Being mindful of 'mindful'

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39065

    Being mindful of 'mindful'

    It seems to me that many people in Zen Practice have come to confuse "being present/mindful in the moment" (for example, "when drinking tea, just drink tea" ... a sometimes appropriate and lovely way to experience life) ... with "being present with the moment" (allowing and merging with conditions of life "just as they are"). The two are not quite the same, and are often confused, and the latter is much more at the heart of this Shikantaza Path ...

    Yes, I believe that there are times to be "mindful" ... and there are times not. Sometimes when I eat, I just eat ... when I sip tea, I just sip tea ... when bowing, just bowing ... fully absorbed in that action. A wonderful, insightful practice. When doing one thing, just do one thing with all one's body-and-mind.

    At other times, I just grab a sandwich and a coke while reading the newspaper and thinking about the job I have to do. That's life too. Nothing wrong with it.

    (I do not know where the idea started among some folks that the 'goal' of this practice is to live the first way every moment of every day. That would be pretty awful (if not harmful) to live like that all or even most of the time. What's wrong with also sometimes reading the paper, thinking about work, while grabbing a quick sandwich? There is a place for all of that.)

    Further, people get even more confused about "mindful" in Buddhism because the word is used in a couple of distinct ways.

    Another, rather different meaning of "mindful" often found in Buddhism is to develop awareness of the "mind theatre" running constantly in our heads (developing the ability to identify the thoughts and emotions that play through our heads, and how they create our experience of "reality" ... e.g., "now I am temporarily sad" "now I am reacting with anger") That is a wonderful, insightful practice too ... very very important ... but I caution against thinking that you must or can do that 24/7.

    In my view, the heart of this Practice is merely "being at one" with this self-life-world just as it is ... dropping the resistance, barriers, separation between our "self" and all the circumstances in which that "self" imagines it finds itself in ... until even the walls between "self" and "life-world" (or self and itself) soften or even fully drop away ...

    So, for example, when drinking tea, just do that and fully allow that. When grabbing a sandwich while reading the paper and thinking about your annoying co-worker in the office, just do that and fully allow that (and fully allow the craziness in the newspaper and your annoying co-worker too).** When your kid plops in your lap during tea drinking and the cup spills all over the table, just do and allow that. When your kid again plops in your lap during Zazen. ( http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=16432 ) When temporarily falling into sadness or anger, just do and allow that (although remember that "mind theatre" and see if you truly need to be that way, and seek to be not that way if you can). When overwrought with life for a moment, just do that and fully allow that (remembering in the back of your mind that the clear, boundless blue sky is behind the clouds of thought and emotion even when momentarily covered over). When suffering with old age and sickness of ourself or someone we love, even death, just do that and fully allow that.

    In my view, all of the above together is truly balanced, "mindful" living. That is "being the moment".

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** PS - "fully allowing" does not mean necessarily "fully allowing". We have something called "acceptance-without-acceptance" around here ... So, for example, we can "fully allow and be one with" the wars and pollution described in the newspaper or the bothersome person at work or the sickness we are suffering ... yet take steps to deal with each too. Not mutually exclusive perspectives.
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-25-2020, 12:15 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Shokai
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Mar 2009
    • 6391

    #2
    Re: BEING MINDFUL OF 'MINDFUL'

    Jundo-oso;

    Thank you for that; well stated. However, watch the coke, it'll rot your teeth!

    gassho,
    合掌,生開
    gassho, Shokai

    仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

    "Open to life in a benevolent way"

    https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

    Comment

    • RodAbbott
      Member
      • Nov 2010
      • 33

      #3
      Re: BEING MINDFUL OF 'MINDFUL'

      Jundo,

      Excellent, timely, and important distinctions. Very helpful.

      Grassho,

      Rod
      [b:17hv0qhw]skype[/b:17hv0qhw]: rod.abbott

      Comment

      • Ronchan
        Member
        • Nov 2010
        • 119

        #4
        Re: BEING MINDFUL OF 'MINDFUL'

        Thank you very much, Jundo.
        So true, so familiar.


        in gassho,
        Ronald.
        With gentleness overcome anger. With generosity overcome meanness. With truth overcome deceit.
        Buddha

        Comment

        • Seiryu
          Member
          • Sep 2010
          • 620

          #5
          Re: BEING MINDFUL OF 'MINDFUL'

          Very nice, and a very important distinction to be made aware of. Thank you for that!!

          Gassho

          Rafael
          Humbly,
          清竜 Seiryu

          Comment

          • Jishin
            Member
            • Oct 2012
            • 4819

            #6
            Thank you for the teaching Jundo.

            JC.

            Comment

            • galen
              Member
              • Feb 2012
              • 322

              #7
              Does not doing three things at once, perpetuate the confusion of the delusion? Is this not something that makes the ego smile with the devils twinkling smirk ?

              While; as said its ok, funny and even joyful, and so being human is ok (so to speak), it can create physical harm (the menu Jundo purposes here )and poor concentration guiding the train down the track. More repairs then needed... all ready?

              It does not seem a guidance from any master would reside here.


              Gassho
              Nothing Special

              Comment

              • Neika
                Member
                • Dec 2008
                • 229

                #8
                Thank you.

                Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk 2
                Neika / Ian Adams

                寧 Nei - Peaceful/Courteous
                火 Ka - Fire

                Look for Buddha outside your own mind, and Buddha becomes the devil. --Dogen

                Comment

                • Omoi Otoshi
                  Member
                  • Dec 2010
                  • 801

                  #9
                  Originally posted by galen
                  Does not doing three things at once, perpetuate the confusion of the delusion?
                  What does doing three things at once mean?

                  Someone efforlessly playing the drums, non-thinking, one with the music, is he mindfully doing one thing, when playing drums, just playing drums? Or is he doing many things at the same time, when playing drums, just playing drums?

                  Gassho,
                  Pontus
                  Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 11-24-2012, 11:38 AM.
                  In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                  you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                  now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                  the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                  Comment

                  • alan.r
                    Member
                    • Jan 2012
                    • 546

                    #10
                    This is such an important teaching. I want to say more but don't want to muck it all up. Thanks so much, Jundo.

                    Gassho,
                    Alan
                    Shōmon

                    Comment

                    • galen
                      Member
                      • Feb 2012
                      • 322

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Omoi Otoshi
                      What does doing three things at once mean?

                      Someone efforlessly playing the drums, non-thinking, one with the music, is he mindfully doing one thing, when playing drums, just playing drums? Or is he doing many things at the same time, when playing drums, just playing drums?

                      Gassho,
                      Pontus


                      Pontus.... just keep that drum beating if it works. Pound the hell out of it .


                      Gassho
                      Nothing Special

                      Comment

                      • Omoi Otoshi
                        Member
                        • Dec 2010
                        • 801

                        #12
                        Just sayin' you can do several things at once with a mindful mind, or you can muck up one activity by being too self-conscious and trying to hard to be mindful. But there seem to be millions of views on mindfulness, so whatever works!

                        Gassho,
                        Pontus
                        In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                        you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                        now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                        the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                        Comment

                        • galen
                          Member
                          • Feb 2012
                          • 322

                          #13
                          While what you say can be true, I just have a real hard time with this being mindful, when the mind is full of various tasks. This appears to the larger problem with modernism, and leaves Zen looking silly if true. That seems to throw out everything that being totally immersed in the moment stands for, whether from the ancient masters or more modern.

                          Most of the koans point to full embodiment of nothing special, no toys and no excess brain activities. For those who seem to feel so proud of multitasking and so clever, and attempt to justify that foolery, that is fine, my direction attempts to be fully on the other side of that coin. Tasking is for ego and show, and no go. That is why for many with their first tastes of Zen or Buddhism, they feel bored with not enough toys, distractions and inauthentic joys to fill the void they so desperately seek. There is nothing in there getting to the marrow of what Is our real nature, that all this stimulation can do but point to more suffering. Any defense of such is seemingly denial of the ego. How can one Feel the moment of embodiment of true `presence? And for those who say what a great lesson this is in mindfulness, please step and share this remarkable insight right Now, it must have been something the masters missed, they did not get that memo.


                          Gassho
                          Last edited by galen; 11-25-2012, 07:20 PM.
                          Nothing Special

                          Comment

                          • Omoi Otoshi
                            Member
                            • Dec 2010
                            • 801

                            #14
                            I agree Galen.

                            I think we often do several things at once either to distract ourselves or because we believe there is so little time and so much to do. Sometimes we do have to be efficient, but much of the time we're only fooling ourselves, running around like headless chickens chasing our desires. If I try to play with my kids, talk with my mum on the phone and read an article on the computer at the same time, I will probably not be very mindful. Likewise, if I'm reading the back of a shampoo bottle while I'm taking a dump, that's probably a sign of stress, not mindfulness... (Speaking from experience).

                            It's easier to be mindful when life is simple. I'm more often mindful when I'm on my own, hiking outdoors for example, than when I'm stressed out after work and surrounded by crying kids. Just like Zazen comes easier when we are calm, relaxed and sitting in a quiet, perfectly temperated room, mindfulness comes easier under similar good conditions. But the Zazen practiced here is not dependant on our ability to concentrate or our strong discipline. It's also not dependant on ideal conditions. We let Zazen mind arrive by letting go of all resistance. It's not something we achieve by great effort, concentrating relentlessly on a single focus. There can be Zazen mind in the middle of chaos. The same goes for mindfulness. Try too hard to be mindful and there's no mindfulness, only clinging to an idea of mindfulness. As has been said before in this thread, some people try to be mindful by acting like brain-dead, slow moving robots, capable of doing only one simple task at a time, which I find delusional.

                            Gassho,
                            Pontus
                            Last edited by Omoi Otoshi; 11-25-2012, 08:16 PM.
                            In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                            you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                            now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                            the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                            Comment

                            • galen
                              Member
                              • Feb 2012
                              • 322

                              #15
                              When I walk I just try to walk, feeling the ground and the muscles in my legs. When I drive I try to just drive, I may have classical music on, but I attempt to join that beauty in with watching traffic, no thinking needed. When I eat I try to just eat, no tv, no radio, just the taste of what I am lucky enough to have been given to better move my body forward, nothing special. (well one could say, I have children and so and so... does not Practice of this beautiful teaching of Zen allow for the early lessons of our children, or is Zen only when on line or sitting??) I just try, that is all, but feel `processing the moment to moment, while of course not in full presence for a lot of the time, it does further my personal improvement of staying on a tract to less suffering and the pains the ego spends every waking and sleep moment trying to the defilement of. There is no winning, or attachment to, just moving down the track towards the emptiness we all came from.

                              While administering what could be lethal injection so one can be operated on, does that not give one the chance to practice the very thing Zen teaches. Would this be a time for multitasking and any loss of full concentration, Pontus? The same in life in general, no `time to waste in impermanence, in the realization of what practice practice without clinging or attachment can bring with no expectations to full emptiness, from where we came.
                              Nothing Special

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