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Thread: Zazen Yōjinki - Sitting at the Centre

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Zazen Yōjinki - Sitting at the Centre

    Iíve been reading Koun Franzís commentary on Keizan's Zazen Yōjinki (which is really fantastic by the way) and I got to this.

    zazen, in our deepest understanding of what zazen is, is not something separate. Itís not a place where we work something out. Itís fundamentally complete. And something thatís fundamentally complete, within this definitionóitís not even good enough to say that itís vast. ďVastĒ still implies a container. Itís without limit.

    So when he teaches zazen, he says start there! Itís a big idea. Start there! Sit down on a cushion and completely let go of your idea of me, and that, and big and small and forward and backward and front and back and up and down. Sit here at the centerónot the center of something that has limits, but ďthe centerĒ being the whole thing.
    The bold text is mine.

    This passage I highlighted really lit a lightbulb for me about what Jundo says repeatedly about Zazen being whole and complete. Funny how sometimes you just need a slightly different expression of the same concept for it to click.

    If you want to read the whole commentary yourselves you can find it starting here https://nyoho.com/2018/07/07/you-kno...ojinki-part-1/


    Tairin
    Sat today
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  2. #2
    Lovely Tairin, thank you for sharing. =)

    But where is the centre? If all is whole and complete, then there is no centre; there is only this. Like the universe, it has no up or down, no left or right ... it has no centre and yet it is centre itself. =)

    Also, just as an fyi, but in 2013 we had Koun Franz here as a guest teacher ... you can see it here if you wish.



    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    Reminds me of the old saying "God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."
    Gassho
    Nick
    Satlah

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Many thanks for sharing, Tairin.

    Anant,
    SaT

  5. #5
    As a student of Koun's, I'm happy to see others enjoying his work too. His talks (also brilliant) are being shared as the Zen Nova Scotia podcast. They're definitely worth giving a listen.

    Sat today.

  6. #6
    Koun is great.

    I sometimes mention the book I am writing slowly (far below the speed of light) with my old friend, a theoretical physicist.

    Part touches upon how every point of the universe is both "a center" of the universe and equally "the center" of the universe which, in fact, is beyond large and small. It is much like the surface of a ball, where every point on the surface has as much claim to being the center point of the surface as any other. As well, if the whole ball is viewed as a singularity, much as our universe which was (and really remains) merely a singularity which blossomed out in the big bang, then the entirety is a single center point. Further, as the universe has nothing outside it to expand "into" (imagine a ball or balloon that is inflating, but it is not inflating into any space that is not within and created by the expansion of the sphere itself) and all is the ball, it is truly a center without limits. It also expands but, as there is nothing "outside" the universe to offer a point of comparison, one cannot say that it is getting "bigger" (something like a piece of origami paper that is unfolding, but not matter how much it is unfolded, it remains the original piece of paper not any bigger or smaller than it was).

    It is just fun to note that our usual, "common sense" ways of measuring things might not be the only way to measure things.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post196795

    We also have the vision that the tip of every blade of grass holds the whole universe. We think that the sea holds all the drops of water, but we do not realize that every drop holds the entire sea.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-10-2018 at 03:05 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Thank you for sharing, Tairin!

    Thank you also for the podcast link, Genjun. I wasn't aware of that.

    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.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Koun is great.

    I sometimes mention the book I am writing slowly (far below the speed of light) with my old friend, a theoretical physicist.

    Part touches upon how every point of the universe is both "a center" of the universe and equally "the center" of the universe which, in fact, is beyond large and small.
    Tairin described beautifully the feeling:

    "Sit here at the center—not the center of something that has limits, but “the center” being the whole thing."

    I would like to say that, the actual physics of the universe aside, it it enough even if such feeling is simply a subjective, emotional, personal feeling in one's own heart and mind. It is not really so important whether a physicist would say that the universe is actually big or small, has limits or no limits, or that the person so feeling is actually sitting at a "center of the universe" or off in some cosmic backwater boondocks.

    Why?

    Well, human beings typically feel and assess that we are not much bigger than ants living on a relatively tiny world in an unimaginably vast cosmos that is somehow disconnected from us (i.e., that we are tiny ants in a vast world that is just the place we are, not that the vast world is in fact what we are). We feel small, semi-alone and somehow in a "love/hate" relationship with this world and its events, which sometimes give us what we want but often disappoint, sometimes are pleasant and often not, and with which we feel various degrees of friction. (Some human beings go the other way, with overblown egos too, thinking that the world revolves around only them ... but those people seem to have double the friction and disappointment with life when it proves otherwise).

    However, such judgments and measures are also largely or exclusively subjective, emotional, personal feelings that human beings form between own own ears. Each is a value judgment that we make about our relationship to the world which is just our subjective assessment, not objective truth. Feeling "disconnected" and "disappointed," that some experience is "pleasant" or "unpleasant," that there is some friction between us and life, that we are alone (as opposed to "all is one"), that we are small (and thus relatively worthless to the "big picture") in a vast cosmos that is somehow separate from us ... all these are not true without our subjectively feeling that they are true.

    For example, the universe does not judge which of its contents is significant or insignificant by putting price tags on every mountain or star or grain of sand. There is no law or "economic principle of the universe" that an ant or an atom is somehow more or less precious than a whole anthill or a whole galaxy. The universe does not define what aspects of its contents are separate from it (in fact, no inch of the universe is not the universe by definition). Events are not "pleasant" or "unpleasant" without a sentient heart to judge so (e.g., a volcano or cancer is not objectively a bad thing apart from the judgement of some scared person who stands in their way ... and both phenomena may actually have some positive effects too on an evolutionary scale). A person in Nebraska or Borneo (each a beautiful and amazing place in its own way) might argue whether they are truly "stuck in the boondocks" compared to someone in New York City, or are they each as much at "a center" of the surface of the revolving ball which is this planet earth as a person standing in Manhattan? Likewise for "the boondocks" of the universe, where the universe provides no street signs to point out which pieces are more at the center or vital or valuable than any other bits.

    So, in a sense, it is fine if through Zazen and Buddhist insights we simply replace or supplement one set of "subjective, emotional, personal feelings" with an alternative set of "subjective, emotional, personal feelings" about who and what we are in reality and our relationship to it all. Both are perfectly defensible, worthwhile, viable ways to see, assess and experience things. Whether we feel like the "separate wave which is born and dies on the surface of the sea" or "always just the waving sea which rolls on and on and on endlessly" ... depends how we look at our self-identity. Whether you feel like an "insignificant ant" or "a shining jewel in Indra's vast net," as semi-alone and isolated or "one with the universe which pours into one's heart," as "in the boondocks" or "at a center, and also just the center of all without limits" ... each eye of the beholder to determine, whether eye of the "I" or Eye of the Buddha.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-11-2018 at 11:53 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Tairin described beautifully the feeling:

    "Sit here at the centerónot the center of something that has limits, but ďthe centerĒ being the whole thing."

    I would like to say that, the actual physics of the universe aside, it it enough even if such feeling is simply a subjective, emotional, personal feeling in one's own heart and mind. It is not really so important whether a physicist would say that the universe is actually big or small, has limits or no limits, or that the person so feeling is actually sitting at a "center of the universe" or off in some cosmic backwater boondocks.

    Why?

    Well, human beings typically feel and assess that we are not much bigger than ants living on a relatively tiny world in an unimaginably vast cosmos that is somehow disconnected from us (i.e., that we are tiny ants in a vast world that is just the place we are, not that the vast world is in fact what we are). We feel small, semi-alone and somehow in a "love/hate" relationship with this world and its events, which sometimes give us what we want but often disappoint, sometimes are pleasant and often not, and with which we feels various degrees of friction. (Some human beings go the other way, with overblown egos too, thinking that the world revolves around only them ... but those people seem to have double the friction and disappointment with life when it proves otherwise).

    However, such judgments and measures are also largely or exclusively subjective, emotional, personal feelings that human beings form between own own ears. Each is a value judgment that we make about our relationship to the world which is just our subjective assessment, not objective truth. Feeling "disconnected" and "disappointed," that some experience is "pleasant" or "unpleasant," that there is some friction between us and life, that we are alone (as opposed to "all is one"), that we are small (and thus relatively worthless to the "big picture") in a vast cosmos that is somehow separate from us ... all these are not true without our subjectively feeling that they are true.

    For example, the universe does not judge which of its contents is significant or insignificant by putting price tags on every mountain or star or grain of sand. There is no law or "economic principle of the universe" that an ant or an atom is somehow more or less precious than a whole anthill or a whole galaxy. The universe does not define what aspects of its contents are separate from it (in fact, no inch of the universe is not the universe by definition). Events are not "pleasant" or "unpleasant" without a sentient heart to judge so (e.g., a volcano or cancer is not objectively a bad thing apart from the judgement of some scared person who stands in their way ... and both phenomena may actually have some positive effects too on an evolutionary scale). A person in Nebraska or Borneo (each a beautiful and amazing place in its own way) might argue whether they are truly "stuck in the boondocks" compared to someone in New York City, or are they each as much at "a center" of the surface of the revolving ball which is this planet earth as a person standing in Manhattan? Likewise for "the boondocks" of the universe, where the universe provides no street signs to point out which pieces are more at the center or vital or valuable than any other bits.

    So, in a sense, it is fine if through Zazen and Buddhist insights we simply replace or supplement one set of "subjective, emotional, personal feelings" with an alternative set of "subjective, emotional, personal feelings" about who and what we are in reality and our relationship to it all. Both are perfectly defensible, worthwhile, viable ways to see, assess and experience things. Whether we feel like the "separate wave which is born and dies on the surface of the sea" or "always just the waving sea which rolls on and on and on endlessly" ... depends how we look at our self-identity. Whether you feel like an "insignificant ant" or "a shining jewel in Indra's vast net," as semi-alone and isolated or "one with the universe which pours into one's heart," as "in the boondocks" or "at a center, and also just the center of all without limits" ... each eye of the beholder to determine, whether eye of the "I" or Eye of the Buddha.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Now that, sir, is well put, and puts my mind at ease. Thank you.


    As a student of Koun's, I'm happy to see others enjoying his work too. His talks (also brilliant) are being shared as the Zen Nova Scotia podcast. They're definitely worth giving a listen.

    I totally agree. His style really brings concepts down to ground level. A few months ago I started with the first Zen Nova Scotia podcast, and am listening to them in order.

    Shinshou (Dan)
    Sat Today

  10. #10
    The center is just a label for being part in any place of the Whole Cosmic Enchilada.

    Sit here at the center—not the center of something that has limits, but “the center” being the whole thing.
    Thank you for this Tairin. I'll sit with this.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  11. #11
    Thank you for this Tairin, and thank you Genjun for the link, the podcasts look great!
    Gassho
    Meitou
    Satwithyoualltoday lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    The center is just a label for being part in any place of the Whole Cosmic Enchilada.
    homer.jpg

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

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