Results 1 to 44 of 44

Thread: Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 4

  1. #1

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 4

    We are with Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 4 "The World of Intensive Practice" ...

    I believe this chapter so nicely captures the feeling of long Sesshin. In the Antaiji-Uchiyama style, the emphasis is on pure sitting with only meals and sleep as breaks. I also see the worth of retreats with other aspects, such as a bit of chanting and some talks. All good.

    The chapter captures so well the inner switches one has to turn a difficult, tedious, sometimes painful experience into smooth flowing peace.

    I often write this in recommending folks, if they can make it possible, to sit a long retreat of at least a few days each year (although not everyone can) ...

    We sit with what is, our life circumstances. If in a hospital bed, a wheelchair, on a golden throne or a cloud ... that is what is, practice there. If one truly cannot attend a retreat or Sesshin, then that is life ... just what is. Sesshin is important and not to be missed ... but also times of taking two weeks nursing a sick relative in the hospital can be our "Sesshin" ... practice that. Pierce that "just what is" to the depthless depths!

    Or, in more mundane words ... one does not need to go away to tennis camp to play tennis. 8)

    Now, retreats and Sesshin (sleep away tennis camp) are a very good environment. If you can swing it, ideally, at least one (1) longer Retreat or 'Sesshin' of a few days or a week in length, sitting from before dawn to late at night ... each year is greatly recommended.

    Now, someone might ask too, "if each moment is all time and space, what is the purpose of an intensive Sesshin?" Well, I often say that, sometimes, we need to practice a bit long and hard, morning to night ... sitting and wrestling with 'me, my self and I' ... all to achieve nothing to attain! Going to Retreats, Sesshin and such is a powerful facet of this Practice and not to be missed.

    So, saying that "I'm too busy and cannot find the time or money" is one thing ... if it is truly true. If truly true, then sit with that to the depthless depths. But if it is only a matter that "I am saving my money for a new ipod and prefer a vacation at the beachfront hotel" ... or is just plain lazy or intimidated ... get thy butt to Sesshin!
    A question or two I might suggest (or you can talk about anything that strikes you):

    If you have been on retreat, what impact if any did it have on you?

    If you cannot get away on retreat, can you find some of what Uchiyama describes in your daily life, with its own struggles?


    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    I happen to love toys
    The nearest local sangha Zen Center of Denver (Diamond) has sesshins at times that I have work engagements. But I have been contemplating doing a few-day personal retreat just sitting, chanting and perhaps oryoki. Is this advisable to do a sesshin solo?

    Otherwise perhaps we can orchestrate a Google sesshin this year?

    Gassho
    Rodney/Banto SatToday

  3. #3
    Joyo
    Guest
    Jundo, I like your analogy of taking care of a sick relative in the hospital as being our "sesshin." In this way, once again, life becomes our practice and all of life is our temple.

    I will post more after I read this chapter. =)

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
    I happen to love toys
    The nearest local sangha Zen Center of Denver (Diamond) has sesshins at times that I have work engagements. But I have been contemplating doing a few-day personal retreat just sitting, chanting and perhaps oryoki. Is this advisable to do a sesshin solo?

    Otherwise perhaps we can orchestrate a Google sesshin this year?

    Gassho
    Rodney/Banto SatToday
    Hi Rodney,

    Well, a "solo retreat" is very traditional (see the many poems about Zen folks in their little grass hut in the mountains). Of course, the experience is different from being with a group of people in a formal setting.

    Somewhere in between, our annual Two-Day Rohatsu Retreat, available for sitting all year round!!

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...t=rohatsu+waza

    Now for any retreat at home, and especially a "solo" retreat, remember that it can be surprisingly stressful for folks of delicate constitution ... not quite self-imposed "maximum security solitary confinement" , but in that general direction. Be careful about overdoing if susceptible to such things.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday (alone)
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    This is one of those situations where I've read too much about swimming and not done enough swimming. I've been reading about sesshin for 25 years now and you can definitely put me in the "intimidated" category, so it is time to get my butt onto a monastery cushion... I signed up for the Introductory weekend at Zen Mountain Monastery in February, which is a prerequisite for attending a sesshin there. I was not at all sure I could do the Rohatsu retreat, but found that the single-minded devotion to practice in silence for the weekend made it do-able.... But, it makes sense that during a prolonged sesshin you must drop all resistance, and struggle, and thoughts of time.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    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).

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    This is one of those situations where I've read too much about swimming and not done enough swimming. I've been reading about sesshin for 25 years now and you can definitely put me in the "intimidated" category, so it is time to get my butt onto a monastery cushion... I signed up for the Introductory weekend at Zen Mountain Monastery in February, which is a prerequisite for attending a sesshin there.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Thanks Jundo. Yes I didn't even think about the grass hut (great read, and the book about it) perhaps in the back of my mind wondered if though he did that way back when maybe it's discouraged or something. But alas, that was my projection LOL ... OK good to hear. I've wanted to do one for a while, I think I will in a few weeks perhaps. I'm grateful to have participated in our Treeleaf Rohatsu, and forgot that I could even sit with it again or prior years (that's very cool!).

    But I'm also wondering about having a sesshin without talking and interaction and such. Not that such is bad, just a different experience. I found at Rohatsu I never quite got to the place where I struggled to quit sitting or leave, and I suspect it's because a part of me looked forward to samu or hearing a talk or oryoki or the next thing, so that kept me "entertained" for a lack of better words. I'm content doing nothing for long periods so I'm interested to be in that spot where certain things in our resistance are exhausted even the dosing off or other challenges and I'm left with me. I've understood others mention something along the lines of this in the value of sesshin so my own journey might be a solo one, at least once :O)

    Do we do any other sesshins between annual Rohatsu?

    Gassho,
    Rodney Banto Sat2Day

  8. #8
    When I was 21 I booked a tour and went on the road for the first time. Within the first few days I noticed that when things went wrong (car troubles, personal problems with band members, sketchy people, etc) there was nothing else for us to do but deal with our problems. The feeling was liberating. At home I had nothing but distractions, but on the road with a job to do, I became less so. In the past 8 years I've personally driven about 500,000 miles around the US running a creative business with my wife. We have been through all manner of troubles. We have been stranded. One time we were stuck in New Orleans for a month and lost all our money. (I really don't want to go through that again if possible.) You know what we did? We dealt with life as it was and learned to drop expectations. With all this going on we didn't even consider the alternatives to what to expect from life.

    Ive never done a sesshin. One of these days if and when the opportunity presents itself I would love to try it out. Based on what Uchiyama described it sounds like touring without moving around and is a whole lot quieter.

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  9. #9
    Joyo
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    This is one of those situations where I've read too much about swimming and not done enough swimming. I've been reading about sesshin for 25 years now and you can definitely put me in the "intimidated" category, so it is time to get my butt onto a monastery cushion... I signed up for the Introductory weekend at Zen Mountain Monastery in February, which is a prerequisite for attending a sesshin there. I was not at all sure I could do the Rohatsu retreat, but found that the single-minded devotion to practice in silence for the weekend made it do-able.... But, it makes sense that during a prolonged sesshin you must drop all resistance, and struggle, and thoughts of time.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    Good for you =) Make sure you let us know how it goes.

    Gassho,
    Joyo
    sat today

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
    Do we do any other sesshins between annual Rohatsu?

    Gassho,
    Rodney Banto Sat2Day
    As of now, we have Rohatsu. But one amazing fact about our retreat is that, if you play it back to back ... the 2 days retreat becomes 4 days, 8 days, 16 days ... the winter retreat can be in summer ... the Talks become more profound and life changing each time one hears them (especially after 3 times) ... or you can reach back a few years and sit years ago ... or, one can decide to delete talks, meals and other sections and design one's own mix and match retreat, adding Zazen instead ... custom retreat made from component parts ...

    I kid you not.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Having sat various sesshin and with different schools and teachers (Japanese and American Soto, Rinzai, Korean etc.) I can relate to Uchiyama's descriptions of experiences during week-long sittings (and it seems to me that Soto style sesshins offer a particularly pure version of boredom...), from deep boredom, even rebellious thoughts and impulses to get away from it all, to deep peace and flow after letting go - oftentimes for the rest of sesshin, though not always... but:
    Firstly, I found I had to start all over with this process from zero every time, and secondly, it never carried over to my post-sesshin life for very long, I wasn't able to drop everything in everyday situations, instead, sooner or later (more sooner than later, actually) I found myself in the same old situations with my same old reactions. More like a sad waking up to my own ignorance and lack of realization in the sense of "making real".
    So, I wonder if it's not partly due to the stark contrast between sesshin settings and my ordinary day-to-day life, that I could not keep the clarity and flow up for long - or is it just my desire to do so and my distinguishing too much between sesshin and non-sesshin times?
    Does this make sense?
    Anyway, it is precisely for the emphasis on integrating practice and life that I was so much attracted to Treeleaf!

    Gassho
    Ryo Do

    sattoday

  12. #12
    I am really enjoying this book. I have really wanted to attend a retreat for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, with young children, no zen center within close driving distance, and limited vacation days, it hasn't been possible. I'll get to one eventually!

    Gassho,
    Rick

    sat today

  13. #13
    Real-life sesshin:
    --When you sit in the heat/cold/wind/rain for four hours at a sports event for five minutes of seeing your child perform.
    --When you sit down to a big pile of paperwork and phone calls with chatty clients at the end of a long work day when you want to go home, eat, and see your family.
    --When you come home after said work day and listen as enthusiastically as possible to your teenager prattle on about her friends for the rest of the evening.
    --Also after said work day, when husband would like to chat in a slow and relaxed manner while mucking stalls at 8:30 PM in 15 degree weather and all you want to do is get the chores finished and get into your warm bed.

    These are the times that the ego has a little tantrum, kicking and screaming, because life isn't giving it what it thinks it wants. Is it different than what the mind does when sitting sesshin after a few days? But the practice--the mirror polishing--is being there for the clients, the children, the husband--REALLY being there wholeheartedly, and letting the ego tantrum burn itself out like a flame without oxygen. I don't think a day goes by that isn't a mini-sesshin, in those terms.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    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).

  14. #14
    Hi,

    I don't go on retreats so that you can go in my place.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  15. #15
    Wonderful, Jakuden! This is true integration, thank you for sharing your insightful observations.
    So I guess I'll just smile and go on with this real-life sesshin, knowing that indeed it is not different from practice in a zendo - and when the next opportunity presents itself I'll gladly sit the next sesshin, too. No big difference, no big deal, indeed. Thank you again!
    Deep bow
    Ryo Do

    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Real-life sesshin:
    --When you sit in the heat/cold/wind/rain for four hours at a sports event for five minutes of seeing your child perform.
    --When you sit down to a big pile of paperwork and phone calls with chatty clients at the end of a long work day when you want to go home, eat, and see your family.
    --When you come home after said work day and listen as enthusiastically as possible to your teenager prattle on about her friends for the rest of the evening.
    --Also after said work day, when husband would like to chat in a slow and relaxed manner while mucking stalls at 8:30 PM in 15 degree weather and all you want to do is get the chores finished and get into your warm bed.

    These are the times that the ego has a little tantrum, kicking and screaming, because life isn't giving it what it thinks it wants. Is it different than what the mind does when sitting sesshin after a few days? But the practice--the mirror polishing--is being there for the clients, the children, the husband--REALLY being there wholeheartedly, and letting the ego tantrum burn itself out like a flame without oxygen. I don't think a day goes by that isn't a mini-sesshin, in those terms.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday

  16. #16
    I'm lucky to be able to sit at least two week-long sesshins and a few day-long ones every year, and while my first sesshin was heavy and filled with struggeling, by now I am looking forward to them and the careless flow of practice they can provide. Sesshin is truly a wonderful opportunity to sit and fully focus on stopping that train of thought. And even while the peace fades away somewhat when we get back into our daily lives, I feel it gets easier with each time to experience the sesshin in our daily life.
    Sesshin taught me that sitting really is pure joy and that boredom too is only a figment of imagination.

    Gassho
    Ongen

    Sat Today
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Ongen View Post
    Sesshin is truly a wonderful opportunity to sit and fully focus on stopping that train of thought.
    Isn't stopping the train of thought, exactly the opposite of what sitting is? I mean the stomach produces stomach acid, the brain produces thoughts. Isn't it rather sitting amid the spewing thoughts without getting attached or pushing them away, letting them be rather than being/trying to be an active participant in them?

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  18. #18
    Ah, yes. You are right of course. Let me explain that this analogy is one I hear often from Jeff Shore, the teacher with whom I sit sesshin here. He is from the Rinzai tradition and has a slightly different approach than we have here at Treeleaf.

    In my experience just sitting, not feeding thoughts, everything dissolves and the train of thought stops.

    While that is perhaps not a goal in Our sitting, it is in a way a goal in the Rinzai tradition that Jeff teaches. Either way, it is the same path eventually

    Did that make sense?



    Gassho
    Ongen

    Sat today
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

  19. #19
    Thanks Risho and Ongen. This is a very tricky business to explain.

    Just sitting here watching the trains go by.

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

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Ongen View Post
    Ah, yes. You are right of course. Let me explain that this analogy is one I hear often from Jeff Shore, the teacher with whom I sit sesshin here. He is from the Rinzai tradition and has a slightly different approach than we have here at Treeleaf.

    In my experience just sitting, not feeding thoughts, everything dissolves and the train of thought stops.

    While that is perhaps not a goal in Our sitting, it is in a way a goal in the Rinzai tradition that Jeff teaches. Either way, it is the same path eventually

    Did that make sense?



    Gassho
    Ongen

    Sat today
    So really, it's not that the train stops. You just don't buy a boarding pass

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

  21. #21
    I do feel the experience of intensive practice is a thing unto itself and not an experience I will ever be able to attempt so I'm hesitant to comment. I think in a way it's a bit of a dividing line within the world of Zen - between those who have had this experience and those who haven't. I sort of understand why because all the archetypes, myths, legends and real live people we look up to in Zen have this special quality of being intensive sitters.

    Uchiyama is pretty clear on the intentionality within an intensive sit - it is to remove all distractions and to reach the point where the only way to surrender to the experience is to transcend time and finally allow the bottom of our thoughts on persevering and suffering to 'fall out'.

    I do believe (and have experienced myself) that there are many situations in life that are akin to this description of transcending time and learning to go with the flow of things. But I'm not sure it is exactly the same thing as purposively sitting to this end? Many life situations that bring us to this point are not chosen at all so perhaps the process is different.

    Many paths up the mountain,

    Gassho

    Willow/Jinyo

    Sat today

  22. #22
    The most important thing for me is a consistent daily practice and twice a day seems to fall into my natural rhythm.

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

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  23. #23
    I sat multiple weekend zazens and a three day Sesshin this past year. While reading this chapter I thought back on those times. What I liked about them was sitting with others but not paying attention to their practice, focusing on mine. However, tHeir dedication motivated me. Now if I were to attempt a multi-day zazen/Sesshin by myself I know I would wander....not just in my head but outside, check on the dogs, see what my wife is up to, look out the window to see if I can identify the bird call that shared my previous sit. But when surrounded by others I sit more "like a mountain." The one thing I did learn quickly was a year ago when I sat for three days (first time in 12 years I had sat that long) that my body had changed! So now I use a chair. Point being, Sesshin requires a body ready to accept the sit. I also spend time in those sits wondering if such hard practice helps me, as Jundo says above, "all to achieve nothing to attain". Sometimes the nothing to attain gets to be a complex mental exercise that has no end so I try to get back to the ZZ line. For some reason the thought that there is nothing to attain is freeing, but that brings its questions too.

    Gassho
    Doshin
    sattoday

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Doshin View Post
    I sat multiple weekend zazens and a three day Sesshin this past year. While reading this chapter I thought back on those times. What I liked about them was sitting with others but not paying attention to their practice, focusing on mine. However, tHeir dedication motivated me. Now if I were to attempt a multi-day zazen/Sesshin by myself I know I would wander....not just in my head but outside, check on the dogs, see what my wife is up to, look out the window to see if I can identify the bird call that shared my previous sit. But when surrounded by others I sit more "like a mountain." The one thing I did learn quickly was a year ago when I sat for three days (first time in 12 years I had sat that long) that my body had changed! So now I use a chair. Point being, Sesshin requires a body ready to accept the sit. I also spend time in those sits wondering if such hard practice helps me, as Jundo says above, "all to achieve nothing to attain". Sometimes the nothing to attain gets to be a complex mental exercise that has no end so I try to get back to the ZZ line. For some reason the thought that there is nothing to attain is freeing, but that brings its questions too.

    Gassho
    Doshin
    sattoday
    So true, it is such a funny thing, we sit there in silence, move about in silence, and yet we are totally connected and supporting one another. That too is one of the many reasons I enjoy sesshin with others. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  25. #25

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 4

    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    I think in a way it's a bit of a dividing line within the world of Zen - between those who have had this experience and those who haven't.
    I want to emphasize a point. The folks that go play Buddha at Sesshins only do so because other people stay behind and allow it to happen. The world cannot function without those that do not attend Sesshins.

    Those that don't get an opportunity to go should not feel that they have missed out on something. They enabled the sessins to take place by staying behind and taking care of the kids.

    Those that attend have not accomplished anything special. In fact, they may selfishly shrugged off their duties to help sentient beings by hiding out in a sesshin.

    Just my opinion.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Last edited by Jishin; 01-27-2016 at 02:44 AM.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Those that attend have not accomplished anything special.
    We agree on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin
    In fact, they may selfishly shrugged off their duties to help sentient beings by hiding out in a sesshin.

    I'm not sure I get your meaning here, but if I take this literally I would have to disagree; isn't sitting enlightenment? Isn't sitting saving all sentient beings? And isn't staying at home all that too? Sentient beings already saved. There is no difference between bodhisatva's that sit sesshin and those who don't.

    Sesshin is extremely valuable nevertheless. If you can attend one, it's worth doing so. And if you don't, you aren't missing out. Nothing is lacking.

    Gassho
    Ongen

    Sat Today
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    I want to emphasize a point. The folks that go play Buddha at Sesshins only do so because other people stay behind and allow it to happen. The world cannot function without those that do not attend Sesshins.

    Those that don't get an opportunity to go should not feel that they have missed out on something. They enabled the sessins to take place by staying behind and taking care of the kids.

    Those that attend have not accomplished anything special. In fact, they may selfishly shrugged off their duties to help sentient beings by hiding out in a sesshin.

    Just my opinion.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Hi Jishin,

    I agree it is an arbitrary division but in terms of training there is an establishment view (not propagated by Jundo I would hasten to add). This does set up the notion that there is an important additional value to be gained from intensive sessins.

    I think what I was trying to say (in relation to Uchiyama's book) is that I can understand that an intensive sessin might bring one
    to a sense of a transcendence of time more forcefully than daily sits of short duration but that there are many life experiences that
    do this as well.

    I think really we are saying the same thing

    Gassho

    Willow

    sat today

  28. #28

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 4

    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post

    I think what I was trying to say (in relation to Uchiyama's book) is that I can understand that an intensive sessin might bring one
    to a sense of a transcendence of time more forcefully than daily sits of short duration but that there are many life experiences that
    do this as well.
    Hi Willow,

    Since I will not be able to attend sessions in the foreseeable future or ever, I get resentful.

    I get that it is our way to go to Sesshins IF possible but the IF is not emphasized enough. Jundo does a good job pointing this out but not good enough. Same goes for other teachers in our tradition so somebody needs to be a little contrarian.

    That's all. :-)

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  29. #29

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 4

    Quote Originally Posted by Ongen View Post
    We agree on this.




    I'm not sure I get your meaning here, but if I take this literally I would have to disagree; isn't sitting enlightenment? Isn't sitting saving all sentient beings? And isn't staying at home all that too? Sentient beings already saved. There is no difference between bodhisatva's that sit sesshin and those who don't.

    Sesshin is extremely valuable nevertheless. If you can attend one, it's worth doing so. And if you don't, you aren't missing out. Nothing is lacking.

    Gassho
    Ongen

    Sat Today
    isn't sitting enlightenment?

    - would not know. I am not enlightened. I am Jishin.

    Isn't sitting saving all sentient beings?

    - no. Sitting is sitting.

    And isn't staying at home all that too?

    - Staying at home is staying at home.

    There is no difference between bodhisatva's that sit sesshin and those who don't.

    - not according to you and me since we appear to be sitting on opposite sides of this issue.

    Sesshin is extremely valuable nevertheless.

    - says who? Somebody that attended or somebody that has not attended sesshin?

    Nothing is lacking.

    - it is not necessary to attend sesshin to get this point.

    You need some more sesshin. :-)

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Last edited by Jishin; 01-27-2016 at 12:43 PM. Reason: I am a moron

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    I want to emphasize a point. The folks that go play Buddha at Sesshins only do so because other people stay behind and allow it to happen. The world cannot function without those that do not attend Sesshins.

    Those that don't get an opportunity to go should not feel that they have missed out on something. They enabled the sessins to take place by staying behind and taking care of the kids.

    Those that attend have not accomplished anything special. In fact, they may selfishly shrugged off their duties to help sentient beings by hiding out in a sesshin.

    Just my opinion.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

    Ok, now I am concerned that when I put on a back pack and spend a week in the wilderness that I may be shrugging off my duties to help other sentient beings by hiding out in the mountains. Let me sit with that......I am okay with that.

    Gassho
    Doshin
    sattoday

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Doshin View Post
    Ok, now I am concerned that when I put on a back pack and spend a week in the wilderness that I may be shrugging off my duties to help other sentient beings by hiding out in the mountains. Let me sit with that......I am okay with that.

    Gassho
    Doshin
    sattoday

    You are the other sentient being also, so enjoy the wilderness 😊 -)

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

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  32. #32
    Joyo
    Guest
    Enjoy the wilderness, enjoy the sesshin, enjoy life no matter where you are----it is all good practice. =)

    Gassho,
    Joyo*
    sat today

  33. #33
    Kyotai
    Guest
    I have not sat in retreat. I can see the value in it, but also think that one should not dwell on what they are missing out on if one cannot partake. Perhaps someday I will have the time and opportunity.

    "what is essential is for us to live out the reality of our true self" pg 74

    I think I will continue to sit and not worry about missing out on retreats

    Gassho, Kyotai
    Sat today

  34. #34
    Life as zazen is fractals as zazen. Say what, you say

    I got a different take on this chapter, as maybe you can tell. Fractals are never ending complex patterns that repeat themselves in small and large things. Last year was a difficult year for me, especially the last half of it. I kept coming back to my zen practice but it wasn't helping much and my suffering continued with only minimal relief. My narrow self tried to see life as scenery, but like a bad actor I chewed it up. But the bigger point here is that I kept coming back to my practice. Zazen is coming back to now, to ZZ', to our practice of realizing the undeniable reality of self as universal self where life is just scenery that you don't chew up The pattern was the same, only the scale of practice had changed. The cool thing about this chapter is that it helped me see my life as practicing zazen fractals

    I hope that makes sense, but it's okay if it doesn't.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  35. #35
    Watching fractals fractalizing.
    👀🙈🙆✌😵😎😍🙏
    SAT today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    ... Last year was a difficult year for me, especially the last half of it. I kept coming back to my zen practice but it wasn't helping much and my suffering continued with only minimal relief. My narrow self tried to see life as scenery, but like a bad actor I chewed it up. But the bigger point here is that I kept coming back to my practice. Zazen is coming back to now, to ZZ', to our practice of realizing the undeniable reality of self as universal self where life is just scenery that you don't chew up The pattern was the same, only the scale of practice had changed. ...
    Lovely. Welcome back ... and back ... and back again.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    It is nice to be back... and back... and back. To see life as practice in this new way is revelatory, downright - dare I say it - enlightening to discover that I never left... left... left
    Last edited by AlanLa; 02-04-2016 at 03:15 PM.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  38. #38
    Toys.

    I dont know what it's like to sit sesshin. Frankly, I haven't made this a priority; my vacation days
    are used for time with my wife, family and friends, and I haven't made this a priority to apportion
    some of them for a sesshin. I used to blame vacations, but it's on me. My practice is my
    responsibility. I don't feel bad about it; I work hard, and I need that time but, to be brutally
    honest, and that's what zen requires of us, that's why I don't attend retreats.

    I also don't really feel comfortable in brick and mortar zendos. I'm not really into groups, and I'm not an acolyte.
    I don't feel a sense of genuineness. Sometimes I feel like a lot of mimicry going on. These are just my opinions and
    my hangups, so please don't take them personally. In my practice, I don't really care too much for costumes and such.

    So, anyway, with my practice I personally make it a point to focus on consistent zazen, consistent integration with my life,
    consistent study, consistent dialogue with the sangha here. That's the direction of my practice now. That's
    on me, for better or worse.

    So I don't know anything about sesshin, but I do know a whole lot about toys.

    I have a lot of toys in my arsenal, both literally and figuratively. I love music, books,
    food, beer, dancing, socializing, video games (both contemporary and retro), etc. I also have psychological toys such as: I love
    my addiction to my self, my justification for my position or defensive postures for perceived
    character flaws, my superiority complex; I love being right. I love troubleshooting problems.

    And that's why I also love zazen and practice and Treeleaf.

    I think when we had a zazenkai a couple of years ago, with Gustav Ericsson, if I remember correctly, Dosho asked a really good question.

    I know Dosho asked this at one of the zazenkais, and I think this was the one, but anyway before I get on another tangent, he
    asked a really, really good question that has stuck with me. I'm paraphrasing, but it went something like
    "How do we practice genuinely?" Basically, how do I make this practice my own?

    And that, that is the paramount question I always ask with Zen; I may have toys, but if zen practice is one of them,
    then I'm never doing it again. Zen is about living a true way of life, expressing ourself genuinely.

    But anyway, this relates to toys because zen is so new to my culture; it only came to the US in the last century, and for
    a culture so steeped (and myself so steeped) in one "lens" for viewing the world, it takes time for a new idea
    to work its way into the cultural lexicon (if that makes any sense). And I think we are pioneers because we have the challenge
    of taking this and making it our own.

    So when something is shiny and new (even if it is 2500 years old but new to you), then it's easy to use it, and I did early on, as a
    form of escapism from my "boring" life. That is why this practice can be a battlefield, and this is also why I mentioned
    that I was in a psychological rut recently, which usually happens after Ango.

    Zen, as Taigen Dan Leighton reminds us in his book "Zen questions, Zazen, Dogen, and the spirit of Creative Inquiry" that
    our practice is all about questions, and it took me a couple of years of practice to really see that start to erupt in my
    own practice. In the beginning, we sort of like
    the smell of a brand new zafu, the chanting, etc. But then when that becomes "normal" and "boring", the honeymoon phase is over,
    there's that familiar chink in the armor, and "here we go again". Zazen is no longer a toy that can suit our whims; instead of being
    an escape, it zooms us into what's going on, and that's not always pleasant; but with time, if we can get past our childishness
    this is when my practice really got interesting; the feelings didn't always overwhelm me. They often still do, but I can sometimes
    see through them now.

    So what I thought was a toy, was this incredible tool, but not a tool to meet my needs but also to meet my needs (if you know what I mean), show me what is
    really necessary, which is way better than a normal tool that fulfills some very specific function.

    In any case, you start asking, or hopefully you start asking why you wear the rakusu, or why you chant the heart sutra, the bodhisattva vows,
    the verse of atonement, or why you don't. Why you don't like some of these things? Are they integral and you are just narrow-minded? Or
    are they really extra? Is any of this extra? I don't know yet.

    You have to come to terms, I had to come to terms with my practice. Once the honeymoon is over, I'm the type of person that needs
    to know why I do things. I'm not going to do something to mimic, ape, mime, etc. I want it to have meaning. And the only way to transform
    something from a curiosity to something that is integrated into your life, as something that informs your life, that informs my life
    is that I had to find the meaning it had for me.

    Otherwise, that chanting would be a waste of air and time.

    So I think that although zen starts as a toy, e.g. I came to practice to "fix" something, we go beyond toy/not-toy when we get to the heart of
    practice. Getting to the heart of practice is all about asking those questions, about being precise and going over what we do
    in practice and in life, finding meaning, discarding what is useless and harmful in some cases. It's like peeling an onion, and it never
    ends. We have to ask questions to keep our practice alive, so it doesn't turn dead or into some object of our amusement.

    I think we need to, at least I find it important to find my own expression of practice in my life. One of my pet peeves, is that if my practice is
    not genuine to me, then I don't feel invested in doing it.

    As my practice deepens, things that start out seeming like cultural trappings, traditional or superstitious nonsense start to gain meaning.

    I'm not big on rituals, chanting, etc. This is most certainly a result of my upbringing and cultural baggage; I'm a logical, scientific person.
    I'm also usually right (kidding, just seeing if you are still reading)

    But, that being said, I usually end sitting with chanting the Four Bodhisattva Vows and the Verse of Atonement. Sometimes, I like
    sitting with my rakusu; sometimes, I can't stand the thought of putting on that costume! I told you, zen's about being brutally
    honest, and sometimes you just have to sit even though it's the last %4$damned think you'd want to be doing at that moment.

    I wear a mala necklace every day. During Ango, I usually add some more liturgy like bows, incense, chanting the Heart Sutra, Sandokai, etc.

    But I don't really always like that stuff. I think that some of zen is frankly still tied to cultural trappings that really don't
    relate nor are they necessary to my practice in 21st century America. And again, I think there is a lot of parroting going on in zendos; I feel
    like you have to act a certain way. I feel like the "venerable teacher" says something, and all the sheeple come shaking their heads smiling; the lights
    are on but nobody's home.

    At the same time, this is telling you more about me than the reality of what's going on in those zendos.

    This is my hangup; you may agree, or you may be shaking your head in vehement disdain.

    I think it important that if we are doing this practice, we come to terms with all of it. And sometimes we need to do
    what we don't like to see if it really has value and we're being close-minded.

    But it doesn't mean that we should accept anything just because it's been done before or some "authority" (there is no authority outside of you)
    says it's always been done this way. But it's still our responsibility to do our due diligence and thoroughly have
    good reasons for not doing something before we just toss it out.

    But yeah, I'm not big in the cultural trappings right now; who knows, over the years I might like them.

    One thing I love about zen, and Treeleaf, is that this is not a religion for acolytes. I'm not an acolyte. I don't follow a group
    just to feel special; it makes me sick. Just more toys. I think what we have here is pretty special considering the amount
    of discourse we have about practice, clarifying practice, what have you.

    But in the end, we're the only ones who really know why we're here and if we are on a genuine path or not. Your genuine path my be with robes.
    Jundo wears them, and he's a pretty down to earth guy. But your path may mean you do not wear those, and I think that we need to allow for that as well.

    One person's toys may be another's tools or means of expression. Who knows? I'm not your leader

    And that goes back to another point of toys and not toys, etc. Looking at koans, you see students copying the teacher, and maybe that's the beginning of learning.

    For example, you have Gutei with his finger, or some other teacher shouting or telling you to ask pillars, and then all of a sudden these are some sort of "Zen styles". I guess
    mine would be raising a pint glass if someone asked me questions. hahahaha

    Seriously, if you focus on the finger or expression as something that is some great answer to life's questions, it's more toys. But those expressions are those
    teachers' true expressions; we have all got to find our own, or it will just be another toy, another costume, another funny song, another esoteric ritual
    to escape from the monotony of the day.

    This is so much more than a toy; this is a transformation process that breaks the division between you and other so that hopefully we start acting in ways that are
    more helpful to others than harmful.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday
    Last edited by Risho; 02-01-2016 at 08:00 PM.

  39. #39
    Thanks Risho. That was pretty long. Maybe an original post record without quoting anyone. And it was very enjoyable. Identified with much of what you said.

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

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  40. #40
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi Folks,

    At present I can't get to a retreat due to a few factors (young children, money and distance.) I'm not sure when it will be possible but I think I would like to attend one (i'm also a little scared of the prospect. ) As for struggles in my own life that could be a struggle with myself, I think my bouts of anxiety could allow for this. But my anxiety is very much like a tightening of the hand of thought. I get worked up and have to do something whether its just think about the issue, run around fumbling through basic tasks or eat.

    It really could be the opportunity for me to practice. I don't want to give the impression that I'm not always anxious but its one of the ways I would characterize this life. That said, I don't know if most people who know me would describe me like that. They can't see the worry lines under all my hair!


    As a side note, AlanLa, I think "Zen Fractals", would be a great title for a collection of poems.

    Gassho
    Sat today
    Adam

  41. #41
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Bit late to this thread. I used to go on long silent retreats, not zen ones. I particularly remember as my mind quietened down noticing how much labeling it was doing. Towards the end of one retreat I remember simply stretching out my leg, and watching my mind say 'leg', and thinking how strange and unnecessary all the labeling and words were. I imagine it would be different on a retreat doing a lot of zazen. I haven't been able to go on retreat for a very long time because of health issues. I am in a very retreat like situation being housebound but it's very easy to fill the day with other things.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    Sat today

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Toys.

    I dont know what it's like to sit sesshin.

    ...

    This is so much more than a toy; this is a transformation process that breaks the division between you and other so that hopefully we start acting in ways that are
    more helpful to others than harmful.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday
    I think we really are brothers from another mother, such similar perspectives. I really tried to throw myself into those rituals I had an innate resistance to, such as prostrations, chanting, having an altar. But after a couple of years they still just rang false for me. So I don't really do them as part of my daily practice either. Just sitting, studying, and trying to embody the paramitas.

    We should be Ango partners this year!
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  43. #43
    Hi.

    I do like silent retreats, and just watch how people "change" over the days.
    Nothing extra is needed, just the sound of silence.

    Thank you.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy View Post
    Bit late to this thread. I used to go on long silent retreats, not zen ones. I particularly remember as my mind quietened down noticing how much labeling it was doing. Towards the end of one retreat I remember simply stretching out my leg, and watching my mind say 'leg', and thinking how strange and unnecessary all the labeling and words were. I imagine it would be different on a retreat doing a lot of zazen. I haven't been able to go on retreat for a very long time because of health issues. I am in a very retreat like situation being housebound but it's very easy to fill the day with other things.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    Sat today

  44. #44
    Sorry Everyone. This entry should have been posted to Chapter 3. Pain is the backdrop of my scenery of life. My disabilities with my back, hips and legs requires me to do zazen sitting in a chair. It usually doesn't take long before my back pain intensifies to the point I want to scream. I struggle. I know if I can accept the pain and focus on my breathing I can overcome the pain most of the time.

    For Chapter 4, I have never experienced a Sesshin. I don't think my body would be happy sitting so long. I find Zazenkai the most I can do at one time. However, I do love a challenge and am quite happy if I can overcome my pain and sit zazen without squirming too much. I love sitting outside in the forests. In the woods the sound of birds makes me feel so peaceful and attune to the wonders of creation.

    Gassho

    Theophan
    (Sekishi)

    Sat Today

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •