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Thread: Zen Practice with Physical Illness or Disability

  1. #51
    Zazen in a chair or in the air or on a bear or on the stairs or with Fred
    Nice Dr. Seuss imitation but, don't give up the day job just yet

    gassho, shokai

    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  2. #52
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Zazen in a chair or in the air or on a bear or on the stairs or with Fred Astaire is still perfectly lovely wonderful complete Zazen ... if the mind feels it so.

    Zazen in brilliant full Lotus is bad Zazen if the mind is judging "good vs. bad."

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    🙏
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  3. #53
    Today I am very sad. As a person with bipolar 1, with psychotic features, and until someone mentioned my exact diagnosis, I was afraid, tell me of what? I am about to cry because I am subject to snap decisions, gotten me in deep trouble in the past. My therapist says I am fairly normal. These are words a patient longs to hear. But, sometimes I am still making bad decisions. For example, I got into trouble with a credit card, and now my wife is allowing me to dig myself out. So far has not affected good credit. Then again recently I expelled myself from Treeleaf writing to Jundo in no uncertain terms. 15 minutes later found me almost in a panic attack thinking I had abandoned one of the few places I could begin to understand anything. To make things worse, took a walk down two streets only to find I could not walk home, so called my angle wife to come and get me (new total knee, not going so well) so see, my Ankylosing Spondylitis can lead me to think I'm getting better when I'm not, then the nerve wrapped around a bone stabs me in the neck. Oh! Sure, you can say this is because of age (68) but I've had bipolar since 22, and AS has been noted since age 41. These diseases are not well understood. It is certain, there are no cures, only drugs, for a while, in addition to getting daily 22 pills, I was giving myself shots twice a week, now just every 4 weeks, then there are the periodic IV s of iron, saline, and yet another biological. These are just the medications, then there're the therapies since age 22. When a man suffers from added C.O.P.D. and does three inhalers. These are the facts of several chronic illness. I spend much of my time in treatment. It's wonderful that a man and wife have a three-day respite from driving into town every day, about 14 miles (22.53 km) to hospitals. Don't forget alcoholism 32 years in remission, and rejection by jobs one is trained for. That's what we have now. 3 days off. I'm relaxed sitting in my easy chair, listening to music. AND, writing, my passion.
    Tai Shi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  4. #54
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Today I am very sad. As a person with bipolar 1, with psychotic features, and until someone mentioned my exact diagnosis, I was afraid, tell me of what? I am about to cry because I am subject to snap decisions, gotten me in deep trouble in the past. My therapist says I am fairly normal. These are words a patient longs to hear. But, sometimes I am still making bad decisions. For example, I got into trouble with a credit card, and now my wife is allowing me to dig myself out. So far has not affected good credit. Then again recently I expelled myself from Treeleaf writing to Jundo in no uncertain terms. 15 minutes later found me almost in a panic attack thinking I had abandoned one of the few places I could begin to understand anything. To make things worse, took a walk down two streets only to find I could not walk home, so called my angle wife to come and get me (new total knee, not going so well) so see, my Ankylosing Spondylitis can lead me to think I'm getting better when I'm not, then the nerve wrapped around a bone stabs me in the neck. Oh! Sure, you can say this is because of age (68) but I've had bipolar since 22, and AS has been noted since age 41. These diseases are not well understood. It is certain, there are no cures, only drugs, for a while, in addition to getting daily 22 pills, I was giving myself shots twice a week, now just every 4 weeks, then there are the periodic IV s of iron, saline, and yet another biological. These are just the medications, then there're the therapies since age 22. When a man suffers from added C.O.P.D. and does three inhalers. These are the facts of several chronic illness. I spend much of my time in treatment. It's wonderful that a man and wife have a three-day respite from driving into town every day, about 14 miles (22.53 km) to hospitals. Don't forget alcoholism 32 years in remission, and rejection by jobs one is trained for. That's what we have now. 3 days off. I'm relaxed sitting in my easy chair, listening to music. AND, writing, my passion.
    Tai Shi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    In my humble opinion Tai Shi you are perfectly imperfect like the rest of us misfits.
    One of my mates is Bipolar and her swings from reckless and dangerous behaviour to physically debilitating depression make being her friend quite difficult at times. In saying that, I've learnt over the years that when I need a break from her I can be brutally honest and tell her straight. Her hospital stays can often be many months at a time and are a huge burden on her family so I try to ease the pressure on them by visiting her almost daily and assisting her to understand how her expectations are affecting her relationships (for some reason I can get through to her when she's at her most manic and most depressed, maybe because I don't put up with bullsh*t).
    As for my own bullsh*t... I don't tend to burn bridges Tai Shi, I tend to blow them to pieces lol. Being Autistic with bonus ADHD I am more than capable of losing my sh*t - regularly! and more than this, I'm regularly in a position where I feel the need to apologise profusely for my behaviour and actions. Friends and loved ones understand my actions and behaviour but rightfully don't excuse them, and more to the point I don't ask to be excused either.
    Of course you are going to do things you regret Tai Shi, your brain is wired in a way that is out of your control. This doesn't give you the green light to be a dick but it should... SHOULD give you permission to be kind to yourself.
    Take it easy Tai Shi.
    Gassho
    Anna

    ST
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  5. #55
    Right, Anna! A kindness to oneself is a kindness to all, Dogen said, or something like it, somewhere ... also one does not know what one might say, even in anger or anguish, that may prove to be a dharma moment to someone -- we see, for example, your wife's kind acts in many of your posts, Tai Shi, and so unknown to us but through you, she through you and with you blesses us all. _()_

    gassho
    doyu sat/LAH today
    自己を忘れ、他人のために生きる

  6. #56
    Tai Shi, Anna,
    Thanks for your notes here - what to do with the koan of pain?
    gasho
    sean
    sat. lah

  7. #57
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    With a sh*tload of meds my pain is managed as best as can be. This is nowhere near enough so I'm learning to *sit* with my pain and reluctantly accept that this is 'it'. For the pain that meds still leave me with I reluctantly, kicking and screaming have been forced to be smarter. I got a cheap reclining chair at a charity shop so I can now 'sit' Zazen easier although I often have to spend a lot of time lying down. The recliner has allowed me to start sewing a Rakusu too which is awesome. I walk 3km every afternoon with an elderly bloke who lives near by. 3km takes us around 1-1.5hrs so the pace is very slow. This turns out to be great for me because without my elderly mate I'd be doing stupid sh*t like trying to run lol. This last sentence is particularly silly because I walk with the use of a cane lolol. But yeah, at 48 years of age I'm finally starting to accept my limitations and work *with* my constant pain instead of fighting it. It's not all beer and skittles but there's always someone who is doing it tougher.
    Not sure if this in any way addresses your enquiry but hey...

    Gassho
    Anna

    STLAH
    Last edited by Onka; 10-01-2019 at 04:11 AM.
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  8. #58
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    ...For the pain that meds still leave me with I reluctantly, kicking and screaming have been forced to be smarter... I walk 3km every afternoon with an elderly bloke who lives near by. 3km takes us around 1-1.5hrs so the pace is very slow. This turns out to be great for me because without my elderly mate I'd be doing stupid sh*t like trying to run lol. This last sentence is particularly silly because I walk with the use of a cane lolol. But yeah, at 48 years of age I'm finally starting to accept my limitations and work *with* my constant pain instead of fighting it. It's not all beer and skittles but there's always someone who is doing it tougher...
    _/\_ _/\_ _/\_

    Gassho
    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  9. #59
    What I can say is I take two narcotics one a low dose patch the other a medium strength pill and I have hopes of lowering the dose of both but my doctor says I will be on them for the rest of my life. I have only the choice to live in agony! Anna my A1C is 5.8 I have diabetes type 2


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  10. #60
    What A1C1 at 5.8 or 5.9 is that means I’m in the normal range just slightly. Yet, I still have diabetes type 2 so I brought this down from 6.5 with diet and exercise! In 3 months it might be back up! I have to watch my body like a child’s chemistry set. Life ain’t half bad in fact, it’s very good. Narcotics be damned for I made it to age 68 and some of my friends are dead! My doctor says I’m expected to live into my 80s but anything can happen. Truth be told, we all must die sooner or later. I’ve been ready for death for some time. I really am old not too old but old! Death will be is a pleasant surprise. I’ll be free of pain. I still have bad level 7 pain my waking hours. I have learned to live with my pain and enjoy life. Wham I came to Treeleaf Zendo to practice Zazen I was not very happy. Ask Jundo. I was prone to broad generalizations and sweeping exaggerated expressions. I’ve looked over my old posts from 5 years or so ago. I was not very honest. Ask my wife. Most of the time I was lying through my teeth. I’m am happy to say I am honest most of the time. We are who we are and most of us cannot escape that. You and I are kindred spirits. Be well, and don’t try too much. Just keep sitting as I do. Something is bound to happen. There's a new picture of me, I mean my face, floating around the Sangha someplace, and two fall pictures. So nice to get to know your phone and Tapatalk, nice phone app, and good people here all around here.
    Taishi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    Am I the only one posting to this thread? Who has anything to say?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 10-25-2019 at 03:27 PM. Reason: addition.
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  11. #61
    As of about 30 minutes ago, Marjorie applied the patch 12.5 micg lower than the previous 37.5 micro-grams/hr. At the same time she applied my Lidocain patches chest and upper back, the front and back patches are non-opiate, the first being one from lowest dose opiate available. This is an experiment in attitude. Am I the only one posting to this thread? Does anyone else have anything at all to say?
    Thank you Anna-- as usual you have geared toward the "walk," this without raising my hands 10 cm above my head thereby aggravating my neck. Has Any one something to say? My walk will be slow and deliberate, one foot before the other as in Zazen.
    Something?
    Tai Shi
    _/|\_
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 10-25-2019 at 03:35 PM. Reason: addition of words
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  12. #62
    Hi Tai Shi

    The post was set up mostly to provide suggestions to people who practice with pain.

    It is fine if people want to discuss this but there is only a small subset of us I think who practice with clinical levels of pain on a daily basis so it was never intended to be particularly active in the same way that other threads are.

    That of course doesn't mean you shouldn't feel free to post and others may or may not join in.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  13. #63
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    As usual Tai Shi you are doing brilliantly. Always striving to live with pain rather than let pain determine how you live.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

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    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Dear Everyone,

    Treeleaf is an online sangha, designed with the intention of providing a place for people to practice Zen who are not able to physically access a ‘bricks and mortar’ dharma centre. Reasons for not being able to attend a physical centre include reasons of geography, life circumstances (such as working hours, caring for young children or sick relatives) and, also, having physical illness or disability.

    As such, we welcome members who have physical challenges in their everyday lives which also apply to some aspects of practicing Zen. This information is intended to answer some of the most frequently asked questions which may cause people with varying physical abilities to think they cannot practice Zen or cannot do so ‘properly’, and also provide some resources on the topic from Zen and Buddhist teachers and organisations. Even if we are currently healthy, illness and aging are a certainty in life so at some point we will have to modify our practice to accommodate physical frailties.

    Although some of us in the sangha already practice with disability and/or physical illness, the challenges we face may not be the challenges that you face. While we have attempted to be as inclusive as we can, please let us know if you require information or assistance that is not here, and applies to your particular situation. By doing this, we can increase the scope of support offered.


    SITTING POSTURE
    Zen can be a very physical practice. To begin with, being able to sustain posture on the cushion can be very demanding for anyone with challenges to their physical health. When we see rows of students sitting in the lotus posture, or half-lotus, Burmese etc, that can seem like the correct way to do things. However, forcing yourself into a posture which is more than a little uncomfortable (postures can initially feel odd as your body adjusts to them) is not conducive to good sitting and this is even more true if trying to do so might cause you long-term damage through pushing your body too hard.

    If you can do the traditional postures but need support in the form of additional cushions, a neck brace, back support and such like, it is completely fine to do this.

    Alternative postures to the standard zafu sitting include sitting in a chair (often with a cushion or zafu under your feet so if they do not naturally reach the floor), lying on your side (such as the Buddha’s parinirvana posture) and lying on your back (including support under your knees) such as in the yoga śavāsana (corpse) pose.

    This article gives some advice on alternative postures.

    It is perfectly fine to attend zazenkai and other sits and ceremonies in supported or reclining postures.


    BOWING
    Bowing, especially full-length prostrations, can be physically demanding. If prostrations are required in the weekly zazenkai or other ceremony, you can instead visualise doing this with your hands held in gassho (if you are able). If the gassho position (palms together and held with the base of the thumbs in the centre of the chest) cannot be achieved or maintained, it is okay just to visualise doing this also. If your physical ability necessitates a one-handed gassho, this is completely acceptable.


    KINHIN
    Kinhin (mindful walking) occurs between sessions of zazen in the weekly and monthly zazenkai. If you are unable to walk, then this can be replaced with some mindful stretching. Part of the function of kinhin is to stretch the muscles after zazen in addition to being aware of our body as it moves. Stretching also achieves both of these things.

    If stretching is not possible then consider watching the movement of the breth.

    If you are able to do a brief amount of kinhin then please do this for as long as you are able and then either stretch or watch the breath as above.


    SEWING
    Jukai (taking the precepts) and Shukke Tokudo (homeleaving ordination) both require sewing as part of the preparation for the ceremony. Before Jukai, participants sew a rakusu. Before Shukke Tokudo a kesa is sewn. These sewing activities are part of a commitment to the practice and the ceremony about to happen but rely on the sangha member being sufficiently able to sew.

    If you require assistance or modifications to the normal method to be able to sew (such as using a machine rather than hand stitching) this should almost always be possible. If no sewing, or very limited sewing is possible, then a family member or sangha friend can make part or whole of the rakusu or kesa for you. We do not wish someone who wishes to be part of the sangha and take the precepts to be prevented from doing so because of this.


    PAIN
    Here at Treeleaf, we sit zazen in the traditional Sōtō style, in full completeness with nothing lacking. However, while it is not the aim of practice, it has been noticed that levels of pain during and after sitting can feel reduced. This may be of benefit to sangha members who experience pain, especially chronic pain.

    Jundo talks about sitting with pain and alternative postures here.


    TIME AWAY FROM THE SANGHA
    Some people with illness and disability find it hard to sustain a consistent interaction with Treeleaf or need periods of time away when their health becomes bad. Firstly, many able-bodied members have life circumstances which mean that they also struggle to keep up with the sangha on a day-to-day basis and many also take time away for personal reasons, so you are not alone in this. Secondly, there is a thread on the forum for letting us know if you are going to be away for a while. Also, please let one of the unsui know or a sangha friend if you would like us to be in contact and support you while you are away. It is often the times that you need to be away from the sangha that you might need us most.


    SANGHA CONTACT POINT
    If you wish to discuss any issues around disability and/or physical illness and how you can be supported in your practice then please contact Kokuu. He has been practicing with chronic illness himself for 21 years. Also let him know if you wish to suggest modifications and improvements for this resource guide.

    It is also important to be very careful if you feel or suspect that you might have a present physical or mental condition that might interfere with Zazen or other activities in our Sangha. If you are not sure, then you should consult with a doctor or mental health professional and only participate with their approval, guidance and oversight. Although Zen Practice should be safe for most people if you do not do more than your body or condition allows you, if there could be any doubt, please check with your physician first before undertaking any activity.


    RESOURCES

    Articles
    Buddhism and Disability
    Handicapped Buddhism by Richard Louis Bruno

    Books
    How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide by Toni Bernhard
    Lotus in the Fire: the healing power of Zen by Jim Bedard
    Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
    Rogue Monk: A Memoir About Zen, Disability, and Work by Mugan Sozan Peter Schellin (provisional)
    This Is Getting Old. Zen Thoughts on Aging with Humor and Dignity by Susan Moon
    Turning Suffering Inside Out by Darlene Cohen

    Talks
    Dongshan is Unwell (Norman Fischer)
    Radical Acceptance and Practicing Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach)
    Suffering and Gratitude (Norman Fischer)
    Transforming Illness Through Love and Letting Go (Susan Bauer-Wu)

    Gassho, Jundo
    SatTodayLAH

    Thank you to Kokuu for drafting the above and shepherding this project.
    Good afternoon folks.
    Just thought I'd draw everyone's attention to this post by Jundo (drafted by Kokuu), as it is one I revisit regularly as someone with physical limitations.
    Western Zen Buddhism in general is pretty sensitive to practice with disabilities (different abilities) but Treeleaf is in my humble opinion leading the way.
    It's easy to talk inclusion but to truly put inclusion into a real every day manifestation, let alone have inclusion beyond disabilities to be essentially your mission statement is revolutionary.
    I mean this. Treeleaf Zendo and Sangha is revolutionary in the most beautiful, peaceful and deliberate way.
    While others talk, Treeleaf does. And does with sensitivity!
    Being sensitive and respectful to and of the lineage, history, teaching, teachers and continuity of Soto Zen Buddhism would be hard enough. Doing all this while making it almost universally available thanks to technology to those who for whatever reason, again beyond disabilities is a genuine treasure that I sincerely hope is recognised beyond these virtual walls.
    I revisit this post because it is important to me.
    Even though I'm welcome, even though the core values of this Zendo and Sangha of inclusiveness are clear I regularly revisit it.
    Buddhist history is rich, as is Soto Zen Buddhist history. Our contemporary teaching resources reflect this but also reflect progress. They often include mention of various postures one can sit 'proper' Zazen in which we believe that within the big four - Full Lotus, Half Lotus, Burmese and Chair (strictly no resting against the back!) anyone can practice. They are not only enough but are the only ones by which 'enlightenment' will be possible.
    That's because our modern, progressive voices are also predominantly able bodied and I say that with the greatest respect.
    It's my opinion that historical figures like the Buddha, JC, Mohammed and Dogen were revolutionaries in that they weren't afraid to rock the boat, to shake up the system, to upset the status quo in order to bring people the truth and for that truth to be accessible.
    I believe that Treeleaf does this too in the most gentle, respectful and sensitive way by practicing its teaching, holding a mirror up to itself and being fearless in openness to change.
    For all of the above reasons Treeleaf is my home Sangha, Jundo is my teacher, and everyone that contributes to the continued success of Treeleaf are folk I offer the deepest bows I can.
    In relation to practice (life) I do what I can, when I can, however I can, and that is fluid depending on what day or even what part of a day that is.
    I try not to place limitations on myself but society in general does a pretty good job at reminding me that I should. Treeleaf doesn't and I am thankful beyond words.
    Gassho
    Anna
    Sat today (reclined in a chair that has a cushion on it with a cut out so there's limited pressure on my spine, supported with a pillow behind my lower back and a small cushion behind my neck. I also did kinhin with the aid of a long bamboo pole as I needed extra support today)/Lent a hand by driving my partner who has MS to a nearby town to get her out of the house as a bit of a pick-me-up.


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    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  15. #65
    Thank you Anna - I agree with all that you say.
    I don't think Buddhist meditation will ever be totally free of a defining trope based on the upright sitting position.
    I accept this as an important aspect of its history but feel we're still in a very early phase of turning this round so that it
    doesn't seem at all unusual to witness individuals 'sitting' zazen reclining, with back supported or lying down.
    The very term 'to sit' is deeply embedded and maybe's that would need to change. I'm not sure what would be a good alternative
    - any suggestions?
    Reading Okumura today he mentions the four instances of Prajna - namely standing, walking, sitting and lying down. Lying down is no barrier
    to actualization and this is my main position when meditating - and in much of life!
    I think maybe we should lose the emphasis on body position - I'm not saying it isn't relevant but the body is after all one of the aggregates and as such empty.
    I am so pleased that you have found a home at Treeleaf. For me it has also been life changing.

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    engaged in meditation today

  16. #66
    Hello all,

    I am someone else who lives with varying levels of chronic pain daily, along with chronic fatigue (my own definition - docs say "just exercise more" or "take this pill" - nope).

    I've grown frustrated with western medicine in the illnesses I live with. I choose to handle things my way. I don't like talking about my illnesses much unless discussing them will help someone with a certain situation. Otherwise I just feel like I'm dwelling on what I cannot change. Why complain? I know how I feel, and others can't fix it.

    I pace myself, and I live how I live. It's an issue if someone makes it one. Otherwise, I live more slowly, and some things I cannot do.

    The nature of my illnesses is that I've adapted Buddhism to what I can handle. If that means I am never a "full Buddhist" -- so be it. I've come to accept that possibility, as I have lost much since last year -- I do what I can do. I can still practice and learn, and formalities are not necessary for me to continue on my journey. Nice. But not needed.

    Gassho2
    Kim
    St. Lh

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    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  17. #67
    Hi Anna

    It is to our great advantage that Jundo has made such a point of inclusivity for people drawn to Zen who have challenges of physical health, sometimes to quite a severe extent. As an online sangha, I imagine it was always going to be the case that such people were able to access training here (which again is totally revolutionary, even now, a decade after Treeleaf's establishment) and that would be necessary but the degree to which Jundo keeps on pushing the SZBA (Soto Zen Buddhist Association) and others to increase their disability awareness and accessibility is incredible.

    A year or so ago (maybe longer), Zenmei researched a lineage of Buddhist and Zen ancestors with disability in order to produce an additional lineage chart to include those folk, just as happened with the female ancestor lineage only five years ago. As yet, despite their apparent push for inclusivity (which does at least seem to have made strides in terms of sexuality and gender if not elsewhere), the SZBA has not responded well to calls to include the lineage of disabled ancestors as part of the overall Zen lineage or suggestions that there might be parts of the current ordination requirements (such as needing to sit certain amounts of physical sesshin at a recognised centre) that may represent a barrier to some individuals who would otherwise make good Zen priests and need to have a degree of flexibility around them to accommodate such students.

    Jundo and I also submitted articles on this to two well-known Buddhist magazines and they were rejected within hours suggesting that there is a lack of interest in those quarters also despite what Risho might term their considerable liberal bias! There seemed to be no interest in modifying them or producing something similar but outright and immediate rejection suggesting that we are not exactly pushing at an open door.

    So, for now we have decided not to go all out but keep pushing gently but very firmly at the door from time to time as many of us believe that the inclusion of disabled and physically challenged folk will have to happen sooner or later.

    It is also to be noted that the portrayal of Zen in the media is almost 100% able-bodied. How many photos have you seen of disabled Buddhists? At some point I intend to get a photo of me in robes in a wheelchair that can at least be found somewhere on the internet. Yoga has, for some years, embraced inclusion of wheelchair users in practice and you would think that would be much more of a challenge than for Zen.

    At Treeleaf, we are not subjected to the obstruction of others so are able to work to include people with physical challenges as best we can, and to have both the female and disabled ancestor lineages included as part of Jukai together with the traditional lineage and chant their names in our annual Jukai retreat: https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...BLED-ANCESTORS

    However, we are not resting on our laurels and if you have any ideas as to how we can improve our efforts even further then please let us know. We revisit our ideas and resources from time to time to make sure they are still the best they can possibly be but we are not experts on all forms of disability and physical issues that may arrive in practice so rely on others who experience problems we have yet included to help us out on that.

    No one here is anything less than a full Buddhist regardless of whether they sit on a cushion, in a chair, reclining or whatever else, or can bow, half bow or make some form of a gassho either physically or mentally. Awakening is not predicated on having a fully functioning body and we are all completely whole just as we are, standing (or sitting or lying!) equally with our dharma brothers and sisters.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-30-2019 at 11:40 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  18. #68
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Anna

    It is to our great advantage that Jundo has made such a point of inclusivity for people drawn to Zen who have challenges of physical health, sometimes to quite a severe extent. As an online sangha, I imagine it was always going to be the case that such people were able to access training here (which again is totally revolutionary, even now, a decade after Treeleaf's establishment) and that would be necessary but the degree to which Jundo keeps on pushing the SZBA (Soto Zen Buddhist Association) and others to increase their disability awareness and accessibility is incredible.

    A year or so ago (maybe longer), Zenmei researched a lineage of Buddhist and Zen ancestors with disability in order to produce an additional lineage chart to include those folk, just as happened with the female ancestor lineage only five years ago. As yet, despite their apparent push for inclusivity (which does at least seem to have made strides in terms of sexuality and gender if not elsewhere), the SZBA has not responded well to calls to include the lineage of disabled ancestors as part of the overall Zen lineage or suggestions that there might be parts of the current ordination requirements (such as needing to sit certain amounts of physical sesshin at a recognised centre) that may represent a barrier to some individuals who would otherwise make good Zen priests and need to have a degree of flexibility around them to accommodate such students.

    Jundo and I also submitted articles on this to two well-known Buddhist magazines and they were rejected within hours suggesting that there is a lack of interest in those quarters also despite what Risho might term their considerable liberal bias! There seemed to be no interest in modifying them or producing something similar but outright and immediate rejection suggesting that we are not exactly pushing at an open door.

    So, for now we have decided not to go all out but keep pushing gently but very firmly at the door from time to time as many of us believe that the inclusion of disabled and physically challenged folk will have to happen sooner or later.

    It is also to be noted that the portrayal of Zen in the media is almost 100% able-bodied. How many photos have you seen of disabled Buddhists? At some point I intend to get a photo of me in robes in a wheelchair that can at least be found somewhere on the internet. Yoga has, for some years, embraced inclusion of wheelchair users in practice and you would think that would be much more of a challenge than for Zen.

    At Treeleaf, we are not subjected to the obstruction of others so are able to work to include people with physical challenges as best we can, and to have both the female and disabled ancestor lineages included as part of Jukai together with the traditional lineage and chant their names in our annual Jukai retreat: https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...BLED-ANCESTORS

    However, we are not resting on our laurels and if you have any ideas as to how we can improve our efforts even further then please let us know. We revisit our ideas and resources from time to time to make sure they are still the best they can possibly be but we are not experts on all forms of disability and physical issues that may arrive in practice so rely on others who experience problems we have yet included to help us out on that.

    No one here is anything less than a full Buddhist regardless of whether they sit on a cushion, in a chair, reclining or whatever else, or can bow, half bow or make some form of a gassho either physically or mentally. Awakening is not predicated on having a fully functioning body and we are all completely whole just as we are, standing (or sitting or lying!) equally with our dharma brothers and sisters.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Deepest bows to you and of course Jundo. And again, respect and thanks to those who keep Treeleaf going, from tech wizards to regular contributors. I'm another who feels their purpose is to become a Zen Priest. Perhaps things will change in the years between now and when/if Jundo feels I'm suitable to begin that journey.
    Gassho
    Anna
    st

    Sent from my Lenovo TB-8304F1 using Tapatalk
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  19. #69
    Perhaps things will change in the years between now and when/if Jundo feels I'm suitable to begin that journey.
    Even if it doesn't it wouldn't stop you being ordained here as I have. It just means that you don't get the official approval of the SZBA as things stand. We have also faced issues over face-to-face ordination and Jukai vs. online. You might think that Zen folk would be quite flexible but in reality they are a pretty conservative bunch. I guess holding authority of the western Soto line in your hands probably breeds a certain degree of caution but you also have to move with the times.

    Anyway, I don't feel I am sticking my neck out terribly far in guessing that the approval of establishment organisations is probably not something you are totally bothered about!

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  20. #70
    I am baffled on why they have such an issue over disabilities, neurodiversity, and gender differences. A prime directive is may all sentient beings be liberated from suffering -- guess I should consider ignorance to be a form of suffering as well.

    The day to day is challenging enough without having to defend why we should have a voice and a place in the zendo.

    Thank you, Kokuu, for all that you, Jundo, and others are doing. Would it be helpful or advisable for more of us to speak to them about acknowledging our existence?

    Gassho2
    Kim
    St lh

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    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  21. #71

    Zen Practice with Physical Illness or Disability

    Hi Kokuu, I'm not sure exactly what I did wrong with my cacophony of my various illness and or ailments. Certainly we all know that you have a sleep disorder, yet have been selected to speak for all disabilities because maybe you are better read than the rest of us, and a Ph.D. in biology does not lend merit to psychiatry, psychology, social work, counseling, neurology, brain disorders, or even arthritis doctors of all types. I ask you kindly to speak only from your own experience, and I know that severe fatigue to the point of fainting, inability to take nourishment, or attend to matters of hygiene, or even taking care of the very personal. I stand corrected, with my three advanced degrees, made almost entirely with no accommodation, and that truly might be the case. Though familiar with Haiku and having tried my hand at writing a few, this medium seems better suited to you, so with your vast experience in poetry, your knowledge of Great British poetry, I would no more trample the feet of the expert, then go the extra 1000 miles (1,609.34 km) to obtain the Ph.D. in and study of language or literature including Japanese Literature which my daughter studies to the point of someday have this hope-- Dr. Laurel will dad call her as I have an MFA creative writing poetry and now her already expert command with MFA Asian literary translation, Japanese, so I will refrain from mentioning anything at all about my personal accommodations to sit zazen-- and you?
    taishi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 02-18-2020 at 09:55 AM.
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  22. #72
    Member brucef's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Encounter Bay, South Australia, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by allwhowander View Post
    I am baffled on why they have such an issue over disabilities, neurodiversity, and gender differences. A prime directive is may all sentient beings be liberated from suffering -- guess I should consider ignorance to be a form of suffering as well.

    The day to day is challenging enough without having to defend why we should have a voice and a place in the zendo.

    Thank you, Kokuu, for all that you, Jundo, and others are doing. Would it be helpful or advisable for more of us to speak to them about acknowledging our existence?

    Gassho2
    Kim
    St lh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    I agree totally. I always thought the Mahayana was a great (Maha) vehicle (Yana) because it was for ALL sentient beings, that it was the BIG raft that could ferry EVERYONE to the other shore, leaving none behind.

    Gassho
    Bruce
    st/lah

  23. #73
    Hi Tai Shi

    It is completely fine for you to talk about your experiences of practice with illness.

    I am sorry if I gave the impression otherwise.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  24. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Hi Kokuu, I'm not sure exactly what I did wrong with my cacophony of my various illness and or ailments. Certainly we all know that you have a sleep disorder, yet have been selected to speak for all disabilities because maybe you are better read than the rest of us, and a Ph.D. in biology does not lend merit to psychiatry, psychology, social work, counseling, neurology, brain disorders, or even arthritis doctors of all types. I as you kindly to speak only from your own experience, and I know that severe fatigue to the point of fainting, inability to take nourishment, or attend to matters of hygiene, or even taking care of the very personal. I stand corrected, with my three advanced degrees, made almost entirely with no accommodation, and that truly might be the case. Though familiar with Haiku and having tried my hand at writing a few, this medium seems better suited to you, so with your vast experience in poetry, your knowledge of Great British poetry, I would no more trample the feet of the expert, then go the extra 1000 miles (1,609.34 km) to obtain the Ph.D. in and study of language or literature including Japanese Literature which my daughter studies to the point of someday have this hope-- Dr. Laurel will dad call her as I have an MFA creative writing poetry and now her already expert command with MFA Asian literary translation, Japanese, so I will refrain from mentioning anything at all about my personal accommodations to sit zazen-- and you?
    taishi
    sat/lah
    Gassho
    Hi Tai Shi,

    If it true that attachment causes suffering because all things change then attachment to any aspect of our person causes suffering. This includes attachment to being healthy or attachment to being ill. There is nothing wrong about sharing experiences of suffering IF it leads to lessened suffering (yours and others). Use good judgment.

    I counted to 30 before posting this.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  25. #75
    We are all in the process of wearing out and dying and it’s ok. That’s the nature of things. The Buddha nature is eternal.


    Sat/lah


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

    I may be wrong and not knowing is acceptable

  26. #76
    Thank you Jishin for advice to use good judgement here!!!

    It’s several, many, pages back. I said that I Am Not a Doctor. I cannot talk toward treatment modalities, medication, or even type of hospital or any institution. What works for one might be just what his or her, of full Rainbow of people. How could I ever presume to know anything about medicine, social work, or therapy!!! All must e careful, at least me, that I do not prescribe in any way!!! In mental health, though I have had varied experiences, most if not all are individual to me. Therefore throughout my postings I only need to post what has been only individual to me!!!
    Jishin is absolutely right! I will take care!
    sat
    Gassho
    Deep bows
    Gassho


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  27. #77

    Zen Practice with Physical Illness or Disability

    I’m very happy to say that exercise and diet diet have helped me raise my ams and hands fully above my head. Medications augmented exercise. Yet, exercise alone would be extremely painful. It depends on my pain tolerance, above seven I’m uncomfortable. Talk therapy and medications together have brought me this far, but Kokuu and sleep and or fatigue syndrome even there it’s not The same. So my situation is entirely different from Kokuu, so I must speak entirely from my experience and the help of doctors and therapists and especially my beloved. Remember I can primarily have the help of my mate. My primary care physician says Marjorie has saved my life many times each time. However, push comes to shove, I am my own best judge. So, I must report everything to my physician-because there needs to.be one qualified primary care doctor to put it all together. I rely on this person to put it all together, from Marjorie to psychiatry to therapy to even social worker. Primary was the first to recognize irregular heart pattern, and primary recognized type 2 diabetes and even. Intestinal problems long before onset of possible illnesses. Primary practices chemistry, physiology, even psychiatry. Though he’s not knowledgeable in depth he or she can put it all together. Always qualify your situation by reporting honest self appraisal to primary care and thereby the whol team of doctors and therapists. If you cannot afford a team, always report to your family practice doctor or general practitioner and also in there an athletic coach all
    In all go for what money can buy, or socialized medicine.
    Tai Shi
    sat/lah
    Gassho


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 02-18-2020 at 10:35 AM.
    My apology for presumptions. I am human seeking Buddha, like/ Christ, like behavior, and I welcome all in Treeleaf who wish to walk beside me.

  28. #78
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California


    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  29. #79
    Had the experience today, again, of trying to explain to a relative that I was waiting for a delivery of another hand/wrist brace because the ones i bought at the pharmacy were mismatched, and the odds of my getting back there any time soon to exchange (or find the correct size in stock) were slim:none. need the same size for both hands/wrists.

    the pharmacy is close by, but the mental and physical energy required to drive there, look for the product, (remember everything), interact with everyone, exchange things, answer questions, etc., ....... i need to be having a *really* good energetic day to accomplish what would be a normal task for anyone else. Years ago -- no problem.

    So my relative knew what i was trying to say, but God help the word-salad that came out of my mouth I have to laugh at it because otherwise i'll cry sometimes. i have times when my memory is sharp and clear, and I have times when I can do what i do every day with no problem -- just don't ask me to form coherent sentences or answer with anything except slowed speech and long pauses. Frustrating for anyone to listen to, and infuriating for me. I;m in another one of those periods again -- as evidenced this week when I apparently forgot everything i ever knew about Soto Zen and just started from scratch again. I don't know? Yet with the kind and compassionate answers given here, I started to remember/relearn some of it and started again. Realized I was okay, I was not kicked out of the family for forgetting (terrible thing to forget what you know -- how do you know if you ever knew to begin with?) or being unable to do certain things (part of the forgetting). it's quite terrifying when it comes and goes .....

    Then the word salad conversation ..... allong with muscle cramps, my hands spasming again, and when exhaustion took over and I needed to lay down, shivering chills taking over on an unusually warm day. At this point I've decided, work needs a break also, I can't teach like this (word loss, chills, exhaustion). My daughter has another appointment tomorrow that I need to take her to ..... this is three long appointments/meetings in three days, a lot for me to handle.

    yes i know i need more medical testing (including for carpal tunnel), but each of my things takes a few hours at a time, and this all will take months to sort out. my kids are much faster, and will resolve quicker. can't see the sense of making them wait while Mom gets her endless testing done when we already know (probably) what's going on and none of it can be fixed anyway, so .... i'm taking care of what CAN be fixed and i'll get to my nightmares when i can fit them in. my junk isn't going anywhere.

    this evening, when i realized i needed to rest and the chills took over, i remembered what Jundo said yesterday. i did recline position and thought of Buddha when they were ill or tired. i did drift a while, not sleep, but my body's exhaustion and cold did take over and i felt like was weightless for some time. no complaints there, briefly i don't recall any pain, i was just blank aside from occasional chills and shivering. i don't know how long i was like this, but i was conscious the whole time, just quiet.

    then i was able to eat and have even warmed up some (no chills for now). i don't get fevers during these chills -- my body temperature drops, often below 96 degrees. i've stopped asking why, no one knows, one of the medical mysteries of my illnesses. happens so often that i just burrow under heavy blankets and wear multiple layers for as long as it takes until my body warms to a tolerable level again (usually about 97). Sometimes this takes a few hours.

    so i am grateful that there are a few ways to sit shikantaza.

    sorry for the long message, just thought i'd share some of what goes on -- this is a regular part of my "normal" ..... i don't think i usualy share this part.

    gassho, meian
    st
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  30. #80
    this evening, when i realized i needed to rest and the chills took over, i remembered what Jundo said yesterday. i did recline position and thought of Buddha when they were ill or tired. i did drift a while, not sleep, but my body's exhaustion and cold did take over and i felt like was weightless for some time. no complaints there, briefly i don't recall any pain, i was just blank aside from occasional chills and shivering. i don't know how long i was like this, but i was conscious the whole time, just quiet.

    then i was able to eat and have even warmed up some (no chills for now). i don't get fevers during these chills -- my body temperature drops, often below 96 degrees. i've stopped asking why, no one knows, one of the medical mysteries of my illnesses. happens so often that i just burrow under heavy blankets and wear multiple layers for as long as it takes until my body warms to a tolerable level again (usually about 97). Sometimes this takes a few hours.

    so i am grateful that there are a few ways to sit shikantaza.

    sorry for the long message, just thought i'd share some of what goes on -- this is a regular part of my "normal" ..... i don't think i usualy share this part.
    Thank you, Meian.

    I think it is good for people to read the parts of practice when things are not so pretty.


    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

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