Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (17)

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  • Jundo
    Dear All,

    Kindly post all comments, questions, impressions and objections regarding this Series and any of the videos in the following thread. (I have had to do so to keep the lessons in sequence).

    If refrencing a particular talk, it woud be nice to mention which one. Thank you so much.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Last edited by Jundo; 11-08-2016, 02:37 AM.

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  • Jundo
    started a topic Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (17)

    Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (17)

    Our topic today is sitting with pain ... in sitting and in life ... both the kinds of pain we can avoid, and the kind of pain we can't.

    We sit each day on the Zafu if we can. Nonetheless, true Zazen --is not-- a matter of sitting, standing, walking, running, or flying through the air. Rather, Zazen is any or all of those actions if approached as “Shikantaza” (with the heart of sincere, dedicated “non-doing” we’ve been talking about every day in this series). As a matter of fact, our Treeleaf Sangha is a place where many folks join us for “sittings” via video and netcast because they are restricted to bed, are in wheelchairs, or are sitting with pain or other such conditions. In that case, I remind everyone that we “sit” wherever and with whatever is. The Buddha, when really very sick, “sat” in the "lion" recline as in the picture above.

    Sometimes we sit with minor annoyances, sometimes we gentle adjust our posture. But for those with more severe and unavoidable pain, it is not so simple.

    I am sorry to say that Zazen may not help to remove the pain itself if due to a medical condition. However, what Zazen can do is reduce our resistance to pain, our resentments toward life and our circumstances which result.

    In Zazen, we sit as what is. If one needs to moan just moan, for it is a Buddha moaning.

    Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended.

    My conclusion is that, if Zazen meditation has an effect on physical pain for most meditators, it is moderate, only one of many treatments that should be employed, and most modern medical treatments have a much greater chance and effect on possibly reducing the pain itself. Even if it has an effect, it is not a pain killer ... but more of a moderate reducer. For pain that may be directly due to stress, such as Irritable Bowel, it may have a greater effect.

    I do believe that there are some very deep forms of trance and extreme mental absorption meditation that will greatly pain greatly, but these are nearly highly concentrated states, not the kinds of practices that allow one to function on a daily basis.

    HOWEVER, what Shikantaza (Just Sitting) can do is reduce the mental resistance to having pain, the Dukkha (Buddhist "suffering", not to be confused with "pain") which is the mental gap between poor health ("how things are") and our mental constructs of how we wish things to be in the alternative, and our resistance to the difference from our "how things should be" in our desires. It can reduce or free us of our fixation and obsession with the pain. By allowing the pain, focusing less upon the pain, ceasing to magnify the "oh poor me" aspect, the hold which the pain may have over our life is reduced. By allowing, accepting, ceasing to fixate so often on the pain, putting aside the "how I wish it to be" in our life, the hold of the pain is psychologically reduced. I am afraid to say that Shikantaza will not remove many of the problems you have in your life (sorry, but it will not change a flat tire for you, only allow you to "be one" with the situation as you hunt for the jack; it will not fix a bad tooth, but merely allow you to fixate less on the situation and accept the human condition as you head for the dentist). But it will help you to stop pouring mental gasoline on the situation which makes all so much worse. It will also allow us to experience a mental realm free of desire and suffering even as the pain remains. A kind of Light and Clarity can shine right through and as the body feels pain. That itself may reduce the "pain" by not having us fixate and magnify the event in our mind.

    That, I believe, is the real power of "Just Sitting" meditation and Zazen Practice, and something which has not yet been properly tested looking only at that question.

    As I said above, when in unavoidable pain ... be in pain. Pain is just the body. Even the aging and sick Buddha felt pain.

    Then the Blessed One, having spent most of the night instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the Kapilavatthu Sakyans with a Dhamma talk, said to Ven. Ananda:

    Ananda, speak to the Kapilavatthu Sakyans about the person who follows the practice for one in training. My back aches. I will rest it.

    As you say, lord, Ven. Ananda responded. Then the Blessed One, having arranged his outer robe folded in four, lay down on his right side in the lion's sleeping posture.
    Last edited by Bion; 05-14-2024, 01:37 PM.