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Thread: Grass Hut - 14 - "Ten Feet Square"

  1. #1

    Grass Hut - 14 - "Ten Feet Square"

    This week we invite you in to Chapter 10, "Ten Feet Square". Very roomy in here.

    Some possible stuff ...

    - "If we stay put through whatever comes up in mind ... if we stay committed to being right where we are, then the greatest possibility for freedom arises: the opportunity to be free from our limited views and habits by shining a light on things as they are, in both their autonomy and interconnection, there form and their nature." What, if anything, resonates with you about this?

    - For an online Buddhist community like Treeleaf, is it necessary for you to bring certain attitudes to the experience so that here does not become just another place of more data, chit chat, superficial relationships to people and Practice, "flitting from one idea to another, from one more cursory online connection" etc.? What are those attitudes?

    - Why does staying on the cushion sometimes seem so tough?

    Please feel free to discuss those or anything else which strikes your heart.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-07-2015 at 06:21 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    Uhm... someone of the crossover dharma-maths-geniuses help me please...

    So, for Germans, that is one foot times ten feet, which equals 0,93 squaremeter?
    Calculation correct?

    Hey, so he is either a very slim person (which he probably was) sleeping outstretched in his hut, like on a futon?

    Or he has just space for two zabuton and a tea pot?

    Darn, IS this a hut we are still referring to??????

    At least, it is bigger than my brain. No wonder, it contains the entire universe.

    Gassho,
    Danny
    #sattoday

  4. #4
    Joyo
    Guest
    Thank you, Jundo. I will be reading and thinking this week

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Danny B View Post
    Uhm... someone of the crossover dharma-maths-geniuses help me please...

    So, for Germans, that is one foot times ten feet, which equals 0,93 squaremeter?
    Calculation correct?
    Hi Danny,

    I'm more maths-genius/dharma-dummy than dharma-maths-genius, but here goes anyway...

    In English there are two very similar expressions "10 feet square" and "10 square feet", which mean different things:
    "10 feet square" means 10feet x 10feet, i.e. about 3m x 3m. This would be a good size hut. Not too large, not too small. An altogether middle-way hut.
    "10 square feet" means 1foot x 10feet, which as you say is about 30cm x 3m. The hut could be rectangular 30cm x 3m or it could be square 1m x 1m. Either way it would be very uncomfortable and he might have to sleep standing up. This is the perfect hut for ascetics.

    As translations are topical, I just found 3 more translations of this line. For reference, I've included the one in Ben's book first:

    • "In ten feet square, an old man illumines forms and their nature." - Taigen Dan Leighton & Kazuaki Tanahashi


    • "In ten square feet, an old man illumines forms and their nature." - Daniel Leighton


    • "In a square ten feet, an old man studies liberation of the essential body." - by Gregory Wonderwheel


    The last needs the previous line to make sense of it:

    • This little shack contains the entire universe, And my physical body is integrated with it. - James Mitchell & Yulie Lou


    I doubt very much whether this is helpful!

    Gassho
    Jeremy
    SatToday
    Last edited by Jeremy; 06-09-2015 at 05:52 AM.

  6. #6
    Hi Guys,

    As to math, the measure is actually a "Jo" squared, and a "Jo" is a traditional Japanese measure a little smaller than a US "10 foot" ...

    jō 丈 = 3.03  meters  9.942 feet

    But size ain't nothing! The reference comes from a famous scene in the Vimalakirti Sutra where a whole host of Buddhist characters come to visit the great Lay Person Bodhisattva Vimalakirti in his sick room. (It is most definitely a fantastical, magic scene, a work of Buddhist imagination ... yet made to convey a point about the fixity of place and walls ... and coming without coming, going with no place to go ... )

    Thus, eight thousand bodhisattvas, five hundred disciples, a great number of Sakras, Brahmas, Lokapalas, and many hundreds of thousands of gods and goddesses, all followed the crown prince Manjusri to listen to the Dharma [in the room of Vimalakirti]. And the crown prince Manjusri, surrounded and followed by these bodhisattvas, disciples, Sakras, Brahmas, Lokapalas, gods, and goddesses, entered the great city of Vaisali [Vimalakirti's town].

    Meanwhile, the Licchavi Vimalakirti thought to himself, "Manjusri, the crown prince, is coming here with numerous attendants. Now, may this house be transformed into emptiness!"

    Then, magically his house became empty. Even the doorkeeper disappeared. And, except for the invalid's couch upon which Vimalakirti himself was lying, no bed or couch or seat could be seen anywhere.

    Then, the Licchavi Vimalakirti saw the crown prince Manjusri and addressed him thus: "Manjusri! Welcome, Manjusri! You are very welcome! There you are, without any coming. You appear, without any seeing. You are heard, without any hearing."

    Manjusri declared, "Householder, it is as you say. Who comes, finally comes not. Who goes, finally goes not. Why? Who comes is not known to come. Who goes is not known to go. Who appears is finally not to be seen.
    As to the translations, the original Japanese is

    "方丈老人相體解"

    "方丈老人" is "Squared Jo Old Man".

    The key term is "相體" which some reliable Buddhist dictionaries have as something like "thusness as the essence of characteristics", something like saying that "form is emptiness, emptiness just form".

    http://www.buddhism-dict.net/ddb//rad-stroke/b76f8.html

    "解" is to resolve or "illuminate".

    So, both Greg Wonderwheel and Mitchell-Lou are a bit too loose here. I would say the two Dan Leighton translations are a good rendering.

    By the way, Taigen Dan Leighton will be a visitor here to Treeleaf in July to lead Zazenkai. You can come and ask him personally then. Unfortunately, unlike Vimalakirti's room, our "Google+ Hangouts" only hold about 10 or 20 people ... but I will get you in.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-10-2015 at 03:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Sorry, the Vimalakirti Sutra is indeed mentioned in the chapter as using a "ten by ten" room.
    So I could have guessed from context that both mean the same.

    Thank you for your wonderful explanations!

    Jumping to the "attitudes" question:
    I am part of another wonderful online forum where mostly parents to children with a metabolic orphan disease connect. They support each other, from translating medical news, over diet recipes for kids with special needs, to providing a place where others listen. They are in the same boat.
    But still, that forum is a means to an end.
    How do I cook for my kid, which med is safe if she has a fever.

    We are in the same boat, we are Sangha.
    But reading and writing here is not how to practice afterwards, it is practice manifesting.

    (writing this, atoning for math questions...)

    Gassho,
    Danny
    #sattoday

  8. #8
    Member Roland's Avatar
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    Mar 2014
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    Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium

    Grass Hut - 14 - "Ten Feet Square"

    Staying on the cushion is less hard than I thought. All day I monitor hundreds of news streams - sitting often feels like coming home after the Big News Battle. This place, Treeleaf, is like a calm temple in the midst of confusion and turmoil. Attitudes needed to experience this - at least for me - boil down to being just here, blocking other screens and communication in order to be more fully in this virtual temple.

    Gassho,
    #SatToday
    Roland

  9. #9
    "If we stay put through whatever comes up in mind ... if we stay committed to being right where we are, then the greatest possibility for freedom arises: the opportunity to be free from our limited views and habits by shining a light on things as they are, in both their autonomy and interconnection, there form and their nature." What, if anything, resonates with you about this?

    This quote reminds me of a statement by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara on joy.

    “What is being awake? Isn’t it our capability to let go of our grasping onto what we think we want, what we think is happening to us, to drop all of those presumptions and be exposed and intimate with what is here, right now? I believe it is our resistance to what is right here, right now, that blocks the natural flow of joy.”

    I just seem to have a negative disposition by nature. I will find myself in a situation and be drawn to what is wrong. I begin admiring a tree in a neighbor’s yard and then I think I once lived in a neighborhood with more trees….things were much better then, but not so good now. Instead of staying with what is here now, I will relapse into negative thought. So I’ve been working on this….not pushing away the negative thoughts, but not indulging them either. I try to stay with what is here now.

    Freedom and, at times joy, comes from not constantly stuffing experience into a conceptual box, but, instead, letting it flow, arise, and dissipate. As Connelly states, [to] “be free from our limited views and habits by shining a light on things as they are.”

    Gassho,
    Jisen/BrianW
    #sat2day

  10. #10
    Nindo
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Danny B View Post
    We are in the same boat, we are Sangha.
    But reading and writing here is not how to practice afterwards, it is practice manifesting.
    Wow.


    Nindo

  11. #11
    Sitting in 10 feet squared is usually good for a laugh or two.

    Joy to the world

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

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  12. #12
    I've been thinking a lot about politics and Buddhism recently. As I travel year round for work I've started sitting with whatever Buddhist groups I happen along (though I generally keep it to Soto Zen for simplicity's sake) I was sitting with one in an undisclosed location and the teacher's topic of conversation revolved around a quote by Barak Obama, and the general tone of the discussion was very one sided politically. After the service I got to speak to many members of the Sangha and it became very clear to me that the political tone was of a staunchly progressive Democrat and most of the folks I spoke to were fairly wealthy people. Now, I didn't find anything to be particularly offensive or inappropriate, but I thought a lot about many of my more conservative-minded friends who live in other parts of the America. America is a funny place in that the needs and values of different communities vary so greatly, but many Americans forget that the rest of the country is not like them, and has no need to be. In my experience the content of Buddhist teaching is not limited to any political party. I am part of an online group, mostly for parent of children with a rare neurological condition that I have called Complex Motor Stereotypy. The parents come from all walks of life and perspectives, and abstract nature of the condition (which is essentially highly charged emotional thoughts get "stuck" on causing body movements and hallucinations) has been best communicated to the parents through many eastern ideas and symbolism. Meditation has helped me communicate the experience of CMS to the confused parents of young children who don't understand what's happening. Though I never use Zenny words or Buddhist terms, just ordinary language, the underlying nature of the practice resonates with many different people of wildly different backgrounds. When I'm around groups that have a steep political bent, I wonder how good that is for the larger community. Not that everyone needs to be a Buddhist or think a particular way, but the kindness and goodwill of any path is best expressed to everyone. So much of Zen literature puts emphasis on the nature of circumstances. The world view and obstacles of someone born and raised in one place is very different from that of someone born and raised somewhere else. But if we are truly trying to see the connectivity of all things we must consider the seemingly random conditions that not only put us where we are, but also led us to the specific spiritual paths we find ourselves on. One thing I love about Treeleaf, is the international element that keeps us all less focused on the immediate politics of where we live and to the larger good of the whole world in much more general and all inclusive terms.

    But still, if we are to contain the whole world in ten feet square, we need to contain the whole world in ten feet square.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Byrne View Post
    I've been thinking a lot about politics and Buddhism recently. As I travel year round for work I've started sitting with whatever Buddhist groups I happen along (though I generally keep it to Soto Zen for simplicity's sake) I was sitting with one in an undisclosed location and the teacher's topic of conversation revolved around a quote by Barak Obama, and the general tone of the discussion was very one sided politically. After the service I got to speak to many members of the Sangha and it became very clear to me that the political tone was of a staunchly progressive Democrat and most of the folks I spoke to were fairly wealthy people. ...
    Hi Byrne,

    Let me post my standard comment on this, and putting my own political view aside ...

    --------------

    Although many in Western Buddhism tend to associate Buddhist Practice and the Precepts with having to hold rather 'Lefty' political views (probably because so many convert Buddhists in the West seem to be Latte drinking, Prius driving political liberals), that is not necessarily the case. I have many Western Zen friends who are politically conservative, favoring, for example, George W. Bush to Obama, thinking the war in Iraq justified and in keeping with the Precepts as an action ultimately intended to preserve human lives, opposing relaxed Abortion laws as the taking of life, opposing Gay Marriage, large scale government funded social programs and the like ... all in keeping with their personal view of the Precepts. In fact, any politics which the person sincerely believes is the best course to help this world and its people, to avoid harm and benefit sentient beings might be viewed by someone as in keeping with the Precepts ... although folks will engage in ethical debate on such topics, much as Christians might have opposing views on "What would Jesus do?"

    http://alexanderchrisostomou.co.uk/?p=357
    http://www.tricycle.com/p/754

    In fact, the only political views that clearly should not be combined with Buddhism are, for example, to be a Buddhist Nazi, K.K.K. member, Trotskyist, bomb throwing Anarchist or a like violent path because of the violent, divisive, hate-filled content.

    The prevalent interpretations found in Asia of the Precepts might be considered rather "conservative" to many Westerners on certain topics, very progressive on other topics.

    http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index....0#.VXjv1fmqpBc

    In much of Asia, Buddhism has traditionally been, at various times in its history, both a social revolutionary force ... and (probably for most of its history) a very conservative force unwilling to overly "rock the boat" in the traditional, feudal and otherwise undemocratic societies in which it has found itself, ranging from old Samurai Japan to the modern People's Republic of China. Just as in the Catholic Church, there are clerics who are far far to the right in their views, and far to the left ... often inspired by Marxism and the like ... and many who just stay out of politics altogether.

    In my case, I do not think that my political views are much different from my younger days, except I do make the effort to run my views through the lens of the Precepts, Wisdom and Compassion. They guide me in forming opinions on questions such as on abortion, going to war after 9-11 and the like ... but yet there remains much room for discussion on so many of these issues, and various sides.

    I do look forward to a world which, someday in the future, is filled with the peace, non-violence, love, environmental concern for the world, avoidance of excess consumerism and materialism, building schools and hospitals instead of bombs, and better sharing and caring for our fellow sentient beings that I believe is at the heart of Buddhist values (and so many other religions and humanist philosophies too).

    ... I believe that when such a revolution comes, this world will leave behind so many of its current problems and excesses.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-11-2015 at 02:18 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    so that here does not become just another place of more data, chit chat, superficial relationships to people and Practice, "flitting from one idea to another, from one more cursory online connection" etc.?
    I struggle with this a lot. How do I develop deeper, real relationships in this virtual space? Then again, I struggle with that in the physical domain as well. I'm by nature solitary and guarded (just like my father, and his father). I don't know. I'm not sure written communication is enough. I feel like I learned more about the novices from their recent videos than from years of writing some of them here. It definitely confirmed that Dosho is my twin brother-from-another-mother When I finish classes, I hope to get more involved with the online sits and tea parties/chats. I think the A/V element is important (but I, like Dosho brought up, am very introverted, so writing comes much more naturally to me than impromptu conversation)
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  15. #15
    Why does staying on the cushion sometimes seem so tough?
    At first, it was both mental and physical. What projects do I have to work on today? Why does my neighbor have to be blasting Linkin Park right now? Am I doing this right? Why can't I stop following my thoughts?

    I still have those thoughts now, but I've become better at noticing them and letting them go. However, now I focus on how physically uncomfortable again. Why does my back always hurt? I notice it more when I'm sitting still. My shoulders feel tight and tense, and I relax them, but within a few seconds I can feel them tense again. Etc. Etc.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    - "If we stay put through whatever comes up in mind ... if we stay committed to being right where we are, then the greatest possibility for freedom arises: the opportunity to be free from our limited views and habits by shining a light on things as they are, in both their autonomy and interconnection, there form and their nature." What, if anything, resonates with you about this?
    I feel this -- this is why zazen is so effective, and this relates to why it is so
    difficult to remain on the cushion. If we are zazening -- then we face ourselves.

    We are thrust into our thoughts. Chaotic day? chaotic zazen. Happy day? Happy zazen.

    But at the same time, thoughts can be just thoughts, and zazen teaches us how not to be
    led by them. So by sitting through the storms and the sun, by facing life head on, by
    doing something we don't "want" allows us to become more resilient in facing life's ups and downs. What ups and downs from another perspective? But sure, some parts of life suck, but it becomes lighter. It's so much more of a burden when adding extra resistence.

    It's like trying to swim completely flexed and rigid. It doesn't work. Life before zazen
    could be like that; it still can, but ahhh... there just let go and dive into, not run away from, not grasp on to. I don't know how else to articulate it.

    It's a complete living because we just live, without the chains. Of course, easier said than done; just the other day I was judging someone's character becuase they drove to "slow" for my "self's" wants. lol


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    - For an online Buddhist community like Treeleaf, is it necessary for you to bring certain attitudes to the experience so that here does not become just another place of more data, chit chat, superficial relationships to people and Practice, "flitting from one idea to another, from one more cursory online connection" etc.? What are those attitudes?
    Absolutely; it's the only way this works. For this to be real, each of us has to really
    take ownership of this place as our Sangha. And based on my experience here, it's really
    working. I think this is the perfect place to practice the precepts, the eightfold path, and live the way.

    It's really cool that we can type our thoughts out. It gives us the opportunity to fully express ourselves, while being respectful, while practicing Right Typing . It makes us think before we type.

    Of course, this assumes that we are engaged and present to the topics that we are addressing, and I think we are; we really have some awesome forum posts and discussions around here.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    - Why does staying on the cushion sometimes seem so tough?

    Please feel free to discuss those or anything else which strikes your heart.

    Gassho, J
    Because of being dragged around by thoughts. By not wanting to face myself; to rather be distracted rather than facing all of it.

    The more I practice, the more I feel overwhelmed, but not in a bad way. Sometimes I just feel such Gratitude and awe. Sometimes I feel this pure Joy. I don't chase that feeling in Shikantaza; it just sort of comes up, and I have to just sit with it. Its like this Joy has been here all along but I was too distracted to see it, even if I just get a taste for it.

    But yeah, often times, my mind will try to sabotage me into doing things that produce quick hits, immediate gratification; those are bad and deeply ingrained habits. The ironic thing is by sitting with that, if I'm lucky enough to feel it, it provides ample ground for learning patience. I mean what better way to learn patience than by having to sit through a major grasp attack of wanting to get the hell off of the cushion to do something "more important" like watching Star Trek re-runs?

    It's very powerful stuff, but like all of this practice, I'm the true boss of what. I get what I put in, whether that is in work, at Treeleaf, on the cushion.

    But a good question I find is when are we ever off of the cushion anyway?

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