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Thread: Thoughts and not thoughts…

  1. #1

    Thoughts and not thoughts…

    Hi everyone,

    The advice we’re often given in Zazen is to sit and to merely witness thoughts rising and falling. This evokes the image of thoughts being separate from us, almost like they’re occurring in a sort of cognitive slideshow that we’re witnessing. I really struggle with this as whenever my mind quietens sufficiently to be able to o this it feels trapped in another cognitive process….I hope that makes sense.

    A little like an inability to experience any sort of separation from thinking whether its calm or not – there seems to be a constant presence or dialogue sometimes whispering in my ear.

    Any thoughts (no pun intended honest)!


    Sat Today

  2. #2
    Have you ever lived near a busy road or owned a noisy clock, and suddenly wondered why you almost never noticed the sound?

    Who is this presence in your ear or dialogue, and why is listening to it more important than the birds outside the window?

    The presence is useful to wish you a good day.

    Gassho,
    Danny
    #sattoday

  3. #3
    Hi Dharmasponge (sorry I forgot your name at the time of writing was it Tony?)

    I recognise this feeling well. We probably all do? My experience is that if you just sit, eventually you can let go even of that next 'cognitive process'. Until you meet the next one. Layer after layer the onion gets peeled until there's nothing left.
    Gassho
    Vincent

    Sat Today
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

  4. #4
    Hi Tony

    I agree that the instruction to watch the thoughts does imply some kind of separation. Would it help to instead use the instruction 'experience the thoughts rising and falling'? Thoughts are no less you than an itch or aching leg. No more you either but that is another story!

    Thoughts are to the mind as sweat is to the body. A quiet mind is a rarity for most of us. Do you have Brad's 'Sit Down and Shut Up'? He has a nice take on 'think-non-thinking' in chapter 4 (p42+). Summary - experience thinking as it is but try not to feed thoughts by following them or adding to them. You can also see/feel where they arise from and where they go (this might go further than Shikantaza but is an interesting exercise).

    As regards feeling trapped in a cognitive process, it is a common thing for westerners (and maybe easterners too, I don't know) to meditate with their heads. Being more aware of the body during shikantaza can be helpful with that. Being more body centered also tends to have an effect of redusing thought frequency and velocity in my experience. You seem like a very thoughtful guy and (as someone who is a member of Lisa's overthinkers anonymous) I know this can make meditation harder than it needs to be at times. This instruction from Tibetan Mahamudra practice has helped me greatly and I do not think it is out of place in this context:

    Let go of what has passed.
    Let go of what may come.
    Let go of what is happening now.
    Don’t try to figure anything out.
    Don’t try to make anything happen.
    Relax, right now, and rest.


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #notsattoday-sickdaughterathome (she's in bed now though so going to grab 20 minutes shikantaza)

  5. #5
    Hi all, I can definitely relate to what Tony says.

    Many times I've thought that "just sitting" was a waste of time, since I am drifted away by trains of thoughts (cognition processes?) most of the sitting time, and over months of practising shikantaza it hasn't changed. I just can not watch thoughts, it's me who is busy thinking, I am my thinking.

    Maybe it will take years to be able to experience thoughts as they arise instead of becoming aware I am thinking after several minutes. Maybe it will never happen.
    Most of the times it's frustrating and makes me want to miss a day's sitting. A million of excuses arise not to sit the next day.

    I try to see it as part of the practice and keep at it. Uchiyama Roshi's "Opening The Hand Of Thought" has helped me before, perhaps I need to read it again.

    Gassho,
    Walter

    #SatToday
    Gassho,Walter

  6. #6
    I think I can sum it up by saying there are either thoughts (and lots of them) or a dull lack of awareness….rarely an awareness of any space between thoughts.

    It’s not always this way though – there are the (very) rare occasions that my mind feels like a boulder resting on a pin head….but that’s too rare to be at all a source of inspiration.
    Sat today

  7. #7
    Hello !

    I struggled with that a lot when i begun practicing.

    The more you want to get rid of your thoughts, the more they will bother you. It's not something to be fought or suppressed. Thoughts are of no importance at all, at least not anymore than anything else. When you think, think. Then, while sitting, you will have this "ahah" moment where you notice that you were thinking (if you had not, you would not post this ). Just this is sufficient. And it happens totally naturally, all the time. So let yourself think, and let yourself get out of thinking, and back again. Let yourself fight your thinking. Let yourself pay too much attention. Just let whatever happens, happen. There is no problem. The only thing you have to do is "just sit".

    More and more, i think that all our problems are just problems because we make them problems. The thing to change is not that you think too much ; maybe it is too stop seeing this as a problem. To do that, just sit and sit and sit with your thoughts again and again. A great text from good old Kodo Sawaki :

    TO YOU WHO GET OUT OF YOUR MIND TRYING SO HARD TO ATTAIN PEACE OF MIND

    The buddha-dharma is immeasurable and unlimited. How could it ever have been made to fit into your categories. No matter what you are grasping for, it’s limited. In any case, only things for ordinary people can be grasped. Grasping for money, clinging to health, being attached to position and title, grasping for satori – everything you grasp only becomes the property of an ordinary person. Letting go of ordinary people’s property – that’s what it means to be a buddha. When peace of mind only means your personal satisfaction, then it’s got nothing to do with the buddha-dharma. The buddha-dharma teaches limitlessness. That which is measureless has to be accepted without complaint. You lack peace of mind because you’re running after an idea of total peace of mind. That’s backwards. Be attentive to your mind in each moment, no matter how unpeaceful it might seem to be. Great peace of mind is realized only in the practice within this unpeaceful mind. It arises out of the interplay between peaceful and unpeaceful mind. A peace of mind that is totally at peace would be nothing more than something ready made. Real peace of mind only exists within unpeaceful mind. When dissatisfaction is finally accepted as dissatisfaction, peace of mind reigns. It’s the mind of a person who had been deaf to criticism when he finally listens to others talking about his mistakes. It’s the mind of a person who, naked and begging for his life, suddenly dies peacefully. It’s the mind of a person who has suddenly lost the beggar who had been pulling at his sleeve, relentlessly following him around everywhere,. It’s the mind after the flood in which the make-up of piety has washed away.How could a human being ever have peace of mind? The real question is what you’re doing with this human life. What you’re doing with this stinking sack of flesh, that’s the issue.
    Last edited by Ugrok; 01-06-2015 at 04:21 PM.

  8. #8
    Ugrok has it right, to my mind. We just sit. There is no aim to achieve any special state.

    You wouldn't criticise a mirror for reflecting what is there.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    You wouldn't criticise a mirror for reflecting what is there.



    Excellent, Kokuu, thank you.

    Gassho,
    Walter

    #SatToday
    Gassho,Walter

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by walter View Post

    Maybe it will take years to be able to experience thoughts as they arise instead of becoming aware I am thinking after several minutes. Maybe it will never happen.

    Walter

    #SatToday
    Hi Walter,

    But you are experiencing thoughts as they arise. It's just that the time period isn't to your liking. Isn't the more important thing here to notice that you're not satisfied with "how good" you are at zazen? You are noticing thoughts as they arise, you're just not happy you're not noticing right away. Sounds like you're doing well to me.

    Hi Tony, (too),

    I would not say "witness" thoughts. Just be them. Whatever they are, let them come and be them. If you get lost in thoughts, come back to just sitting and get lost again and just sitting again. Just let go into getting lost in thoughts, surrender to it, stop trying to sit perfectly, and then no big deal, then they'll slow on their own, b/c you're not controlling anymore, thinking there should be less, watching to see how many thoughts you have. If you're tired and not aware, sit tired and not aware - like Ugrok says, don't fight it with ideas of better sitting as that's where separation comes in. If a lot of thoughts are running, just go with the thoughts running and keep sitting and, in your stillness of body, your thoughts will slow - they may not disappear, but so what. You're sitting, you're here, there are thoughts, it's okay, all one.

    That's what I see here. What Kokuu says about the body sounds good to me, too.

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Last edited by alan.r; 01-06-2015 at 04:30 PM.
    Shōmon

  11. #11
    The magical thing, for me, is that as long as we keep on sitting, this all sorts out by itself. So don't even try "not to try" - which is the next logical trap i fell in, obviously ("okay, now i'll really let go and let my thoughts be totally free !" this does not work either - because in fact there is no problem to solve other than one we are totally making ourselves !). The solution to all this stuff and those unnecessary knots is the sitting itself ! As long as you are sitting with whatever is, even if it is "fighting" or "struggling" or "trying not to try", it's ok. Don't bother with anything else than sitting.

    Gassho

    Ugrok, satoday
    Last edited by Ugrok; 01-06-2015 at 04:30 PM.

  12. #12
    Hi Tony,

    We do not "witness thoughts", we do not "experience the thoughts". Please do not try to find "where they arise from or where they go".

    Rather, just ignore the thoughts, do not grab on, do not become tangled, and pay 'em no never mind. If there is a "a constant presence or dialogue sometimes whispering in my ear" simply let it whisper, do not respond or answer back. (As in the dripping faucet analogy below), thoughts come and go, and we do not seek to halt them, we do not seek to open the spigot wider ... but neither do we engage. The Mahamudra instruction from Kokuu feels right ...

    Let go of what has passed.
    Let go of what may come.
    Let go of what is happening now.
    Don’t try to figure anything out.
    Don’t try to make anything happen.
    Relax, right now, and rest.
    If you think "there is a gap", then there is a gap of your own making. If one does not think "there is a gap", then there is no gap. Please stop thinking that "there is a gap" ... and the gap is gone.

    Tony said ...

    I think I can sum it up by saying there are either thoughts (and lots of them) or a dull lack of awareness…. ….rarely an awareness of any space between thoughts.
    No, you just make these artificial divisions and categories. Bullshit.

    I once lived in a cheap apartment with a dripping faucet outside my window. The landlord promised to fix it, but did not. When I would obsess and focus on the dripping, it would become so loud and drive me mad. I could not sleep. But, after awhile, I just did not engage. The faucet was still dripping ... drip drip drip ... but I did not hear, was not aware, not disturbed. Yes, the "dripping" is our thoughts. No need to turn them off, just do not pay heed, do not fixate, do not be caught.

    During Zazen, if finding oneself caught, tangled, engaging with the drip drip drip ... let it go. Disengage. Return to just sitting (to the posture of the breath if one needs). Water still drips and drips, but you do not drown in it.


    One more point:

    What Kokuu said here about "no special state" is a bit misleading ... because every state. moment and thing is Special!

    We just sit. There is no aim to achieve any special state.

    You wouldn't criticise a mirror for reflecting what is there.
    No, to be a mirror ... unfazed and allowing of all that is reflected within it, all the states, moments and things, beautiful and ugly, big and small ... is a most "special state". It is the "special state" in which one finds the wholeness, interpenetration and sacred nature of even the most ordinary and mundane displayed in the clarity of the mirror. "Just Sitting" does not mean "just sittin' around"!

    Stop judging the experience and, instead, sit beyond judgments in the Total Completeness of the simple act of sitting. Do not forget to sit with the attitude that sitting is in and of itself a perfect action, the one place to be and one thing to do in that moment of sitting. Sit with the attitude of "nothing in need of fixing, nothing to add or take away" from that moment. Sit with the attitude that a moment of sitting is a moment of Buddha Sitting. Then, every drop of water holds the entire Ocean!

    But if you think something is lacking, that there is some separation, something to fix, then guess what!? Then there is separation, lacking and much to fix. The faucet goes DRIP DRIP DRIP!

    Instead, sit as a mirror, and every drop of water is a sacred drop of Buddha. Buddha drippiing dripping dripping Buddha.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-07-2015 at 03:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Hi Tony - some helpful answers here. I think we all experience what you describe.

    I really feel to just relax into what is. Perhaps some other traditions focus on being free from cognition but that isn't the essence of Zazen

    (as I understand it).

    I would say to be able to 'think not thinking' there has to be a thinker - it's not necessary to try to abolish that facet of mind. And zazen is often messy - thoughts/cognitions floating all over the place - no different to life in general.

    The gift is honing the ability to observe - to detatch but not negate. That's quite a gift to take into our everyday lives - for me that's where this practice really kicks
    into action.

    And sometimes - not all that often - I experience a real sense of peace. Best not to stress about whether that's a pure experience or a cognition - it's just good when it happens

    Gassho

    Willow

    Sat Today - and it was very messy - just an observation not a judgement.

  14. #14
    Usually if I allow all my thoughts and feelings, they pass away like everything else. Try practicing Teflon Zen. Nothing sticks to it 😃😁😂
    Sat today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  15. #15
    Hi Tony
    Steve Heine in his book 'Buddhism: it's not what you think' makes a lovely observation that it is really difficult to recall exactly what was in your mind when you started reading this sentence. If you maintain that awareness then that's a start!
    The next question by Bassui to follow up with is 'What is your mind?'
    Don't you just love this zen stuff!
    Gassho
    Heisoku
    Sat today.
    Heisoku
    平 息

  16. #16
    Teflon Zen! Thank you, Rich.

    One aspect to emphasize is that, as we do not grab onto and "pay no never mind" to the dripping faucet of thoughts, they are just there without our being caught. They may fade from mind, like the leaky faucet no longer noticed though heard.

    But, as well, do not fail to sit Zazen with an attitude of the Wholeness and Completion of the action of sitting, the one place and action called for in that instant of sitting. As we sit in the Peace, Wholeness and Illumination which manifests, when the drops do appear and are noticed, a certain Light shines though, a certain Silence right through the dripping noise. Then, each "drip drip drip" changes, and somehow proves itself to be also Buddha Buddha Buddha.

    In other words, life's thoughts either do not catch us or, when they are engaged (because human beings are thinking/feeling beings, and cannot do without thoughts and emotions), also prove to shine with Wisdom and Compassion too. The drip drip drip is not the same drip drip drip as before. Then, each "drip drip drip" changes, and somehow proves itself to also be "Buddha Buddha Buddha" holding and reflecting all the world, each and all whole round and complete. Then, it is not just the same bothersome and annoying dripping as before, the thoughts are not quite the same deluded thoughts as before. Each drop is itself as clear and nonjudgmental as a mirror.

    Something like that.

    Tony, may I ask you a question? I get the impression that you are actually practicing another flavor of meditation (perhaps Chan or Dzogchen) as presented by some other teacher in a more analytical and "stage" oriented way. There are so many such kinds of meditation, many flavors of lovely fruit. Or, it may be what some Teacher is calling "Shikantaza", but it is actually very categorizing and stage oriented about the process. I get the impression that you may then be coming here for advice on that, although those apples may be a bit different from true Shikantaza non-oranges. Am I wrong?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday


    Last edited by Jundo; 01-07-2015 at 05:24 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Stick to a method
    Stop asking questions and sit for a decade
    Then sit for a decade more

    My new year commitments

    Gassho,
    Sam
    Sat Today

    P.S. By the way, if you are not doing so already try sitting in half-lotus (or even better full lotus). I found that physically (and mentally) more stabler and calming than the burmese position

  18. #18
    Help me find my thoughts! I lost them somewhere and can't find them says I while thinking about thinking and nonthinking.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  19. #19
    Hello all

    In my experience, some people are just very analytic in their approach to EVERYTHING in life. Note for the record I did NOT say anal. There is nothing wrong with this, we NEED people like this because some things in life require this approach. We can study every muscle and movement involved in throwing a baseball pitch. I am told by one scientist, that this took up 96 pages of a dissertation on the subject. However, reading those 96 pages doesn't really help us all that much when it comes to actually throwing the baseball over the plate. It takes practice, and actually doing it, and getting a feel for what throwing a baseball is actually like requires picking one up and DOING it.

    So, perhaps for those of you of a more analytic bent, the nuts and bolts of shikantaza may be very important, yet I would argue that this is the very thing we are trying to let go of when we sit. Also, if you get frustrated, well sit with that. The frustration is something we all work with in all arenas of life. That's dukkha!

    For me, when I notice my mind drifting, I just very gently say to myself "thinking" and return to the practice. Be kind to yourself. Even lousy shikantaza is good zazen.

    If it gets really bad I try to visualize the thoughts one by one as they come up as leaves falling off a tree. Up there's one! Let it fall. Up, there's another.. let it fall. Drop every leaf.

    Just DO it. This message brought to you by Nike/ Non-Nike.

    Gassho
    C

    Sat Today!
    Last edited by Ishin; 01-07-2015 at 03:29 PM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Hello all

    In my experience, some people are just very analytic in their approach to EVERYTHING in life. Note for the record I did NOT say anal. There is nothing wrong with this, we NEED people like this because some things in life require this approach.
    Oh, my analysis is that you are quite correct! In fact, I started Zazen about 33 years ago in the analytical and debate-filled environment of law school, and I consider myself a pretty analytical fellow in approaching life. There are plenty of times in life when analysis is appropriate.

    It is just that Shikantaza is not a time for analysis, a divisive and oppositional approach to life which breaks things down into "this and that" parts and ranks. In that way, it may be more like experiencing a falling leaf. The biologist may analyze the biolgical structure of the leaf, the causes of its falling, and categorize all with a latin name. However, there is a time just to inhale the lovely Autumn scene.

    That is my analysis.

    Neither stir up the falling leaves, nor fight their falling. Each falling leaf is Buddha falling.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-07-2015 at 03:48 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Hello all

    In my experience, some people are just very analytic in their approach to EVERYTHING in life.

    So, perhaps for those of you of a more analytic bent, the nuts and bolts of shikantaza may be very important, yet I would argue that this is the very thing we are trying to let go of when we sit.
    Hi Clark,

    Yes, I like this a lot. It's definitely true for me. An interesting thing, I actually think zazen probably goes the other way too, for those not "analytical" enough. There's a balance that develops. What I mean is: for the over-thinker, like me, always spinning the thought wheels, there's often a lot of anxiety, etc, and Zazen balances that out with actual doing (probably one of the reasons I've always liked sports, I get to "just do, just play," but afterwards, I'd think and think about it). Anyway, for the less analytical person, zazen could be really helpful in brightening up that side of oneself too - for instance, there are people (I've lived with them) who don't even realize they're stressed out (whereas the over-thinkers think and think about why they're stressed, adding to the stress (or at least the case for me!)). And so, sitting might allow one to bring a bit of awareness to everyday life, that necessary bit of "analysis" of oneself so that they might be able to say, Oh wow, I'm stressed and I didn't even realize it.

    Anyway, just adding some thoughts - it's a balance thing, is all I'm saying, I guess.

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Shōmon

  22. #22
    Hi Tony,

    I am not contributing a lot in the forum. And there was the question you asked, which provoked me to ask you something:
    "Did you read the question of Jundo?"
    The answers you´ve got are very helpful and I just say "yes" to nearly every suggestion you´ve got.
    But…..you did not give an answer. So I asked myself: "Did he get his answer and everything is clear now
    or was it just to give a sign of life?"
    Perhaps it is much easier than it seems. I sit zazen like doing weight-lifting. It is not always joy to practice. But if you do it
    for a certain time the muscles gain and the body gets well. Not today, and not because of a mystical secret.
    It is because you lift the weight everyday.
    The "wrong" zazen grows and if you do it with a joyful approach it gets better and better everyday.
    You may think, that there is no progression, but it is.

    Sorry for my redundant statement, but I was pushed from your "no-answer".

    Gassho, Ernst
    Sat today

  23. #23
    Hi Ernst,

    I will say that our Way has a strange kind of progession and "getting better". We progress and "get better" by abandoning all need, right to the marrow, of need to "progress" and "get better". Unlike in weight training, where I may wish to get stronger and stronger, and bigger and bigger muscles, we rest content just as we are ... already Buddha. In fact, we are now content to grow weak, sick, infirm, aged as we all inevitably will (as the Buddha did in fact, growing old and infirm). One comes to experience a way of reality that cannot grow old, and never weakens ... even as we grow old and weak.

    Now, don't misunderstand what I say and use it as an excuse to stop going to the gym, to abandon the diet, or become more angry and greedy, or to quit trying to improve ourselves in countless ways. Even though fat Buddha is Buddha, and "in shape" Buddha is Buddha, it is healthier to be in shape! If we are angry and greedy, we may still be "Buddha" on some level ... but will be blind to the fact.

    Therefore, our Buddhist way is to know that, if we do not "progress and get better", we are still Buddha. If we "progress and get better", we are still Buddha. Either way is fine, no place to progress, nothing to gain or lose. Nonetheless, it is still probably a good idea to live in a healthy way.

    Understand?

    As one is sticking to one's diet, one should simultaneously know that there is "nothing in need of losing" ... yet avoid the chocolate cake nonetheless. As one is pumping iron in the gym, one should feel "there is nothing in need of gaining" ... yet maybe push for one more set.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday!
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-07-2015 at 06:20 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    Hi Jundo,

    thank you and yes. I´ve got it. (or I hope so )

    Unlike in weight training, where I may wish to get stronger and stronger, and bigger and bigger muscles, we rest content just as we are…..
    I compare it just with the daily practice. I do my practice in the gym-room (not every day, but….) without the wish of getting stronger or so now. It is just a good form of physical practice becourse of the many hours of sitting.

    I do not think, that somebody starts without the idea of getting better, whatever that means. I think, that more and more I get the idea of what you said.(I hope.)
    So, after 5 years I now understand what you mean with "nothing in need of…". (what does not mean, that I really feel it always)

    Thanks

    Gassho, Ernst
    sat today

  25. #25
    Nindo
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    P.S. By the way, if you are not doing so already try sitting in half-lotus (or even better full lotus). I found that physically (and mentally) more stabler and calming than the burmese position
    Hi Sam,
    please be careful with advice like this. Trying to force their body into a position can be unhealthy for people. Some people are not able to take certain positions and may get discouraged by comments like this.

    Gassho
    Nindo
    willsittoday

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo View Post
    Hi Sam,
    please be careful with advice like this. Trying to force their body into a position can be unhealthy for people. Some people are not able to take certain positions and may get discouraged by comments like this.

    Gassho
    Nindo
    willsittoday
    Thank you Nindo. I agree thoroughly.

    There may be something special about the Lotus, but I think there are actually many balanced postures and most of the differences would be just psychological. One can sit in a chair, in Seiza with a bench, etc. if one needs. Perhaps there is some wondrous physiological effect from the Full Lotus not available in other positions, but I think it is of minor difference even if so, and a bit of self-convincing.

    I have written in the past about how the Japanese, compared to other Buddhists in Asia, fetishize the Lotus a bit. Much of that is cultural, as Japan is rather more focused on attaining "THE proper" form in many activities than other folks.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post113821

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday

    PS - Nindo, no "will sit today" please ... we don't take IOUs However, you comments were very helpful to folks, so we'll overlook it with gratitude.
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-07-2015 at 06:59 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #27
    Hi All,

    All this concern with the thoughts. I think of thoughts (haha) as a natural function and output of the brain. The brain is an organ in your body that, among other things, produces thoughts. Are you concerned with what your other organs, your liver or your spleen, are doing during shikantaza? Thoughts will never end. It’s ok.


    I’m new, so corrections are welcome. Here’s my current understanding: shikantaza is not a thought-management technique. Shikantaza is not sitting and working with your thoughts. Shikantaza is not a method or process to achieve a “clear” mental state. Shikantaza is not about thoughts or mental states at all. Your thoughts are conditional, arising in a chain of causality; they may or may not describe reality but they are very limited representations of reality at best. When in shikantaza, don’t bother to attach to thoughts, or suppress thoughts, don’t concern yourself with thoughts at all. Shikantaza is surrendering all that. Just put it down for now. Shikantaza is resting in the natural, expansive, unconditional reality that is beyond the chain of cause-and-effect. It is the default setting. You do not get there by doing, but by undoing. Stop splashing around and yelling "I can't swim!" and just let yourself float. Just release. This is your natural home, so you don’t have to struggle to get there. You know your way home. Stop running in circles. Stop struggling and let your feet walk you home. Guess what, you never left. Sit, rest, and abide here a while.


    Managing your thoughts to do shikantaza is like a fish trying to ride a bicycle in order to swim.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

    P.s. Might as well throw in my theory on posture as well: nothing magical about the lotus position. Find a posture that you can maintain comfortably, and completely forget about your body, without falling over or falling asleep. Sit or lie this way almost every day until you can sustain it for 40 minutes. This is your meditation posture.
    Last edited by Byokan; 01-07-2015 at 08:16 PM.

  28. #28
    Wow!

    Only point, Lisa, is I think 40 minutes is good for some folks, too short for others, too long for most busy folks. We recommend 15 minutes a day, so long as folks are sitting beyond mental measures of quantity, long and short.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...%28Part-XXI%29

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post
    Hi Clark,

    Yes, I like this a lot. It's definitely true for me. An interesting thing, I actually think zazen probably goes the other way too, for those not "analytical" enough. There's a balance that develops. What I mean is: for the over-thinker, like me, always spinning the thought wheels, there's often a lot of anxiety, etc, and Zazen balances that out with actual doing (probably one of the reasons I've always liked sports, I get to "just do, just play," but afterwards, I'd think and think about it). Anyway, for the less analytical person, zazen could be really helpful in brightening up that side of oneself too - for instance, there are people (I've lived with them) who don't even realize they're stressed out (whereas the over-thinkers think and think about why they're stressed, adding to the stress (or at least the case for me!)). And so, sitting might allow one to bring a bit of awareness to everyday life, that necessary bit of "analysis" of oneself so that they might be able to say, Oh wow, I'm stressed and I didn't even realize it.

    Anyway, just adding some thoughts - it's a balance thing, is all I'm saying, I guess.

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Hi Alan

    This sure is a great deal of thought about non thought, but I thought I would say something more. I understand and agree with you, certainly, for me at least, yes this practice can also make me more aware of the present moment I am in also. I therefore can pay very close attention to what I am doing and thus not be swept up in mindless activities either. I am more, awake, more self aware of what I am doing with and to myself and others, and maybe being a bit more anal about that isn't such a bad thing. At least that's what I think.

    Gassho
    C
    Sat Today!

  30. #30
    Hi Jundo,

    yes, 40's like a top measure for retreats and such. I think consistency's the key, and is much more important than duration. 15-30 minutes is the magic number for me.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today
    Last edited by Byokan; 01-07-2015 at 08:18 PM.

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post

    I’m new, so corrections are welcome. Here’s my current understanding: shikantaza is not a thought-management technique. Shikantaza is not sitting and working with your thoughts. Shikantaza is not a method or process to achieve a “clear” mental state. Shikantaza is not about thoughts or mental states at all. Your thoughts are conditional, arising in a chain of causality; they may or may not describe reality but they are very limited representations of reality at best. When in shikantaza, don’t bother to attach to thoughts, or suppress thoughts, don’t concern yourself with thoughts at all. Shikantaza is surrendering all that. Just put it down for now. Shikantaza is resting in the natural, expansive, unconditional reality that is beyond the chain of cause-and-effect. It is the default setting. You do not get there by doing, but by undoing. Stop splashing around and yelling "I can't swim!" and just let yourself float. Just release. This is your natural home, so you don’t have to struggle to get there. You know your way home. Stop running in circles. Stop struggling and let your feet walk you home. Guess what, you never left. Sit, rest, and abide here a while.
    Great expression of it, Lisa. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    I am more, awake, more self aware of what I am doing with and to myself and others, and maybe being a bit more anal about that isn't such a bad thing. At least that's what I think.
    Me too, Clark.

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Shōmon

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Shikantaza is not about thoughts or mental states at all. Your thoughts are conditional, arising in a chain of causality; they may or may not describe reality but they are very limited representations of reality at best. When in shikantaza, don’t bother to attach to thoughts, or suppress thoughts, don’t concern yourself with thoughts at all.
    Shikantaza is about thoughts. Any meditation is about thoughts. When you realize you got caught up in thought, you immediately need to come back to your sitting. There is a clear, intentional, active coming back involved there. This is important. Lisa, what you and some others describe sounds to me like a "just sitting doing nothing" kind of sitting where you sit thinking that "whatever happens is fine" and believe that this trust and allowing is all shikantaza is about. That there is no need to bring the mind back or that the mind is anyway back when you wake up from the thought-chain.

    But on the other hand if you are saying what I am saying, then shikantaza is definitely about thoughts. Take an ordinary person's mind who is sitting. Most of the time of sitting he is caught up in thought-chains. It is like a sequence. Aware,thought-chain, Aware, thought-chain, Aware and so on...; In fact, for the average person, there is more time he is caught in a thought-chain than he is aware. How is it Shikantaza not about thoughts then?

    If you don't have an active intention to wake up from thought-chains, then your sitting is not correct. It is simply wasting time. There are many students who are wasting their time this way. Having an active intention to return (with or without an object) and then accepting however your sitting is going on (e.g., don't judge how long you are caught up or how many times you return etc...) is the correct direction.

    Gassho,
    Sam
    Sat Today

  33. #33
    Hi Sam,

    I get what you’re saying, but I don’t agree that shikantaza is about thoughts. I think if your meditation is about thoughts, you are doing more of a Vipassana practice, where you might practice labeling... for instance, when you become aware of thinking, you say to yourself “thinking” and then return to “mindfulness”.


    I think it is possible to be “aware”, even as a thought chain is going on. It’s possible to let the thoughts do what they do, without being caught up in them. This is the difference: not attaching-to or being-caught-up-in the thought chain. This distinction of thinking vs. being aware is an illusion and a distraction. Shikantaza, as I understand it, is beyond these dualities and distinctions. We move beyond this either/or distinction-making. So we're not working with or managing our thoughts, but resting in the completeness that contains all, both and neither thinking/not thinking and/or awareness. This is definitely not just sitting doing nothing.

    Hope that made some sense...

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  34. #34
    Hi Lisa,

    just a question or continuing your description: ……...and the KOMYOZO shines through everything…. is this the mirror reflecting even the thoughts?
    What do you say? Is this beyond the door to this light?

    Gassho, Ernst
    sat today

  35. #35
    No attaining with nothing to attain...

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  36. #36
    Hi Ernst,


    I’ve only just started studying the Komyozo, so I don’t know... but the image of the mirror reflecting thoughts (and non-thoughts) feels right to me. Of course, I'm no authority, I'm just sharing my personal experience.

    Jundo recently posted this from the Komyozo:
    Just with all the energy of your body and mind, throw them totally into Komyozo [the Great Treasury of Light] without looking back. Do not seek satori enlightenment. Do not try to hide or be rid of illusion. Do not hate the thoughts that arise, do not love them either and above all, do not nourish them [without aversion to the rising of thoughts, and yet without fondly continuing them]. In every way, you must practice the great sitting, here and now [Stably, calmly, practice shikantaza, just sitting]. If you do not nourish a thought, it will not come back by itself. If you abandon yourself to the exhalation and let your inhalation fill you in a harmonious coming and going, nothing remains but a zafu beneath the empty sky, the weight of a flame.

    Is this beyond the door to this light? Is there a door? Or is that another separation? What do you say, Ernst?

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  37. #37
    I think this thread is reaching the point where we're throwing in a lots of words trying to explain something that can't easily (if at all) be expressed in words.

    Mentally/philosophically I agree with a lot of what's been said here but I could also quibble with some of it as well.

    There is a question mark for me (regarding my own practice) as to whether the expression of all the 'correct words' (there are many - particularly to do with 'non-duality' - abiding in our 'true home- original face' etc) is any indication at all that I truly understand and EXPERIENCE/LIVE in this place of understanding.

    I do agree there is great intention in our sitting - but we must simply aim and hope to hit the mark. If I start to analyse and break things down it's just more words and more concern as to whether what I'm doing is zazen, vipassana - this and that. Beyond a point this isn't helpful.

    Whatever - most times my arrow of intention lies useless on the ground - but I learn a great deal from this 'uselessness'.

    I dare say I'm a pretty poor student of sitting - but who is to judge? Whatever I write here is probably quite meaningless and not a good indicator.

    I think we must recognise within our own hearts whether we're on track or not - all the words in the universe won't clarify this for us.

    This is not meant to imply that we should not heed the very clear instructions that Jundo gives as to what is required at Tree Leaf

    Gassho

    Willow

    Sat Today

  38. #38
    Or is that another separation? What do you say, Ernst?


    yes, Lisa, it is another separation. It is always, when we start to put things in words, I think.
    But the question from Tony about thoughts is the reason,
    why metaphors are working better than analytical discussions.
    On the other side (again a separation) we have a brain and the ability to do philosophical buildings. ( I love (
    phil) the truth (sophia) )
    For me both are important: the experiencing (zazen) and the philosophical (reading sutras and Dogens writings).
    They go together for me - and I know, that there is a separation. I think, they come together during zazen. When the frame of my beliefs allows me to experience wholeness and "dropping body and mind". For me there is always a frame, which I enhance through dialogs like this.
    I hope, that my kind of using words is not arrogant. I just try - as you do - to explain my experiences.

    I hope also, that it is an excuse, Willow. I learn a lot doing that.

    Gassho, Ernst
    sat today

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Tony,

    We do not "witness thoughts", we do not "experience the thoughts". Please do not try to find "where they arise from or where they go". .....

    SatToday

    Love it...thanks so much Jundo - particularly the Bullshit kyōsaku...I respond well to that type of stick!!

    Sat Today
    Sat today

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    Tony, may I ask you a question? I get the impression that you are actually practicing another flavor of meditation (perhaps Chan or Dzogchen) as presented by some other teacher in a more analytical and "stage" oriented way. There are so many such kinds of meditation, many flavors of lovely fruit. Or, it may be what some Teacher is calling "Shikantaza", but it is actually very categorizing and stage oriented about the process. I get the impression that you may then be coming here for advice on that, although those apples may be a bit different from true Shikantaza non-oranges. Am I wrong?
    Hi Jundo,

    I can see why you would think that but no, I am genuinely trying to sit in Zazen and specifically Shikantaza. Why? because I instinctively feel the truth in what you, Dogen and others speak of. I can see there logically there is nothing outside of myself, nowhere to go and little to do as its all complete in a lovely big beautiful shitty whole.

    I do however, come from many years of using the Tibetan approach of EXTREMELY analytical study, in particular the the pragmatic and logic of the Prasangika school and its study of Emptiness.

    But as I say, I sit in 'Zazen' EVERY morning....I wouldn't waste anyone's time in here by digging for tips HAHA!

    And for better or worse I look to you as a mentor!

    Tony...

    Sat Today
    Sat today

  41. #41
    Hear, hear!


    Gassho,
    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  42. #42
    Hi Sam and Lisa (at the risk of what Willow said about just throwing more words out there),

    Sam, you're right that there is a "method" taught in Opening the Hand of Thought that looks very much like "Aware, thought-chain, Aware, thought-chain" and that the message of that book is that we must actively come back to "awareness" (I've never particularly liked that book after trying very hard to like it b/c I think there is too clear a "method" or a machination, almost). I don't agree with Lisa that what you say is in any way like Vipassana - it is shikantaza highly, highly conceptualized, and that's why I don't find it terribly helpful. However, I think it's important to note that you're expression of it above is one that makes a clear duality of the process: "aware" is good and clear and all budda-y and "thought-chain" is bad and deluded and something to be woken from. But Opening the Hand of Thought never says that the "thought-chain" is bad or deluded.

    Let me guess here, Sam: I think what you are trying to say is that we don't just sit on a cushion and hope that hopping on there is going to do anything and that we can just think about whatever, work tomorrow, what I have to do, oh wow I have so much work, it's so great I'm sitting here, oh no I forgot to pay those bills, oh great now meditation is over. So, if this is what you're saying Sam, I think you're right, that we don't just hop on a cushion and let ourselves think whatever we want. At the same time, what I think Lisa's trying to say is what Jundo stresses so much: that we must sit with an attitude that all is whole and complete. We must sit this way every day, until it penetrates into our being, until we feel it is exactly what we are. When we sit with this attitude, that is when "thought-chains" and equally "awareness" do not matter. When we sit in this way, balanced in body-mind, open to everything, everything sitting with and as us, then there is no difference between a "thought-chain" and "awareness" because we don't identify with either. We don't identify, and then awareness and thought-chains come and go like waves on the ocean, and we are the ocean, which nothing can disturb. Sitting in this way is sitting emptied out of our little self and little anxieties - those things might pop up and thoughts about our little self might come, but with this sitting as the universe itself, there is no concern, no identification with those little thoughts, and those thoughts spray out, small waves on the shore, and are absorbed in our sitting as everything, with everything, as no one at all. It's not that shikantaza is not about thoughts; it's that our concern is "larger" than thoughts, is the complete act of the universe itself acting just as it is, being just what it is, and that has nothing to do with "awareness" or great clarity but just completely and wholly allowing and emptying out of what we believe we are.

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Shōmon

  43. #43
    Thank you, Lisa, for the quote from Master Ejo's Komyozo ...

    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post

    Just with all the energy of your body and mind, throw them totally into Komyozo [the Great Treasury of Light] without looking back. Do not seek satori enlightenment. Do not try to hide or be rid of illusion. Do not hate the thoughts that arise, do not love them either and above all, do not nourish them [without aversion to the rising of thoughts, and yet without fondly continuing them]. In every way, you must practice the great sitting, here and now [Stably, calmly, practice shikantaza, just sitting]. If you do not nourish a thought, it will not come back by itself. If you abandon yourself to the exhalation and let your inhalation fill you in a harmonious coming and going, nothing remains but a zafu beneath the empty sky, the weight of a flame.
    Yes.

    Is Shikantaza "about thoughts"? Is Shikantaza "not about thoughts"? I don't know or care. I simply sit, not grabbing onto thoughts nor chasing them away, "paying no never mind". A light of clarity then shines through both thoughts or silence, the mirror holds all of life in wholeness without resistance.

    This "Just Sitting" is anything but "sitting doing nothing", because one realizes this "in the doing, no thing that is each and every thing". It is not "whatever happens is fine" because, sitting in the radical allowing of "no need to change things, all just what it is", the delusions drop away and thus ignorance changes to Wisdom. Everything changes. All Is Just What It Is, which ain't what it seemed before.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday!
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-09-2015 at 02:22 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    I think it is possible to be “aware”, even as a thought chain is going on.
    I know what you are saying, I fooled myself that way and there are many others who are still doing that way. You are either "Aware" or "Caught up". There is no both. Zazen is not thinking. Period. Of course this doesn't mean you should worry about getting lost in thought-chains. We do our best to wake-up from them yet accepting however the sitting is going on without judging the outcome. Without a clear intention to return, you might feel you are still aware and doing fine but that is only fooling ourselves. Zazen is hardwork. The undoing happens with a lot of doing.

    Take any good Zen teacher and look at their method. No good teacher tells you to simply sit (you can add all the phrases "sitting in wholeness", "one with the activity", "Whatever happens is ok", "complete trust and allowance" but essentially you are sitting doing nothing if you don't have an object and/or a clear intention to return).

    Here is a quote from the book "Unfathomable Depths" by Sekkei Harada Roshi

    "Some people say that when it comes to shikantaza nothing must be sought for and nothing attained. It is fine just to sit. But that is only true from the perspective of the dharma. From the perspective of the person, it can never be accepted that someone has realized his or her true nature by just sitting in the proper position, however much they do that. Nevertheless, if someone with a big title or a well-known name tells us that it is fine just to sit, we accept that and do it. We think that this is the final point of the Buddha's way.
    ....
    ....
    a few pages later
    .....
    These days, expressions like "making a great effort" or "wholehearted devotion" are nearly dead. The people who wrote down these records (earlier he was talking about Blue Cliff koan record) did so as a result of really grinding their bodies into powder as they exerted themselves to the utmost. Only as a result of that effort were they able to write that the self and the Dharma are one."
    Gassho,
    Sam
    Sat Today

  45. #45
    Hi,

    Whatever I say, that's not it. Even when I say that's not it, that's not it. Having said that...

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  46. #46
    Hi Sam,

    I have been reading Sekkei Harada's book these past few days, including the passages you site. I think you misunderstand him. Please remember that Zen Teachers have a tendency to speak out of both sides of their no sided mouth.

    Sekkei emphasizes in other sections that nothing must be sought for and nothing can be attained ...

    [T]here really is no need to attain a mind free of discriminating thoughts and intentions. ... you must not think that you will attain a liberated mind by means of practice and zazen. If you constantly think of becoming or attaining something, your thoughts become a great barrier.
    Thoughts and feelings arise one after the other and never come to rest ... in your zen practice, it is necessary to give up any thought of trying to control the mind by not having it move or having it settle.

    Zazen does not mean simply to calm the mind, nor is it a means to get rid of all kinds of anguish or random, delusive thoughts.
    (I cannot locate page numbers, but you can search the phrases here: https://books.google.com/books?id=C_...attain&f=false )

    What he is cautioning against is "thumb twiddling" sitting thinking "nothing to attain, so I might as well sit like a bump on a log and daydream". That is miles away from sitting in the Total Completion of "Nothing to Attain", in which all need to attain has been dropped to the marrow. Sam, you confuse "nothing to attain" with "Nothing to Attain", in which this Life-Self-World is sat as Full and Whole. Sekkei, like all good Soto Teachers, is all about the latter "Just Sitting".

    Sekkei cautions against wallowing in thoughts. But he is not about running toward or away from thoughts. Sekkei advises us to see through thoughts AND not thoughts, and this is done by radically allowing and transcending both ideas of liberation or of delusion ...

    ... this is only labeling things, and no one is actually burdened with this thing called "delusion". And yet, we desperately want this medicine called zazen, we desperately want a method. ... That is why I advise, "when you feel distressed or uneasy, be totally one with that! Don't look elsewhere! Just be distressed or uneasy, be one with your delusion. Be one with your afflictions!"
    I am afraid, Sam, that you may miss what Sekkei Harada is really cautioning about. One must make "great effort" radically dropping all "effort". In the section on Dogen's sitting in China as if to "grind his body to powder", Sekkei then writes ...

    There is nothing to be gained by doing something special ... Because of his own great effort he was able to instruct us, and tell us, "You needn't experience the same hardships that I have. ... So the most important thing is to realize that everything is already the way it should be. It isn't good to look for something special.
    So, Sam, you are a bit lost if your continue to confuse "Non-Seeking" with "simply not bothering to seek". "Goallessness" with not finding, "Just Sitting" with "just sitting around", etc.

    Understand?

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-09-2015 at 02:21 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Sekkei cautions against wallowing in thoughts. But he is not about running toward or away from thoughts. Sekkei advises us see to through thoughts AND not thoughts, and this is done by radically allowing and transcending both ideas of liberation or of delusion ...
    Jundo,

    I think you misunderstood what I said. I am definitely not proposing sitting like a bump on a log. At the same time, I am not saying we run away from thoughts. I am just saying we need to have a clear intent to wake up from thought (along with or without an object) when we sit. Without having that, we may think we are sitting in wholeness but we are simply fooling ourselves. Without such an anchor and intention it is easy to fool ourselves that we are doing Zazen when we are in fact caught up in thoughts most of the time. I am not saying the goal is to eliminate all thought. Do we agree so far?


    Now coming to the “Sitting in Wholeness” part. This is how I understand it. Despite having a method and intent, if we start judging our Zazen (basing on how it is going) or create a division (that it is Zazen only the time we are aware and all other caught-up time is non-Zazen and hence not good) then it is not whole anymore. Despite doing our best to stay with the method we need to keep away all judgments and thoughts like “that there is a me doing Zazen and this me needs something out of Zazen and hence the practice needs to go good”


    My objection is with anyone who say Zazen has nothing to do with thoughts or that we don’t need to have an active clear intent of returning. Sitting in wholeness is definitely not purposefully being ignorant to the division between caught-up and aware.


    Gassho,
    Sam
    Sat Today

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Ernstguitar View Post


    yes, Lisa, it is another separation. It is always, when we start to put things in words, I think.
    But the question from Tony about thoughts is the reason,
    why metaphors are working better than analytical discussions.
    On the other side (again a separation) we have a brain and the ability to do philosophical buildings. ( I love (
    phil) the truth (sophia) )
    For me both are important: the experiencing (zazen) and the philosophical (reading sutras and Dogens writings).
    They go together for me - and I know, that there is a separation. I think, they come together during zazen. When the frame of my beliefs allows me to experience wholeness and "dropping body and mind". For me there is always a frame, which I enhance through dialogs like this.
    I hope, that my kind of using words is not arrogant. I just try - as you do - to explain my experiences.

    I hope also, that it is an excuse, Willow. I learn a lot doing that.

    Gassho, Ernst
    sat today
    Hello Ernst,

    not arrogant at all - and I totally understand what you mean by a frame which is enhanced through dialogue. I also love philosophy

    When I express discomfort over 'words' it is mainly a nudge at myself. It is not my intention to criticize others so apologies if that's how it comes across.



    Willow

    Sat today (but wasted valuable time that could have been spent sitting by 'overthinking')

  49. #49
    Hello !

    Very interesting discussion, makes me... think a lot.

    My question to you, Sam, would be : how do you know, how do you judge, that you are out of thought ? Then, even if you manage to see that you are "out of thoughts", what tells you that this new state is not a delusion ? On what do you put your trust to judge that you are out of a state that is delusional ? What or who tells you that you are not completely fooling yourself when you are "not thinking" ?

    It seems to me that at the core of zen practice/teachings, for example in the heart sutra - and in other great texts like Nagarjunas Treaty of the Middle Way-, is the idea that there is nothing you can discriminate, there is ultimately nothing you can, so to speak, "hang your hat on", so there is nothing you should cling to. It goes far beyond thought only. It goes beyond thoughts, but also perceptions, and the whole "subject / object" structure of our experience. The freeing comes from realizing this through practice. I don't think you can realize this by making a state "more wanted" than another. If you "wake up from thoughts", then what do you have ? Let's call it a bunch of experience stuff. In fact, it's quite easy to stop thinking, for a few seconds even someone who does not practice can do it. You are then left with a simpler, clearer "experience stuff". Is this stuff to be clinged to ? Nope. Is it better than thoughts ? Maybe it feels better. But ultimately, it's the same stuff that should not be clinged to. For me, as i understand it nowadays, the point is not to "wake up from thought", it's about getting in a place where you don't cling to anything : thoughts, perceptions, whatever. At the moment you begin to discriminate between different states and try to get out of "what is now", then you are necessarily clinging. So okay, we observe, in zazen, that we get in and out of thoughts. But for what i understand, sitting with any intention to change our state does not fit with the core of the teachings. For me, the division between "caught up" and "aware" is just another delusion. As long as you cling to any of your sensation or state, you are by definition deluded. The hard work of zazen is, for me, to see that I, in fact, want my state to change all the time and to let those useless intentions go.
    Hope this does not come out as hard criticism, just interested in debating those questions !

    Thanks !

    Gassho,

    Ugrok
    Sat today

    PS : another question comes : is it really possible to sit zazen "idling thumbs" ? I mean, put anyone in the proper zazen posture in front of a white wall for 20 minutes, and he or she will necessarily experience the coming and going of thought trains and the like. Just sitting in front of a wall, even for a few minutes, is not something easy for most people and requires work and perseverance ! I don't know of anyone who could do it like that, with no effort whatsoever, out of the blue, without being disturbed or facing difficulties. I think the emphasis on coming out of thought by focusing on the breathe or the posture that we find in lots of teachers writings is just a mean to get people - especially when they begin practicing - to be calmer (because of course, the less you think, the calmer you are), and thus less clingy.
    Last edited by Ugrok; 01-09-2015 at 12:43 AM.

  50. #50
    Hi All,

    Alan,
    thank you, you summarize it very clearly!

    Ernst,
    Yes, we need that framework, and need to use metaphor to discuss these things. I don’t think it is arrogant at all. Phil & Sophia are friends of mine too. There is a time to sit, and there is also a time to study and discuss. I think of the study and discussion as being similar to a musician practicing and playing scales before playing the concert, or an athlete training before the event. When the time comes, you put all that down and just go wholeheartedly into the event.

    Sam,
    I think maybe I understand what you mean... If you are cautioning against “allowing,” turning into a lazy thumb-twiddling free-for-all, I get that. Even Buddha had an intent when he sat down under the bodhi tree. Which is a paradox, but hey, paradox is our zen bread and butter, yes?

    Ugrok,
    I think you are right on the money, it’s the desire to either hold on to, or to change, what you’re experiencing, that mucks everything up.


    I think this question about the thoughts will always come up, and always be interesting, and always lead eventually into a knot of words and ideas so tangled that we have to just put it down (and go sit). Some of us approach the practice through ideas and words, some of us are more about the body and sensation, and others may be more about feelings or emotion, and all are valid ways to approach The Great Whatever-It-Is. And I’m also guessing that our individual answers will change and evolve with our practice. I think it’s good to pick it up and toss it around for a while. Of course, we can't figure it out mentally, we have to practice and put the rubber to the road. When we’re done here we really should borrow Ankai‘s bike and go for a ride!

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today
    Last edited by Byokan; 01-09-2015 at 02:47 AM.

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