View Full Version : 8/5 Zen Seeds: Pgs 18 19

08-05-2011, 10:46 AM
We Are All Related (Pg 18):

I found an interesting contrast between the interaction with the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. In the first, the story says that 'Bankei had listened to all her complaints and her spirits were restored'. In the second, 'Bankei's words set the daughter-in-law's heart at ease'. Sometimes, all we have to do is the LISTEN, and a heart is healed. Other times, a word or two is healing balm. I think perhaps wisdom is learning which to use when.

I have a torn heart with the primary idea here as to how we are all inter-related. In my mind, well, of course we are and we need to respond to others just like they are part of us. But it's so hard not to *separate*. I grew up being afraid of my Mom and her hair-trigger temper, never knowing what slight thing would cause an eruption, or when. I determined from an early age to be JUST like my Dad instead...calm, placid, tolerant. I turn 50 this year, and still dread those moments when my husband will say I've reacted, or done, or said something that's just like Mom. But in truth, we obviously are related, and the deeply dug, very hard dividing line (or wall?) that I spent years putting in place, really doesn't exist at all.

As to extending the idea to objects--this reminds me of a teaching I had years ago when I was with a Nichiren group. They talked about 'sentient beings', which would include living things as we commonly think of them, and grass and bugs (which we don't usually consider *thinking* beings). But, my favorite part was objects as sentient beings, with the example being the flute. The flute is the same on the shelf, or at our lips. But, we think it 'comes to life' when we blow air across the hole. It's really our perception that changes--the flute is the same whether it is silent or whether singing. And, we are connected to, inter-related to, the flute, whether it sits on the shelf or sits on our cheek.

Selfless Religious Practice (Pg 19):

There are a lot of times on my job these days where I get bored, and just don't work as hard as I should. I wish that they had a bell or a block in my office, so that I could have that external reminder to begin the task again! When we 'do this' instead of 'doing that'--well, for me it's because I want to do this, or don't want to do that. It's selfish. In those moments where I am able to transport zazen from the cushion to the cubicle...and just DO whatever comes up next, without attaching to anything, but flowing from one file to the next...those are really wonderful days.

The idea of instant obedience is interesting. I would be interested to hearing what our friends with military training have to say on this one. I suspect that's part of the training. For me, in a way it goes against the training I've had at work in matters of 'efficiency' and 'time management'. Always finish a task before starting a new one. it's more efficient to do one thing at a time, and not have several incomplete tasks, or jump from one to the next and back. BUT--is any task ever really complete? We just move from one phase to another, and one aspect of a project to the next, but when the boss, or an emergency, or something calls and says 'COME'--we have to drop and go. Seems like there must be a balance in here somewhere, and I'm not sure my thought is clear on this one.

I love the thought of practicing so hard we can 'break through the floor'...could that even be possible? Such determination! But in the very midst of that focus--to still break away when the bell rings and it's time to eat.

The other thing this brings to mind is the Christian reverance for Mary, as the 'woman who said 'Yes' to God'. In our selfless practice--isn't it about saying 'yes' to others? To the Triple gem? Are we willing at every moment, to say "YES" to Life, and eventually to Death, as they come barreling towards us?

Myozan Kodo
08-06-2011, 08:32 PM
A pharmacist tells a customer, 'In order to buy arsenic you need a legal prescription. A picture of your mother-in-law just isn't enough.'

...thanks to Shundo Aoyama, I will never hear a Mother-in-Law joke again without thinking of her and her wonderful book.


08-07-2011, 01:57 PM

thankfully I am blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law and hopefully won't need any arsenic for some time yet. :)

@Chessie Please let me express my deep gratitude for the following sentence: "Sometimes, all we have to do is the LISTEN, and a heart is healed."

These words are so true and make me remember visiting a friend many decades older than me at the hospice she was staying at. I am absolutely sure that my few visits were far far less important than her own family's loving care, however my point is that me just listening to what she had to say (some things "spiritual" and religious that she felt would maybe bore others or be misunderstood) opened up a kind of space, metaphorically speaking, that could only exist with her talking and someone JUST listening without judgement.

Obviously as you already pointed out, just listening might sometimes be right, and sometimes something else might be right. This truly non judgmental kind of listening however is definitely a very powerful tool in our toolbox that can allow for inner healing to take place at times.

Isn't it truly weird and mysterious at the same time, how saying something, expressing it as opposed to just keeping it locked in our hearts and minds can be so liberating?


Hans Chudo Mongen

08-08-2011, 11:57 AM
Thank you all for your sharing and insights, I've enjoyed this book for more than fifteen years and as many readings. Once again, to reread and see your responses is heart warming and total verification of Shundo Aoyama's writing.

08-08-2011, 04:18 PM
Hi all,

We Are All Related

When reading this passage, the word "initiation" kept coming to mind. When starting a new grade in school, the older kids would often tell me about some ridiculous ritual they had to go through at the beginning of the previous school year. I remember a particular transition, from elementary school to middle school, where the process was being punched in the shoulder by an older student. These older kids would tell me about how painful it was, some would even try to hit me softly, but the basic idea was to have to be hit repeatedly during recess since no one would ever confirm you'd already been hit. Apparently this is how it had been done as far back as anyone could remember, but when I asked why they did it to other kids at all if they hadn't liked it themselves, but the answer was always, "That's just the way it is."

The inability for many people to put themselves in another's shoes in general confuses me greatly, but when they are a pair of shoes you have recently worn, I'm just befuddled. Whether it is a supervisor at a job who treats his or her employees they way they were treated rather than how they wanted to be treated or a mother in law who insists on controlling her daughter's life just like her life had been controlled, I am amazed at how we do not seek to change that which was done wrongly to us by not inflicting it on others. Of course they are times when we must be trained hard to anticipate future difficulties or dangers. But when we feel the need to inflict hardship on others merely because that's how we learned...with no true reflection on the suffering of others (or of our own suffering!)...we have truly lost our way.

Selfless Religious Practice

When reading this section I immediately thought of my sewing practice and the ebbs and flows it can often take. I once heard of someone around here sewing only for a certain amount of time per day rather than my own practice which can have an all day marathon one day, stop for several days, and then go back to a marathon. Much of that is dependant on the time I have to work which is often after my kids have gone to bed, but I do wonder how it would be if I could strike an internal bell to begin and end a sewing session and how that would feel. I do think that while doing the daily tasks of our life in modern times do not often lend themselves very easily to this type of "regimentation", it is why practices like Ango and Sesshin are still so important. The modern practioner's life will often be relegated to the cubicle during the day and the family room at night and we must change with the times. But in returning to mindful dedicated practice we can bring much of that monastic life out into the world with us. And I think there are many here at Treeleaf trying to do exactly that.

Thank you all for your teachings.


08-08-2011, 11:46 PM
We Are All Related (Pg 18):

I have a torn heart with the primary idea here as to how we are all inter-related. In my mind, well, of course we are and we need to respond to others just like they are part of us. But it's so hard not to *separate*.

Same here. I find it comforting that someone as wise as Aoyama even admits "I realize that I cannot measure up to these examples no matter how hard I try." I think awareness is a huge step in and of itself. Everything flows from that (or doesn't!)

Selfless Religious Practice (Pg 19):

In our selfless practice--isn't it about saying 'yes' to others? To the Triple gem? Are we willing at every moment, to say "YES" to Life, and eventually to Death, as they come barreling towards us?

A great insight! "Yes" to reality at every moment.

I also struggle with the "time management theory" with respect to this essay. I manage a team at work, and constantly have people coming to my door to ask questions. Which is fine, except it often interrupts something I'm doing--and inevitably takes me much longer to finish as a result of losing focus. But, from Aoyama's perspective, I can see that answering these questions is an important part of my role. I see "my" work as paramount, but in reality there is no "my" work, just work. So, perhaps it doesn't matter so much what receives attention.

08-09-2011, 06:00 AM
Selfless Religious Practice (Pg 19):

In our selfless practice--isn't it about saying 'yes' to others? To the Triple gem? Are we willing at every moment, to say "YES" to Life, and eventually to Death, as they come barreling towards us?

A great insight! "Yes" to reality at every moment.

But how difficult. How easy to intellectually understand this, how easy to think or say yes, but how difficult to really embrace every moment, to really open the heart. How difficult to let go of dislikes which arise from our own fears, desires and wishes, graved deeply in our hearts over the years.

08-09-2011, 04:41 PM
We Are All Related:

One thought that came to mind while reading this was how I often rely upon the fact that I should not judge someone as I've not walked in their shoes. Alternatively, reading this I see how in many cases there are opportunities to see the flip side as well.

A friend has a teenaged son who was caught smoking pot. They freaked out, even to the point of threatening to throw him out. I have earnestly pleaded with them to have compassion. Neither of the parents, having a history of drug use, know what to do. So I'm trying to be the "Mother-In-Law" in this situation for the boy. As background, my brother had a bad drug problem for a while and my parents, at around the same age, threw him out. It only exacerbated the problem. Later (I'm younger), in my teenaged years, I also was using drugs. However my parents response was so starkly different that I practically collapsed in repentance for the pain I caused them. I was so self-absorbed I didn't see how it hurt them, especially after my brother's situation. I hope that my life-experiences can help this family, even if it means me being a mom-in-law by proxy. :)

Selfless Religious Practice:

I had a hard time with this one. This is actually a point of contention with my beautiful wife. Thank god she doesn't have a set of clappers. ;) I seem to feel that the demanding of my time/attention could also be seen as inversely selfish of the requester. I feel there should be some common agreement between the parties involved so that one selfish action on one side doesn't demand selflessness on the other.



08-09-2011, 09:38 PM
We Are All Related

The self vs. other concept is very neat and tidy. It makes sense to our brains and fits in a nice neat box that allows us to justify our actions while judging the actions of others. Like it or not (and I don't) I have the capacity to be a drug addict, a user, a violent person, and a general all around jerk (in lieu of a harsher term). I do like, however, to see my capacity to be Kannon, Buddha, Ghandi, and Mother Teresa yet I have a VERY hard time seeing that capacity in others. We can all walk another's path, it's just that we aren't right now. Judging, criticizing, and separating ourselves from others can make us feel high and mighty, but it only creates a rift that leads to suffering. Suddenly there goes the neighborhood because they moved in. When we meet the drug addict, "This is me". When we meet the murderer, "This is me". When we meet the saint, "This is me". You I me my capacity for a billion different crazy mixed up lives this is me over and over again.

Selfless Religious Practice

Who am I practicing for? A piece of my Genjokoan, I suppose. Initially it was for me. I want enlightenment and I want it NOW. Then, oh wait, compassion. "Yes, my practice is for alllllllllllllllllllllll sentient beingssssssssssssss" (If there was a throwing up icon, it would go here). Yes, I could tell myself that it was for everyone, but really it was still just for me. And it still is, I practice for myself. But by practicing for myself, I practice for those around me. Maybe it makes dealing with me a bit easier (but then again, talk to my mother :wink: ) maybe I move with a bit more ease and allow others to do the same. Maybe. When life hits the gong I have to show up. It's easy to fill my time with useless things (Facebook, general screwing around, etc...). It's hard to show up when life demands it because I always thing I have something better to do. Whoops. Guess I'll keep working on that one :)

Also Dosho, I like your thoughts on sewing, I'll probably take that one hour thing up :P

08-10-2011, 07:51 AM

Were all related
There is an old video where Jundo talks about the line "See the pot as your head, see the water as your life"
http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/with ... fugen.html (http://http://www.treeleaf.org/sit-a-long/with-jundo-and-taigu/archives/2009/10/going-back-a-bit-by-special-request-from-fugen.html)

And for me it encompasses the whole Buddhist philosophy, another old fool on Treeleaf likes to say "it's all good practice", which means basically the same, don't miss that its all related and a good practice.

Selfless religious practice.
Ok, Ango is coming up, lets talk about that a bit.
Ango is not about cutting away your "ten pounds of flesh", Ango is about living life to the fully.
Don't take away breakfast, add an extra slice of bread.
Don't take away being with your family, add an extra 5 minutes.
It's ok to add an extra bit of reading of sutras, of chanting, of...
But the main thing is, Ango is about living life to the fullest, don't miss that.

Same goes here.
When you do one thing, do it fully.
Right here.
Right now.
The perfect example is sewing.
Do one stitch at a time.
Don't worry about getting it all done, it will get there, eventually.
Just sew.
And when the thread is out or the doorbell rings or skype rings or ...
Just put the needle down and go do that.

Thank you for your practice.

08-10-2011, 06:11 PM
We Are All Related -- I had some sort of post lined up for this chapter, which I'm sure made sense to me at the moment. In the meantime, I was having a conversation with my wife last night about going on vacation. My points seemed well-thought-out, and I thought the conversation was going fairly well. At some point I began to realize that I was seeing the entire subject from my perspective. The feeling you get when you realize you're far too full of yourself hit me like a tractor trailer full of blue whales.

Selfless Religious Practice -- If my home is my temple, my children are the clappers & bells. Sometimes I'm caught up in something I think is of great importance, zazen or otherwise - *clack* Time to change modes. To speak on what Chessie has written, instant obedience is something I come to through trust. For my immediate family and co-workers, I'll leave anything at the drop of a hat.

Happy to read y'all's thoughts.


08-11-2011, 09:15 PM
I am posting this one first and will post We are Related later.

Selfless Religious practice:

Unexpected life events are like bells of mindfulness. Any situation can happen at any moment that turns our lives upside down and sweeps us of our feet. In the midst of intense focus on a goal or activity such as earning a college degree or a project at work, it is easy to lose awareness of other things around us. Those unexpected life events of illness, family issues, etc. bring stress and pulls us away from our current way of living but it also forces us to look at life in a fresh, new way. It gives us the chance to feel gratitude for what we do have or for the loved ones in our lives. With an understanding of impermanence, we can enjoy and appreciate the moments we have for experiencing the activities we are involved in. Eventually things change and life will chime the mindfulness bells whether they are good or bad.


08-12-2011, 06:37 PM
If my home is my temple, my children are the clappers & bells. Sometimes I'm caught up in something I think is of great importance, zazen or otherwise - *clack* Time to change modes.

Chaos reigns! Having kids has definitely given me new perspective on "me" time, or lack thereof! It seems like these days interruption is the rule rather than the exception. Not easy, but I hope it's helped me let go of myself a bit.

08-12-2011, 07:07 PM
We Are All Related:

Running my preschool -- an organization that is intensely devoted to the concept that we are all related, and that all learning and growth takes place within relationships -- I'm tempted to write out a long list of declarations about this and that. But the last paragraph brings me back down to reality on that front:

I realize that I cannot measure up to these examples no matter how hard I try. All I can see is my own self-centeredness. Yet had I not been exposed to the teachings of the Buddha, I probably wouldn't have been able to see even that much.

So I'll leave it at that!

Selfless Religious Practice

Again, I take from Aoyama the cold splash of water to the face. Doorbells, teacher or parent requests, phone calls, classroom emergencies.... Dozens of these blocks and bells sound every working day, and I must abandon whatever I'm doing and obey their signals at once. So, yeah, she's right:

Though this seems an easy rule to follow, it is actually quite difficult.

And it's surely all about ego, too: the nasty little things I say in my head as I'm walking to answer the door, or the annoyed expressions I show to those standing before me, they're all as self-centered as self-centered can be. Of course, the "self" around which they are "centered" doesn't benefit in the least from being "too busy" or otherwise put-off. After all, We Are All Related. ;)

08-25-2011, 02:24 AM
Hello all,

So many have spoken of family and I agree...what wonderful bells of mindfulness or clappers if you wish. It took me a long time to learn to put others first. I was an only child and, up to a certain point in my life, rather spoiled. We can all take pride in those moments we awaken from our selfish concerns to serve the needs of other sentient beings....I include animals here as well as they can be wonderful teachers as well.

Deep Gassho to all who serve,