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Thread: Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 8 Part 1

  1. #1

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 8 Part 1

    Dear All,

    We will take the final chapter "The Wayseeker", in three parts as the content is quite rich. Today, we will read Points of Practice 1 and 2, halting at page 151. Here are some suggested questions, or you can write on what strikes you:

    What is the meaning to you of "No gaining, no knowing" and "The expansive sky does not obstruct the floating white clouds"?

    How is awareness of "impermanence" and that all phenomena without "independent substance" a key to Liberation? It sounds like it they would be quite the opposite.

    Do you believe that observance of the Precepts are also a key to Liberation?

    What do you make of "practicing Buddhadharma only for the sake of Buddhadharma"?

    Gassho, J
    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo ... thoughts to ponder on this readings. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  3. #3
    Eishuu
    Guest
    I've only read it once so far but I loved this chapter - there's so much in it. I was particularly struck by the phrase "no gaining, no knowing", and took it as an instruction not to grasp during Zazen. I've been really struggling with wanting to get something out of meditation, and this phrase feels like an invitation to let go and open up. So I've written it on a card to remind myself to keep this attitude during Zazen.

    Also, I'm aware that I don't know the meaning of the phrase really so its something to reflect on.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    Sat today

  4. #4
    Hi all,

    I am away just now but read the chapter before I left. I think it's really clear and expresses the intention/attitude within Zazen well.
    There is a lot to recall but I do remember thinking that it set out clearly the difference between utilitarian Zen and practicing Buddhadharma for the sake of Bhuddadharma. I feel the latter is a great 'release' - not to be fretting about feeling more relaxed, healthy or whatever - to just sit - without all these expectations - and to live the best we can by the precepts.

    Gassho

    Willow

    sat today

  5. #5
    Member ForestDweller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Beltrami Island Forest in Minnesota
    “No gaining, no knowing. The expansive sky does not obstruct the floating white clouds.”
    Sometimes we may think we have gained something; other times we imagine we know something. Both beliefs are illusions. Since everything is impermanent, it is impossible to “gain” anything, for as soon as the “gain” occurs, it is already fading away. Best not to believe in gain. Even more so, we humans get caught in the illusion that we know something. It is our way to try to stop the movement of time, make it sit still, and tell us the meaning of our lives. Not possible. Best not to believe in knowing. But we are like Daowu, aren’t we? – asking, “Can you say anything further?” We are obsessed with knowing and understanding. Such obsessions are the white clouds in our pure sky mind. All too often, we clutter up our minds with concepts, beliefs, and ideas. Allowing these abstractions to “drop away” creates primordial clarity with which to receive experience just as it is. This is not so easy to do. We so want to use these abstractions to make sense of our lives, but all they do is obscure the truth of emptiness and impermanence. We are often proud of our ability to discriminate, but all discrimination does is cause the misconception of separation as opposed to connection. Yawata no yabushirazu.
    ^^ForestSatToday^^
    Last edited by ForestDweller; 03-23-2016 at 06:06 PM.

  6. #6
    Thanks Forrest dweller

    Sat today

    Sent from my LG-LS720 using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ForestDweller View Post
    “No gaining, no knowing. The expansive sky does not obstruct the floating white clouds.”
    Sometimes we may think we have gained something; other times we imagine we know something. Both beliefs are illusions. Since everything is impermanent, it is impossible to “gain” anything, for as soon as the “gain” occurs, it is already fading away. Best not to believe in gain. Even more so, we humans get caught in the illusion that we know something. It is our way to try to stop the movement of time, make it sit still, and tell us the meaning of our lives. Not possible. Best not to believe in knowing. But we are like Daowu, aren’t we? – asking, “Can you say anything further?” We are obsessed with knowing and understanding. Such obsessions are the white clouds in our pure sky mind. All too often, we clutter up our minds with concepts, beliefs, and ideas. Allowing these abstractions to “drop away” creates primordial clarity with which to receive experience just as it is. This is not so easy to do. We so want to use these abstractions to make sense of our lives, but all they do is obscure the truth of emptiness and impermanence. We are often proud of our ability to discriminate, but all discrimination does is cause the misconception of separation as opposed to connection. Yawata no yabushirazu.
    ^^ForestSatToday^^
    Lovely! Thank you. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  8. #8
    "If a bill collector comes around demanding his money, it's very convenient if you can shout "Katsu!" to drive him away." So much for what "Katsu!" is good for. Sorry, the image made me giggle.

    Yes, the practice of the Precepts, impermanence, practicing the Buddhadharma for the sake of the Buddhadarma... all liberation from the discriminating, craving, seeking, grasping mind. Definitely can't say it better than Forestdweller above!

    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).

  9. #9
    Some folks may wonder what it Katz ... Here is a beautiful Katz by Rinzai Teacher Shodo Harada as the coda to a short poem. It is a powerful practice which expresses something from deep within that shouts out into the universe, breaking down in and out.

    Kind of a Zen "YEAH!" ...



    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    I usually sit first thing in the morning. Sometimes I wake up in a bad mood. Usually because something is stressing me out. Maybe it's trivial or maybe it's a very serious problem that must be dealt with. Sometimes I wake up in a great mood. Maybe it's because good things are happening to me and the people around me or maybe that's just how I feel at the moment. Either way, I sit the same and those feelings never ever last. Sometimes I'm feeling really profound and deep. Sometimes I'm feeling foolish. Neither feeling ever amounts to much on its own. Through Zazen I get to be there while it happens for whatever it's worth. The more I do it the less I become concerned about what happens next.

    I'm wrestling with how I understand observing the precepts. Taking refuge in the three treasures is absolutely key to liberation. It is clearly the foundation. Past that things get a little abstract. Over the last jukai period I felt truly blessed to wrap my head around some of these ethical concepts and hear so many different perspectives. But are they keys to liberation or are they clues to what liberation is like? And which precepts are we talking about? 5? 10? 16? 300? To quote the book, "If we’re not careful, we are apt to grant ultimate value to something we’ve just made up in our heads."

    Gassho

    Sat Today

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Some folks may wonder what it Katz ... Here is a beautiful Katz by Rinzai Teacher Shodo Harada as the coda to a short poem. It is a powerful practice which expresses something from deep within that shouts out into the universe, breaking down in and out.

    Kind of a Zen "YEAH!" ...



    Gassho, J

    Wow! Powerful!

    Gassho
    Byōkan
    sat today

  12. #12


    :-)

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_




    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    Now that's what I'm talking about. -)

    Sat today

    Sent from my LG-LS720 using Tapatalk
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  14. #14
    Nice one Jishin .... and thanks for the flashback! =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    s@today

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    Do you believe that observance of the Precepts are also a key to Liberation?


    [/B]
    Gassho, J
    SatToday
    Thank you for these readings, Jundo. I appreciate the notion that the precepts are observed traits of the realized, to be taken as prescriptions for awakening, but also the behavior modeled naturally by the Buddhas and ancestors. Really the same thing, one being less (seemingly) dogmatic. Or maybe not!

    Gassho,
    Chiko
    SatToday with all the chirping birds

  16. #16

    Opening the Hand of Thought - Chapter 8 Part 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Do the Bodhisattva Vows or other Vows play some part in your Practice?
    Brad Warner summarizes the precepts in his new book as "Don't be a jerk."

    I think this is a simple, understandable and memorable way to provide guidance to practice. Who knew taking and maintaining the precepts would be this easy?

    My one cent.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  17. #17
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi Folks,

    So I wanted to explore the idea of "practicing Buddhadharma only for the sake of Buddhadharma." I think that this an important because it outside the discriminating mind but still within mind. I should note there isn't an inside and outside of mind but it helps to get the gist across. So to practice Buddhadharma for the sake of Buddhadarma is to open the small self. I say open because the small self doesn't go away or is bad its just overused. Its like a collection of habits and we have one for every occasion! Or maybe like a muscle that's been tense for too long (I'm thinking of you urethral sphincter when I wake in the night and I have to pee but can't) but when one is able to open the hand of thought they are able to relax this muscle.

    I also this ties into the precepts and how they lead to liberation. When emptiness is realized how would one act? Would you act at all? I think so, because we wouldn't be empty of garbage like a recently changed garbage can but full of air like a recently changed garbage can. To be empty is to be full in the widest sense. I'm no long seeing myself as this what-have-you (a husband, a father, predator, a customer etc...) but as a manifestation of the Buddhadarma. The precepts help us determine a course of action that supports the opening the hand of thought as well as promoting the well being of ourselves (small-self) and others which is included in the Buddhadarma. This is possible because we can use the precepts to counter balance our habits that have been either developed over time or are of a more primal nature.

    Anywho, just my thoughts. My apologies if it seems like gibberish I was having a bit of fun.

    Gassho
    Adam
    Sat today

  18. #18
    I've overcommitted myself to too many books per the norm, so I'm playing catch up. lol

    What is the meaning to you of "No gaining, no knowing" and "The expansive sky does not obstruct the floating white clouds"?

    In one word, "Freedom".

    These are very related concepts (no gaining and the expansive sky), when we are trying to grasp and fix an idea of how things should be we suffer. Zen is just really, really awesome because it's all about just sitting, just doing what we are doing. Even if we are angry just be angry, which is also very, very difficult. Every time I sit, without fail, I drift off and have to come back, get into a story about how I want things, justify myself or how I "won" something. But I have to come back. But this isn't bad, this is zazen! At the same time, you can't just be lazy, so it's impossible to get this right! And that's the point. You try and give it your all knowing you will not get anything. But by doing so, you do get something fantastic, but if you focus on getting, you miss it. It's weird.

    I really like the part earlier on in the book, where Uchiyama Roshi says this going away and coming back (although obviously we haven't gone anywhere) is zazen. However, our logical minds would take the leap to think that hey we'll just stop thinking and that's it. But according to Roshi and Jundo, that's a mistake to think that if we just stay "here" that's zazen. It's not! That grasping onto one thing.

    It's suffering because nothing sits still to be grasped. When we live out of ideas and prescribed notions, those are all the problems that brought us to practice. Ultimately they aren't problems at all, when we drop them. That's when "the expansive sky does not obstruct the floating white clouds".

    Nothing is hidden, nothing is obstructed! It's right here, but hard to see because we get in our own way, we get stuck in our heads.


    How is awareness of "impermanence" and that all phenomena without "independent substance" a key to Liberation? It sounds like it they would be quite the opposite.

    In our minds, to live, we need to know the rules. But then we take it too far. It's like when you go to the store, and they just used to have original Doritos and so someone thought wouldn't it be great if we created 100's of flavors of these corn chips? No it would not, although cool ranch Doritos are great. Objectively they are horrible and chemically engineered to seem "great" but the food science has worked on me. lol

    The point is, this is similar with our logic. We think that if something works here we can apply it to everything. But we just don't know. IN reality, things are changing and impermanent, and by accepting and more importantly realizing that it decreases our suffering because we are living life, not living in some fantasy.


    Do you believe that observance of the Precepts are also a key to Liberation?

    I do. It's hard, and this theme comes up again and again during Jukai study that in our Judeo Christian culture we want to think of the precepts as rules or commandments that if we do them we'll be good little zennies. But that's not it.

    The precepts are examples of what living a balanced life looks like. Of course, they are impossible to keep, which also makes the Bodhisattva path fun because although we all vow to uphold them, we can only really do them in our unique way. So there is no one who can give us the answers, we have to figure them out, but I'm getting off on a tangent.

    Each of the precepts shows us what the liberated life is, and what does freedom mean? What does liberation mean? Does it mean that you are free to do whatever the hell you want? Maybe that is freedom from an egoistic point of view, but I think (and for the life of me I can't remember where I just read this) real freedom comes from a place where you resist things that are harmful and express yourself in ways that are helpful.

    And the precepts are nice guidelines to give us examples of living a helpful and full life. A life that isn't narrow by selfishness, a life that is expansive and open to what's going on, to be available where we need to be instead of complaining that our needs aren't being met.


    What do you make of "practicing Buddhadharma only for the sake of Buddhadharma"?

    I think this is the same point as "No gaining, no knowledge". Zazen isn't about getting, it's about giving ourselves freely to life. It's about sitting with things as they are, to accept how they unfold, to watch our tendencies and thoughts. I can't write about it any more, but we don't ever sit zazen. Zazen sits us.


    Gassho,

    Risho
    -sattoday

  19. #19
    What pops into my head when I read this chapter is the idea of perfection. What is perfection? It is an idea that people become a slave to. It is the idea that he/she/us can in some way be the expansive sky without clouds. It is a prison. It is a cause (the cause?) of suffering. It is something to let go of, to be liberated from, because when you do that, when you open your hand of thought, your idea, when you free yourself form that idyllic prison of perfection, then you can finally taste some freedom. But that's not why I practice. I don't practice to be free. Practicing is freedom.

    Perfection sucks. I have no interest in being any version of an expansive sky void of clouds. I am a cloud, dammit! And I float around in the sky that surrounds me. Sometimes I bump into things, sometimes I storm, sometimes there's very little of me there at all, and it's all fine. I am part of the sky. I give the sky texture. The sky needs me, and this cloud that I call "ALAN" needs the sky.

    Do the precepts help me to be more or less of a cloud in the sky? Well, that's a silly question, but I try to keep them the best I can anyway.
    Do I practice only for the sake of Buddhadharma? Hell, I don't know. I'm just a cloud. Cloud_sky.jpg
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

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