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Thread: Difficulties with Panoramic Attention...

  1. #1

    Difficulties with Panoramic Attention...

    Hi,

    Iíve been practising shikantaza for the past few months now and from my reading and watching Jundoís videos I understand it in terms of non-judgmental attention to the direct experience of what arises in each moment: sounds, sensations, taste, thoughts, etc., focusing on everything and nothing in particular.

    The issue for me arises on those occasions when everything seems to be happening at once, i.e., the birds are singing whilst at the same time an itch arises, my stomach rumbles, a radio starts playing, and so on. At such times I become almost slightly overwhelmed as I attempt to incorporate it all into my awareness. Whatís the way around this?

    On a related note, I also see a tendency to act like some kind of neurotic systems manager checking to make sure that Iím not missing anything, e.g., Iíll find myself checking that there arenít any sensations, sounds, etc., that have escaped my attention. I guess in some ways itís just beginnerís anxiety - wanting to make sure Iím doing it Ďrightí, whatever Ďití and Ďrightí
    might mean.

    Itís not always like this, obviously, but, again, Iíd be grateful for any advice.

    Gassho

    James

    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  2. #2
    Hi James,

    You are trying too hard. Relax. The experience should be not unlike driving down the highway, attentive to the road with eyes open, yet not particularly thinking about any of it. Attentive yet relaxed and at ease. In driving, one is attentive to the road, but not consciously trying to be aware of each individual item and sensation by identification. We are not Vipassana practitioners, trying to intentionally notice sights and sensations.

    Gassho J

    SatTodayLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-25-2018 at 09:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi James,

    You are trying too hard. Relax. The experience should be not unlike driving down the highway, attentive to the road with eyes open, yet not particularly thinking about any of it. Attentive yet relaxed and at ease. In driving, one is attentive to the road, but not consciously trying to be aware of each individual item and sensation by identification. We are not Vipassana practitioners, trying to intentionally notice sights and sensations.

    Gassho J

    SatTodayLah
    I suspected that might be the answer - thank you

    Gassho

    James


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Hi James,

    Let me also highlight here, and everywhere, the crowning jewel of Master Dogen's vision of Shikantaza, the non-method in the madness ...

    There are subtle differences in how Zen teachers explain Shikantaza, so-called “Just Sitting” Zazen. After listening to hundreds of talks and reading so many essays, I am left very surprised that one key aspect is not emphasized more. This crucial point often seems to be missing, misunderstood or understated. In my belief, not placing one fact front and center (or leaving it out altogether) robs Zazen of its power, like a fire without fuel, a tiger without its claws.

    What is this missing piece of the puzzle?

    Shikantaza Zazen must be sat, for the time it is sat, with the student profoundly trusting deep in her bones that sitting itself is a complete and sacred act, the one and only action that need be done in the whole universe in that instant of sitting. This truth should not be thought about or voiced in so many words, but must be silently and subtly felt deep down. The student must taste vibrantly that the mere act of sitting Zazen, in that moment, is whole and thoroughly complete, the total fruition of life’s goals, with nothing lacking and nothing to be added to the bare fact of sitting here and now. There must be a sense that the single performance of crossing the legs (or sitting in some other balanced posture) is the realization of all that was ever sought, that there is simply no other place to go in the world nor thing left to do besides sitting in such posture. No matter how busy one’s life or how strongly one’s heart may tempt one to be elsewhere, for the time of sitting all other concerns are put aside. Zazen is the one task and experience that brings meaning and fruition to that time, with nothing else to do. This fulfillment in “Just Sitting” must be felt with a tangible vibrancy and energy, trusting that one is sitting at the very pinnacle of life.

    Unfortunately, this unique and powerful aspect of Shikantaza is too often neglected or merely paid lip service.

    ...

    I do not mean to say that other teachers explain the general outlines of Shikantaza in a wrong way. Almost all experienced teachers agree on the basics: One should sit in the Lotus Posture (or, these days, some other balanced way such as Burmese or Seiza or in a chair), focus on the breath or the body or just be openly aware, letting one’s thoughts go without grabbing onto them. If finding oneself caught in trains of thought, return to the breath or posture or spaciousness. Sit daily for a certain length of time, but without objective or demanded pay-off. Do not seek anything from your Zazen, whether “enlightenment” or to become “Buddha” or anything at all. Just Sit!

    That’s all correct. But by leaving out the vital ingredient, such explanations can miss the mark too. The description can leave students thinking of Zazen as just some relaxation technique or place to sit quietly without purpose. One may assume that “Just Sitting” is to sit like a bump on a log, the joined fingers but thumb twiddling. Talk of “nothing to attain” or that “Zazen is useless” may falsely lead hearers to the conclusion that there is no great value and treasure in sitting, that it is a silly waste of time rather than a state beyond all time and measure. Or, the student may fail to distinguish Shikantaza sufficiently from other meditation forms, which seek some gold ring as their prize. Failing to understand how and why Shikantaza is a taste of the end of all searching, the student eventually gives up, running hungrily to the next method or guru or self-help book. The point is missed that, in not seeking to obtain “enlightenment” nor grabbing after “peace” or “joy”, a certain Peace, Joy and, yes, Enlightenment is obtained which can only come in the freedom of not seeking.

    In fact, there's a somewhat counter-intuitive trick to Zazen: I sometimes compare Shikantaza to the children’s puzzle of “Chinese finger-cuffs” which are escaped, not by forceful effort and pulling harder, but by non-resistance and letting go; by dropping the hunt for “enlightenment”, by giving up the chase, by allowing all to rest in the complete wholeness and acceptance of Just Sitting, by quenching all thirsts in the sheer satisfaction of sitting alone, one realizes a freedom and way of being which otherwise alludes us in this world of endless chasing and constant dissatisfactions.

    ...

    One does not have to look far in Dogen’s writings to find his exaltations of Zazen as the Alpha and Omega. Nor was he one for understatement. His writings and words speak of the mechanics of sitting, crossing the legs and letting thoughts go, finding balance in body and mind. But beyond that, Dogen also never failed to lyrically highlight the marvel and mystery of sitting itself.

    ...

    The ability to be at rest completely, to realize the preciousness and wholeness of life in this moment is a skill we have lost in this busy world. We chase after achievements, are overwhelmed with jobs that feel undone, and feel that there are endless places to go and people to see. The world can seem a broken and hopeless place. Thus, it is vital that we learn to sit each day with no other place in need of going, no feeling of brokenness nor judgment of lack, nothing more in need of achieving in that time but sitting itself. We sit with the sense that there is nothing to fix or place in need of getting, because this “not needing” is a wisdom that we so rarely taste. How tragic if we instead turn our Zazen or other meditation into just one more battle for achievement, a race to get some peaceful place, attain some craved prize or spiritual reward. Or, on the other hand, how equally tragic if we use Zazen just as a break from life, a little escape, never tasting the wholeness and completeness of life. By doing so, Zazen becomes just one more symptom of the rat race, and the prize is out of reach. True peace comes not by chasing, but by resting now in peace.

    More here ...
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...A-EXPLANATIONS
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi James,

    You are trying too hard. Relax. The experience should be not unlike driving down the highway, attentive to the road with eyes open, yet not particularly thinking about any of it. Attentive yet relaxed and at ease. In driving, one is attentive to the road, but not consciously trying to be aware of each individual item and sensation by identification. We are not Vipassana practitioners, trying to intentionally notice sights and sensations.

    Gassho J

    SatTodayLah
    When I was learning to drive I was constantly correctling and very jerky in my highway driving (not to mention stressed) because I was looking at the front of the car and the road right in front of it. My instructor told me to ignore the front of the car and look far ahead down the road and wala, problem solved! By letting go of the various picky individual details in the direct area, and looking into the vague and distant road, my hands became steady and the course became smooth and my instructors bladder was much calmer. I hadn't connected the experience with letting go before but now I realize it was quite a profound experience!

    Thanks Jundo!

    Paul L.
    Gassho,
    Sat today.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
    Paul

    Gassho,
    sat today

  6. #6
    By letting go of the various picky individual details in the direct area, and looking into the vague and distant road, my hands became steady and the course became smooth and my instructors bladder was much calmer. I hadn't connected the experience with letting go before but now I realize it was quite a profound experience!
    Yes this "letting go" may be a subconscious act with time. I noticed when I began Shikantaza there was a lot of subvocal talk: "let go, let go." But with time it just seems to happen on its own. Last night after sitting with a group, it occurred that this is very much like learning to ride a bicycle. At first there is thought of leaning left and right to balance. But with time, there's no thought of balance at all (unless one heads off into a ravine.) Naturally when dramatic thoughts occur then one must consciously let go of that thought. But with the trivia that usually wells up, that's not the case. At least this is my experience. It's really pretty easy if one doesn't spend time thinking about technique.

    Gassho
    Meishin
    Sat Today LAH

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