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Ugrok
12-07-2020, 10:33 AM
Hello !

Into quite a rough spot nowadays about practice, life, how i am in both, etc. etc. Basically i feel what is called "great doubt", i believe : doubting everything i read, everything i think during and about practice. For example, i'm on the cushion, and then i notice that i'm thinking about this or that, and i tell myself : "come back to the breathe, come back to the moment" or something along the lines of this ; but then i realize this "instruction" is just another thought, and the realization that it is another thought IS JUST ANOTHER THOUGHT, etc. etc. It makes me feel dizzy, hahaha, and i do it to myself ! For some reason that is scary to me ; i think it's because i feel that if i can't "trust" even my own thoughts, then i can doubt about anything and everything, i won't be able to control anything anymore, and how am i supposed to live like this ? Writing this i realize all of this is a bit of anxious mumbo jumbo around some kind of unsolvable paradox and i'd better "fetch wood and carry water"...

I'm sorry, i hope i don't sound too crazy, just wondering if some folks maybe experienced this kind of stuff and found a way out (even if i know that i will have to find my own way out, or rather let this way come to me...).

Gassho,

Uggy,

Sat today,
LAH

Ugrok
12-07-2020, 11:24 AM
Sorry, feel free to delete this thread (i would but it seems i can't do it myself). It's just good old anxiety speaking (i did a little search on the threads i created on Treeleaf, and a lot of them just look like this one over the years... it just seems like the kind of things i do when i'm in an anxious state), and involving other people in it, even if only over the internet, is not cool and even counterproductive for me.

I apologize again for the unnecessary trouble,

Uggy

Jundo
12-07-2020, 11:56 AM
You do not understand Shikantaza. There is nothing to attain. Write again when you are done chasing.

Gassho, J

STLah

Inshin
12-07-2020, 02:36 PM
For some reason that is scary to me ; i think it's because i feel that if i can't "trust" even my own thoughts, then i can doubt about anything and everything, i won't be able to control anything anymore, and how am i supposed to live like this ?

We cannot control anything, being in control is one of the biggest illusions. We are not "truly free" or independent as we grew up to believe in our liberal times. When you sit, do you pay attention to your liver expelling toxins, or your stomach digesting food, blood flowing? In a similar way, one of the brain's functions is to produce thoughts. "I got lost in thinking", "this réalisation is yet another thought!" "who thought that! Who is who? ( I think this happens to everyone who tried to observe their thoughts, you're not going crazy;) Brain is playing tricks and though there are some practices that use this" investigation" to cut through mumbo jumbo of "who I am", and even some yogi methods to extremely slow down the heart beat, etc Shikantaza is not that. The way I see Shikantaza now, (I've struggled with it a lot too), is a complete surrender, giving up all the control and letting it all be as it is, body and mind in unification with itself and the universe. Its not something that "You" or "I" can do, especially not by thinking. The only thing we can do is to set ourselves to Zazen posture, just sit and surrender. At least that's "my adventure" with Shikantaza nowadays.

I'm sorry for not fitting in 3 sentences.
Gassho
Sat

Ugrok
12-07-2020, 04:27 PM
Thank you both for your answers. Ania : but all you said is just thought ! Aaaaaah !

Gassho,

Uggy,
Sat today
LAH

Tomás Sard
12-07-2020, 05:21 PM
Here is another thought: Thoughts appear in consciousness. Remain conscious of whatever appears in the practice, with no goal to get rid of the thoughts, neither fixating on them, just being. There is nothing to get, nothing to achieve. It is already here. Just be aware. And even that is speaking too much.

Gassho, Tomás
Sat&LaH

Ugrok
12-08-2020, 08:01 AM
Jundo is right when he says i don't understand Shikantaza ; my problem is that when i read about it, or even do it, the instructions are about letting thoughts go, stopping to cling, coming back to the moment, etc. etc. But it seems to me that you can only do all of this with thought. For example, you're on the cushion, and you notice that you are thinking : that itself is a thought, and i have to tell myself "come back to the moment" to effectively do it, which is another thought again. I understand that maybe it's not how i'm supposed to do it, but i struggle with this paradox : i have to let go of thoughts by thinking that i must let go of thoughts... Is there any other way to do it ? Maybe consider the whole stuff as "just what is happening" and stop trying to stop thinking or stop trying to come back to the moment ?

Gassho,

Uggy
Sat today

Kotei
12-08-2020, 08:27 AM
Hey Uggy,

I am exploring the connection between Shikantaza and anxiety, too. ;)
I have the tendency to creating feedback loops, that grow with each iteration,
resulting in anxiety about having anxiety about anxiety until the whole thing explodes.

Some of the things, that go wrong in the world seem to be based on those loops.
People arguing, one word giving the other, getting louder and louder, starting to fight, until one doesn't stand up anymore.
That's not just individual people, countries are doing so, too, engaging in war and violence.
Buying precious things that loose it's significance as soon as one possesses them and starts hunting for the next, even more precious thing.
Even machines know these kind of growing vibrations based on swinging up resonances, until they destroy themselves.

In all cases, the solution seems to be that one has to break the loop, knowing when it's enough.
One side has to stop reacting on what is happening.

Shikantaza, to me, is exactly that. Stop reacting. Acknowledging the thought. Watching, not engaging.
The initial thought - OK. Thinking about the thought - already one step too far.

I am sorry that I wasn't able to stop after 3 sentences.

Gassho,
Kotei sat/lah today.

Jundo
12-08-2020, 09:07 AM
Kotei's advice, and the other folks here, seems so wise. gassho2

I compare Shikantaza to the Chinese trick finger cuffs ...

https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/903/172/254

Pull and pull, wondering how to get out, and they only get tighter. Relax, stop trying, and one is free. Rather counter-intuitive, but it is so.

Like the fellow who escapes from quick-sand in the movies by relaxing, not struggling.

https://youtu.be/snTNnCPNSUk

So, next time you feel like that during Zazen ... please wiggle your toes! Wiggle your toes, then lay back (figuratively, while sitting) and float along with conditions ... roll with conditions ...

:)

"Letting thoughts go" is just not caring about thoughts, ignoring them, pretending that they are not there.

"Being in the moment" ... you don't need to do anything to achieve that!! When in your whole life have you ever been outside this moment?? It does not matter whether you realize so or not.

So, the way to stop struggling with struggling is to stop struggling with the finger cuffs.

Gassho, J

STLah

Ryumon
12-08-2020, 09:42 AM
Jundo is right when he says i don't understand Shikantaza ; my problem is that when i read about it, or even do it, the instructions are about letting thoughts go, stopping to cling, coming back to the moment, etc. etc. But it seems to me that you can only do all of this with thought. For example, you're on the cushion, and you notice that you are thinking : that itself is a thought, and i have to tell myself "come back to the moment" to effectively do it, which is another thought again. I understand that maybe it's not how i'm supposed to do it, but i struggle with this paradox : i have to let go of thoughts by thinking that i must let go of thoughts... Is there any other way to do it ? Maybe consider the whole stuff as "just what is happening" and stop trying to stop thinking or stop trying to come back to the moment ?


That's the whole paradox of Dogen's non-thinking/not thinking.

Here's a thought (!!!): when sitting, if thoughts are disturbing you, trying thinking "What if these thoughts just floated away...?" Don't try to force them, don't try to deny them or be in conflict with them; play with them, let them play with you. Then try to think non-thinking and see what happens.

Gassho,

Kirk

sat

Meian
12-09-2020, 02:00 PM
Hey Uggy,

I am exploring the connection between Shikantaza and anxiety, too. ;)
I have the tendency to creating feedback loops, that grow with each iteration,
resulting in anxiety about having anxiety about anxiety until the whole thing explodes.

Some of the things, that go wrong in the world seem to be based on those loops.
People arguing, one word giving the other, getting louder and louder, starting to fight, until one doesn't stand up anymore.
That's not just individual people, countries are doing so, too, engaging in war and violence.
Buying precious things that loose it's significance as soon as one possesses them and starts hunting for the next, even more precious thing.
Even machines know these kind of growing vibrations based on swinging up resonances, until they destroy themselves.

In all cases, the solution seems to be that one has to break the loop, knowing when it's enough.
One side has to stop reacting on what is happening.

Shikantaza, to me, is exactly that. Stop reacting. Acknowledging the thought. Watching, not engaging.
The initial thought - OK. Thinking about the thought - already one step too far.

I am sorry that I wasn't able to stop after 3 sentences.

Gassho,
Kotei sat/lah today.Kotei -

Thank you for this. [emoji120]

Gassho2, meian stlh

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

Koushi
12-09-2020, 05:24 PM
In relation to thoughts and anxiety, I have panic attacks and PTSD stemming from childhood violence and trauma — even now in my 30s it’s still around. One thing that changed how I live my life was to stop fighting the normal human condition; thoughts, fears, and anxiety.

Indeed, psychological acceptance therapy (which is finally gaining steam here in the States) is a lot like our practice: we don’t actively try to push thoughts and feelings away, that doesn’t work because it’s normal for us to think and feel. Instead, we acknowledge, then return while giving up any illusion or want for control. You’ll settle on your own naturally.

Apologies for going over 3 sentences,
Gassho,
Jesse
ST (with anxiety)

Meian
12-10-2020, 12:40 PM
In relation to thoughts and anxiety, I have panic attacks and PTSD stemming from childhood violence and trauma — even now in my 30s it’s still around. One thing that changed how I live my life was to stop fighting the normal human condition; thoughts, fears, and anxiety.

Indeed, psychological acceptance therapy (which is finally gaining steam here in the States) is a lot like our practice: we don’t actively try to push thoughts and feelings away, that doesn’t work because it’s normal for us to think and feel. Instead, we acknowledge, then return while giving up any illusion or want for control. You’ll settle on your own naturally.

Apologies for going over 3 sentences,
Gassho,
Jesse
ST (with anxiety)Jesse ‐-

Thank you for your post.

I can relate to what you shared. Would it be ok if I PM you regarding the therapy you referred to? I have not heard of this, but I'd like to research further. I won't ask anything personal.

Gassho, meian stlh

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

Koushi
12-10-2020, 09:36 PM
Jesse ‐-

Thank you for your post.

I can relate to what you shared. Would it be ok if I PM you regarding the therapy you referred to? I have not heard of this, but I'd like to research further. I won't ask anything personal.

Gassho, meian stlh

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk

Absolutely, any time :)

Gassho,
Jesse
ST

WanderingIntrospection
12-11-2020, 04:06 AM
Hello, I'd like to just begin by saying I hope your experience still helps enhance and inform your practice!

I've been reading Opening the hand of thought recently and thought two points in it were quite relevant to your post.

First I just wanted to focus on this revolving thought about thoughts. Isn't it interesting how the mind has this ability to turn anything good into something bad when you focus and think about it long enough! I once gave myself a panic attack because i started to actively think about breathing, and did it for so long i started to panic because the reality of something we all do being a complex task was overwhelming. Anyway back onto my point. I believe around page 54 in the book is a really nice section on acting out Zazen. There are 2 point that i wanted to bring up.

The first point is that there is a distinction between thought and thinking. Thoughts arising is as natural as breathing is and our nature is buddha nature. A thought arising therefore is not a negative thing. However once it arises what we do with it is important. Zazen is in what we do with it, it is the yoyo effect of noticing that thoughts arise, acknowledge that the thought arises and then let it go. Thinking is when you do not let it go, the small mind takes hold of the thought and rolls with it creating long strings of illusionary scenes, it day dreams. This is what we're trying to avoid. So see the thought arise, any thought that arises is in itself entirely natural, but then let it go. Don't allow the ego to add extra information and commentary to it. I also struggle here with thoughts of time wasting and such. I believe to address this Jundo perfectly expresses in his book "The Zen masters Dance" the need to believe in the action you do as being a complete action. This confidence in the action has helped alleviate my doubt in this respect.

My next point is in what Zazen is. Zazen is not about being mindless. In fact trying to be entirely without thought (which i feel like many western Zen memes and ideas seem to hint at the goal being) is a false samadhi. We're not aiming to be without thought at all because that in itself is a dualistic state. Equally so we're not trying to sink into a day dream like state where we focus on each thought that arises. In the same section stated above the book talks about the very action of being aware of each thought arising and then letting it go is itself Zazen. On our small scale this can often bring up feelings of doubt, because we can't see that big picture. However the book offers a truly wonderful example of how even the weather effects us during zazen and can give us a feeling of false samadhi during warm clear days or feelings of greater difficulty on very cold or overly hot days. The longer and longer you practice zazen for the broader the scope of comparison becomes until you begin to really see how everything is not only interconnected but our ego is much like the weather simply another condition influencing the landscape of our experience.

These are just 2 thoughts i had based on recent readings and I hope even if in some small part they express effectively my ideas. If anyone has some feedback on my interpretations I'm always happy to receive them.

Gassho,
Mark
ST

Inshin
12-11-2020, 08:46 AM
Hello, I'd like to just begin by saying I hope your experience still helps enhance and inform your practice!

I've been reading Opening the hand of thought recently and thought two points in it were quite relevant to your post.

First I just wanted to focus on this revolving thought about thoughts. Isn't it interesting how the mind has this ability to turn anything good into something bad when you focus and think about it long enough! I once gave myself a panic attack because i started to actively think about breathing, and did it for so long i started to panic because the reality of something we all do being a complex task was overwhelming. Anyway back onto my point. I believe around page 54 in the book is a really nice section on acting out Zazen. There are 2 point that i wanted to bring up.

The first point is that there is a distinction between thought and thinking. Thoughts arising is as natural as breathing is and our nature is buddha nature. A thought arising therefore is not a negative thing. However once it arises what we do with it is important. Zazen is in what we do with it, it is the yoyo effect of noticing that thoughts arise, acknowledge that the thought arises and then let it go. Thinking is when you do not let it go, the small mind takes hold of the thought and rolls with it creating long strings of illusionary scenes, it day dreams. This is what we're trying to avoid. So see the thought arise, any thought that arises is in itself entirely natural, but then let it go. Don't allow the ego to add extra information and commentary to it. I also struggle here with thoughts of time wasting and such. I believe to address this Jundo perfectly expresses in his book "The Zen masters Dance" the need to believe in the action you do as being a complete action. This confidence in the action has helped alleviate my doubt in this respect.

My next point is in what Zazen is. Zazen is not about being mindless. In fact trying to be entirely without thought (which i feel like many western Zen memes and ideas seem to hint at the goal being) is a false samadhi. We're not aiming to be without thought at all because that in itself is a dualistic state. Equally so we're not trying to sink into a day dream like state where we focus on each thought that arises. In the same section stated above the book talks about the very action of being aware of each thought arising and then letting it go is itself Zazen. On our small scale this can often bring up feelings of doubt, because we can't see that big picture. However the book offers a truly wonderful example of how even the weather effects us during zazen and can give us a feeling of false samadhi during warm clear days or feelings of greater difficulty on very cold or overly hot days. The longer and longer you practice zazen for the broader the scope of comparison becomes until you begin to really see how everything is not only interconnected but our ego is much like the weather simply another condition influencing the landscape of our experience.

These are just 2 thoughts i had based on recent readings and I hope even if in some small part they express effectively my ideas. If anyone has some feedback on my interpretations I'm always happy to receive them.

Gassho,
Mark
ST

I wouldn't discard the spacious condition of mind without thoughts as false Samadhi as for some people "discovering" it may offer a great insight into the nature of thoughts and freedom they never knew existed. I came across someone for whom this point in meditation changed his life, however it is easy to form an attachment to this state and make it a goal of sitting, some may even mistake it for awakening.

Gassho
Sat

Ryumon
12-11-2020, 09:28 AM
I wouldn't discard the spacious condition of mind without thoughts as false Samadhi as for some people "discovering" it may offer a great insight into the nature of thoughts and freedom they never knew existed. I came across someone for whom this point in meditation changed his life, however it is easy to form an attachment to this state and make it a goal of sitting, some may even mistake it for awakening.


Discovering that moment of spaciousness was very important to me, even though I quickly realized not to grasp at it.

This is in a quote I noted from China Root, a book discussing the Daoist influence on Zen.

"With experience, the movement of thought during meditation slows enough that we notice each thought emerging from a kind of emptiness, evolving through its transformations, and finally disappearing back into that emptiness."

Gassho,

Kirk

sat

Ugrok
12-11-2020, 10:38 AM
Hello and thanks again, guys (and girl). Today i began reading "Don't believe everything you think", from a buddhist (not a zennie) teacher. Quite a good kick in the *** if i might say. Reading this really made me understand that i just let my practice become, small step by small step and without noticing, just a self help, self centered technique in which i was just ruminating endlessly about me, my problems and how they were really important, instead of a way of learning to live skillfully and trying to be of benefit for the world. Going back to the basics helps a lot nowadays : gently bringing the mind back to the breathe, again and again, and not bothering too much with anything else. There is also a whole chapter on what is a "precious life", which is a life in which you have the luck to be able to find the dharma and practice and learn. Reading this i couldn't help but see how wrong i was about practice those last few months and how being so self centered is of no benefit, for anyone (saying it politely there, but it was really a "holy **** i'm so besides the real point of all this" moment, quite like discovering something). Hope i'll be able to be less of a selfish "first world problem" type of guy, anyway i'll do my best.

Gassho,
Uggy,
Sat today, about to try to LAH

Inshin
12-11-2020, 10:49 AM
I think most of us start with the attitude of getting something out of it, improving ourselves or our lives. As the practice matures those attitudes change. I came today across a quote that made me think of Kirk's word "McMindfulness"

They say, “When I hear Sawaki talk, my faith cools down.” Now I’m going to really put their faith on ice: This sort of faith is nothing but superstition.
They say, “Sawaki’s talks don’t awaken any faith in me.” They don’t awaken any superstition, that’s all.

There’s nothing funnier than old women looking for “inspiration”. Everything for them is “inspirational” even if it’s only worth as much as pigeon shit. Anyway, this idea of inspiration is mistaken: isn’t it just a personal inspiration they’re talking about? They’re only taking refuge in Buddha because they hope to get something out of it.

- Kodo Sawaki, 'To You'

Gassho
Sat

Ugrok
12-11-2020, 10:52 AM
Well, Ania, i think i'm a slow learner... Been practicing daily for 5 or 6 years, and still fell in that trap.

STLAH

Inshin
12-11-2020, 11:01 AM
Well, Ania, i think i'm a slow learner... Been practicing daily for 5 or 6 years, and still fell in that trap.

STLAH

What is your year in an ants life? What is your life in an ancient tree's life?
Sorry, sorry... I've been trapped in Jundo's book Zen Master's Dance chapter about Being-Time for some time now :D. Especially the part about changing one's past : is so true and mind blowing, but maybe something to discuss in a different thread.

Gassho
Sat

Jundo
12-11-2020, 12:28 PM
Thinking is when you do not let it go, the small mind takes hold of the thought and rolls with it creating long strings of illusionary scenes, it day dreams.

Yes, just let it go, do not even grab on. No need even to notice the thoughts really, just don't grab on.


I wouldn't discard the spacious condition of mind without thoughts as false Samadhi as for some people "discovering" it may offer a great insight into the nature of thoughts and freedom they never knew existed. I came across someone for whom this point in meditation changed his life, however it is easy to form an attachment to this state and make it a goal of sitting, some may even mistake it for awakening.


Yes, very nice and informative when encountered, to be cherished and thanked, then let it go too.


Reading this i couldn't help but see how wrong i was about practice those last few months and how being so self centered is of no benefit, for anyone (saying it politely there, but it was really a "holy **** i'm so besides the real point of all this" moment, quite like discovering something). Hope i'll be able to be less of a selfish "first world problem" type of guy, anyway i'll do my best.

Just don't grab thoughts, live gently, be healthful toward oneself, live beneficial to others.

Keep it simple.

Gassho, J

STLah

ZenHarmony
01-19-2021, 03:59 AM
...i struggle with this paradox : i have to let go of thoughts by thinking that i must let go of thoughts... Is there any other way to do it ?

Have you maybe considered just focusing on your breath and *allowing* the thoughts to drop away, rather than trying to *think* them away?

Gassho,
Lauren
sat today/lah

serenewolf
02-22-2021, 01:29 PM
A bit contrary here but constant thoughts can be useful in practice. I find that outside of meditation, during downtime, you can search for truth in these thoughts and concepts and tumble them repeatedly until you get to base truths that cant be denied. You can also use them to go over past events in detail and find the base events and thoughts and actions that led to certain outcomes, which can be very useful in understanding psychology and past events. That being said. During meditation it is important to work on letting your thoughts slow down. It may take a while of sitting but eventually with the deep breaths the thoughts will slow down eventually. When you are performing tasks it is important to try and focus on the task at hand (i listen to calming music sometimes) but it can take a while to be able to do that. We all are trying to improve ourselves one bit at a time.
Gassho
David
Sat

Seibu
02-23-2021, 07:17 PM
Hi Ugrok,

Realizing that thoughts are just thoughts proved useful to me. Like you said, even instructions and the concept of realization are thoughts. Uchiyama encourages us to see them for what they are...thoughts and concepts. He also calls it the scenery of zazen. This really helped me to let go of thoughts. Perhaps letting go might not be the right words. I prefer Jundo's analogy of thoughts as clouds in the sky that drift by. There's no need to let a cloud go, they just drift by. Also, it may sound silly but you could try to let go of the idea of ownership of thoughts while sitting. Instead of seeing them as your thoughts try to see them as thoughts. I do not own clouds either.

Gassho,
Seibu
Sattoday

Jundo
02-24-2021, 01:14 AM
... There's no need to let a cloud go, they just drift by. Also, it may sound silly but you could try to let go of the idea of ownership of thoughts while sitting. Instead of seeing them as your thoughts try to see them as thoughts. I do not own clouds either.


That's nice. I'm going to steal that for future use as my own. gassho1 [happy]

Gassho, J

STLah

PS - Put me in mind of this, I still love this song ...

https://youtu.be/UjPoWpkBzmM

Joni Mitchell is pretty good too ...

https://youtu.be/BOPwviOUenA

Shokai
02-24-2021, 01:52 AM
As I said somewhere else;
There is no control or ownership
I also like this song. First time I heard it, Joni Mitchell sang it for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip when They visited Vancouver in 1967.
Don't quite know which singer does it best.

gassho, shokai
sylah

GrasshopperMan17
02-24-2021, 08:03 AM
someone i once knew told me that when they meditate, they treat their thoughts as voices coming through radio static while driving. simply drive for a bit and the voice will go away. hope this helps.

Gassho, John
ST/LAH

John.3
02-26-2021, 12:49 AM
Sorry for running a little long here. [emoji120]

I have a long history of being seriously hard on myself, never feeling like I measure up or doing something the "right" way. I also am very familiar with being stuck on a mental hamster wheel, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep.

I have no doubt I have major room for improvement in my Zen practice. I have many sits when my mind runs the whole time. Sometimes it doesn't , and sometimes I get a tiny taste of being very present and perhaps even shikantaza.

One thing that has majorly changed since starting with zen, is I have been practicing accepting myself and the moment as is. I believe that the moment is complete as is and that whatever state I am in is as well. I am complete as I am, imperfect practice and all.

Some days my sitting doesn't feel great, but I try to remember what Jundo says: "there is no bad zazen" then the image he gives of the person breathing through through a whistling nose and sitting lopsided (can be found in beginners talks, "no such thing as bad zazen" vid. Some days feel like that to me.

I continue to give myself grace, to accept the moment and myself, and I keep practicing!

Gassho,
John
Sat today

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Ryumon
02-26-2021, 09:42 AM
I have no doubt I have major room for improvement in my Zen practice. I have many sits when my mind runs the whole time. Sometimes it doesn't , and sometimes I get a tiny taste of being very present and perhaps even shikantaza.

I'm pretty sure that Jundo will reply that there is nothing to improve... That you have to accept what is... That there is no good nor bad zazen...

Gassho,

Ryūmon

sat

Shokai
02-27-2021, 03:26 AM
gassho1