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Thread: A Message to Commence Ango 2020: "Tough and Relentless," "Relaxed" and "At Ease"

  1. #1

    A Message to Commence Ango 2020: "Tough and Relentless," "Relaxed" and "At Ease"

    Dear All Ango and Jukai Participants,

    In some comments I spotted in a Facebook discussion of Zen retreats, some folks wrote that our Zazen practice must be "brutally tough and relentless," "requiring extraordinary effort" to let go of the illusion of self. We must struggle with hours of sitting, self-doubt, sometime discomfort, distractions and fatigue. Other folks commented that our practice is, to the contrary, to "just relax and let go," not "feeding the dragons" of struggle within.

    Who is right? Both, I feel!

    We are strong, unbending and straight, but our power comes in feeling as light, fluid and flowing as a breeze.

    In Shikantaza, all is just the same, two faces of a no sided coin! We are tough as iron by becoming gentle as lambs, fully determined but free of any struggle. We do not give up the fight, yet we never take up the fight nor put it down! The backbone is hard and determined by remaining soft and yielding.

    We certainly must devote "brutal and relentless energy" to this practice each day by day, and yet do so with such profound "non-effort," effortless-effort, doing-non-doing, that it feels precisely like "relaxing and letting go." There is no struggle even as we sometimes tough it out. Zazen is hard as nails within, yet with an attitude serene and non-striving. We are victorious because we drop the inner war, we are strong because we bend like bamboo in a storm. The fellow who insists on a heart filled with brutality, hardness and tension is making his own inner battles! The soft waters flow past the hardest stone, the gentle wind sails over the tallest mountain.

    In Shikantaza and in all of life, even in facing our greatest day-to-day challenges, be it long hours of sitting in Sesshin, raising kids at home while holding down two jobs, or the struggles of cancer treatment in a hospital, we effortlessly slip right through and past the formidable barriers ... even as the body might be swept with exhaustion, tears sometimes fall, doubts and fears want to play with the mind, When we relax, drop the resistance and fight, we slip right through the hardness without friction. Challenges become non-challenges. There is no tension, no striving, no fear, and thus we keep going, meeting every scary enemy as a friend ... even as we battle on.

    Yes, we must sometimes harden ourselves, be determined and courageous, face what scares us ... and yet the heart can be still and peaceful even as the sweat pours from our brow and the knees shake.

    This is what Master Dogen (himself no coward and lazy bones when it came to sitting and living! ) called the "Dharma Gate of Balanced Ease". If ever the "going gets tough" during Ango or Jukai, please just keep the attitude that the "mild get going" and, anyway, there is "no place to go!"

    Tigers on the outside, pussy cats within. Don't ever doubt how strong we "softies" can be!

    Gassho, Jundo

    (sorry, ran a little long)

    Last edited by Jundo; 09-06-2020 at 12:51 AM.

  2. #2
    This is a good pair with today's talk and great advice for this Ango.

    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  3. #3
    Member Seikan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Massachusetts, United States
    Well said Jundo. Agree with Geika that this is a wonderful supplement to tonight's talk. Thank you!



  4. #4

    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidō Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean that my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  5. #5
    Thank you Jundo, profoundly relevant and beautifully expressed as always.

    Gassho, Chris satlah

  6. #6
    Member Seishin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    Bring it on hard and soft, not hard not soft. Thank you



    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  7. #7
    Sounds like walking the fine line between ying and yang. I really like it! Thank you the encouragement Jundo.

    Gassho, Tomás

  8. #8
    Thank you for this.

    Walking has become another painful (and necessary) challenge for me -- it is what it is.

    I like dragons, they're interesting company.

    Gassho, meian st

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    迷安 - Mei An - Wandering At Rest

  9. #9


  10. #10

    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  11. #11
    thank you



  12. #12

    清 道 寂田
    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

    Sat today. LAH.

  14. #14
    Member Hokin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Ixtlahuacan De Los Membrillos, Mexico
    Totally agree, Jundo...thank you.
    When the string of a guitar is tuned too loose, it won't produce any sound at all, but when it's tuned too tight, it will surely break. So, one must tune it in a just balance.
    Let's stick to the Middle Way.


  15. #15

    Kaidō (皆道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything that I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  16. #16
    I think I will print this out and add it to my new briefcase "Ango inspiration" folder

    清 道 寂田
    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).

  17. #17
    Wonderful, thank you!




  18. #18
    There are so many simularities between my Zen practice and my Tai Chi practice.
    This is one more example. I can recommend both.
    Thank you Jundo, thank you all.

    Ryū Dou

  19. #19
    Another fine example of the middle path.
    "If you’re not sure, don’t act. Once you act, you wander through birth and death and regret" -Bodhidharma Bloodstream Sermon

    "Frog is a good example of our practice —when a frog sits he sits. He becomes a frog, Zen becomes Zen." -Suzuki

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