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Thread: Conflict with no gaining idea

  1. #1

    Conflict with no gaining idea

    I have been doing Zazen for about a year now. I started with a gaining idea: attain enlightment. I have read a lot since then and have "improved" my understanding of Zazen practice, but strangely it has become much harder. It was really hard at first. I could barely do 3 minutes. But, then I saw what an immense relief it was to calm the torrent of thoughts that occupy my mind. This became my new gaining idea. The feeling of being in the moment without all of the baggage of the days events and a lifetime of experiences. It was a great feeling and I sought it out.

    Over time, it became easier to complete counting breath exercises for the duration (25 minutes). It became almost robotic and actually I have developed the ability to keep track of my breathing while actually being rather distracted by thoughts. I think I get a solid 2 minutes of feeling as though am I fully engaged in experiencing the present, but the rest of the time is spent struggling to stay awake or just maintain until 25 minutes is up. I have lost any kind of fulfilment or gratification that comes from sitting, which I take it is not the goal (is there a goal?) anyhow so no worries. However, there is something else happening that I genuinely enjoy and seek out and this seems to be a conflict with the notion of practicing sitting without any gaining idea. While the sitting is a struggle, I experience an incredible amount of calm serenity for quite a few hours after doing zazen. I really like this feeling and it has become my new gaining idea.

    So, am I really supposed to be engaging in this practice without getting something out of it? I am misunderstanding. I am supposed to be doing this because it is simply the ultimate state of being? I am confused.

    Matt

  2. #2
    Hi Matt,

    Shikantaza as we practice here is a little otherwise from what you describe. I sometimes describe our way as a radical putting down of all goals, point racking and need to obtain. Dropping all that "running after attaining" is attaining a great attainment!

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ckin-Up-Points

    Nor do we clutch at "calm serenity" and the like, although it happens quite often. I would rather say that all that dropping of a need for a special state results in a more profound, in the bones Big S Serenity that holds both human times of peaceful serenity and hair pulling chaos.

    We also don't follow the breath in such way here. I will post more about that this week.

    In the meantime, did you watch all of our beginner's series (we're all always beginners)?

    A SERIES OF TALKS FOR NEW FOLKS
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...-FOR-NEW-FOLKS

    Also, all these little essays on Shikantaza may be helpful ...

    VITAL POINTS of 'SHIKANTAZA' ZAZEN
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...IKANTAZA-ZAZEN

    Please go through some or all of those again, and let us know if that clears some of this up. Also, others of our members may have tips in this thread too.

    Our way is like riding a unicycle. Seems impossible to common sense, but not so hard once ya get the hang.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Hello,

    A wise one once said,

    "Zazen is sat each day as the One and Whole Practice. If one sits any other way, if one sits with any sensation of "'I' need to fill some hole that is not Whole" . . . one kills Zazen, gets nowhere. If one sits Zazen, one need do no other practice!
    Such is the case when sitting Zazen ... and one thus masters how to rest, find wholeness in one thing in this moment, drop the need and feelings of lack."


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    Last edited by Myosha; 08-14-2015 at 07:13 PM.
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  4. #4
    Hello Jundo,

    I went through some of them when I first joined. I will delve back in to them. Thanks for taking the time!


    Myosha,

    Thanks. Ill try to keep that in mind!

    Matt

  5. #5
    Hi Matt,

    I know what you mean. Some years ago I was in kind of the same dilemma. I didn't know how to sit because I figured I needed to get something out of the practice. So I spent years looking for something and trying to figure out how to be better at sitting.

    The thing is, I kept on sitting! One day I simple let go everything. No questions, no searches, no nothing. Just empty space. Sometimes it lasted a fraction of a second and sometimes it was longer.

    So just sit for the sake of it. The more you sit, the more the mind will settle and lose all questions and resistances.

    Be patient but diligent. That's all there is, really.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  6. #6
    Hi Matt,

    If you want to catch your shadow, don't run after it.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Hi Matt,

    If you want to catch your shadow, don't run after it.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    This seems to be a constant sticking point with shikantaza. It is really hard to put into words. The nagging question can often come up again and again. WHY am I doing this? We want to have a goal, a purpose, a point to it. In essence the point as I see it is to drop all that. It is not an effort at why. It is a letting go of why.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today

  9. #9
    Joyo
    Guest
    Yes, Ishin, I too have had those "why" thoughts. I usually answer myself back with another question "why not" It usually helps to dissolve the need to get somewhere during zazen.

    I've noticed there's so much striving, working, spending money looking for peace in society. I had many years of deep depression. I've noticed, in my own life, once I stopped chasing a cure, a cure arrived. Oh, it's still creeps up sometimes, but there's no longer a cat and mouse game of chasing anything. It quietly stays for awhile, and then leaves without my demanding anything at all.

    Shikantaza is hard to put in words, although I do love all the beautiful words written about it. For me, at some point though, I've had to let those words go and stop trying to figure it out.

    hope my rambling makes some sense lol!!

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  10. #10
    I posted this on another thread, but it goes here too. Dropping gaining ideas/goals and having gaining ideas/goals are not in conflict (once one gets beyond our typical "either/or" Western way of thinking).

    So, have "no goal, no hold in need of filling" ... and still grab a shovel and get to filling the holes in life ... at once, as one.

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

    A student just wrote me to ask if I meant that Zazen is not helpful with personal problems, including addiction. He reminded me that we Soto folks often say "Zazen is good for nothing" and "there is nothing to attain" and such.

    Actually, the radical "nothing in need of attaining", sitting in the wholeness and completeness of Zazen, goes to the most basic existential suffering of human beings. You see, there is a hole inside most of us, and we always are chasing this or that to fill it. Sitting thoroughly in this "don't need Zazen to do anything, for all is just as it is" actually fills the hole! The hole is filled with wholeness (the wholeness which is "Emptiness", for those who know how we talk around here). For the first time, there is nothing to chase after. Most human beings don't know how just to sit still, not need to chase and hunger for more and more.

    Got how that works?

    So, it is my personal belief that any practice which teaches us to fill our inner holes and hungers must be helpful addiction therapy, and would even help folks have better marriages (it sure has done the latter in my case). However, because Buddhism just reaches for that basic existential suffering, I still recommend folks to seek professional counseling for things like addiction, marriage troubles, depression. Buddhism only goes so far.

    As I often say ... 

    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer (although it may have some healthful effects and make one more attune to the process of chemotherapy and/or dying), etc. Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one. There are many psychological problems or psycho/medical problems such as alcoholism that may require other therapies, although Zen can be part of a 12-Step program or such (a few Zen teachers in America with a drinking problem had to seek outside help). My feeling is that some things are probably best handled by medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment, not Zen teachers.

    My feeling is that receiving outside treatment, medication AND "just sitting" can all work together.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post157513
    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Dang are you saying I can't put the dharma in a bottle and make it cure all that ails me?

    4343b81ace7c65c1c658e8b812741f48.jpg

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer
    Although, one could say that if you can become completely OK with the fact that your body has cancer, then having cancer is no longer any problem. And if there's no problem, then one could say, in a manner of speaking, that itself is a cure! As it has "solved the problem" of having cancer.


  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by seeker242 View Post
    Although, one could say that if you can become completely OK with the fact that your body has cancer, then having cancer is no longer any problem. And if there's no problem, then one could say, in a manner of speaking, that itself is a cure! As it has "solved the problem" of having cancer.

    When I was a hospice worker for a few years, I encountered many people who seemed to have become completely OK with their cancer and terminal illness at a certain point ... peaceful, happy, taking it as it comes, even laughing at the whole thing.

    I also know someone like that (a good friend) who kept up the good fight through her chemotherapy, yet was not fighting.

    So, I know that it is possible to accept-non-accept, fight-non-fight at once. Bodhisattvas with one foot in nirvana, one in this messy samsara, all standing on the same piece of ground.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14

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