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Thread: A strange (not strange) Zazen experience

  1. #1

    A strange (not strange) Zazen experience

    I wanted to write and say a few words about an experience I had last night in Zazen. I should preface this by saying that I'm not sure if it actually happened. I might have imagined it or tricked myself into thinking that it happened based on reading about 'the kinds of things that sometimes happen in Zazen'.

    But anyway ... I was sitting there minding my own business watching the universe come and go when, just for a second, there was no 'me' in the middle of it all. Everything was still doing its thing, but with no sense of a 'me' in it. A second later my brain kicked in and I popped back into existence. But for a few seconds after that it was like there was no obvious reason why I had to see things this way rather than that way. It was a lot like one of those illusions where the image can either be a rabbit or a horse (or whatever) and my perception had just momentarily flipped.

    So there it is. I'm not making anything out of it, and I'm not dwelling on it or anything. It was just an interesting thing that came and went. I think I just wanted to write this to get it off my chest.

    Thanks for reading,

    Gassho

    (sat:today)


    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6003 using Tapatalk

  2. #2
    I love it when that happens; I experience it most easily while in motion (in a car or walking) or while watching things in motion (people moving around, clouds passing in the sky). I have never experienced it while sitting in a still, quiet room however. It's nice, isn't it? To just sit and let everything happen all on its own.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us

    Gassho
    Kyōsen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  3. #3
    Hi Floke

    These moments are to be cherished, and are just as you describe. It is an important insight into the nature of "me," as the hard borders of self/other soften and sometimes drop away. I usually compare it to this famous drawing:


    Is she an old lady .. a young lady ... lines and ink on paper ... open paper ... the whole universe? Yes! And, likewise for "Floke." We cannot see this and then, suddenly, seeing sees free of "we" and "this" ... oula!

    It is a vital lesson, and you have had a glimpse of seeing oneself and the world in a way our brain is not usually prepared to experience. The one aspect of such timeless moments that we emphasize in Soto Zen, however, compared to some other meditation or mystical traditions, is that such insights are not the central point or goal. It is an important revelation, a perspectiveless perspective known, but not a place to run toward, hope to get back to, consider the main point of practice. Better said, EVERY PLACE and sitting of Zazen is the point and goal and ultimate destination of practice. In Soto Zen, we consider the whole road and journey to manifest Enlightenment, and such insights serve as a lesson on the world. Most Soto folks will say that such experiences happen, and they are to be cherished when they happen ... yet not run after or away from. As well, all things happen on the cushion, and it is ALL the trip. I sometimes describe it like this, on the Buddha Bus ...

    Different folks approach and define all this in their own way. In our Soto View, some folks way way way overvalue an experience of timelessly momentary "Kensho" ... as the be all and end all (beyond being or ending) of "Enlightenment" ... and chase after it like some gold ring on the merry go round. For Soto folks, that is like missing the point of the trip. For Soto Folks, when we realize such ... every moment of the Buddha-Bus trip, the scenery out the windows (both what we encounter as beautiful and what appears ugly), the moments of good health and moments of passing illness, the highway, the seats and windows, all the other passengers on the Bus who appear to be riding with us, when we board and someday when we are let off ... the whole Trip ... is all the Buddha-Bus, all Enlightenment and Kensho, all the "destination" beyond "coming" or "going" or "getting there", when realized as such (the real meaning of "Kensho," or "seeing the actual nature"). This ride is what we make it.

    ...

    Most folks just don't pierce that fact and are lost in delusion about the Nature of the trip. They may think the point is just to get to some destination, the "Grand Canyon" as the goal of the ride. Most sentient being "passengers" on this ride just don't realize that, feeling homesick, car sick, separated from all the other passengers, revolted or attracted to what they see ... filling the whole trip with thoughts of greed and anger, spoiling the journey, making a mess of the bus and harming themselves and the other riders, unhappy until they get to the "promised destination" somewhere down the road. They may even get to the Grand Canyon, snap a picture and buy a souvenir, then wonder "is that all it is"? They do not realize is that the whole trip is WHAT IS!

    ...

    In the violence, ugliness, anger, greed and clutching, divisive thoughts and frictions of the world, this fact can be hidden, so hard to see. Thus, a key aspect of our Practice is to see and live free of the violence, anger, greed, clutching and all the rest to see this fact more clearly ... and even to realize it was there all along, though so hidden by the storm. ...

    ... The “ordinary and mundane” is never ordinary. Every moment and any encounter, each breeze and blade of grass is special, sacred, a jewel in Indra’s Net. Thus, I do not mean to lower the import of Kensho in the least, but just to RAISE UP all of life, and every instant of practice, to one and the same par with Kensho, for such is the wholeness, intimacy, unity that is KENSHO’d in KENSHO.
    .
    Realizing that fact – that the most “ordinary” is sacred and whole and unbroken – is at the heart of Kensho! Failing to see Kensho as extraordinary insight into the extra-ordinariness and sacredness of both the sacred and ordinary is not to see “Kensho.”
    More important than any one profound experience if you ask me (and as eye opening as it is), is just the softening of self in which the self's selfish judgments, categorizations and demands about the world soften or fully release. Then, one radically accepts and flows as the world, warts and all, without resistance. One does not need to have a full dropping away to experience this, and it is more useful in a sense because one can remain in this life in which one needs a sense of "self" separate from "non-self," and also needs the self-accompanying judgments, categorizations and demands in order to survive and live ... yet one can also be free of them at once, all at the same moment. The total dropping away of a profound Kensho is a nice place to visit, and fascinating insight, but a person would not (and could not) really live there.

    Let me know if you have any question, and we can talk about it more, either here or in a chat.

    Bon travels!

    Gassho, J

    STLah

    Ps: Floke, is that your actual name? It is appreciated to sign a more human name, or a Dharma name, if you can. It helps keep things a bit more human around here. Thank you.
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-20-2020 at 12:46 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Gassho
    St/LAH
    James

  5. #5
    The “ordinary and mundane” is never ordinary. Every moment and any encounter, each breeze and blade of grass is special, sacred, a jewel in Indra’s Net. Thus, I do not mean to lower the import of Kensho in the least, but just to RAISE UP all of life, and every instant of practice, to one and the same par with Kensho, for such is the wholeness, intimacy, unity that is KENSHO’d in KENSHO.

    Realizing that fact – that the most “ordinary” is sacred and whole and unbroken – is at the heart of Kensho! Failing to see Kensho as extraordinary insight into the extra-ordinariness and sacredness of both the sacred and ordinary is not to see “Kensho.”
    Deep bows to this wonderful teaching.

    Gassho
    Van
    Sat _/\_


    Sent from my HD1913 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Thanks, Jundo described it perfectly well, as usual. Thanks for that!!!

    I also made certain experiences a goal of my practice in the beginning. Experiences can be quite overwhelming and impressive and still everything what we encounter is just the reality as it is. We don't have to give any meaning or value into it... Therefore we should kill Buddha if we meet him. The moment we think we attained, we just cling to our fantasies, are deluded. I think it was kosho uchiyama who said while sitting Zazen (and in our whole life) we encounter the scenery of life, the things as they are. And while practicing Zazen we just arrived with the practice itself, we realize the truth of this very instant, what is real, and attain this very moment. There's nothing to add or to remove and if we encounter bliss, states of "no mind" or of being one with everything, that's great, but it's just one side of the coin. It's also perfect to encounter the thoughts, emotions, the ordinary life. It's not that one is better than another, just clouds passing by, just the scenery of reality


    Gassho

    Ben


    Stlah

    Enviado desde mi PLK-L01 mediante Tapatalk

  7. #7
    Hi Floke.

    It’s a wonderful and somewhat disorienting experience when it happens.

    I have had a number of such occurrences happen both on the cushion and off. I’ve tried chasing after them or tried replicating the conditions that led to them arising. It never works. Through the teachings of Jundo I have learned to just accept and not chase.

    The funny thing is that the more I learn to not chase those “special” moments the more I realize that all moments are special.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us.



    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  8. #8
    Thanks for all the replies, and the excellent advice. I'm definitely not going to go chasing anything. I'm just going to sit and pay attention. And then wander off. And come back. And so on.

    And yes, Jundo. Floke is indeed not a proper name. It was the first thing that came to mind when I signed up, because I've used it on forums before. I've looked for a way to change it, but can't see anywhere so maybe I don't have the proper rights. If anyone can help there then that would be great!

    Gassho

    (Sattoday)

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6003 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by floke; 06-20-2020 at 09:08 PM.

  9. #9
    Thank you, Not-Actually-Floke, for sharing. Thanks to everyone else for weighing in.

    I have had similar experiences just a few times. I tried crafting a response based on them but, honestly, everyone else has already said anything I was going to say. I just wanted to second everything said here based on my own experience.

    Gassho,
    Kenny
    Sat Today

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by floke View Post
    Thanks for all the replies, and the excellent advice. I'm definitely not going to go chasing anything. I'm just going to sit and pay attention. And then wander off. And come back. And so on.

    And yes, Jundo. Floke is indeed not a proper name. It was the first thing that came to mind when I signed up, because I've used it on forums before. I've looked for a way to change it, but can't see anywhere so maybe I don't have the proper rights. If anyone can help there then that would be great!

    Gassho

    (Sattoday)

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A6003 using Tapatalk
    Hi floke,

    The convention here at Treeleaf is a bit different than other forums. Here we ask people to sign their posts with their given name or their Dharma name. Not their user name.

    So you don't need to change your user name. Just sign your posts with your given or Dharma name along with the fact that you sat that day.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by floke View Post

    And yes, Jundo. Floke is indeed not a proper name. It was the first thing that came to mind when I signed up, because I've used it on forums before. I've looked for a way to change it, but can't see anywhere so maybe I don't have the proper rights. If anyone can help there then that would be great!
    Oh, no need to change your registration, just please sign your posts with a human first name like Bob or Sue (or a Dharma name if you have undertaken Jukai). It just keep things more personal around here.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    By the way, someone wrote me with an interesting question that I don't believe I had ever been asked before:

    How could I advise one of our new folks that visions seen on a wall were likely just the mind drawing patterns, calling up buried associations and old memories, i.e., "Makyo" ...

    Magic Rice Paper
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...gic-Rice-Paper

    ... and this thread in which I expressed to Mr. Floke that a feeling in Zazen of there being no "me" is a positive event, a "keeper" of insight to cherish?

    Well, it pretty much has to do with which experiences in Zazen, and which insights and teachings, we consider important in Zen. Seeing one's childhood cat or feeling very large in body during Zazen, or hearing strange sounds or seeing a cartoon "Buddha" pop out of the wall, or feeling a touch of paranoia or the like are all interesting, amusing (sometimes scary) experiences which show us something about how the human mind works, but they are just not the central point of why we sit.

    Dropping the sense of separate "me," and the hard borders of "me/not me" in favor of a sense of the wholeness and interflowing and identity of the whole world is one of the key teachings of Zen Buddhism. (It is not "solipsism," the belief that the whole universe is just our own personal egotistical dream and we are the only thing that exists in the whole world. That's just Big Ego and a kind of narcissism. Rather, it is a sense that we are just this, and all this is just us, but likewise every blade of grass, star in the sky, ant or rusty tin can which is all this and each other too. So, not just a vast and expanded ego.)

    Yes, in a sense, we are also just replacing one mental model of how we experience the world with another mental model, so what Floke experienced is also an experience like the cat or strange sounds. However, we believe that it is a more valuable and education experience that overturns our usual experience of living as an isolated and often frustrated "me" that is just a single actor in a vast world that is somehow separate from, and often in conflict with, our "me."

    Does that make sense?

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-20-2020 at 11:14 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Shinshi View Post
    Hi floke,

    The convention here at Treeleaf is a bit different than other forums. Here we ask people to sign their posts with their given name or their Dharma name. Not their user name.

    So you don't need to change your user name. Just sign your posts with your given or Dharma name along with the fact that you sat that day.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    Got it! That's great. Thanks for bringing me up to speed.

    Gassho, Steve

    (sat:today)

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Dropping the sense of separate "me," and the hard borders of "me/not me" in favor of a sense of the wholeness and interflowing and identity of the whole world is one of the key teachings of Zen Buddhism. (It is not "solipsism," the belief that the whole universe is just our own personal egotistical dream and we are the only thing that exists in the whole world. That's just Big Ego and a kind of narcissism. Rather, it is a sense that we are just this, and all this is just us, but likewise every blade of grass, star in the sky, ant or rusty tin can which is all this and each other too. So, not just a vast and expanded ego.)

    Yes, in a sense, we are also just replacing one mental model of how we experience the world with another mental model, so what Floke experienced is also an experience like the cat or strange sounds. However, we believe that it is a more valuable and education experience that overturns our usual experience of living as an isolated and often frustrated "me" that is just a single actor in a vast world that is somehow separate from, and often in conflict with, our "me."

    Does that make sense?
    Yes! This makes perfect sense. Thank-you. I've never actually had any of the 'wavy line effects' reported here and elsewhere, but that might have something to do with the fact that I sit with my glasses off, so everything is just a Big Fuzz.

    Gassho, Steve

    (sat:today)

  15. #15

    A strange (not strange) Zazen experience

    Thank you for starting this discussion Steve.

    And thank you Jundo for your responses. I have had similar questions/experiences as of late and this was all helpful.

    Thank you everyone.



    Ghasso
    Bobby
    SatTodayLAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Bobby; 06-23-2020 at 02:59 AM.
    "When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself."
    Shunryu Suzuki

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