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Thread: The art of giving - Dana Paramita

  1. #1

    The art of giving - Dana Paramita

    Sometimes you know how you have those ďah-haĒ moments during practice? Or maybe you donít, I donít know, but I just have to write this because I had one, and itís something Iíve been practicing with a lot, and I just thought it might be helpful.

    I hate the clicheí ďThe art of..Ē. Itís crappy, but a lot of life is an art. Itís an equal mix of logic and ďfeelĒÖ of intuition. Life/practice is as much an art as a science, which makes it so damned interesting.

    In any case, when I started this practice I was a Pratyeka Buddha; ok, I still am. lol I think itís just par for the course. I think it brings a lot of us to this. If we werenít looking for something, why the hell would we start doing this?

    So as I hear from a lot of us in Treeleaf we start on the path intellectuallyÖof voraciously trying to read every Buddhist book that has ever been written. I did that too, and eventually (after a year or so), I started actually getting my ass on the cushion and came here. Although I was practicing zen, it was still selfish. I didnít really have any skin in the game yet.

    Shortly after, I started chanting during Zazenkai. Ok zazenkai is weird, chanting is weird, but itíll get me peace of mind right? So why not. Makes senseÖ sort of. Then the first line of the Bodhisattva vows, ďTo save all sentient beings..Ē

    I didnít know what kind of an impact that would have, but these Zen teachings, Jundoís talks are very sneaky. You think you ďgetĒ it, then a few years later, ďBAMĒÖ Holy f-bombs. lol Thatís where Imí at now, and itís probably common sense, and I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT THIS POST TO COME OFF AS LOOK AT ME, IĒM SPECIAL; itís quite the opposite intention. Thatís not the point and, besides, these are Jundoís teachings.. this is truth, this isnít mine;. I wanted to get that out of the way because one of my habits is to build myself up, but that is not at all the intention of this.

    Why Iím posting this is that these have been burning questions that Iíve had, and I figured maybe this could be of help to others who possibly struggle with the same questions.

    So itís been bothering me for a while, especially after listening to Jundoís talk about being a Pratyeka Buddha. I just got frustrated; I simply donít know how to give. Iíve been practicing selfishly and still do. I think this practice is like peeling back the layers of an onion ó an imaginary onion, which is the imaginary self that we project to ourselves every minute of every day.

    But zazen breaks us from this habit when we do it. I feel like Iíve been approaching it all wrong for a while now.. coming at it like how do I get peace of mind? And that really bothered me. I donít want this practice to be another thing that I drop. Itís why I stay even when everyone here annoys the shit out of me and itís the end of Ango and I hate chanting and donít even know why I do this. hahahaha

    Itís all about getting a crack in that fake projection. Itís about giving. Itís like we are giving our true selves to our self. I donít have a better term for it. But itís the best thing we can do.

    I was recently reading one of the books Jundo recommended by Philip Coupey about the Fukanzazengi, where Dogen says ďIf we want to attain the matter of the ineffable, we should practice the matter of the ineffable at once.Ē Thatís from Gudo Wafu Roshiís Shobogenzo translation; I had to return Coupeyís book to the library.

    In any case, that just resonated. Zazen and all of this stuff is not about getting anything; thatís why this is useless. Itís about giving, and thatís why this is the most useful useless thing that anyone could do. And thatís why itís the most important thing we can do because it opens us up to living. And living is giving.

    And thatís whatís also been bothering me ó- giving. How the hell do I give? I mean when I first came on this idea of ďsaving all sentient beingsĒ, I started thinking like someone with a savior complex, but that is shallow. Thatís not it at all.

    How do I give during every day mundane activities like brushing my teeth or shaving or showering or eating a meal? Arenít those taking? Also if there is no separation from mundane and sacred, then how can I prove that?

    As Dogen says, and I canít remember where (Iím sorry ) we are constantly giving and receiving. This is the ceaseless practice. But when we try to take and obsessively try to protect ourselves and separate ourselves, itís killing our self. Itís destroying the joy in life. Itís continuing the cycle of inequality that is so prevalent in this country of ours. Itís making me avoid the homeless person, or the sick and dying person because they arenít me, or why canít they pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do something like me?

    Iím no saint, believe me. I donít know what the solutions are, but that is no excuse to do nothing. So how do I save all sentient beings?

    First, I had a problem with ritual. I had a problem with Zen being too ďJapaneseĒ whatever that means. In turns out, what I really had a problem with was me. I still didnít understand why things were done. To me the most important thing, to make this really genuine and in the marrow of my life is to understand why I do this practice. No matter how eloquent someone elseís answers are, they are not mine, so they cannot be my reason.

    So I had to start questioning all the things I was doing with this practice; I mean aping the practice and the forms is the first step. But if itís going to get deep and real, I need to have my answer why I do it. Otherwise, Iím taking and practicing zombie zen.

    Anyway, this is when it hit me. We have to practice the forms. Now they didnít have to be what they are, but they are part of the tradition so we still do them. And they are esoteric at first, but I think now they are very natural expression of the basis of being human.

    And I was worrying about the form, when the crux of the matter is that we are all doing them together. We are doing the same thing together ó it binds our practice as a sangha.

    But still what else? When we sit down to zazen, we could just plop down. But no, we bow to our zafu/zabuton (or pillow or whatever), prep it a bit, make sure it is fluffy, turn clockwise, gassho again. Sit down, turn clockwise, face the wall. Hold gassho, bow after the bell rings, then sit zazen. Perhaps we light a candle by our Buddha statue.

    What I thought was complete and utter nonsense is not that at all. It is giving. We are receiving so many benefits from this useless practice that we are bowing to a tool which helps us practice. We are bowing to the room which gives us shelter so that we may practice. We are bowing to the Buddha statue (which is a bow to all the ancestors and our sangha who influence me in more ways than I know). Today I bowed to my lamp, I bowed to my window blinds that both give me the precise amount of light I need. All these things support my life my practice. That is giving. That is giving gratitude to things which give to us.

    And that is zazen in practice during life. Paying attention, very precisely to the things as they really are, instead of just assuming things are here to serve my agenda and being disappointed when they donít.

    When washing my hands, I started saying a gatha before during the last Ango. At first, I thought it was just nice to get me to pay attention, but then I thought.. no, itís a way of giving myself fully to that activity, which in turn gives to the community by not spreading infection.

    How is driving giving? It is giving life by driving safely and calmly. Itís reducing stress on the road by absorbing insults and not retorting with insults. It is by giving an example so that others can also drive calmly.

    How is zazen giving? It is giving back by actually honoring the Buddha/also our teacher here Jundo, the Dharma/ those teachings that are being given and received and the Sangha/ all of us here at Treeleaf and all sentient beings. It provides an example. It allows us to break down the false barriers that cause us to live a shriveled up cold life and help us learn when to give and when to hold back and not offer anything (also important ó I mean being a do-gooder is not Zen).

    This is all a dance of giving. All of it. This is our sutra of giving. This zen practice is beautiful and itís varied forms and methods are beautiful because they show us the joy of what we already have, not to covet, but so that we may be of benefit to others. So that we may give.

    Chanting the vows, the verse of atonement, the Fukanzazengi, the Heart Sutra, the metta practice. This chanting is giving to our sangha to support each other; voices together are much stronger than a single voice. This chanting gives ourselves a framework to a healthier and happier way to exist, which sort of helps to transform us to make others lives much better.

    Again, referencing the Fukanzazengi, giving is the real treasure house. This isnít some treasure that you can use to buy a new car. This is a treasure to serve all of us together, which is our treasure, and which is the best treasure of all.

    When the Buddha attained enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree, he proclaimed that everyone was enlightened because we have within us everything we need to give to each other so we can all live better, more fulfilled lives.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  2. #2
    Member Christopher's Avatar
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    May 2014
    Location
    Alberta, Canada...beside the Rocky Mouintains
    Hi Risho:

    I read your post with interest because I have a long way to go before I can practice the art of giving. My own plan is to do the sitting, accept what I have been told, and not try to understand anything. It looks as if we are on opposite courses.

    After a lifetime of planning, organising, supervising I have no other course left. Reading books on physics, quantum mechanics, and comparing their lessons to Taoism and Buddhism has brought me ... not to understanding, but to completely believe that the real world is in the opposite direction to the one I have been following. Of course, the very mild stroke I suffered last year is helping because all the old things that used to be easy for me are now mostly difficult.

    But to giving. I have only ever given on my terms. I have donated a lot of my time to political causes...I still do...but I cannot compare those 'gifts' with that of the doctors and nurses treating Ebola patients...as an example. I bought my donations for the food bank in December...but never got around to going anywhere to donate them. The nearest thing to unselfish giving happened a month back.

    An old friend of mine had to move unto a suite in the senior's complex where my wife lives...actually, right next door. She had been keeping me informed how frail he was getting, he was actually fighting for life and suffering terribly to do so. Just before they moved him to intensive care, that he never came out of again, I went next door to chat with him.

    We talked a bit, but he was in more need of assistance. I had thought he was being looked after, but he needed help to get out of his mechanical chair and I was the only helper available. I am not by any means a caregiver, and not in the least experienced in that craft, but with his instructions I managed to get him lifted out of the chair and into bed...I helped get him more comfortable (to his terse instructions) and then had to get him out again to help him pee. It was possibly the worst care he had had, but it serve the purpose...and it certainly gave me a good lesson in humility. I felt certain that he was at death's door, but he lasted about another week in hospital. We did not actually morn his passing, because it was a mercy he sorely needed. We will be at his memorial in a month or so...when his younger son gets back from an overseas contract.

    I think I might be capable of more than I think...but I still cannot see me going out to look for those with the need. Maybe eventually.

    Gassho
    Christopher
    Sat2Day

  3. #3
    Thank you Risho.

    these are Jundo’s teachings.. this is truth, this isn’t mine

    Of course, you did not mean to say that they are mine either, because they belong to you and all and do not belong to anyone. I just try not to muck things up too badly in adding words.

    This part was especially lovely, and I want to make sure that everyone gets to it in your long post ...

    What I thought was complete and utter nonsense is not that at all. It is giving. We are receiving so many benefits from this useless practice that we are bowing to a tool which helps us practice. We are bowing to the room which gives us shelter so that we may practice. We are bowing to the Buddha statue (which is a bow to all the ancestors and our sangha who influence me in more ways than I know). Today I bowed to my lamp, I bowed to my window blinds that both give me the precise amount of light I need. All these things support my life my practice. That is giving. That is giving gratitude to things which give to us.

    And that is zazen in practice during life. Paying attention, very precisely to the things as they really are, instead of just assuming things are here to serve my agenda and being disappointed when they don’t.

    When washing my hands, I started saying a gatha before during the last Ango. At first, I thought it was just nice to get me to pay attention, but then I thought.. no, it’s a way of giving myself fully to that activity, which in turn gives to the community by not spreading infection.

    How is driving giving? It is giving life by driving safely and calmly. It’s reducing stress on the road by absorbing insults and not retorting with insults. It is by giving an example so that others can also drive calmly.

    How is zazen giving? It is giving back by actually honoring the Buddha/also our teacher here Jundo, the Dharma/ those teachings that are being given and received and the Sangha/ all of us here at Treeleaf and all sentient beings. It provides an example. It allows us to break down the false barriers that cause us to live a shriveled up cold life and help us learn when to give and when to hold back and not offer anything (also important — I mean being a do-gooder is not Zen).

    This is all a dance of giving. All of it. This is our sutra of giving. This zen practice is beautiful and it’s varied forms and methods are beautiful because they show us the joy of what we already have, not to covet, but so that we may be of benefit to others. So that we may give.

    Chanting the vows, the verse of atonement, the Fukanzazengi, the Heart Sutra, the metta practice. This chanting is giving to our sangha to support each other; voices together are much stronger than a single voice. This chanting gives ourselves a framework to a healthier and happier way to exist, which sort of helps to transform us to make others lives much better.

    Again, referencing the Fukanzazengi, giving is the real treasure house. This isn’t some treasure that you can use to buy a new car. This is a treasure to serve all of us together, which is our treasure, and which is the best treasure of all.

    When the Buddha attained enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree, he proclaimed that everyone was enlightened because we have within us everything we need to give to each other so we can all live better, more fulfilled lives.
    Lovely. Giving comes in so many ways, some not obvious to the eye. Of course, we should give materially so that all in this world might have the basics of food, shelter, safety, education and the like. But also, all we do can be giving when the eyes are clear. I recently read this by a Theravadan Teacher ...

    DANA is a Pali word that can be translated as giving, generosity, charity, and liberality.

    It occupies an important part in the Buddha's teaching, which is often formulated under three headings - dana, sila, bhavana (giving, morality, meditation or mental cultivation). That dana is one heading underscores its importance. Buddhists should take heed and cultivate a good spirit of dana.

    It is a first step towards eliminating the defilement of greed, hatred and delusion (lobka, dosa, moha), for every act of giving is an act of non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion. When you give you have loving-kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna) in your heart. So at that time greed, hatred or ill-will, and delusion would be absent.

    "Giving" is a word that has very wide connotations. It does not mean that you give only to monks. It does not mean that you give only expensive things. And it does not mean that you give only material things that cost money.

    For you can give many immaterial things which may count even more than material things. What I mean is that when we are kind to each other, we are giving kindness, gentleness, comfort, peace, happiness, etc. So we can give by being kind. For example, we can lend a sympathetic ear to a troubled person, listen to him (or her) with compassion and give him comfort and encouragement.

    To the troubled person, your giving time to listen to him is more important than if he were to receive a material gift. So when we are living in a community, we should cultivate care and concern for each other, reaching out to help whenever we can. Then we give more kindness by speaking gently, soothingly, not harshly or angrily.

    http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Budd...f%20Giving.htm
    Gassho, J

    SatToday

    PS - Since you are into proper procedure these days, let me mention this ...

    Sit down, turn clockwise, face the wall. Hold gassho, bow after the bell rings, then sit zazen.
    Generally, one does not bow after the bell rings to begin Zazen, for after the bell rings there is only Zazen. I would say ...

    Sit down, turn clockwise, face the wall, bow. Place hands in Zazen mudra, wait for the bell to ring, then sit zazen.

    It would really only matter, of course, when one is sitting with a group of folks. Yugen and I are presently working on a little film to demonstrate "proper procedures" for sitting, Zazenkai and such.
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-04-2015 at 02:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Thanks Risho. And thanks Jundo, as the section you highlighted on 'ritual' (bowing, gatha, chanting, metta practice, etc.) really resonates with me. Having been a follower of the Dharma for 40+ years, I have until recently had an odd, largely secular, 'hybrid' practice - a sort of 'bompu zen' practice - for most of that time. I have really only started to consider the ritual since joining Treeleaf. I have made similar discoveries as Risho has about the inherent value that the ritual practices hold, and the importance of what they bring to us.

    Gassho,
    Anshu

    sat today

  5. #5
    Hi Guys,

    Actually, in our Sangha, we have so little "ritual" compared to about any Zen group, Buddhist group (or even about any group ... even my old College fraternity or the Elks Club) that I am sometimes surprised how it seems to trip up some folks.

    - We chant, but almost only in English and pretty much only the "Heart Sutra" and a couple of other texts that are really "philosophical statements" of our Teachings (as opposed to mysterious, mystical incantations or the like). I constantly emphasize how important it is to understand what the "Heart Sutra Etc." are saying before tossing the intellectual side away and losing oneself (all to find oneself) in the pure act of Chanting. I mean, we sing the national song, Happy Birthday, love songs to our beloved ... why would singing one more thing with all our heart bother us?

    - Buddha statues are optional. In fact, the whole universe is a "Buddha statue". One might substitute a stone, a flower, a coke bottle, a trash can, an empty space. It is just a focus and reminder, much like the photo of your kids or spouse on your desk.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post115402

    - We bow, but I remind folks who wish or have a physical limitation that a simple "Gassho" greeting (the Asian equivalent of a handshake) can be substituted for floor prostrations, and that one may place in one's heart any sense of gratitude one wishes about life ... yet prostration is also a powerful practice, so they should at least understand and consider it ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post143300

    - I often say that we have some ritual in the Zendo for much the same reason there is "ritual" at a wedding, traffic court or the start of a baseball game when we get ready for "play ball". Ya can't have folks walking here and there through the Zendo or across the field, bumping into each other, answering cell phones and chatting loudly. One should bring a certain decorum to the moment to remind us that the moment is a special time.

    We have some other items in our recommended "At Home Liturgy" for folks to consider, but (other than Zazen and a few things) these are mostly optional, encouraged for folks with whom they resonate.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...t-home-liturgy

    In fact, we are so stripped down, minimalist, modern and non-ritual around here that most Buddhists would wonder if we have thrown the Baby Buddha out with the Bath Water (I do not believe so, but time to link again to this for those who have not read it ... Turning Japanese).

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post136835

    Anyway, if someone is feeling "resistance" in Zen, it is good. Is it the "thing outside" that is causing you resistance, or is the "resistance" mostly in your heart? When I go to traditional Monasteries I always dive right into many (so so very many in traditional monasteries and temples) arcane and (to me anyway) "silly" customs and rituals precisely BECAUSE I resist, and it is an excellent opportunity to drop resistance.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-02-2015 at 05:43 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    By the way, if you would like to see 4 short films of a few minutes each (although a little idealized in their presentation) about life in a traditional Soto monastery, these are from Soto-shu ... lots and lots of ritual and more ritual (notice, about 3 minutes in to the "Eiheiji" portion, the short glimpse at the ritual for bath and toilet use) ...

    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/...layer_eng.html

    If there is anything there you would like to ask about, please do.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-02-2015 at 05:42 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    In any case, when I started this practice I was a Pratyeka Buddha; ok, I still am. lol I think it’s just par for the course. I think it brings a lot of us to this. If we weren’t looking for something, why the hell would we start doing this?

    So as I hear from a lot of us in Treeleaf we start on the path intellectually…of voraciously trying to read every Buddhist book that has ever been written. I did that too, and eventually (after a year or so), I started actually getting my ass on the cushion and came here. Although I was practicing zen, it was still selfish. I didn’t really have any skin in the game yet.

    Shortly after, I started chanting during Zazenkai. Ok zazenkai is weird, chanting is weird, but it’ll get me peace of mind right? So why not. Makes sense… sort of. Then the first line of the Bodhisattva vows, “To save all sentient beings..”

    ...

    So it’s been bothering me for a while, especially after listening to Jundo’s talk about being a Pratyeka Buddha. I just got frustrated; I simply don’t know how to give. I’ve been practicing selfishly and still do. I think this practice is like peeling back the layers of an onion — an imaginary onion, which is the imaginary self that we project to ourselves every minute of every day.

    But zazen breaks us from this habit when we do it. I feel like I’ve been approaching it all wrong for a while now.. coming at it like how do I get peace of mind? And that really bothered me. I don’t want this practice to be another thing that I drop. It’s why I stay even when everyone here annoys the shit out of me and it’s the end of Ango and I hate chanting and don’t even know why I do this. hahahaha

    It’s all about getting a crack in that fake projection. It’s about giving. It’s like we are giving our true selves to our self. I don’t have a better term for it. But it’s the best thing we can do.

    ...

    In any case, that just resonated. Zazen and all of this stuff is not about getting anything; that’s why this is useless. It’s about giving, and that’s why this is the most useful useless thing that anyone could do. And that’s why it’s the most important thing we can do because it opens us up to living. And living is giving.

    And that’s what’s also been bothering me —- giving. How the hell do I give? I mean when I first came on this idea of “saving all sentient beings”, I started thinking like someone with a savior complex, but that is shallow. That’s not it at all.

    How do I give during every day mundane activities like brushing my teeth or shaving or showering or eating a meal? Aren’t those taking? Also if there is no separation from mundane and sacred, then how can I prove that?

    As Dogen says, and I can’t remember where (I’m sorry ) we are constantly giving and receiving. This is the ceaseless practice. But when we try to take and obsessively try to protect ourselves and separate ourselves, it’s killing our self. It’s destroying the joy in life. It’s continuing the cycle of inequality that is so prevalent in this country of ours. It’s making me avoid the homeless person, or the sick and dying person because they aren’t me, or why can’t they pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do something like me?

    I’m no saint, believe me. I don’t know what the solutions are, but that is no excuse to do nothing. So how do I save all sentient beings?

    ...

    So I had to start questioning all the things I was doing with this practice; I mean aping the practice and the forms is the first step. But if it’s going to get deep and real, I need to have my answer why I do it. Otherwise, I’m taking and practicing zombie zen.

    Anyway, this is when it hit me. We have to practice the forms. Now they didn’t have to be what they are, but they are part of the tradition so we still do them. And they are esoteric at first, but I think now they are very natural expression of the basis of being human.

    And I was worrying about the form, when the crux of the matter is that we are all doing them together. We are doing the same thing together — it binds our practice as a sangha.

    ...

    What I thought was complete and utter nonsense is not that at all. It is giving. We are receiving so many benefits from this useless practice that we are bowing to a tool which helps us practice. We are bowing to the room which gives us shelter so that we may practice. We are bowing to the Buddha statue (which is a bow to all the ancestors and our sangha who influence me in more ways than I know). Today I bowed to my lamp, I bowed to my window blinds that both give me the precise amount of light I need. All these things support my life my practice. That is giving. That is giving gratitude to things which give to us.

    And that is zazen in practice during life. Paying attention, very precisely to the things as they really are, instead of just assuming things are here to serve my agenda and being disappointed when they don’t.

    When washing my hands, I started saying a gatha before during the last Ango. At first, I thought it was just nice to get me to pay attention, but then I thought.. no, it’s a way of giving myself fully to that activity, which in turn gives to the community by not spreading infection.

    How is driving giving? It is giving life by driving safely and calmly. It’s reducing stress on the road by absorbing insults and not retorting with insults. It is by giving an example so that others can also drive calmly.

    How is zazen giving? It is giving back by actually honoring the Buddha/also our teacher here Jundo, the Dharma/ those teachings that are being given and received and the Sangha/ all of us here at Treeleaf and all sentient beings. It provides an example. It allows us to break down the false barriers that cause us to live a shriveled up cold life and help us learn when to give and when to hold back and not offer anything (also important — I mean being a do-gooder is not Zen).

    This is all a dance of giving. All of it. This is our sutra of giving. This zen practice is beautiful and it’s varied forms and methods are beautiful because they show us the joy of what we already have, not to covet, but so that we may be of benefit to others. So that we may give.

    Chanting the vows, the verse of atonement, the Fukanzazengi, the Heart Sutra, the metta practice. This chanting is giving to our sangha to support each other; voices together are much stronger than a single voice. This chanting gives ourselves a framework to a healthier and happier way to exist, which sort of helps to transform us to make others lives much better.

    Again, referencing the Fukanzazengi, giving is the real treasure house. This isn’t some treasure that you can use to buy a new car. This is a treasure to serve all of us together, which is our treasure, and which is the best treasure of all.

    When the Buddha attained enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree, he proclaimed that everyone was enlightened because we have within us everything we need to give to each other so we can all live better, more fulfilled lives.
    Hi Risho, how nice you could feel that.
    Thank you, for your words are very touching.

    However, to be honest I'm so far from that feeling.
    Maybe I have been practising zazen for only a short time, but I'm still very selfish, egotistic, angry and full of sh*t.

    I just can not see myself at one with others, although I sit, recite the vows and verse of atonement daily and sometimes also chant.

    Maybe it'll just take time. I know I'm on this path to benefit others, but am still so selfish that deep inside I still choose who I want to benefit.
    I can feel the need to benefit my family and friends, the poor or disabled or those who suffer from illness or are in need.
    But that's not the point, I think, a bodhisattva must have the true will to benefit ALL beings, even those who have better times than us, even those who do harm to us.
    I'm SO far from that.

    Today I was in the school for the opening act for my kids' classes seasons.
    Mostly I don't like crowds, and a lot of parents were everywhere, and I couldn't feel myself at one with them, I felt a strong barrier, a deep separation, like if they were a menace or something.
    However, the good news is that I was able to see the prejudices and judgements rising, I was aware that all of that was just delusion, the ego building sand castles, and so could seize the opportunity to practice.

    Thank you for your words, Risho, they made me reflect, and gave me hope


    Gassho,
    Daiyo

    #SatToday
    Gassho,Walter

  8. #8
    Mp
    Guest
    Risho and Jundo ... thank you for this wonderful thread, a wonderful read. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday

  9. #9
    What an honest earnest wonderful thread!

    Bows
    Meikyo
    SAT TODAY!
    ~ Please remember that I am very fallible.

    Gassho
    Meikyo

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Sometimes you know how you have those “ah-ha” moments during practice? Or maybe you don’t, I don’t know, but I just have to write this because I had one, and it’s something I’ve been practicing with a lot, and I just thought it might be helpful.

    I hate the cliche’ “The art of..”. It’s crappy, but a lot of life is an art. It’s an equal mix of logic and “feel”… of intuition. Life/practice is as much an art as a science, which makes it so damned interesting.

    In any case, when I started this practice I was a Pratyeka Buddha; ok, I still am. lol I think it’s just par for the course. I think it brings a lot of us to this. If we weren’t looking for something, why the hell would we start doing this?

    So as I hear from a lot of us in Treeleaf we start on the path intellectually…of voraciously trying to read every Buddhist book that has ever been written. I did that too, and eventually (after a year or so), I started actually getting my ass on the cushion and came here. Although I was practicing zen, it was still selfish. I didn’t really have any skin in the game yet.

    Shortly after, I started chanting during Zazenkai. Ok zazenkai is weird, chanting is weird, but it’ll get me peace of mind right? So why not. Makes sense… sort of. Then the first line of the Bodhisattva vows, “To save all sentient beings..”

    I didn’t know what kind of an impact that would have, but these Zen teachings, Jundo’s talks are very sneaky. You think you “get” it, then a few years later, “BAM”… Holy f-bombs. lol That’s where Im’ at now, and it’s probably common sense, and I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT THIS POST TO COME OFF AS LOOK AT ME, I”M SPECIAL; it’s quite the opposite intention. That’s not the point and, besides, these are Jundo’s teachings.. this is truth, this isn’t mine;. I wanted to get that out of the way because one of my habits is to build myself up, but that is not at all the intention of this.

    Why I’m posting this is that these have been burning questions that I’ve had, and I figured maybe this could be of help to others who possibly struggle with the same questions.

    So it’s been bothering me for a while, especially after listening to Jundo’s talk about being a Pratyeka Buddha. I just got frustrated; I simply don’t know how to give. I’ve been practicing selfishly and still do. I think this practice is like peeling back the layers of an onion — an imaginary onion, which is the imaginary self that we project to ourselves every minute of every day.

    But zazen breaks us from this habit when we do it. I feel like I’ve been approaching it all wrong for a while now.. coming at it like how do I get peace of mind? And that really bothered me. I don’t want this practice to be another thing that I drop. It’s why I stay even when everyone here annoys the shit out of me and it’s the end of Ango and I hate chanting and don’t even know why I do this. hahahaha

    It’s all about getting a crack in that fake projection. It’s about giving. It’s like we are giving our true selves to our self. I don’t have a better term for it. But it’s the best thing we can do.

    I was recently reading one of the books Jundo recommended by Philip Coupey about the Fukanzazengi, where Dogen says “If we want to attain the matter of the ineffable, we should practice the matter of the ineffable at once.” That’s from Gudo Wafu Roshi’s Shobogenzo translation; I had to return Coupey’s book to the library.

    In any case, that just resonated. Zazen and all of this stuff is not about getting anything; that’s why this is useless. It’s about giving, and that’s why this is the most useful useless thing that anyone could do. And that’s why it’s the most important thing we can do because it opens us up to living. And living is giving.

    And that’s what’s also been bothering me —- giving. How the hell do I give? I mean when I first came on this idea of “saving all sentient beings”, I started thinking like someone with a savior complex, but that is shallow. That’s not it at all.

    How do I give during every day mundane activities like brushing my teeth or shaving or showering or eating a meal? Aren’t those taking? Also if there is no separation from mundane and sacred, then how can I prove that?

    As Dogen says, and I can’t remember where (I’m sorry ) we are constantly giving and receiving. This is the ceaseless practice. But when we try to take and obsessively try to protect ourselves and separate ourselves, it’s killing our self. It’s destroying the joy in life. It’s continuing the cycle of inequality that is so prevalent in this country of ours. It’s making me avoid the homeless person, or the sick and dying person because they aren’t me, or why can’t they pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do something like me?

    I’m no saint, believe me. I don’t know what the solutions are, but that is no excuse to do nothing. So how do I save all sentient beings?

    First, I had a problem with ritual. I had a problem with Zen being too “Japanese” whatever that means. In turns out, what I really had a problem with was me. I still didn’t understand why things were done. To me the most important thing, to make this really genuine and in the marrow of my life is to understand why I do this practice. No matter how eloquent someone else’s answers are, they are not mine, so they cannot be my reason.

    So I had to start questioning all the things I was doing with this practice; I mean aping the practice and the forms is the first step. But if it’s going to get deep and real, I need to have my answer why I do it. Otherwise, I’m taking and practicing zombie zen.

    Anyway, this is when it hit me. We have to practice the forms. Now they didn’t have to be what they are, but they are part of the tradition so we still do them. And they are esoteric at first, but I think now they are very natural expression of the basis of being human.

    And I was worrying about the form, when the crux of the matter is that we are all doing them together. We are doing the same thing together — it binds our practice as a sangha.

    But still what else? When we sit down to zazen, we could just plop down. But no, we bow to our zafu/zabuton (or pillow or whatever), prep it a bit, make sure it is fluffy, turn clockwise, gassho again. Sit down, turn clockwise, face the wall. Hold gassho, bow after the bell rings, then sit zazen. Perhaps we light a candle by our Buddha statue.

    What I thought was complete and utter nonsense is not that at all. It is giving. We are receiving so many benefits from this useless practice that we are bowing to a tool which helps us practice. We are bowing to the room which gives us shelter so that we may practice. We are bowing to the Buddha statue (which is a bow to all the ancestors and our sangha who influence me in more ways than I know). Today I bowed to my lamp, I bowed to my window blinds that both give me the precise amount of light I need. All these things support my life my practice. That is giving. That is giving gratitude to things which give to us.

    And that is zazen in practice during life. Paying attention, very precisely to the things as they really are, instead of just assuming things are here to serve my agenda and being disappointed when they don’t.

    When washing my hands, I started saying a gatha before during the last Ango. At first, I thought it was just nice to get me to pay attention, but then I thought.. no, it’s a way of giving myself fully to that activity, which in turn gives to the community by not spreading infection.

    How is driving giving? It is giving life by driving safely and calmly. It’s reducing stress on the road by absorbing insults and not retorting with insults. It is by giving an example so that others can also drive calmly.

    How is zazen giving? It is giving back by actually honoring the Buddha/also our teacher here Jundo, the Dharma/ those teachings that are being given and received and the Sangha/ all of us here at Treeleaf and all sentient beings. It provides an example. It allows us to break down the false barriers that cause us to live a shriveled up cold life and help us learn when to give and when to hold back and not offer anything (also important — I mean being a do-gooder is not Zen).

    This is all a dance of giving. All of it. This is our sutra of giving. This zen practice is beautiful and it’s varied forms and methods are beautiful because they show us the joy of what we already have, not to covet, but so that we may be of benefit to others. So that we may give.

    Chanting the vows, the verse of atonement, the Fukanzazengi, the Heart Sutra, the metta practice. This chanting is giving to our sangha to support each other; voices together are much stronger than a single voice. This chanting gives ourselves a framework to a healthier and happier way to exist, which sort of helps to transform us to make others lives much better.

    Again, referencing the Fukanzazengi, giving is the real treasure house. This isn’t some treasure that you can use to buy a new car. This is a treasure to serve all of us together, which is our treasure, and which is the best treasure of all.

    When the Buddha attained enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree, he proclaimed that everyone was enlightened because we have within us everything we need to give to each other so we can all live better, more fulfilled lives.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday
    Thank you for sharing this post Risho. I think a lot of what you said relates to my practice as well.

    gassho,

    simon

    sat today.

  11. #11
    Hi guys,

    Thank you for this fantastic thread. Lots of things to sit with.

    The following are only my personal believes and thoughts. Please remember that I can be wrong in anything.

    I do agree. Giving is an art and we can discuss how to do it for centuries before realizing what does it truly means. And I am talking about feeling giving deep down in our marrow.

    However that will never come.

    Understanding giving in this ego centered culture can be pretty hard because we are educated to always achieve, to always have more and to crave for more of anything. This blinds us and prevents us from living at piece with giving and compassion.

    We can go down in the street and see someone in pain and just walk by. It's not our business, right? Besides we already have too much to care about.

    I think we can't actually understand giving until we first understand gratitude.

    When we practice gratitude everyday we are helping our minds understand everything we are, everything we own and everything that will ever come to us, it's all a blessing.

    We get born and there's air already. We just breathe and never ask where does air comes from. We just enjoy it, live for it and we never say thanks or even understand where it comes from. It's a gift and we didn't collaborated anything to get it.

    We walk, learn, love and go about this life assuming everything is just there for the taking. We don't see others as gifts. We actually feel entitled to be ungrateful and we go about thinking the universe owes us. And it's the other way around.

    Gratitude makes us understand everything is connected and that we are surrounded by miracles. Gratitude makes us understand everything we do, and that everything others do affect the universe as it is.

    So when we chant, send metta, post to Treeleaf, read a book and even go to the bathroom, we are collaborating with life and at the same time we are receiving thousands of gifts. Every single second we spend in this life.

    When we live by the Precepts we become mindful that we are a gift receiving a gift being part of a gift called universe.

    We are all connected in more ways that we can imagine.

    Giving begins understanding this.

    Or so that's what my deluded mind thinks.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  12. #12
    Hi All,

    Thanks to Risho for starting this great thread. Your words ring so true to me:

    This is all a dance of giving. All of it. This is our sutra of giving. This zen practice is beautiful and it’s varied forms and methods are beautiful because they show us the joy of what we already have, not to covet, but so that we may be of benefit to others. So that we may give.
    Kyonin, I think your words are golden:

    Gratitude makes us understand everything is connected and that we are surrounded by miracles. Gratitude makes us understand everything we do, and that everything others do affect the universe as it is.
    Gratitude is the key. Read what Elgwyn wrote on the Big Questions thread today, to see how that works:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...G-Question-%29

    My thoughts, flawed and rambling as they may be:

    You can’t give what you don’t have. The first person to give to is yourself. Allow yourself to accept some of the good stuff. It’s ok. Yes, you belong here on this planet, this is your home. Yes, you do deserve a little happiness. Yes, you are really worthy of love and respect. Yes, you may have things to work on, but at the same time you are perfect as you are, perfectly perfect in this exact moment. (I know that this can sound like just feel-good-sunshine-nonsense, but I swear to you, it’s not... it’s the truth.) Open your heart to yourself. Give yourself love, give yourself acceptance, give yourself a little credit, give yourself a break from that voice in your head that tells you you’re not what you should be. Receive and accept it all, take it in, it's yours. When you start to accept yourself as you are, you'll start to accept others as they are. And vice versa. This will grow. The hard boundaries between you and others will soften.

    When you begin to give yourself these things, I promise you, gratitude will follow naturally. Suddenly you realize your hands are full, overfull, and it’s the most natural gesture in the world to reach out and give back. You won’t have to force it. You realize your hands are not even your own hands, they’re here for everyone. Give someone a hand... oh look, you still have two. Open your hearts eye and look again.. you have a thousand hands. Then, as Risho says, “this is our sutra of giving.” Giving becomes your sutra, your mantra, your mudra, your kesa, your very breath -- take it in, now give it back. This is the bodhisattva way, as I understand it, and to my way of thinking it’s the most natural thing in the world, and it’s in you already. It’s not about being a saint, none of us is that. It’s about opening your heart. Like everything else, it starts right where you are.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    sat today

  13. #13
    Thank you Risho, Gassho, David

  14. #14
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thank you all for the heartfelt posts!

    When I joined Treeleaf I was not interested in rituals or chanting whatsoever....funny how that has changed

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  15. #15
    What a lovely thread. So inspiring.

    Here's another way to give. Go out on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the US, or some other intense communal consumerism day, not to shop, but simply to stand in long lines with stressed out people and see what ease you can offer by being friendly and just listening deeply to whatever someone needs to be heard. Being courteous when opening doors for others. Making eye contact with the harried clerks. Offering a slow "thank you" and a moment's breath-taking with them. Thanking someone for their kindness to someone else. Thanking the janitor cleaning up the broken ketchup mess in aisle 6. Taking a far parking spot, relieving the lot congestion.
    I call it stealth giving....... cherishing all living things. It's quite an experience.

    _/st\_ Shinzan

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinzan View Post
    What a lovely thread. So inspiring.

    Here's another way to give. Go out on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the US, or some other intense communal consumerism day, not to shop, but simply to stand in long lines with stressed out people and see what ease you can offer by being friendly and just listening deeply to whatever someone needs to be heard. Being courteous when opening doors for others. Making eye contact with the harried clerks. Offering a slow "thank you" and a moment's breath-taking with them. Thanking someone for their kindness to someone else. Thanking the janitor cleaning up the broken ketchup mess in aisle 6. Taking a far parking spot, relieving the lot congestion.
    I call it stealth giving....... cherishing all living things. It's quite an experience.

    _/st\_ Shinzan
    Give me five!



    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    In any case, that just resonated. Zazen and all of this stuff is not about getting anything; that’s why this is useless. It’s about giving, and that’s why this is the most useful useless thing that anyone could do. And that’s why it’s the most important thing we can do because it opens us up to living. And living is giving.
    Hi Risho,

    Just read through your post now. Most everything you said really resonates with me. The only difference is that I have not had so much of an 'ah-ha' moment as a slowish awareness. I'm pretty slow to catch on to most things though

    Specifically, I have to say I have felt a change after having undertaken the precepts this year. During the precepts there was much talk of what the precepts mean and about giving of oneself as a Bodhisattva does. At the time, I think I understood all of this intellectually, but it really took time afterwards to sink in for me (still an ongoing process, I'm sure). Maybe I was just so focused on completing my darn rakusu. In retrospect, I do not think I realized how selfish my zen practice was. I won't elaborate further as you said it all so well. Thanks for your post.

    Gassho,
    Matt
    #SatToday

  18. #18
    Thank you Risho for sharing your experience and your thoughts. Yet another way of giving! This gives me many things to ponder. I sense that our practice has different phases of awakening. For example there are many exercises that emphasize the dissolution of the self. Dana giving to others, helping others, allows us to break down the barriers we create between self and others. I think beyond that we can intellectually understand that we are all ultimately connected and depend on the whole to experience the self. Beyond that I sense we get to a point where we actually realize this as truth, actually experiencing reality as that. I myself am still mired in me. Thank you Sangha for giving me this wonderful place to practice.

    Jundo I look forward to seeing Yugen and yours videos! Great idea!

    Gassho
    Ishin

    Sat Today!

  19. #19
    Wow I'm so grateful for the link to this thread. In my unqualified and humble opinion, Jundo, there is no throwing out of the baby Buddha with the bathwater here at Treeleaf. Somehow these conversations manage to cut right to the heart of practice. The guidance needed to put each of us right where our inner resistance is, right where each of us needs to "polish the mirror," is all here. In the past couple of months since joining, I have done so much more conscious giving, but also have become so much more aware of my inner resistance to giving... it really helps to know that I am on the same journey as all you other wonderful worthy folks, even if not as far along... and I will try to be patient and allow myself to be where I am. Thank you!

    Gassho,
    Sierra
    SatToday

  20. #20
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thank you, Sierra, for bringing this thread back to our attention. It certainly helped to bring my attention more to giving and helping, as well as paying more attention to the rituals of our Zen practice.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Sometimes you know how you have those ďah-haĒ moments during practice? Or maybe you donít, I donít know, but I just have to write this because I had one, and itís something Iíve been practicing with a lot, and I just thought it might be helpful.

    I hate the clicheí ďThe art of..Ē. Itís crappy, but a lot of life is an art. Itís an equal mix of logic and ďfeelĒÖ of intuition. Life/practice is as much an art as a science, which makes it so damned interesting.

    In any case, when I started this practice I was a Pratyeka Buddha; ok, I still am. lol I think itís just par for the course. I think it brings a lot of us to this. If we werenít looking for something, why the hell would we start doing this?

    So as I hear from a lot of us in Treeleaf we start on the path intellectuallyÖof voraciously trying to read every Buddhist book that has ever been written. I did that too, and eventually (after a year or so), I started actually getting my ass on the cushion and came here. Although I was practicing zen, it was still selfish. I didnít really have any skin in the game yet.

    Shortly after, I started chanting during Zazenkai. Ok zazenkai is weird, chanting is weird, but itíll get me peace of mind right? So why not. Makes senseÖ sort of. Then the first line of the Bodhisattva vows, ďTo save all sentient beings..Ē

    I didnít know what kind of an impact that would have, but these Zen teachings, Jundoís talks are very sneaky. You think you ďgetĒ it, then a few years later, ďBAMĒÖ Holy f-bombs. lol Thatís where Imí at now, and itís probably common sense, and I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT THIS POST TO COME OFF AS LOOK AT ME, IĒM SPECIAL; itís quite the opposite intention. Thatís not the point and, besides, these are Jundoís teachings.. this is truth, this isnít mine;. I wanted to get that out of the way because one of my habits is to build myself up, but that is not at all the intention of this.

    Why Iím posting this is that these have been burning questions that Iíve had, and I figured maybe this could be of help to others who possibly struggle with the same questions.

    So itís been bothering me for a while, especially after listening to Jundoís talk about being a Pratyeka Buddha. I just got frustrated; I simply donít know how to give. Iíve been practicing selfishly and still do. I think this practice is like peeling back the layers of an onion ó an imaginary onion, which is the imaginary self that we project to ourselves every minute of every day.

    But zazen breaks us from this habit when we do it. I feel like Iíve been approaching it all wrong for a while now.. coming at it like how do I get peace of mind? And that really bothered me. I donít want this practice to be another thing that I drop. Itís why I stay even when everyone here annoys the shit out of me and itís the end of Ango and I hate chanting and donít even know why I do this. hahahaha

    Itís all about getting a crack in that fake projection. Itís about giving. Itís like we are giving our true selves to our self. I donít have a better term for it. But itís the best thing we can do.

    I was recently reading one of the books Jundo recommended by Philip Coupey about the Fukanzazengi, where Dogen says ďIf we want to attain the matter of the ineffable, we should practice the matter of the ineffable at once.Ē Thatís from Gudo Wafu Roshiís Shobogenzo translation; I had to return Coupeyís book to the library.

    In any case, that just resonated. Zazen and all of this stuff is not about getting anything; thatís why this is useless. Itís about giving, and thatís why this is the most useful useless thing that anyone could do. And thatís why itís the most important thing we can do because it opens us up to living. And living is giving.

    And thatís whatís also been bothering me ó- giving. How the hell do I give? I mean when I first came on this idea of ďsaving all sentient beingsĒ, I started thinking like someone with a savior complex, but that is shallow. Thatís not it at all.

    How do I give during every day mundane activities like brushing my teeth or shaving or showering or eating a meal? Arenít those taking? Also if there is no separation from mundane and sacred, then how can I prove that?

    As Dogen says, and I canít remember where (Iím sorry :( ) we are constantly giving and receiving. This is the ceaseless practice. But when we try to take and obsessively try to protect ourselves and separate ourselves, itís killing our self. Itís destroying the joy in life. Itís continuing the cycle of inequality that is so prevalent in this country of ours. Itís making me avoid the homeless person, or the sick and dying person because they arenít me, or why canít they pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do something like me?

    Iím no saint, believe me. I donít know what the solutions are, but that is no excuse to do nothing. So how do I save all sentient beings?

    First, I had a problem with ritual. I had a problem with Zen being too ďJapaneseĒ whatever that means. In turns out, what I really had a problem with was me. I still didnít understand why things were done. To me the most important thing, to make this really genuine and in the marrow of my life is to understand why I do this practice. No matter how eloquent someone elseís answers are, they are not mine, so they cannot be my reason.

    So I had to start questioning all the things I was doing with this practice; I mean aping the practice and the forms is the first step. But if itís going to get deep and real, I need to have my answer why I do it. Otherwise, Iím taking and practicing zombie zen.

    Anyway, this is when it hit me. We have to practice the forms. Now they didnít have to be what they are, but they are part of the tradition so we still do them. And they are esoteric at first, but I think now they are very natural expression of the basis of being human.

    And I was worrying about the form, when the crux of the matter is that we are all doing them together. We are doing the same thing together ó it binds our practice as a sangha.

    But still what else? When we sit down to zazen, we could just plop down. But no, we bow to our zafu/zabuton (or pillow or whatever), prep it a bit, make sure it is fluffy, turn clockwise, gassho again. Sit down, turn clockwise, face the wall. Hold gassho, bow after the bell rings, then sit zazen. Perhaps we light a candle by our Buddha statue.

    What I thought was complete and utter nonsense is not that at all. It is giving. We are receiving so many benefits from this useless practice that we are bowing to a tool which helps us practice. We are bowing to the room which gives us shelter so that we may practice. We are bowing to the Buddha statue (which is a bow to all the ancestors and our sangha who influence me in more ways than I know). Today I bowed to my lamp, I bowed to my window blinds that both give me the precise amount of light I need. All these things support my life my practice. That is giving. That is giving gratitude to things which give to us.

    And that is zazen in practice during life. Paying attention, very precisely to the things as they really are, instead of just assuming things are here to serve my agenda and being disappointed when they donít.

    When washing my hands, I started saying a gatha before during the last Ango. At first, I thought it was just nice to get me to pay attention, but then I thought.. no, itís a way of giving myself fully to that activity, which in turn gives to the community by not spreading infection.

    How is driving giving? It is giving life by driving safely and calmly. Itís reducing stress on the road by absorbing insults and not retorting with insults. It is by giving an example so that others can also drive calmly.

    How is zazen giving? It is giving back by actually honoring the Buddha/also our teacher here Jundo, the Dharma/ those teachings that are being given and received and the Sangha/ all of us here at Treeleaf and all sentient beings. It provides an example. It allows us to break down the false barriers that cause us to live a shriveled up cold life and help us learn when to give and when to hold back and not offer anything (also important ó I mean being a do-gooder is not Zen).

    This is all a dance of giving. All of it. This is our sutra of giving. This zen practice is beautiful and itís varied forms and methods are beautiful because they show us the joy of what we already have, not to covet, but so that we may be of benefit to others. So that we may give.

    Chanting the vows, the verse of atonement, the Fukanzazengi, the Heart Sutra, the metta practice. This chanting is giving to our sangha to support each other; voices together are much stronger than a single voice. This chanting gives ourselves a framework to a healthier and happier way to exist, which sort of helps to transform us to make others lives much better.

    Again, referencing the Fukanzazengi, giving is the real treasure house. This isnít some treasure that you can use to buy a new car. This is a treasure to serve all of us together, which is our treasure, and which is the best treasure of all.

    When the Buddha attained enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree, he proclaimed that everyone was enlightened because we have within us everything we need to give to each other so we can all live better, more fulfilled lives.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

    Wow, Risho. Thank you!

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