Results 1 to 45 of 45

Thread: WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 2 Zazen - To P. 17

  1. #1

    WHAT IS ZEN? - Chap 2 Zazen - To P. 17

    So, what is 'Zazen'?

    This time, we will read about half of Chapter 2, stopping on page 17 just before "Why do we sit facing the wall? ... "

    This chapter has a very good basic description of sitting. Every Shikantaza teacher or group has small differences in approach, but pretty much I did not find anything in this chapter that is unlike our practice at Treeleaf. They discussed following the breath, which we also recommend here especially for new folks or anybody who benefits from having a bit of an anchor for the attention.

    I do think that I emphasize a couple of important aspects that they really only touched on lightly, I think. (Actually they did a bit on page 11, in the section discussing Zazen as sitting as the Buddha sitting, and that sitting is sacred and profound.) I tend to emphasize a bit more the fact that sitting is a sacred act, to be sat as the one act to do, and one place to be in the whole world in that time of sitting (You all have heard me say that 10,000 times). I also emphasize "open awareness" a bit more, and sitting without judgments and radically without goals, but I think they do touch on that too.

    If you notice any other aspects that seem the same or different or that you have a question about, now's your chance to discuss! We do cover a lot of these same question in our Forum, but always good to discuss and clarify more.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-15-2018 at 03:34 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Gassho,

    Michael

    STLAH

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Thank you Jundo. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  4. #4
    Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho

    Sat today, Lent a hand


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    I really enjoyed this chapter because it mentioned things I already knew, but in a slightly different way. "Releasing your weight" to the ground below is something I notice I'm doing, but no one ever explicitly put it into words for me. "Lengthening your spine" is something that happens when you sit up straight, but focusing on that specifically is helping me get into a posture that's easier to hold and feel still without effort. Dogen's own words about what to think about during zazen are so terse that it seems like the duty of every Zen teacher to fill in the blanks, and you end up hearing something slightly different each time you listen to a new teacher.

    Zazen is, fundamentally, sitting with the basic feeling of being alive.
    Every moment, your life and all your feelings, thoughts, and accomplishments depend on the fact that you are embodied, breathing, and conscious, but most of us hardly ever notice these experiential facts. In zazen the task is just to be present with this basic human experience and nothing else -- simply sitting in awareness of the feeling of being alive.
    That's really all that zazen is to me. All the complicated "Buddhist" stuff happens when we get off the cushion and have to start applying what we experience on the cushion with the incomprehensible, unbounded chaos of life (as if somehow we are not living while on the cushion, or not living off the cushion).

    There's one part that struck me as a bit odd:
    Western Buddhism is composed of, very broadly, of three traditions... Vipassana (Theravada)... Tibetan... Zen
    What about the giant Chinese Pure Land temples? What about Theravada traditions brought over by Thai and Sri Lankan immigrants? Are these people "Western Buddhists" or not? I know what he's getting at here; there's a very clear distinction between "convert" Buddhism and "immigrant" Buddhism in the west. What irks me slightly is that he doesn't touch upon this distinction at all, simply because it seems to erase the existence of immigrant Buddhists in the west. I can understand, though; talking about other traditions in a book about Zen is really just a side note, and this is a side note in a chapter about zazen. The "immigrant" traditions tend to de-emphasize or discourage meditation for laypeople, so it wouldn't be very useful to go into detail here. Am I just worrying way too much about the semantics of the word "western"?

    _/\_
    Kenny
    Sat Today

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Kenny,

    The complicated "Buddhist stuff" off the cushion really isn't so complicated, or so different from just sitting. Don't let all the words give you the idea that there is something missing. What we practice here really is all about zazen and compassion. If you got those figured out, you're right on.

    The semantics of what Western Buddhism is could really fill its own book, and any perceived omission on the subject is, I assume, to keep the book simple. It is an introduction to Zen, after all.

    Gassho, say today, lah

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  7. #7
    Hi,

    Buddhist literature is very dry but itís needed to get to the good stuff.

    IMG_0972.JPG

    I like just sitting and chop wood and carry water.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  8. #8
    Am I just worrying way too much about the semantics of the word "western"?
    I may be reading between the lines, but I think when he refers to "Western", he means the practice of Western converts. I could be totally wrong but my guess is that immigrant traditions are more in line with their source countries' practice than the flavors given to Buddhism when mixed with Enlightenment expectations about equality, democracy, individualism, etc.


    No merit. Vast emptiness; nothing holy. I don't know.

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    I agree, Todd.

    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.

  10. #10
    Interesting points! Thanks always for sharing everyone.

    I found the guidance around ways to encounter and process pain to be well described.

    I find that dismantling the psychosomatics of pain encountered during Zazen to have a direct benefit toward how I handle discomfort and resistance during the busy work day.

    I feel that Ďresistanceí is rightfully described as being of key relevance. When I have been able to get through times of discomfort when sitting, I find myself to be in a much more Ďdurableí state for the rest of that day.

    However, Iím not qualified to assume this might be the case when the discomfort is less transient, chronic or intense.

    I also find that if I am finding discomfort particularly intolerable or irritating, itís a sure sign Iím feeling worn down and fatigued. This can be a useful prompt for some self care.

    The stories our minds generate around discomfort can then be left behind, unable to latch onto us when insights on discomfort are fresh. These stories and associated emotions, can be seen for what they are and are no longer so empowered to perpetuate unnecessary suffering.

    Gassho

    Frank

    Sat today, Lent a hand


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    I understand that Zazen has a special form of sitting (or, actually all Buddhist meditation forms). If one is healthy, the full-lotus seat is preferred and if not, sitting on a chair can be an alternative.

    I wonder what is the Zen view on lying, e.g. on the bed or ground?
    I met some practioners of meditation who liked lying. They were more spiritual, not Buddhist, so to say. Is there too much "feeling" of the surrounding earth while lying during meditation?

    Gassho,
    Karsten

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Kha View Post
    I understand that Zazen has a special form of sitting (or, actually all Buddhist meditation forms). If one is healthy, the full-lotus seat is preferred and if not, sitting on a chair can be an alternative.

    I wonder what is the Zen view on lying, e.g. on the bed or ground?
    I met some practioners of meditation who liked lying. They were more spiritual, not Buddhist, so to say. Is there too much "feeling" of the surrounding earth while lying during meditation?

    Gassho,
    Karsten
    I think the main concern is falling asleep! So, sitting of some kind is preferred, unless there is medical reason for reclining. Also, somehow more respectful of the act, like the difference between sitting vs. reclining in many daily activities. Some would say there there is some more physiological reason, such as ki flow or the like, but I am skeptical of such reasons.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-17-2018 at 02:02 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    I understand that Zazen has a special form of sitting (or, actually all Buddhist meditation forms). If one is healthy, the full-lotus seat is preferred and if not, sitting on a chair can be an alternative.
    I wonder how much is due primarily to Asian culture? The Berliner Philharmoniker did an Asian tour, and one segment of the video showed about 300 students at a concert. They were sitting erect on chairs that were spaced precisely apart. It looked a little eerie but not dissimilar from a row of monks in a Zen hall. One of the musicians said she had never known an audience that was as still and as apparently focused on listening. That would not have been the case at any western concert for adolescents. And as a psychologist, I wondered why the 5% diagnosed ADHD were not in attendance

    Gassho
    Meishin
    Sat Today LAH
    Last edited by Meishin; 07-17-2018 at 04:32 PM.

  14. #14
    Hi,

    When Jundo is around I sit like Buddha. When he is not around I lay like Buddha. Or the other way around. Hard to say. Appearances are very important.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  15. #15
    One aspect is that, around here, we have always had a somewhat more flexible (pun intended) approach to sitting posture. Some Zen groups from Japan (yes, even Nishijima Roshi was a bit like this) can be a bit fixated on the Lotus Postures (especially the Full Lotus) as having special powers, one size fits all, almost to the point of fetishizing that one way to sit. In fact, it is a wonderful way to sit, facilitating balance and stability of mind ... for some. In fact, other stable and balanced ways to sit are good too.

    Around here, we emphasize finding the stable, balanced posture (preferably seated) right for your body, and that may even change somewhat.

    I always very much recommend this book on sitting posture.

    Book Recommendation: - THE POSTURE OF MEDITATION
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...-OF-MEDITATION

    And for folks who, because of medical issues, have no comfortable way to sit whatsoever, remember that the key to Shikantaza is to sit with "what is" whatever that is.

    Gassho, J

    STLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    I often sit on my lunch break in my car. I am pretty sure I break all the traditional rules about posture in my car. At home, I sit on a zafu Burmese style. I canít get my legs in full lotus position. Knowing that people decades older than me can do it makes me think I could try harder though.


    Sat2day

  17. #17
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Whenever I read a book on Zen with pages and pages on the importance of sitting upright I feel discouraged and excluded. I'm glad that there is an awareness at Treeleaf that not everyone can do that and also that some people do Zazen with constant pain because of illness/injury regardless of their posture. I do find it hard not to think that my experience of Zazen might be very different if I could sit up and sometimes I feel like I'm not doing it properly because of that. I'm pretty sure Jundo would say that wasn't the case, but I still have those thoughts.

    One thing I noticed that I haven't seen suggested at Treeleaf is actually counting the breaths, rather than just following the breath. In my experience counting the breath tends to be a more concentration-based practise.

    Also, I'm not sure I agree that the meditation practised in all three traditions of Buddhism is 'pretty much the same'. That hasn't been my experience.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH
    Last edited by Eishuu; 07-18-2018 at 08:31 AM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Eishuu View Post

    Also, I'm not sure I agree that the meditation practised in all three traditions of Buddhism is 'pretty much the same'. That hasn't been my experience.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH
    I sometimes say "always just the same" (in that perspective beyond all divisions, beyond me and you and the other, good and bad, birth and death), yet often quite different. Most meditation seeks special experiences, deep concentration or the like, unlike the radical rest and release of all goals in Shikantaza.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I sometimes say "always just the same" (in that perspective beyond all divisions, beyond me and you and the other, good and bad, birth and death), yet often quite different. Most meditation seeks special experiences, deep concentration or the like, unlike the radical rest and release of all goals in Shikantaza.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    That's what I like about Shikantaza - it is very different in that way.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH

  20. #20
    I often sit on my lunch break in my car. I am pretty sure I break all the traditional rules about posture in my car.
    If I have the time, I have a short "driver's seat sit" in my car when I arrive at work. I try to get close to correct posture. Cross legs at ankles, mudra. It's a great way to transition from an hour of driving to office work.

    At home, I sit on a zafu Burmese style. I can’t get my legs in full lotus position. Knowing that people decades older than me can do it makes me think I could try harder though.
    I can do full lotus, despite being 6-foot-5 and middle-aged. But, when I went to zazen instruction at Berkley Zen Center, the instructor suggested using half-lotus when starting out. That's what I've been doing. Recently, I tried full lotus again and it seems the stability when sitting on a zafu is improved. But I found it very difficult to get into. I think half-lotus is fine.

    Sat. Gassho.


    No merit. Vast emptiness; nothing holy. I don't know.

  21. #21
    Why do we sit and face the wall:

    IMG_0974.JPG

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Todd View Post
    If I have the time, I have a short "driver's seat sit" in my car when I arrive at work. I try to get close to correct posture. Cross legs at ankles, mudra. It's a great way to transition from an hour of driving to office work.



    I can do full lotus, despite being 6-foot-5 and middle-aged. But, when I went to zazen instruction at Berkley Zen Center, the instructor suggested using half-lotus when starting out. That's what I've been doing. Recently, I tried full lotus again and it seems the stability when sitting on a zafu is improved. But I found it very difficult to get into. I think half-lotus is fine.

    Sat. Gassho.
    Thank you Todd. Good to know I am not the only one sitting in their work parking lot meditating I might give full lotus a go again. I do like Burmese because it is easy and a stable position. Half lotus might be a good transition for me, but I always found my knees at different heights making me a bit wobbly. Although, it works well for others of course.


    Sat2day

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Why do we sit and face the wall:

    IMG_0974.JPG

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    I love there that you post, J.

    Gassho, J

    SYLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    Thank you, Jundo. This is a great chapter.

    Pain. A long time Zen practinioner once described to me the senstations they
    usually experience in sesshins at the time of austere pain. When the pain is at the peak (for me it's
    usually at the end of the second day) and you feel like you can no longer bear it, you try to open up more
    and feel the Compassion towards hurting parts or the whole body. Besides you try to endure the pain,
    be the pain, you become compassionate for your body. Then the tension softens or the pain may even totally
    disappear. I haven't experienced this myself yet but think it can be a helpful pointer for one's Practice.

    Gassho
    Washin
    sat, no lah yet
    Last edited by Washin; 07-19-2018 at 09:17 AM. Reason: some grammar
    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    ----
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  25. #25
    Hello all,

    I'm truly enjoying this book, but there was a small passage that threw me off a little(pg. 8): "Sitting up straight puts you in a posture of full human dignity, which in itself will promote awareness and a sense of your own nobility." I had a slight problem with this...it sounded a little egotistical and arrogant. Almost like we should be proud that we are sitting and it makes us special in some way. I didn't like it, almost like I was offended by it .

    But upon continuing, the author states, "I think of this sitting upright as, 'allowing yourself to be lifted from within."
    This I could relate to! When I sit, I feel as if it is a heart-opening exercise...allowing me to be open to whatever comes through my sitting zazen at that moment. So then, I felt a little better about the rest of the chapter.


    Another passage that truly resonated with me was, "Zen practice understands mind, body and spirit as being one experience, one activity. So whatever your posture, you pay attention to it as it is." (pg 13)

    Early on, when I started along this path, I obsessed over trying to 'sit' correctly. I tried multiple stretches and techniques to sit full lotus; only ever managing to make it into a half lotus. I thought that the pain I was enduring was good for my practice as I worked through it sit after sit. After putting my hips out of place multiple times and causing my knee to swell and retain fluid and taking multiple trips to my chiropractor and doctor; I came to the conclusion that because of my scoliosis and damaged knee, full lotus and even half lotus were not options for me. I would feel ashamed and discouraged. But I found that seiza worked quite well for a little while...then I realized that it doesn't matter how you sit, as long as you are sincere and diligent in your practice. You can sit in a chair or even lay face down on a therapy table and still manage to stay present and focus on your breath and enjoy the feeling of being alive!

    Gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei
    sattoday/lah

  26. #26
    I feel the same as Jinmei and Eishuu about parts of this chapter - to be honest I found it contradictory and not very helpful.

    No matter how you cut it - there is a two tier aspect to Zen differentiating between those who can sit upright and those you can't. Being of the latter
    it niggles away at me. I can't see the point of spending pages extolling the merits of upright sitting and bearing pain and then add in at the end - well, if you can't it really doesn't matter. ????????

    Lets look at the comments on 'intense sitting' - apparently 'essential for someone who wants to devote significant time and effort to Zen practice'. Isn't it possible to devote time and energy even if disabled? I know for sure many of us here do. Another two tier differentiation is introduced between Sesshin and 'ordinary sitting'.

    This may sound harsh but I believe that pain that is fabricated (by forcing the body to stay in one position for long periods of time) is simply not the same as the pain endured in chronic illness. Some of us here have intense pain before we even attempt to sit - being with pain is the reality of our
    lives and does not 'shake out' when rising from the cushion. So regarding the aversion to the physical sensation of pain - maybe its possible to learn some kind of letting go so that 'sometimes pain miraculously disappears, and you feel light and full of ease'in sesshin but I'm not convinced by the implied value of that.

    For me me there's an underlying philosophy that I simply don't warm to. Real life contains a lot of pain, both physical and emotional - surely it's enough to sit with/ to work with your real life. Real life ,I feel, is fundamentally our sesshin.

    It's almost like when the text moves back to 'ordinary sitting' it all hangs lose - and one thing's no better than the other, just different, etc. I just feel - why give so much space to it in the first place seeing as intense sesshin is an exclusion zone for many.

    (That apart I am enjoying the book! )

    Gassho

    Jinyo

  27. #27
    Kelly and Jinyo,

    Thank you! i'm reading the kindle version, so I can see what passages are highlighted by other readers. The sentence about "noble posture" has 42 hightlights! But for me that line was distasteful. The following two lines I found much more realistic about sitting:

    I think of this sitting upright as “allowing yourself to be lifted from within.” Rather than willfully imposing a rigid posture on yourself, you are allowing your body to be uplifted, letting this natural opening occur.
    The idea of being lifted and a natural opening seem more correct to me as to what the posture creates for us. But having taught yoga for a while, I understand how difficult it can be to put into words how you want to make the body feel. I have heard the most "interesting" phases used by some teachers to try to create a sense of what you should be feeling. But for each of us the feeling is different.

    I like reading books like this because they help to inform me on what types of descriptions I find helpful and when it might be better to say less. I truly like the simple basic descriptions of the posture and what to do. It leaves more room to just be, and not be worried about is my body feeling noble and lifted?

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  28. #28
    Hello everyone,

    I got my copy three days ago and have caught up. Hope it's cool to jump on the bandwagon .

    "Sitting up straight puts you in a posture of full human dignity, which in itself will promote awareness and a sense of your own nobility." I had a slight problem with this...it sounded a little egotistical and arrogant.
    I kind of understand the discomfort around this description. That being said, regardless of the specific posture (on the zafu, on a train standing up, sitting in a chair...) I do relate the consideration of our posture to a sort of embodiment of respect and integrity in a way? An upholding of our values even if nobody's watching, even if nothing in the moment demands it of us. Not too seriously, just a subtle attitude.

    I also found it curious the idea of coming back to the breath and body is repeated whereas the open spaciousness of Shikantaza isn't mentioned. "...we just sit with the feeling of being alive" seems to fit Shikantaza, but again, I wondered why the "coming back to nothing in particular" wasn't mentioned in how to do Zazen.

    Gassho
    Gaby
    Sat Today / LAH

  29. #29
    I sat today in my wheelchair. I always do zazen in my wheelchair. It's just sitting. All the other distinctions are best dropped away
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  30. #30
    Hi Gaby,

    Had the author stated that passage as eloquently as you have said it, I wouldn't have had a problem at all.

    I do relate the consideration of our posture to a sort of embodiment of respect and integrity in a way? An upholding of our values even if nobody's watching, even if nothing in the moment demands it of us. Not too seriously, just a subtle attitude.
    Yes, absolutely! You have said it so wonderfully, thank you!


    Gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei
    sattoday/lah

  31. #31
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Norman Fischer:

    "...[It] does matter that you sit up straight, with full human dignity... But you can also sit up straight on a chair or bench. Sometimes people with injuries can't sit up straight. If so, then you sit in whatever way you can... So whatever posture, you pay attention to it as it is."

    But if it was written like this I don't think it would bother people as much:

    "...[It] does matter that you sit up straight, [if you can]... But you can also sit up straight on a chair or bench. Sometimes people with injuries can't sit up straight. If so, then you sit in whatever way you can... So whatever posture, you pay attention to it as it is [with full human dignity.]"

    I only changed a couple of things. I think the problem here is that this book is an interview.

    The question was: "How important is it to do zazen in full or half lotus? Does it really matter what position you sit in?"

    This being an interview, he probably thought at first of a physically fit person who did not think that posture mattered much, to whom the given answer would be fitting: to deter them from apathy.

    The questioner herself, Susan Moon, did not think to ask on behalf of disabled people, he accounted for them himself in his answer. I think that shows a lot more thoughtfulness on his part than is immediately construed.

    I can see what he meant, despite the format.

    Gassho, sat today, lah

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Geika; 07-21-2018 at 12:04 AM.
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  32. #32
    Just sit dropping concepts of straight and dignity, Fischer and Moon, interview and instructions. If it offends you, then just sit with the "you" who finds offense. Just sit. I did.

    Look, as far as I am concerned, people take the sitting part of zazen way too literally. The essential instruction on zazen is what you do with your head, not your body. About the only physical instructions I can follow are to actually be sitting down with my hands in the mudra and looking straight ahead, so I tend to skim over all the other instructions because they don't apply to me, but I still do zazen. Did Fischer use some ableist language? Yes. Did that matter to me? No. Should he have known better, written it better? Not really that important, but able-bodied people get carried away with able-bodied stuff. That doesn't mean the rest of us have to do the same. The great thing about Zen is it's all Zen. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form, and I take that to also include formal zazen positioning.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 07-21-2018 at 02:38 PM.
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

    I sat today

  33. #33
    I found the advice about sitting with pain very useful actually, but I must stress that I'm not talking about the chronic pain many of you have to contend with, but boring old person pain, the usual suspects - arthritic neck, creaky knees, bad back etc. The neck stuff means I can only sit as straight and noble as an inquisitive tortoise, so be it. But when the creaky knees and dead leg start I have used the advice 'just five more breaths' and then another five, really helpful. Susan Moon herself isn't a stranger to these things, she's written a very good and funny book about ageing and practice, and I think it's in that book that she writes about the blessed relief she felt the first time she sat Zazen in a chair after having struggled so long with creaky knees.
    I also liked the reminder about the earth supporting us (however we sit, lay etc), it brings to mind Buddha's touching the earth as witness mudra and the simplicity of his teachings.
    What did intrigue me was the distinction drawn between 'every day sitting' and sitting in sesshin. I had always thought that sesshin required the same sitting but over a longer period. I'd like to hear about other Treeleafers experiences of sesshin, how it may or may not differ from 'every day sitting' and how it may or may not differ from a home retreat.
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    Just sit dropping concepts of straight and dignity, Fischer and Moon, interview and instructions. If it offends you, then just sit with the "you" who finds offense. Just sit. I did.

    Look, as far as I am concerned, people take the sitting part of zazen way too literally. The essential instruction on zazen is what you do with your head, not your body. About the only physical instructions I can follow are to actually be sitting down with my hands in the mudra and looking straight ahead, so I tend to skim over all the other instructions because they don't apply to me, but I still do zazen. Did Fischer use some ableist language? Yes. Did that matter to me? No. Should he have known better, written it better? Not really that important, but able-bodied people get carried away with able-bodied stuff. That doesn't mean the rest of us have to do the same. The great thing about Zen is it's all Zen. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form, and I take that to also include formal zazen positioning.
    I agree with most of what you write - and maybe not particularly offended for my self - but I think it's really important to make zen accessible to all and therefore feel anyone in a position of widely spreading the word needs to edit accordingly. I mean - it doesn't take a great deal of extra thought/ or additional words to write a bit more about Zen as practiced within the disabled community. I would have just liked it to be a bit more encouraging/inclusive for those with disabilities who are new to zazen.

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    ST

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post

    Look, as far as I am concerned, people take the sitting part of zazen way too literally. The essential instruction on zazen is what you do with your head, not your body. About the only physical instructions I can follow are to actually be sitting down with my hands in the mudra and looking straight ahead, so I tend to skim over all the other instructions because they don't apply to me, but I still do zazen. Did Fischer use some ableist language? Yes. Did that matter to me? No. Should he have known better, written it better? Not really that important, but able-bodied people get carried away with able-bodied stuff. That doesn't mean the rest of us have to do the same. The great thing about Zen is it's all Zen. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form, and I take that to also include formal zazen positioning.
    Could not agree more.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    I sat today in my wheelchair. I always do zazen in my wheelchair. It's just sitting. All the other distinctions are best dropped away
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  37. #37
    Seconding what a lot of people have said about pain. I have back pain, it was chronic for many years, it's less so now, but sitting is generally at least a little bit painful. People who think you should sit through pain are looking at things the wrong way. There's a difference between muscle tension, which can cause pain, and the kind of pain that is a signal, a warning that you're doing something wrong. (Frankly, the muscle tension pain is a warning in its own way.) I'm not reading the book, but this seems like what a number of zen teachers espouse, the fact that you simply have to do it _this_ way or else you're a fake zennist. (And it's not just zen; many teachers from other traditions say this too.)

    Gassho,

    Grumpy Kirk
    I know nothing.

  38. #38
    How the Buddha "sat" when sick or his body ached ....

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  39. #39
    Yes, I can't do that. When I lie down, I can't manage to have the same intention as when I sit (though some years ago I could "sit" lying down). Sometimes when I sit in a chair I can, but not always. There's something about the cross-legged position that makes sitting different.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    I know nothing.

  40. #40
    Pain is something I have experienced every once in a while during zazen Sometimes I am able to minimize it by changing positions. The book does mention that "working with pain is important" but at the same time it mentions that we can't be foolish. If we notice that sitting too long is causing damage, then as the author puts it, "thats a sign that we should back off".

    "The trick is to keep things simple, take care of your body reasonably and leave it at that".

    Enjoying all of the comments and insights.

    Gassho
    Toun
    Sat2day
    Last edited by Toun; 07-23-2018 at 02:49 PM. Reason: typo

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny View Post

    There's one part that struck me as a bit odd:

    What about the giant Chinese Pure Land temples? What about Theravada traditions brought over by Thai and Sri Lankan immigrants? Are these people "Western Buddhists" or not? I know what he's getting at here; there's a very clear distinction between "convert" Buddhism and "immigrant" Buddhism in the west. What irks me slightly is that he doesn't touch upon this distinction at all, simply because it seems to erase the existence of immigrant Buddhists in the west. I can understand, though; talking about other traditions in a book about Zen is really just a side note, and this is a side note in a chapter about zazen. The "immigrant" traditions tend to de-emphasize or discourage meditation for laypeople, so it wouldn't be very useful to go into detail here. Am I just worrying way too much about the semantics of the word "western"?

    _/\_
    Kenny
    Sat Today
    Jumping in a bit late - but I'm very glad we're doing this book - I listened to the audio version during Jukai last year and really enjoyed it.

    One thing that's really amplified in the audio version is the fact that this is a casual conversation between two friends. When going for a walk with a loved one and explaining zen, you probably aren't going to dive into some of the nuances - the differences and effects that Sri Lankan immigrants had on western Buddhism and so forth. Even if you find it important, it's just not necessary for the tone of the chat.

    You will see that a lot in this book, and again, in the audio it's made much more clear the casual tone of this book. Not "dumbing down" by any means, but instead - casual.


    Norman is a great resource on the role of Buddhism in the West and the history of other traditions. You can see that a lot in his other works. It's easy for us to want the author to go in a different direction, but Normam and Sue are taking us for a walk - and it's best to go at their pace, rather than trying to make them go at ours.

    -ST

    Rakurei

  42. #42
    Member Seishin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    Been meaning to post for a few days now but snowed under with IT problems on new PC.

    Great discussion regards how to sit and good that this thread reemphasizes Treeleaf's open arms to all. I can't sit any kind of Lotus and only Burmese for a few minutes. Conventional Seiza results in nerve compression in my butt with the Zafu on its edge. So I sit with Zafu placed on Zabuton normally but with my lower legs outside of my thighs. Probably means my hips are a little low but still above my knees but hey it works for me. Horses for courses.

    Reading this section, going over some of Posture Of Meditation (would say all newbies should read this book) and a free How To Meditate course on Insight Timer that popped up in coincidental fashion, I've found myself more grounded and calmer in the last few days and less inclined to analyse how I'm sitting, which I still frequently do! Focusing lightly on my breath and also my body and especially contact points with the cushion and mat seems to allow my mind to be more settled and release a bit more blue sky. Maybe I've finally go it.

    Looking forward to more.


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  43. #43
    In the zazen instructions, I was a little bothered by the repeated use of the word "attention." I think that word includes the idea of effort. The word "awareness" is more in line with what I'm "doing" during zazen. Maybe that's splitting hairs, but my impression was that the repeated use of "attention" could lead a beginner to believe that zazen is purely a concentration practice, which is not what I'm doing on the cushion (or maybe I've been doing it wrong!). Other than that, I thought it was a really good introduction, and some of his descriptions, casual or not, were far better than I could do if asked the same questions.

    Shinshou (Daniel)
    Sat Today

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshou View Post
    In the zazen instructions, I was a little bothered by the repeated use of the word "attention." I think that word includes the idea of effort. The word "awareness" is more in line with what I'm "doing" during zazen. Maybe that's splitting hairs, but my impression was that the repeated use of "attention" could lead a beginner to believe that zazen is purely a concentration practice, which is not what I'm doing on the cushion (or maybe I've been doing it wrong!). Other than that, I thought it was a really good introduction, and some of his descriptions, casual or not, were far better than I could do if asked the same questions.

    Shinshou (Daniel)
    Sat Today
    When Shikantaza folks say "attention," like Norman here, I believe that what they mean is closer to open "awareness." Yes, it is not "forced" in any way, and neither is it slack day dreaming or "spacing" or dullness.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    When Shikantaza folks say "attention," like Norman here, I believe that what they mean is closer to open "awareness." Yes, it is not "forced" in any way, and neither is it slack day dreaming or "spacing" or dullness.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Whew, Iíve been doing it right!

    Shinsho (Daniel)
    Sat today


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

Posting Permissions

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