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Thread: Zen mind games

  1. #1

    Zen mind games

    The past few weeks have been very busy and hectic, a challenge in many ways to keep up with all the things that need to be done in the right time and place. The other morning while preparing for my busy day head I noted in my journal that this was like going white water rafting. Life is a river, and this section of the river is very fast and filled with boulders, and other sections of the river are wide and slow, but it's all the same river. This little mind game really helped by making me see the big picture and not getting stuck in the day or task at hand during a day. It's all just dips and bends in the same river.

    Another one I have lately is calling zazen "dropping practice." All through our life we are taught to hold onto things. We hold on to possessions, people, ideas, etc. So we get lots and lots of practice holding onto things, and zazen is practicing dropping all those things. Like practicing the guitar or piano, at first we can only play basic tunes but with time and practice we can play much more technical and difficult tunes, so to is zazen where at first we drop basic thoughts and then, as we develop, we are able to drop ever finer and more subtle thoughts. The "game" is simply that when I find something in my mind I drop it. Counting breaths and having to start over when you lost track is a similar type of game. Will wrote in here some time ago of treating monkey mind (another game, btw) as that talkative neighbor you ignore, which is kind of making it a game. Of course, the ultimate thing to drop is the idea of these or any mind games entirely.

    Get the idea?

    I thought it might be neat to hear what other mind games we play to help our practice.

  2. #2

    Re: Zen mind games

    Thank you, Alan.

  3. #3

    Re: Zen mind games

    I think sometimes the adventure of life can be forgotten with the seriousness of it. I think your example of white water rafting covers both well.

    Thanks for the post.

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Redding California USA

    Re: Zen mind games

    My little mantra is "open the hand of thought". If I'm getting crazy about something I just mentally kind of say "open" and let go. (Thank you book club) It really works for me especially when I'm sitting.


  5. #5

    Re: Zen mind games

    Hi all,

    This one may at first seem a bit morbid, but bear with me:

    I was just at the doctor's for my annual physical and got a flu shot when it occured to me that the "negative" things we deal with in life are like a flu shot. I recently went though an experience with my family that seemed devistating at the time, but I relaize now that in comparison to some real tragedies that it was really small potatoes. So, like the flu shot I was really dealing with a weakened strain that allows my body to really prepare itself for the times that really try our souls. As long as we have our health and the love of our family and friends, then things are really not that bad.

    It's an imperfect analogy and may sound weird, but for me it really worked and has stayed with me. If I look at what seems like really bad stuff and think of it a a small thing, things always seem a bit brighter.


  6. #6

    Re: Zen mind games


    My usual mind game is a variation of the 'raft on a river' theme, but the river is time itself. When viewed close up, all we have is the moment, which is vast and all-encompassing. Then, I go to the 'birds-eye' view, or even further out, and see the entire panoply of centuries past, and really get the feeling of all being change, and all passing by. I actually like to focus on an image of a Hungarian peasant girl in the 14th or 15th century, who by now is completely forgotten and unknown, but during her life had the same life/thoughts/emotions etc that I have now. So, I ride through time and let it take me where it will, and meanwhile try not to pick up too much that would overload the raft and cause it to capsize. But, again, even if that happens, I'll probably be swept along regardless.

    Then, today's Daily Zen gave me another game to play:

    Practice is nothing other than the
    capacity to arouse fearless energy.
    Without this energy,
    whatever practices you perform,
    whatever virtuous feelings you have,
    all are without substance.
    Without this energy,
    will you be prepared when
    you come face to face with death
    in your ordinary state of mind?
    How then will you persevere over other hardships?

    - Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655)

    In this game, my practice transforms into a NiCd battery--a rechargeable one. All the thoughts and ideas that pop into my head--if I follow them, I'm using & dispersing the energy. The moments that I can sit 'non-thinking' I am storing up energy. This may be somewhat faulty in that it has the feel of 'zazen with purpose' but at the same time, I like the idea of (1) incentive to be still and (2) preparing for reality and dealing with 'what is' in the best possible manner.

    Thanks for an enjoyable thread...Gassho, Ann

  7. #7

    Re: Zen mind games

    OK, one more.

    Insta-zazen is like reverse juggling. All day our minds juggle all sorts of stuff, but insta-zazen is letting all that stuff we are juggling to drop to the floor for a moment or two. Then, when the time is right, we pick everything up and start juggling again.

    Great "games" on here, folks!!

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