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Thread: SPLIT THREAD: EYE to EYE

  1. #1

    SPLIT THREAD: EYE to EYE

    JUNDO NOTE: A split thread of various questions about the eyes in Zazen, originally from our "We're All Beginners" Series mailbox:

    Hi Jundo,

    I sometimes find myself drifting off when keeping my gaze on just one point on the wall ahead of me. Is it advisable to look around a little when attention becomes weak from not moving the gaze at all and then bringing it back again. Thanks.

    Gassho,
    Anant
    Sat2day
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-06-2020 at 03:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by newby_x86 View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    ... keeping my gaze on just one point on the wall ahead of me. ...

    Gassho,
    Anant
    Sat2day
    Oh, don't do that!

    Here is an past thread on eyes ...

    As I usually say when this subject comes up, I personally am not staring fixedly at a "point" or a dot ... nor am I staring so unfocused that my eyes go blurry. I describe it as "staring at everything and nothing in particular". My eyes take in the room or the floor or wall quiet naturally, but I do not latch onto anything particular I am seeing. "Staring wide eyed into space" may be a good description. Maybe my focus just wanders from point to point to point quite naturally, resting where they rest, on this or that, then moving on when they move on.
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post162390

    Is it advisable to look around a little when attention becomes weak from not moving the gaze at all and then bringing it back again. Thanks.
    I hope that answers your question, "wander quite naturally, resting where they rest" but not particularly thinking about or judging what I am looking at. Eyes about 1/2 or 1/3 open. Let me know if that helps.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-19-2018 at 05:29 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Thanks for the quick response Jundo.

    I move my head around the room looking up at the ceiling, the furniture in the room and then bring the gaze back to the wall in front. I suppose that's alright so long as I don't do too much of it? or am I just overthinking this.

    Gassho,
    Anant

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by newby_x86 View Post
    Thanks for the quick response Jundo.

    I move my head around the room looking up at the ceiling, the furniture in the room and then bring the gaze back to the wall in front. I suppose that's alright so long as I don't do too much of it? or am I just overthinking this.

    Gassho,
    Anant
    I think you are overthinking, but not sure why you are looking at ceiling and furniture if facing the wall. If facing the wall, in front of you is just the wall.



    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-19-2018 at 06:30 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Ok, thanks. Something I need to work on for sure

    Gassho,
    Anant

  6. #6
    I find that bringing my gaze up just a bit makes a big difference if I am drifting off.

    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.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    I find that bringing my gaze up just a bit makes a big difference if I am drifting off.
    Hello,

    thank you. I tried it while sitting a sleepy sit and it worked.

    Just got my first (long needed) glasses some weeks ago.
    Found out, that sitting with glasses (close to the wall) and seeing sharp without effort helps with not drifting off, too.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  8. #8
    I sat today.

    I have a question about the eyes. My eyes are very dry and it is difficult to keep them open with minimal blinking during zazen. Any advice?

    Kevin
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-06-2020 at 03:14 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    I sat today.

    I have a question about the eyes. My eyes are very dry and it is difficult to keep them open with minimal blinking during zazen. Any advice?

    Kevin
    It is okay to blink if you need to. I have some trouble with dry eyes also, I will sometimes close them for just a bit until they feel better. Sometimes focusing on a particular spot on the wall and letting the offending body part be forgotten is the solution to many of the little irritants!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    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).

  10. #10

  11. #11
    Jakuden's suggestions for my dry eyes have been very helpful.

    I have yet another question about the eyes. I find that if I focus on one spot for an extended period that my eyes lose focus, everything goes white and then they simply refocus. Is it preferable to just let this happen, or is it better to just let the eyes move from spot to spot as they will?

    I understand that the idea is to just sit and just accept whatever happens, but I'd like to hear from someone with more experience than me.

    Gassho.

    Sat today

    Klb

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Benbow View Post
    Jakuden's suggestions for my dry eyes have been very helpful.

    I have yet another question about the eyes. I find that if I focus on one spot for an extended period that my eyes lose focus, everything goes white and then they simply refocus. Is it preferable to just let this happen, or is it better to just let the eyes move from spot to spot as they will?

    I understand that the idea is to just sit and just accept whatever happens, but I'd like to hear from someone with more experience than me.

    Gassho.

    Sat today

    Klb
    Hi Kevin!
    I probably should have said “look” at one spot on the wall, rather than “focus” on one spot. Looking is allowing your eyes to naturally look at something without forcing yourself to focus continuously on it. The eyes naturally wander a bit when they are looking. It’s best to forget them, and just be seeing and hearing and feeling and smelling...

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    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).

  13. #13
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Hi Kevin!
    I probably should have said “look” at one spot on the wall, rather than “focus” on one spot. Looking is allowing your eyes to naturally look at something without forcing yourself to focus continuously on it. The eyes naturally wander a bit when they are looking. It’s best to forget them, and just be seeing and hearing and feeling and smelling...

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    When I first started sitting I was told to have "soft eyes". Not sure why but it made sense to me to the point where I can see other things going on in my periphery but am softly focused on nothing in particular in front of me while sitting zazen or doing kinhin. Not sure if I've just muddied the waters more or not.
    Gassho
    Anna

    Sat and done

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    Last edited by Onka; 10-14-2019 at 01:48 AM.
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    When I first started sitting I was told to have "soft eyes". Not sure why but it made sense to me to the point where I can see other things going on in my periphery but am softly focused on nothing in particular in front of me

    Sent from my Lenovo TB-8304F1 using Tapatalk
    good description Anna!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    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).

  15. #15

  16. #16
    Lovely descriptions. The following is what I usually say when this comes up ...

    =============


    I personally am not staring fixedly at a "point" or a dot ... nor am I staring so unfocused that my eyes go blurry. I describe it as "staring at everything and nothing in particular". My eyes take in the room or the floor or wall quiet naturally, but I do not latch onto anything particular I am seeing. "Staring wide eyed into space" may be a good description. Maybe my focus just wanders from point to point to point quite naturally, resting where they rest, on this or that, then moving on when they move on.

    I do not see particular harm in staring at a fixed spot the whole time, except that it is a little unnatural. Even when facing the wall, I do not fixate like glue on a single spot.

    Let me just say that, in our Shikantaza way with the eyes about 1/3 open, there should be nothing particularly unusual or out of focus about the vision. It is seeing normally, but just not thinking about and judging what one is seeing. Otherwise, nothing usually particularly strange about the vision.

    Monks in monasteries would sometimes sit in sunlight during the day, weak candlelit rooms at night, so I don't think that is the problem.

    If you are doing something to excess (such as forcing the eyes to fixedly stare, failing to naturally blink, allowing them to really go out of focus or the like) then you are kinda "trying to hard". It is rather like riding a bike: If you relax, it is easy. If you try to hard, you lose your balance and fall.

    Gassho, J

    What a room looks like before Zazen ...



    What the room looks like during Zazen (but just not thinking particularly thoughts like "ugly sofa, nice chair, wish I were outside, need to clean this dirty floor ... "



    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Thanks Jundo.

    I took this stance today and it seemed more natural.

    Gassho

    Klb

    Sat today

  18. #18
    I sometimes compare it to driving too ... staring out the wind screen, alert and aware, taking all in calmly, relaxed, but without focusing on any particular point although our eyes may alight here or there for a time.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19

  20. #20
    I am experiencing some issues with sitting - my eyelids seem to want to ‘hover’ or ‘flutter’ every couple of minutes or so and I have to go back to full open eyes before returning to 1/3 rd open eyes - also after 10 minutes my eyes feel “strained” and I’ve even had them run. I think ‘soft gaze’ but without any effect.
    There’s no bad Zazen - so am I doing it wrong?
    Any help, advice, instruction will be truly appreciated!
    Gassho
    Scott

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by DogBreath View Post
    I am experiencing some issues with sitting - my eyelids seem to want to ‘hover’ or ‘flutter’ every couple of minutes or so and I have to go back to full open eyes before returning to 1/3 rd open eyes - also after 10 minutes my eyes feel “strained” and I’ve even had them run. I think ‘soft gaze’ but without any effect.
    There’s no bad Zazen - so am I doing it wrong?
    Any help, advice, instruction will be truly appreciated!
    Gassho
    Scott
    Hi Scott,

    See if these threads help. You may be sitting in some unnatural way with the eyes, or trying too hard to hold them exactly 1/3 open. There should be no strain. However, if it persists, just sit with normally open eyes in a room with sedate lighting.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post200444

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ious-Awareness

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah

    PS - Don't forget about the photo please.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  22. #22
    Yes, that makes sense.
    Thanks.
    Gassho
    Scott
    I will try to upload another photo - the dog was supposed to be my avatar but then I found the avatar had to be 80x80 pixels, so will have to keep searching for one. As for a profile pic I tried to upload one of myself (and dog - there's a reason I chose that name!) but was unable to - I will try again.

  23. #23
    Hello
    the question I have is this - is Zen myopic, are my eyes too close together, or have I got a big nose?
    Recently, when sitting, I have become aware that I am looking out of one eye only - or more specifically, the left side of my nose can be seen whilst the right eye seems to be registering nothing - is blank......so I started to mess about with eye angles. Looking straight ahead = no problems. Looking 45 degrees (down) and the problem reoccurs. The lowest I can put my eyes without "blanking out" one eye is about 80 degrees (assuming 90 degrees is looking straight ahead and your eyeball is round!) - 80 degrees is a long way from 45 - so what's going on? so.....

    I asked my wife - she tried looking out of her eyes at different angles and said that whatever angle she was looking at she was always looking out of one eye.....
    Of course, when we look straight ahead (lets say 90 degrees) we see out of "one eye" - but when I look at 45 degrees I am definitely not looking out of one eye - I am looking out of my left eye predominantly (because I can see the left side of my nose) - is this just me? Is 80 degrees an acceptable angle? Are my eyes too far apart or my nose too big (yes to the latter probably....).
    Anyway, any advice is appreciated because I am now sitting looking at an 80 degree angle so that I can keep both eyes functioning and don't "blank out" one eye....and sitting 80 degrees is a lot more pleasant than sitting looking at 45 degrees for reasons stated......so, does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thanks
    Scott

    SAT

  24. #24
    Hello Scott,

    I think the fact, that you're mostly looking out of one eye is called Ocular dominance and like left or right handedness pretty normal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocular_dominance

    I might be totally wrong with this, but personally I find it more important to naturally look slightly downwards in a relaxed, natural way, than keeping a definite angle.
    Recognising the image seen, but not concentrating on it.
    Regarding my own posture, I needed to learn that I have a tendency to bend my back and with that tilt my head backwards.
    With a backwards tilted head, when looking at the wall for external reference on my eye angle, this doesn't work.
    I need to come back to checking my spine and head alignment from time to time.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  25. #25
    First, ask you eye doctor next time you get checked about this, not your Zen teacher. l know that eyes have man blind spots that we usually are not aware of unless brought to our attention.

    https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/l...h/oph_scotoma/

    However, l will say this ... just have your eyes open about 1/3, looking at the wall ahead or at the floor. But truly, 1/3 open or 1/2, 80 degrees or 90 degrees or 1000 degrees does not matter. Wall is looked at but not pondered. Floor is seen but is translucent and bottomless to the end of time and space. Do not measure, do not judge. lf you have one eye, no eyes, two eyes or 100 eyes does not matter.

    Ordinary people are blind even with 20-20 vision. Better to see with Buddha Eye which see with equanimity both in the lighest light and the blackest dark.

    Capiche?

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    Thank You Kotei
    for taing the time to answer and for being helpful.
    I had wondered about one eye dominance, though I had noticed this was something that I could willingly change by shifting my awareness.
    It is something that seems important to me because after all what's the point of having your eyes open if you're not actually looking out of them, or are aware of any data they reflect.
    Thanks again for taking the time to respond - and for being helpful.

    Gassho
    Scott
    Sat/Lah

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by DogBreath View Post
    It is something that seems important to me because after all what's the point of having your eyes open if you're not actually looking out of them, or are aware of any data they reflect.
    This may sound strange (this is Zen after all! ), but we are simply not "seeing" or "looking" and using our eyes in Zazen in the usual run of the mill way. We are not looking at things to recognize and think about them. One has the eyes open, but is sitting in deep equanimity about what one is seeing, not caught up in judgments or analysis about the experience. The reason that we sit with eyes partially open is a bit practical (so as not to doze off so easily), but more than that, it is to manifest an attitude of not shutting ourself off from the world yet not running toward the world either. As well, we sit without paying much attention to the distinction between "outside" me and "inside" me, and thus sometimes the hard borders and frictions of self and non-self soften. I sometmes compare the experience to driving a car ... alert, but seeing everything and nothing in particular, while one's heart is quiet and in deep equanimity about the open road.

    Thus, the eyes are open, but it does not really matter if you have one eye, ten eyes, no eyes or 100 eyes.

    Does that make some sense?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    I have always struggled with this. I seem unable to keep my eyelids at "half mast" - my eyes are either open or shut, no in-between.

    So I usually face a blank wall or a door and focus on one spot or a small mark and stay there. As a focal point, not to study it.

    Been doing that for ages, but that's just what works for me.

    Gassho
    Kim
    St lh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    Sometimes there are no answers.
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  29. #29
    Yes Jundo that helps to clarify things - the not shutting one's-self off and not running towards is perhaps what's missing at this point - The next time I sit and attempt to place myself between worlds.
    Thank You

    Gassho
    Scott
    Sat/lah

  30. #30
    Hello Kim
    That's interesting - so you sit with eyes fully open and focus on a point - I tried focussing on a point but with eyes 1/3rd open and found it gave me eye strain - I may give it a try with eyes wide open also - something else to consider before I cease considering!
    Thanks

    Gassho
    Scott
    sat/lah

  31. #31
    Member Onka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogBreath View Post
    Hello Kim
    That's interesting - so you sit with eyes fully open and focus on a point - I tried focussing on a point but with eyes 1/3rd open and found it gave me eye strain - I may give it a try with eyes wide open also - something else to consider before I cease considering!
    Thanks

    Gassho
    Scott
    sat/lah
    I defer to Jundo but sitting with "soft eyes" neither open or shut but just relaxed into a "soft" gaze of sorts towards nothing in particular was how things were explained to me by another teacher when I first sat. I don't know why but "soft eyes" resonated with me but try to keep "soft eyes" from turning into 'I'm asleep now eyes' haha.
    Gassho
    Anna
    stlah
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  32. #32
    Hi Guys,

    If there is no objection, I will move this conversation off into its own thread.

    Personally, I would not sit fixed on a specific point, especially if it is is causing any tension to do so. Folks engaged in certain kinds of concentration meditations often do that, but it is not generally found in Shikantaza. However, if it seems perfectly natural to do that, and you feel that there is some real need, I suppose that it is okay.

    Also, if one is at the opposite extreme, and so much trying not to look at anything, such that the eyes go out of focus and it is somehow unnatural, that is not good either.

    I usually turn to the "driving down a country road" analogy these days, attentive and alert, but just seeing the whole road out the windscreen. Sometimes one's eyes briefly alight here or there, then return to the road. All is very comfortable and natural. My focus just wanders from point to point to point quite naturally, resting where they rest, on this or that, then moving on when they move on. In fact, the only difference from ordinary seeing is (1) the profound equanimity and putting aside of judgments about what is seen and the whole experience, (2) not getting tangled in long trains of thought about whatever is seen, and (3) the sometimes experience which results that driver and car, road and passing mailboxes, sky and wind are one and whole.

    This has come up recently in some other threads ...

    Drivin' Dogen - Understanding "Open Spacious Awareness"
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ious-Awareness

    also here ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post236253

    I sometimes say that here is a picture of a room before Zazen ...



    ... and seen during Zazen ...



    The only differences in not particularly thinking about the ugly sofa or what's going on outside the window, greeting all with equanimity and not latching on. Outside window and inside, sofa and seer are not separate too.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-06-2020 at 01:39 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    "Sometimes one's eyes briefly alight here or there, then return to the road. All is very comfortable and natural. My focus just wanders from point to point to point quite naturally, resting where they rest, on this or that, then moving on when they move on."

    This.

    Jundo, you expressed it much better than I could. I tend to get tangled up in my yarn of thoughts when I write sometimes. Either that, or I say too little, or nothing at all.

    Thank you.

    Gassho
    Kim
    St lh

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
    Not all who wander are lost. (Tolkien)
    Sometimes there are no answers.
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  34. #34
    I find that if I flair my eyelids open all the way and then let them relax back to partial open. It helps relieve any tension or burning, it also brings me back to present if I'm grabbing a hold of a cloud. I've also found that eyes burn less if I leave my glasses on, which may be caused by the heater blowing during the winter.

    Gassho, Drew

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