

And I have no doubt that during the heat of summer at some point I will show up at my garden terrified because I missed watering and convinced everything will be withered and dead, but instead I will find that someone came in and watered for me. Because they could, since I didn't have a pesky lock on the gate. :)

Gassho,

Shoka
sattoday

Myosha
03-19-2015, 03:51 PM
Hello,

Thank you for the moment.

Please keep it up!



Gassho
Myosha sat today

Jika
03-19-2015, 08:47 PM
Shoka,

beautiful!!

Thank you, you've given me a beautiful picture for something I am experiencing in my workplace.

I've been grounded by my boss, forbidden to do many things that I was quite attached to, because it took me years to learn them.
I rationally understand his reasons, but it felt terrible, seeing others "take my veggies".
The last weeks, I've volunteered to help a coworker who is doing this work now and who is sometimes insecure.
I am not allowed to do the work, but I can pass on my experience.
I can water the "plants", and instead of feeling hurt or threatened in "my" territory, I'm letting things evolve.

Gassho,
Danny
#sattoday

Risho
03-19-2015, 10:50 PM
gassho2

Gassho,

Risho
-sattoday

Kyotai
03-20-2015, 01:13 PM
Thank you Shoka,

Gassho, Kyotai
sat today

Daiyo
03-20-2015, 02:25 PM
Hi all, sorry if I ruin the nice images Shoka has given us.

I kept thinking about this, and believe it's kind of easier to let go of material things.

But now I'm starting to see my son grow older, he is 12, turning a teenager and changing his mood.
I will have to let him make himself, go out and face dangers, and am deeply terrified about it.
It's not that I can protect him from anything, but as a kid it was always safer to have him at eyesight.
I am also having a feeling of loss of the kid he used to be, of all the hugs I didn't give him and the many times I've rejected him because I was busy or focused on something else.

No matter for how many years I sit, I believe I would never be prepared to "embrace life as is" should something bad happen to my children.
I've a lump in my throat just to write this.

Gassho, Daiyo

#SatToday

Kyotai
03-20-2015, 03:49 PM
Hello Daiyo,

In my experience, it certainly is easier to give up the material then an attachment to human life. Our relationships are so important, those we love are loved more then anything in this world. But, they too are attachments just like the material.

The past is the past. Being present now is what is important. Someday you may look back at what your son was like when he was 12. It will seem like so long ago. Enjoy every moment now :) The good, the bad and the ugly.

My wife Leah and I had a difficult loss some years ago. We knew our little girl for only 24 hours before she passed. It was so very difficult, I could not imagine how difficult it would have been had we known her 24 years. Many many tears.

After sitting each day, years later although emotion comes and goes when thinking of her..that missing void, slowly replaced with a quiet stillness. Just this.

Nonetheless, one of my favorite quotes below,

" I am an old man and have known many troubles but most of them never happened." ..Mark Twain

Gassho, Kyotai
Sat today :):)

Heisoku
03-20-2015, 05:58 PM
Hi all. What a lovely thread. I was just enjoying a lie down when my youngest son (18) came in and lay beside me resting his head on my shoulder, listening to the birds and sensing the mellowness of the sun going down after the partial eclipse this morning. I remember when his smaller head rested there and a night so long ago now when my father breathed his last while resting there. All the while the mellowness of universal love of moments passing and the weight on my shoulder slip away and all the while all these are still here in this moment, in this pearl, in this grass hut.

On first reading the grass hut my initial response was to say that we are always in a grass hut, in our body, room, house, street, place of work, city, country, planet and universe. We are never anywhere else. It also reminded me of an Indian proverb from Bruce Chatwin's the Songlines, that 'life is a bridge, so don't build houses on it'.

When haven't I felt this? Well if we don't experience the pain and suffering of impermanence then how can we find the path that leads to understanding? I first discovered this in my selfishness when my first love broke my heart and life. In reality it wasn't love that was broken but my sense of permanence about it and her, and like many the way forward was in learning to let go...... Still is!
Thank you to everyone here for showing me all the different ways that I can still keep letting go.
Humble Gasshos
Heisoku
Sat today.

Heisoku
03-20-2015, 06:07 PM
Dear Daiyo, I can only empathise with you. My wife and I had several early terminations and I can't imagine the feeling of your loss. Much Metta to you both.
Gassho
Heisoku
Sat today.

Daiyo
03-20-2015, 07:09 PM
Hi Heisoku, my wife and I haven't had any early termination.
Still, I can understand how hard can it be.

I believe your comment was meant for Kyotai.

I also send metta to all.


gassho, Daiyo

#Sattoday

Heisoku
03-20-2015, 09:20 PM
Apologies Daiyo and Kyotai. I must read more carefully.
Thank you for pointing this out.
Gassho
Heisoku
Sat today.

Joyo
03-21-2015, 01:06 AM
Thank you for the teaching, Shoka. And Kyotai, my heart continues to go out to you and your family. Much love and metta.

Life is just life with it's sad and happy moments. I take my dog for a walk by the creek most days. The water keeps moving, sometimes gentle, sometimes not. But it is always moving.

My husband lost a good friend of his family's yesterday. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and lived for only a few months after. It definitely made me realize, all over again, the reality of our impermanence. So today, I tried to savour each moment. Even the frustrating ones.

Gassho,
Joyo
sat today

Hogo
03-21-2015, 10:53 PM
This book looks very good so far, the first chapter hit me on many levels and I am still absorbing it. I am still working through the many post of this forum but thus far the perspectives and sharing I have seen are beautiful beyond description, so I will not even try but thank you all. It is a honor and privilege to practice and walk this path with you.
Thank you all.
Gassho .~ Hogo.

Jundo
03-22-2015, 12:13 AM
Hi,

I am closing this thread to keep us together, but feel free to comment on anything in this chapter by posting in any of the later open threads.

Gassho, J

SatToday