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Thread: Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 3

  1. #1

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 3

    Hi,

    We now come to Chapter 3, "The Reality of Zazen".

    Uchiyama Roshi was very much about "returning to the posture", even though that is always impossible to do perfectly. We return to the posture imperfectly, and that very effort is somehow perfectly imperfect.

    Let me just mention what I usually say about the object of attention during Zazen:

    Every form of Shikantaza has to place the attention somewhere. There are many small variations in Shikantaza, teacher to teacher. One has to place and focus (and simultaneously not place/focus) the mind somewhere!

    So, for example, Uchiyama Roshi was a "bring your attention back to the posture" guy. Nishijima Roshi was a "focus on keeping the spine straight" fellow, and there are others who emphasize focusing on the breath or the Hara (also called the "Tanden", the traditional "center of gravity" of the body, and a center of Qi energy in traditional Chinese medicine) ...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dantian

    ...

    Dogen once advised to place the mind in the left palm. Some merely emphasize the wall or floor one may be facing. All are forms of Shikantaza ... so long as the objectless nature of sitting is maintained even if focused on an object.

    In fact, all forms of Shikantaza have an "object of meditation", a place to focus or place the mind to build a degree of concentration and quiet the thoughts (hopefully to soften the border and pass through "object" and "subject"), while dropping all effort to attain and releasing all judgments. At Treeleaf, ... as our central "objectless" object of meditation, I recommend open, spacious sitting centered on everything and nothing at all ... sitting with open, spacious awareness ... sitting with the whole world but without being lost in trains of thought (which I also sometimes describe as having the mind focused on "no place and everyplace at once"). That open stillness is our "object of concentration" (I emphasize such because it makes it clearer that Zazen is not a tool, and makes it easier to take our Practice off the cushion and into the rest of the world, than simply following the breath or focusing on a part of the body).
    I sometimes also feel that emphasizing the feelings of posture too much might mislead some people into concluding that Zazen is about attaining some particular physical sensation of balance of body. I think Uchiyama makes it clear that it is really not about that. However, focusing on the breath or posture, perfectly imperfectly, is a powerful approach.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo,

    For me I have found that the perfectly imperfectness of my zazen has taught me about the perfectly imperfectness of life. That just like sitting with what is (balanced posture, unbalanced posture, busy mind, quiet mind), with what arrises, is no different that what is and what arrises in my life. Being open and gracious to those moments, accepting them for what they are, but also at the same time, doing my best to make change where needed. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  3. #3
    Couldn't agree more with the perfect imperfection and this chapter resonated deeply with me. For many many years, I have been very much the "samadhi type" of meditator, enjoying (and, I must admit, often chasing after) the deep quiet contentment and joy that come from deeper concentration states. But, well, states are just states, and the peace I found in sitting didn't spill over to my daily life so easily.
    What's more: after some time I not only found myself unable to reach deeper concentration anymore but I also found that by pushing too hard and trying to get any hindrances or disturbances out of my way on the long run all the repressed stuff returned and I kind of slipped into a "dharma depression" with deep restlessness at night, lack of energy during the day, to the point that I had to seek out professional help.
    Now I'm trying hard to find my way back into a daily practice while at the same time seeking to avoid my earlier pitfalls, and the description Uchiyama gives of relentlessly coming back to ZZ' (nice sound too) and the waking up this implies were a kind of key insight for me. "Don't believe everything you think" - I've heard this very often, but never really believed it applied to me personally, that is to me as a person (latin word for mask)... I mean, come on, I'm the center of my (the?) universe, so it can't be me who's in the way...
    Oh yes: sat today!
    Ryo Do
    Last edited by Ryo Do; 01-17-2016 at 07:23 PM.

  4. #4
    Member ForestDweller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Beltrami Island Forest in Minnesota
    For me, one who lives in a Forest and who lives with chronic pain, I very much appreciated Jundo's encouraging words of "openness and spaciousness . . . centered on everything and nothing at all" as a variant of particular body form or object of concentration. Because I sit amidst the glory of the natural world, it is constantly bringing me into contact with its living forms, arising, sometimes departing, always changing. This, to me, is the "everything and nothing" Jundo speaks of. Because of pain, if I tried to maintain "perfect" posture, I would soon be so distracted that my shikan taza would suffer. Some gentle movement, shifting, and because I am alone, swaying, keeps my physical body grounded enough to stay with it. So, thank you Jundo, for the verification that one size does not fit all - the myriad forms of zazen. CatherineS -- ^^ForestSatToday^^ minus 23 degrees

  5. #5
    Thanks, Jundo. I really enjoyed this chapter (particularly the "waking up to life" section and figure 11). I plan on reading the whole chapter a second time tomorrow.

    Gassho,
    Rick
    sat today

  6. #6
    What helped me most with my practice was the guest/host analogy wherein the permanent "host" is our Buddha self and the impermanent "guests" are our illusionary thoughts and feelings. Externally, I like Uchiyama's approach to the whole body. Also, Jundo's dripping faucet apology made a lot of sense. I also have pain issues. Around the time I first began my interest in Buddhism 20 years ago, I was in a serious accident and fractured my spine in three places. I was able to recover remarkably well (I credit yoga for that) but holding still with a straight spine for more than 30 minutes can be problematic. I have to periodically stretch and move my back when I sit. The concept of returning to ZZ' is very appropriate for my circumstance. My zazen is very imperfect, just like all of yours.

    Gassho

    sat today

  7. #7
    Joyo
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    Thank you Jundo,

    For me I have found that the perfectly imperfectness of my zazen has taught me about the perfectly imperfectness of life. That just like sitting with what is (balanced posture, unbalanced posture, busy mind, quiet mind), with what arrises, is no different that what is and what arrises in my life. Being open and gracious to those moments, accepting them for what they are, but also at the same time, doing my best to make change where needed. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday
    Exactly! I am still learning this one more and more all the time =)

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  8. #8
    Thank you for the excellent posts. I think that resonates with me too Shingen; during zazen being able to drop and come back from thise sticky thoughts of vengeance and why me and I am so right all translate to "off the cushion" where I can drop them in the heat of the moment

    Gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  9. #9
    Kyotai
    Guest
    I liked the diagram figure presented in this chapter. That a permanent state of non thought is not the aim. Not attaching, bringing oneself back to the line from which one is pulled again and again is zazen.

    Practicing zazen for me makes this line more accessible in daily life. Often it is nearly effortless. Very difficult to see without practice. Thoughts manifest into whatever the mind will allow, which leads down a difficult path. Sitting chops through these thoughts before they gain any steam.

    This chapter highlights how delusions and desires of the mind take hold and can become someone's truth or reality. Zazen for me, is taking a step back, watching this unfold and gently guiding the mind back to reality. It is not being swept away by a wondering mind but gently tending to it.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    Sat today

  10. #10
    This is a great chapter, the diagram description of Zazen really provides a clarity to the text... I go off to c" and then c"" much more than I'd like to admit . The last part of the chapter describing our thoughts as the "scenery" in Zazen reminds me of our Myosha and his frequent wise comment, "distinctions are great fun"

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  11. #11
    I agree - this is a really good chapter. It seems to be exactly as is taught here and I like the fact that Uchiyama emphasizes the
    importance of instruction.

    Gassho

    Willow/Jinyo

    Sat today

  12. #12
    I've really been in a psychological rut this year; I'm not in a bad place, just sort of sitting and riding it out; so I haven't been posting as much, but this sangha, and practicing together and reading together helps me stay on the path.

    I love the Tenzo Kyokun. I think it so relevant, especially considering that we are practitioners outside of monastery walls.

    I think that when we pay attention to what we do, strive to be better, and handle all of the little details, really take care
    of our work as if it were our child, magical things happen in our lives. Handling the details, zoning in, not zoning out, is really a key point in life. It's a lesson that I"ve learned from practice. Shikantaza is zoning in.

    I know, "Tenzo Kyokun, how is it related to this chapter?" It's about living the life of the true self that Uchiyama Roshi so eloquently describes.

    When you get to a level of mastery in whatever it is that you do, you know when to lead, you know when to follow, you know
    when to help others, you know when to help, you have no ego that worries about not knowing. You live this work, and it
    is what matters. The work working you. You don't own these things; you may have helped them come to fruition, but what I do
    can only be done because I stand on the shoulders of giants in Computer Science who made these tools available to me.

    I honor those ancestors by developing new things but not forgetting that they, too, were there with me while I created whatever
    it is that I created. But nothing was really created because its potential was there all along.

    It's easy to fall into a role of "expert", but the true master is the best student. The master knows that the more they learn,
    the less they know, and this irony continually drives them to go deeper and deeper into their art, whether that art be artistic expression,
    song, computer expression, medicine or what have you. It becomes the truth that matters, not the whims of the small self that always wants to be right.

    The level of art comes when you've mastered the basics, realize it's always the basics, and that the basics can never be mastered.

    Applying this same ethic to zen, and discovering it through zen, also is magical. We realize that this sitting just for sitting; we realize (and I'm stealing
    this phrase) zazen sitting us, that we never sit zazen. And if we do, we're doing it wrong, although that wrong is right because
    it is part of the path. Zen is the core (well a core, but my core practice) because it helps us zoom into and go meticulously through the details, which mainly happens to be the details
    of where we are hung up so we don't have to keep acting out negative, reactive habits.

    Most importantly we start realizing that it is us, we are not it. We lose the self-importance while realizing that, "yeah we of
    course exist", but we are much more than this uniform that we are wearing to fit a role in the world.

    It humbles us by reminding us again and again, very painfully at times, that these negative emotions, while self-justifying are life energy sappers.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    I've really been in a psychological rut this year; I'm not in a bad place, just sort of sitting and riding it out; so I haven't been posting as much, but this sangha, and practicing together and reading together helps me stay on the path.

    I love the Tenzo Kyokun. I think it so relevant, especially considering that we are practitioners outside of monastery walls.

    I think that when we pay attention to what we do, strive to be better, and handle all of the little details, really take care
    of our work as if it were our child, magical things happen in our lives. Handling the details, zoning in, not zoning out, is really a key point in life. It's a lesson that I"ve learned from practice. Shikantaza is zoning in.

    I know, "Tenzo Kyokun, how is it related to this chapter?" It's about living the life of the true self that Uchiyama Roshi so eloquently describes.

    When you get to a level of mastery in whatever it is that you do, you know when to lead, you know when to follow, you know
    when to help others, you know when to help, you have no ego that worries about not knowing. You live this work, and it
    is what matters. The work working you. You don't own these things; you may have helped them come to fruition, but what I do
    can only be done because I stand on the shoulders of giants in Computer Science who made these tools available to me.

    I honor those ancestors by developing new things but not forgetting that they, too, were there with me while I created whatever
    it is that I created. But nothing was really created because its potential was there all along.

    It's easy to fall into a role of "expert", but the true master is the best student. The master knows that the more they learn,
    the less they know, and this irony continually drives them to go deeper and deeper into their art, whether that art be artistic expression,
    song, computer expression, medicine or what have you. It becomes the truth that matters, not the whims of the small self that always wants to be right.

    The level of art comes when you've mastered the basics, realize it's always the basics, and that the basics can never be mastered.

    Applying this same ethic to zen, and discovering it through zen, also is magical. We realize that this sitting just for sitting; we realize (and I'm stealing
    this phrase) zazen sitting us, that we never sit zazen. And if we do, we're doing it wrong, although that wrong is right because
    it is part of the path. Zen is the core (well a core, but my core practice) because it helps us zoom into and go meticulously through the details, which mainly happens to be the details
    of where we are hung up so we don't have to keep acting out negative, reactive habits.

    Most importantly we start realizing that it is us, we are not it. We lose the self-importance while realizing that, "yeah we of
    course exist", but we are much more than this uniform that we are wearing to fit a role in the world.

    It humbles us by reminding us again and again, very painfully at times, that these negative emotions, while self-justifying are life energy sappers.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday
    Risho,

    I really enjoy your posts in general and this one really spoke to me.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  14. #14
    Thank you

    Gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  15. #15
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi Folks,

    My browser crashed at work before I could finish posting so this is a condensed version of an already brief post. I think what really stood out for me in the chapter was the sense that one has to trust Zazen to do its thing. That if you just keep coming back to the posture (or breath or openness etc...) Zazen will be doing its non-work. So I have this poetic image of a flower opening in the morning sun. Just a quite unfolding.

    But my own practice is more like an heavily intoxicated person trying to walk a straight line. Sometimes it fells like I'm only in the center of the line while I'm weaving from left to right. But other times and over the course of the sitting the oscillations become narrower.

    Gassho
    El Duderino (Adam)
    Sattoday

  16. #16
    Thank you for this thread, Jundo and everyone!
    I find that when I focus on the breath, my entire attention goes to the breath to the exclusion of everything else. When I spread my attention to my posture, I'm still aware of my breath, but I also become aware of the ringing in my ears, sounds around me, and thoughts coming up. Sometimes it is difficult not to get caught up in thoughts. It is like two extremes, a narrow focus or attention wandering and I'm trying to stay in the middle, where I am aware.

    Gassho,
    Onkai (Laurie)
    SatToday

  17. #17
    My posture is my anchor, but it's a pretty soft anchor. What I mean is I always come back to my posture, but I don't stay there exclusively. Thoughts come and go, and when I catch myself going, I come back to my posture before I get back to the objectless focus Jundo describes. I think of zazen as something your are as well as do, so I always think of it as being/doing zazen. To DO zazen is to BE zazen, and BEING zazen means you are DOING zazen; there is no separation between being and doing in zazen, because zazen is and does zazen.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  18. #18
    I too love the clarity of this chapter. The emphasis on posture makes it clear that zazen is a physical practice, not just mental. The diagram around the line ZZ' makes it clear that some kind of samadhi is not the aim.

    Jeremy
    st

  19. #19
    To borrow from an old sports cliche, there is no I in zazen. The less I get involved the more zazen can be and do zazen.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  20. #20


    ZZ' <====aa'
    ZZ' <====bb'
    ZZ' <====cc'

    Gassho, Jishin, ST

  21. #21
    Ha.... I like that even better than my rowboat in the waves analogy... be the Bouncing Buddha. I would like one of these for the dashboard of my car.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  22. #22


    -satToday
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  23. #23
    All good to know, I always was concerned that I spent too much time not in "ZZ".

    Gassho
    Doshin
    sattoday

  24. #24
    All good to know, I always was concerned that I spent too much time not in "ZZ".
    Same here. For me this chapter is very helpful. I noticed that quite often I have to remind myself to let go of
    the sticky notion that achieving "ZZ" and abiding there is zazen, whilst the very action of returning to "ZZ" over
    and over is zazen. This is a crucial point.

    Gassho
    Washin
    sat-today

  25. #25
    As I keep on reading and re-reading many paragraphs of this book, I stop, sit and watch my posture.

    I try to craft it carefully. I check that my back is straight, that my knees touch the ground.

    I have noticed that when I pay attention to posture at the beginning, I tend to sit longer and more profound.

    Then I just forget it all and sit.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  26. #26
    Because of physical limitations my sitting posture is never perfect, and because of pain my posture is never constant, but I treat these issues like the passing thoughts that occur during Zazen. With this frame of reference , my practice is enriched, rather that hindered.

    Gassho,
    Sozan / john

    s@2day

  27. #27
    This is a very good read and I am getting a deeper understanding of the things that Jundo has been sharing. Thank you.

    Gassho

    Nando Sat2Day


    Sat2Day

  28. #28
    Hi Nando! Good to hear from you!

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  29. #29
    Okumura roshi, in talking on OPENING THE HAND OF THOUGHT by his teacher Uchiyama roshi, says in Shikantaza our brain, which is always generating thoughts, doe not "engage" this thinking, much like a "car with the motor running but the transmission in IDLE."
    The same as your:

    "At Treeleaf, ... as our central "objectless" object of meditation, I recommend open, spacious sitting centered on everything and nothing at all ... sitting with open, spacious awareness" ... sitting I would add, with all sentient beings...that last one from Dogen Zenji.

    Thank you, Jundo for that paragraph.

    In gassho.

    sattdy
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  30. #30
    Member Roland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Brussels and Antwerp, Belgium
    It is funny that, by reading this chapter, I realized better that it really is about the returning to ZZ and by doing so realizing the fickleness of our thoughts. Of course that is what Jundo teaches us, but somehow it seems I needed to read it once again in this book.

    Gassho

    Roland

    #SatToday

  31. #31

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 3

    The struggle I have is that I'm not usually aware when A becomes A' then A'' then A'''''''''''
    At some point, I obviously do and return to posture or open stillness ...
    But for me this is often 1 minute in to that thought train A'''''' *a complete runaway before I realize and return.

    Does this thought train shorten over time from A'''''' to A'''' then A''' so that our our times away from aiming at ZZ' are smaller?

    Otherwise I don't know how to return at A=Flower before B=Is Beautiful happens. That is without being "on watch" for thoughts which as I understand is not our practice right Jundo?
    So can we become aware early in the thought carry-away process that we are grasping a thought? How do you leave the hand of thought open?
    Just Practice?*
    Gassho
    Sat Today
    Last edited by Banto; 01-30-2016 at 04:10 AM.

    Banto (aka Rodney)
    万磴 (Myriad StoneSteps)

  32. #32
    You dont leave it open. You keep coming back again and again. There is no goal to get more aware or less caught; you are human; you think; the practice never ends; you just sit with what comes not trying to grasp or push. just my opinion of course.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -sattoday

  33. #33
    No goal, just an aim back to ZZ'.

    Maybe my hangup is the A to B part. The book makes it seem that we should be returning at A=A Flower. It says:
    Here we have to clearly distinguish “chasing after thoughts and thinking” from “ideas or thoughts merely occurring.”

    So do we return at the occurrence of the thought? If so I'm off course.
    Often I'm MINUTES in to a thought run (often struggling with work issues) before I know it and return. So I spend most of my Zafu time chasing thoughts as I don't realize I'm in one of those.

    One thing I tried differently tonight is that I remembered that most of my thinking is in words in my head. I seem to recognize words more than thoughts (though inseparable in part, but from a perspective) .. so I sat and when I noticed words happening, I returned toward just sitting and let go. It still wasn't "A flower" when I returned but perhaps, "Flowers are interesting. We kill them and sell them and give them to loved ones. Oh Valentines is coming, I better get my wife and daughter some! King Soopers has some down the street. Fresh cut or vase arrangements? We share an account and she always know what I spend on flowers. Who grows these? What if I ..... <RETURN TO JUST SITTING>" but believe it or not that is far sooner than when I notice thoughts versus notice words. Is this also off track and grasping?

    Gassho
    SatToday on the thought trains to dukkha town


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Banto (aka Rodney)
    万磴 (Myriad StoneSteps)

  34. #34
    Dude, I don't know, but I know how you feel! My mind can be calm or I can start having conversations, or sometimes, I get into a fervor about how I'm going to respond to a post on Treeleaf! Then I just return.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday: also on a major thought train about my response to the 4th chapter of Opening the Hand of Thought

  35. #35
    Funny you should say that, I did that very thing in this morning's sit ... Had an observation (that I've since forgotten) that I was eager to share here LOL. Sitting, dreaming of zazen instead of zazen. Little painted clay dragons on my shelf
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Banto (aka Rodney)
    万磴 (Myriad StoneSteps)

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Hi Nando! Good to hear from you!

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    Hi Jakuden,

    Good to be here and seeing you too!

    Deep bows

    Nanto Sat2Day

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Hi Nando! Good to hear from you!

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    Use say NO to posting while sleepy because Nanto can easily become Nando



    Gasho

    Nanto

    Sat2Day

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
    No goal, just an aim back to ZZ'.

    Maybe my hangup is the A to B part. The book makes it seem that we should be returning at A=A Flower. It says:
    Here we have to clearly distinguish “chasing after thoughts and thinking” from “ideas or thoughts merely occurring.”

    So do we return at the occurrence of the thought? If so I'm off course.
    Often I'm MINUTES in to a thought run (often struggling with work issues) before I know it and return. So I spend most of my Zafu time chasing thoughts as I don't realize I'm in one of those.

    One thing I tried differently tonight is that I remembered that most of my thinking is in words in my head. I seem to recognize words more than thoughts (though inseparable in part, but from a perspective) .. so I sat and when I noticed words happening, I returned toward just sitting and let go. It still wasn't "A flower" when I returned but perhaps, "Flowers are interesting. We kill them and sell them and give them to loved ones. Oh Valentines is coming, I better get my wife and daughter some! King Soopers has some down the street. Fresh cut or vase arrangements? We share an account and she always know what I spend on flowers. Who grows these? What if I ..... <RETURN TO JUST SITTING>" but believe it or not that is far sooner than when I notice thoughts versus notice words. Is this also off track and grasping?

    Gassho
    SatToday on the thought trains to dukkha town


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Hi Rodney,

    When I sit I never have a goal like "don't think" or watch my posture because that will cause me to think. I sit and relax into my posture and when something comes into my mind I acknowledge it and release it. If I try not to think about it I move on to the next thought I get carried away with that thought. Sometimes an Idea will come to me and I let it go even though I think it's a great idea. I believe that the more practice we have the quieter our mind will become or it will become easier for us to release anything that comes up because we will know it is from our little I and not our true self - and not important.

    When I feel like I'm beginning to drift off into sleepy zazen or have a run in thoughts I check my posture because I've noticed that when I'm out of alignment I get sleepy or distracted. Checking my posture brings my mind back to my body, which brings me back to my cushion and back to my stillness. I count my breathes when I'm sitting with a thunderstorm rolling in my mind. All good teachings.

    I hope I made sense and helped you with my thoughts. Encouragement

    Gassho

    Nanto

    Sat2Day

  39. #39
    Hi Clarisse!
    Indeed, no goal of stopping thoughts or "don't think" but perhaps not consuming the entire sit with a though train, which wouldn't be zazen as the book says.

    So when an idea comes to you at what point are you aware that it did? What triggers that awareness event? Is it because now there is something other than our focus (of spacious openness or of posture or of breath) since we're not watching out for thoughts. I know if I do watch for thoughts and then let go of them then I'm back quicker, but then I'm "doing" thought-watchout which isn't Zazen.

    I think you're right, perhaps the more we return to ZZ' the quicker within the train we will return so our entire sit isn't just a thought session. Returning to ZZ' is indeed our practice, whether 100 times or 10.

    I too have found that following the breath is good in the thunderstorm, it's certainly my go-to.

    I wish there was a 1st person movie of the mind of a sitter going through this process. Haha!

    Hope you are doing well my friend Nanto, have been thinking about you.
    Gassho
    Sat2Day

    Banto (aka Rodney)
    万磴 (Myriad StoneSteps)

  40. #40
    Pardon me for butting in... I have been sitting my a number of years, not sure how many, not interested in counting them, and sometimes my thought train goes far down the line, sometimes it is a short trip, sometimes its somewhere in the middle. It doesn't matter where or when the line ends as long as it ends with me back at zazen doing zazen. Trying to figure out how long you have been thinking is just another thought getting in the way of zazen doing zazen. All good questions, Rodney, very understandable stuff that many (if not all of us) ask, but I don't think knowing the answers will really help with your practice.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  41. #41
    Thank you Jigen. Comforting to know maybe that's just what always happens; sometimes short sometimes long before returning. Specific to the book and this chapter discussion, I reference:

    'When a thought of something does actually arise, as long as the thought does not grasp that something, nothing will be formed. For example, even if thought A (“ a flower”) occurs, as long as it is not followed by thought B (“ is beautiful”), no meaning such as A B (“ a flower is beautiful”) is formed. Neither is it something that could be taken in the sense of A which is B (“ beautiful flower”). So, even if thought A does occur, as long as the thought does not continue, A occurs prior to the formation of a meaningful sequence.'

    For me, it is always followed by thought B. The thought does continue. So paragraph above (unless I'm reading incorrectly) seems to indicate our aim is not to continue thought.

    'The book goes on to say:
    When a thought comes into our mind and we move away from the steadiness that line ZZ′ represents in the figure, if we take this thought a as a basis and continue with thoughts a′ and a″, we are thinking. If something about our work comes to mind and we continue with thoughts about the arrangements and management of the work, we are clearly doing nothing but thinking about our work.'

    Hence my questions above in other posts. Obviously we need to let go of thoughts at some point during the thought. But I don't remember to until later.

    But alas maybe it doesn't matter at all as long as we just keep returning, whenever we return, to ZZ'
    Thanks for sharing, appreciate hearing what people experience over time.
    Gassho
    Rodney SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Banto (aka Rodney)
    万磴 (Myriad StoneSteps)

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post

    Otherwise I don't know how to return at A=Flower before B=Is Beautiful happens. That is without being "on watch" for thoughts which as I understand is not our practice right Jundo?
    So can we become aware early in the thought carry-away process that we are grasping a thought? How do you leave the hand of thought open?
    Hi Rodney,

    I still get the sense that you are trying too hard to do something, when instead you should just relax and not do. It is a bit like rollerblading, literal child's play that a school kid can master, yet start to think about what keeps one up on such small wheels ... work too hard to stay up for longer and longer periods ... and a good chance you will start to fall over. Some things are about relaxing and not trying to do. Just relax, let go ...

    if stumbling a bit anyway (A) ... and you will ... just relax again and be on one's way ....

    Do not try to shorten into increasingly shorter bits your "A'''''' to A'''' then A''' so that our our times away from aiming at ZZ' are smaller". Do not try to "return at the occurrence of the thought." Just relax. Do not grab on to A. When finding oneself in A nonetheless, gently let go. Then just sit ZZZZZZZ.

    Often I'm MINUTES in to a thought run
    Yes. When this happens, gently let go and return. No problem.

    So when an idea comes to you at what point are you aware that it did? What triggers that awareness event?
    What makes you care? Just gently let go.

    Alan offer good advice ...

    It doesn't matter where or when the line ends as long as it ends with me back at zazen doing zazen. Trying to figure out how long you have been thinking is just another thought getting in the way of zazen doing zazen.
    Clarisse sounds like she is a good skater ...

    When I sit I never have a goal like "don't think" or watch my posture because that will cause me to think. I sit and relax into my posture and when something comes into my mind I acknowledge it and release it. If I try not to think about it I move on to the next thought I get carried away with that thought. Sometimes an Idea will come to me and I let it go even though I think it's a great idea. I believe that the more practice we have the quieter our mind will become or it will become easier for us to release anything that comes up because we will know it is from our little I and not our true self - and not important.
    As Risho put it ...

    .... Then I just return.

    Good advice to Rodney from Rodney ...

    But alas maybe it doesn't matter at all as long as we just keep returning, whenever we return, to ZZ'
    I also reMIND folks that there is another perspective as well, although Uchiyama does not touch upon it much in this Chapter. In sitting, one can come to know that AAAAA and ZZZZZ were not two all along ... then ZZZZZ shines right through and illuminates AAAAA. Then, ZZZZZ is experienced both when there is simply ZZZZZ and also right as and amid all life's most dark and stormy AAAAA. "ZZZZZ" and "AAAAA" are 'not two', as we say in Zenspeak. When such happens, AAAAA just does not seem quite like dark and stormy AAAAA as it did before.

    Child's play. Good skating, everyone!

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-31-2016 at 03:58 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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