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Thread: Does practice change what we need to be fulfilled human beings?

  1. #1

    Does practice change what we need to be fulfilled human beings?

    This may seem like a silly question since zazen is whole and complete. Sitting I am whole and complete, there is no need to become anything. At the same time, home alone today with a break from family matters and work (and watching people go by outside with my dog) ....it is clear the activities and connections that make life meaningful have not changed at all. ...and having meaning still matters. Everyone needs to feel like they contribute to society, and that our efforts are received by our fellow human beings in some way. We all need to engage in meaningful work. I don't know if Buddhist practice has lessened this at all... I don't think it has. It is possible to go on retreat, or decide to be solitary in the wilderness, and that is a certain choice, but so long as I am a social creature, this is what counts.

    With daily zazen there is a deeper freedom or peace in the middle of all this, but I don't think it means becoming less intense.. less hot or cold, less fiery. There isn't a numb spot anywhere.

    Does this question make sense? What is your experience? Thank you.

    Gassho
    hanging with the dog
    Daizan

    sat-today

  2. #2

    Does practice change what we need to be fulfilled human beings?

    My family knows and appreciates my practice. My daughter and my wife have given to me every item on my alter as gifts. From the two Buddhas to the items from Japan including my beautiful prayer bell, all have come from these two wonderful women. They encourage my practice with love and understanding no matter where it takes. I have expressed a desire to go through Jukai, and my wife and I discussed it as an individual decision. She will not make this decision, and to for that reason participation is entirely up to me. I love both women as my own life blood. My wife and I are partners, so what I decide, so long as it is not negative, is up to me, AND I will consult with Jundo all along the way allowing his advice and care. For this, my wife and daughter leave themselves out of the picture.. We are not controlling people. Elgwyn, sat today, Gassho.
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 02-20-2015 at 11:12 PM.
    Kind Ubasoku, calm poetry, I seek to support; not supportive.

  3. #3
    Hi Daizan,

    "Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” - Freud

    Love as in a meaningful relationship with another being such as a human or pet being. Work as in activities such as a job or hobby where something is produced and can be quantified in the mind justifying existence to self at some level, consciously or unconsciously.

    "Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters." - The famous saying of Ch'ing-yüan Wei-hsin [Seigen Ishin]

    Before Zen, love and work. After Zen, work and love. Same yet different.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Last edited by Jishin; 02-21-2015 at 04:24 AM.

  4. #4
    Hi Daizan,

    My experience is that the basic “needs” don’t change. But my relationship to those needs, to work, to love, and to meaning, does certainly change. A little enlightenment & practice makes us “more human”, not less. Developing a bit of equanimity makes life a little easier, with the sense of freedom & peace underlying all, yes. And yet, I agree, in my experience there’s no numb spot. If anything, I feel things more deeply as practice develops, not less. There is more engagement but less attachment, more acceptance & embracing, less grasping. The “need” to contribute is less tied to self-worth or status, more driven by the realization of our interconnectedness.


    Definitely keep hanging with the dog. (S)he seems to have a good influence.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  5. #5
    Nindo
    Guest
    For me, practice makes the experience of day to day life more intense. Much more appreciation of the connections I make with others, the little things I am able to offer or receive, of being a fellow animal in nature.
    I'm not so sure that without practice, it would be clear what true fulfillment is for me. I might still see it in job titles rather than in meaningful work. I think practice makes me focus more on what is truly important, rather than less.

    Gassho
    Nindo
    sattoday with my lovely bunch of UU meditators

  6. #6
    My experience is that I just keep learning and experimenting and trust that experience.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  7. #7
    Sat today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  8. #8
    Hi all,

    As it turns out, my wife does have some misgivings about me going through Jukai--what can I say? I just need time--maybe not this next one--time for the practice to be accepted

    Elgwyn
    sat today
    Gassho

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Elgwyn View Post
    Hi all,

    As it turns out, my wife does have some misgivings about me going through Jukai--what can I say? I just need time--maybe not this next one--time for the practice to be accepted

    Elgwyn
    sat today
    Gassho
    Hi Elgwyn,

    No worries, friend, I think the next Jukai is not until January 2016! Plenty of time to practice and learn, and decide what is right for you. Take your time and "live gently" as Jundo says. Let your kind and caring ways show a good example for your wife and daughter.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  10. #10
    Thank you for these responses. Thank you Treeleaf for being Treeleaf.

    Hi Elgwyn. Like Lisa says Jundo says

    Gassho
    Daizan
    Sat today

  11. #11
    I appreciate sitting with others on G+, and it appears that the Hangout time is incorrect or inconvenient, so the number of times is limited--the 4:30 time is convenient for me, but no one is there. Perhaps I need another practice with Hangout. Pretty much, I'm deciding to go ahead with Jukai, see my wife has misgivings about because she equates it with Christian baptism and yet I know it is very different. Buddha=beauty, Dharma=truth, Sangha=goodness--all beings have original formlessness. The precepts are guides for helping others, I know this. There is original goodness in all sentient beings, and I seek equanimity and compassion. Already I volunteer in three capacities. I work with people in the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I work for the senior center in two ways. On Thur. afternoon I run the coffee room, and twice a month I teach creative writing. See I have an MFA in creative writing and I have authored two books, so these are ways that I can be of service as a volunteer. Elgwyn, Gassho, will sit in the next few minutes.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Elgwyn View Post
    I appreciate sitting with others on G+, and it appears that the Hangout time is incorrect or inconvenient, so the number of times is limited--the 4:30 time is convenient for me, but no one is there. Perhaps I need another practice with Hangout. Pretty much, I'm deciding to go ahead with Jukai, see my wife has misgivings about because she equates it with Christian baptism and yet I know it is very different. Buddha=beauty, Dharma=truth, Sangha=goodness--all beings have original formlessness. The precepts are guides for helping others, I know this. There is original goodness in all sentient beings, and I seek equanimity and compassion. Already I volunteer in three capacities. I work with people in the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I work for the senior center in two ways. On Thur. afternoon I run the coffee room, and twice a month I teach creative writing. See I have an MFA in creative writing and I have authored two books, so these are ways that I can be of service as a volunteer. Elgwyn, Gassho, will sit in the next few minutes.
    Hi Elgwyn.

    The way sittings on G+ have come together is just a matter of finding out what works for people. Everyone has different times that can fit around work and family responsibilities. 4:30 is when a lot of people are at work. Mornings and evenings are better. Even joining in for 15 minutes in the a.m. can be helpful. I really value sitting together. It is wonderful to be here/there together with no talking (mics off), just sitting quietly, bowing, signing off, and moving on with the day. It is very grounding.

    If you have no one to sit with, and you can squeeze in even just fifteen minutes of quiet sitting in the morning or evenings.. PM me and lets see if we can make something work. That is how the sittings times have taken shape. I'm pretty busy today doing some moving but will log in later tonight, if you want to pm me.

    Gassho
    Daizan

    sat today.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post

    With daily zazen there is a deeper freedom or peace in the middle of all this, but I don't think it means becoming less intense.. less hot or cold, less fiery. There isn't a numb spot anywhere.
    Hi Daizan,

    Wonderful question. I will speak from the heart about how my life feels to me.

    This is another case in which I will speak of seeing life as one way out of one eye, another way out of the other eye, both together the Clarity of Buddha Eye.

    On the one hand (the one hand clapping hand), my life is whole and complete, there is nothing lacking, each instant shines as a diamond, I no longer fear sickness or death, I am without all need and desire. Truly.

    On the other hand, I experience all that it is to be human, ups and downs, fears and worries about what might happen tomorrow. I have good moods and bad, feel such sorrow when I watch the news about hunger and war, worry that every pimple is a terminal disease (I think that so many Jewish folks are attracted to Buddhism because we are all neurotic Woody Allen types inside). I experience all the emotions of life, and seek to find meaning. I have goals and dreams (and sometimes am so frustrated and disappointed when some do not come to fruition). Like Daizan, I still wish to be involved in meaningful projects, and get bored or confused if I feel I am not.



    Before I began Zen Practice, I was only seeing the world in the latter way, experiencing great suffering. Through 30 years of Zen Practice, I came to know the former too.

    So, what is the result?

    I can only say that the former perfumes the latter, that seeing out of both eyes brings the world into focus. There are ups and downs, but also stillness. There are fears and worries, yet simultaneously there are none. I may worry about tomorrow, but simultaneously there is no yesterday, today or tomorrow apart from just this. Bad moods are not so bad, and the good moods are simply joyous. I still worry that every pimple means cancer, yet (from another view) am fine and beyond fear even were it so. I have goals and frustrations, yet know that satisfaction of nothing in need of attaining all at once. Every moment is meaningful, even the meaningless, dull and confusing ones. All of life is "Big B" Beautiful, both the beautiful and the oh so ugly parts. This practice has not numbed me to life and, quite the contrary, has let me feel the vibrancy of even the dead spots and potholes.

    Zen Practice is like a wholesome, healthy kind of schizophrenia perhaps! Not "split personalities", but whole personalities. Mountains are mountains again.

    By the way, psychologist Abraham Maslow has his famous pyramid of basic human needs which, when fulfilled, allow us to be "self-actualized" at the top.



    I have always felt that there is something to this. We all need basic food, shelter, safety and security, friendship, a sense of connection, etc. I believe that, since the Buddha's time, the "Buddhist Lifestyle" has been geared to fulfilling such needs. Also, we learn to keep excess needs and desires in check (for things we may hunger for, but which are ultimately harmful or far beyond what we truly need. An Oryoki eating bowl means to receive "just enough"). The peace I feel, even in the face of death, provides the ultimate sense of safety and security. A sense of "self-worth" comes both when we realize that there never was quite a "self" from the start, yet also that all little "selfs" of the world shine like jewels on a great chain, each their place in the sun. What Maslow described as the "self-actualization" at the peak of the pyramid (perhaps "non-self actualization" in Buddhist terms ) includes an "appreciation of solitude", but also "deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members" ... a tendency "to view the world with a continual sense of appreciation, wonder and awe, yet even simple experiences continue to be a source of inspiration and pleasure" ... a heightened "sense of personal responsibility and ethics" ... and a tendency to "peak experiences, or moments of intense joy, wonder, awe and ecstasy. After these experiences, people feel inspired, strengthened, renewed or transformed".

    http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/Maslow.html

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog...-actualization

    I am not a psychologist, but I have always felt that there is something to this, and that Zen Practice points such way.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    Here is an old interview with Maslow in which he discussed what he mean by such "peak experiences" ...

    Last edited by Jundo; 02-23-2015 at 03:31 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Mp
    Guest
    Thank you Jundo for such a wonderful heartfelt post. I truly enjoyed reading this. I also studied Maslow is psych class and respect and appreciate his view ... I too now am seeing the connection of his theology and the relation to Zen. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I will speak from the heart about how my life feels to me.
    Thank you Jundo


    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  16. #16
    Thank you so much Jundo for sharing us your personal view about Zen practice “life consequences”.
    I know that every person is different, but for me, your post provides a kind of practical “map” of what we could find with our practice. But of course, just after 20 or 30 years of consistent zazen, (which coincides with Joko Beck´s six stages of practice).

    Gassho

    Miguel
    #Sat Today

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeTango View Post
    Thank you so much Jundo for sharing us your personal view about Zen practice “life consequences”.
    I know that every person is different, but for me, your post provides a kind of practical “map” of what we could find with our practice. But of course, just after 20 or 30 years of consistent zazen, (which coincides with Joko Beck´s six stages of practice).

    Gassho

    Miguel
    #Sat Today
    Oh no. I found the benefits from the first hour I began this Practice, and those benefits have continued and deepened since. That is why I have stayed with this for 30 years. The 30 years were not a matter of waiting, but of nurturing.

    I was in graduate school, my head filled with facts and debate, no confidence, no direction, lost, feeling fears for the future, suffering from the past, dissatisfaction with the present, deeply depressed, hopeless, so dark.

    Found a sitting group at the university where the leader just said to sit, to drop all that away for a time. The contrast between the noise and stillness, resistance and harmony was obvious from the start. (See the "noisy blenders" and "hitting oneself in the head with a hammer" analogies ... feels so good to just stop for a time) ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...s-%28Part-I%29
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...-%28Part-II%29

    ... the "moving forward, while every step by step total arrival just here" was also a help for a life that was lost ...

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

    Of course, it took some time to get better at this Practice (we can all always be better, Better until Buddha**), but that is why we call this "Practice".

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** For folks who might ask: In Zen Buddhism, there is not one thing to attain, for we are each all Buddha from the start ... out of one eye anyway. But also, we are imperfect beings who need to realize (make real) our Buddha nature in each moment, and get better at it. A fellow practicing for an hour is Buddha, as is someone practicing for a lifetime (or lifetimes if one believes so) ... but the latter fellow is probably lifetimes more experienced at being so.
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-23-2015 at 05:41 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    thank you Sensei, gassho, O, who sat today
    and neither are they otherwise.


  19. #19
    Thank you, Jundo. ..... can't think of anything else to say...


    Daizan
    sat today

  20. #20
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thank you Jundo, for sharing this today and for all that you do here at Treeleaf. It has helped me in more ways than I could even describe.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  21. #21
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
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    Wonderful thread. Nine bows.
    Sekishi
    #Sattoday
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  22. #22
    Thank you for this thread. Deep bows.

    Gassho,

    Simon

    Sat today

  23. #23
    Hello,

    Thank you for the moment.


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

  24. #24
    Yes thank you.

    Gassho
    Meishin
    Sat today

  25. #25
    Kyotai
    Guest
    Thank you Daizan

    For me this practice has opened a door to my experience of this life. I am fulfilled when I have a chance to help someone. When I play a silly game with my kids or sometimes driving to work. Less and less I feel like I am putting in time.

    I think I am fulfilled by the small moments in life when I pay attention to them. That certainly was not the case before I began sitting.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    Sat today
    Last edited by Kyotai; 02-23-2015 at 09:09 PM.

  26. #26
    Some wonderful thoughts, here!

    For me, practice was never about withdrawing. I sat to get 'enlightenment' (I've always been a 'seeker'), and instead discovered that my mind was always busy creating (and defending against) conflict. This was a lot more interesting than my fantasies of kensho, and led to wondering: If it is really just me creating all this antagonism, who are these people around me if I don't view them through that lens? And that let to a little more openness to others, interest in their experience of life, and some desire to help where I might. I find myself much more engaged than before, but not so fixated on a particular viewpoint or outcome.

    For me, zazen hasn't changed what I need to be fulfilled, but rather made it more accessible.

    Brian
    satoday

  27. #27
    Thank you Jundo for the wonderful teaching and to Daizan for starting this wonderful thread ,
    Gassho,
    David

    sattoday

  28. #28
    Good thread. Thanks, Daizan, and all.

    My own small experience is like Jundo's: a mess of depression and overthinking and cynicism toward the world and sometimes anger and just general boredom, a lack of meaning. Not that I've found "meaning" now, but zazen changed my attitude about myself, which was one of superiority veiled by a cynically bored and depressed response to what I perceived to be the meaninglessness and vapidity of culture and society (I still don't "like" much, or most, of US culture, but it's also nothing to wallow in now, just something to see and let go of). Had to go through that. I'm grateful for it. The strangest part of earnestly sitting was that "I" knew immediately it was changing things and "knew" immediately that change was always "in" "me." (sorry for all the quotes, lol)

    Gassho,
    Alan
    sattoday
    Shōmon

  29. #29
    Hi Elgwyn,

    4.30 pm I suppose? That is very much around the time I do my evening meditation here in the Netherlands. I always sit for half an hour then. Just invite me, there is always a good chance I will pop in.

    SAT2day
    Kind regards

    Erik

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