last night's sitting

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  • murasaki
    Member
    • Mar 2009
    • 473

    last night's sitting

    I sat outside, for the first time. Perfect weather.
    I did not use a thick cushion, just a bit of padding. My legs were numb, but less uncomfortably so for the duration than before.
    Towards the end, I glanced at the timer. I allowed it without criticising myself. I didn't make the whole 30 minutes, but I allowed that too.

    Here is what went through my mind at one point:
    "My legs are uncomfortable."
    "That was a thought. Don't think."
    "But I should remember that I am not the discomfort in my legs."
    "I'm thinking again...notice my breath instead."
    "But I am not my breath."
    "So who am I, then?"

    A little while later, I started to read the copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that I just got. In the intro, I read:

    "The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry - what am I? - is needed throughout Zen practice."

    Just kind of interesting to share.

    gassho
    Julia
    "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

    Feed your good wolf.
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39074

    #2
    Re: last night's sitting

    Originally posted by murasaki
    I sat outside, for the first time. Perfect weather.
    I did not use a thick cushion, just a bit of padding. My legs were numb, but less uncomfortably so for the duration than before.
    Towards the end, I glanced at the timer. I allowed it without criticising myself. I didn't make the whole 30 minutes, but I allowed that too.

    Here is what went through my mind at one point:
    "My legs are uncomfortable."
    "That was a thought. Don't think."
    "But I should remember that I am not the discomfort in my legs."
    "I'm thinking again...notice my breath instead."
    "But I am not my breath."
    "So who am I, then?"

    A little while later, I started to read the copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that I just got. In the intro, I read:

    "The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry - what am I? - is needed throughout Zen practice."

    Just kind of interesting to share.

    gassho
    Julia

    Hi Julia,

    I am in bed today with the flu, but wanted to crawl out to say that such thoughts and distractions will come again and again and again in Zazen (ad nauseum ... not the best expression for me today). If you legs are uncomfortable, just briefly "Gassho" and adjust your position, but do not think during Zazen about "who's legs are these?" or the like.

    Do not even think that you should not be thinking! :shock: Just don't think.

    Of course, thoughts will come back, but just let them drift out of mind without latching on to them or stirring them up. Do not even think about Suzuki's "what am I?" (I am sure he did not mean you were to ponder that during Zazen). Zazen is more like doing "what am I" than thinking about "what am I".

    Thoughts are like clouds drifting in a clear blue sky.

    We do not chase after these clouds of thought, or play with them, neither do we reject them or encourage them ... we simply let them drift from mind. We return 10,000 times and 10,000 times again to the wide, open sky.

    That does not mean the thoughts are good or bad (even though they are delusions). For example, if fear that you can't pay the phone bill this month comes to mind during Zazen (I think that is on the mind of many folks these days), let it go ... just sit. If the phone bill comes back during Zazen, let it go again ... just sit. Find that silent place between phones' ringing ... 10,000 times and 10,000 times again. If phone bill will not leave some days ... just sit with that. The bill collector is Buddha!

    Repeat.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Jinho

      #3
      Re: last night's sitting

      Originally posted by Jundo
      Originally posted by murasaki
      I sat outside, for the first time. Perfect weather.
      I did not use a thick cushion, just a bit of padding. My legs were numb, but less uncomfortably so for the duration than before.
      Towards the end, I glanced at the timer. I allowed it without criticising myself. I didn't make the whole 30 minutes, but I allowed that too.

      Here is what went through my mind at one point:
      "My legs are uncomfortable."
      "That was a thought. Don't think."
      "But I should remember that I am not the discomfort in my legs."
      "I'm thinking again...notice my breath instead."
      "But I am not my breath."
      "So who am I, then?"

      A little while later, I started to read the copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that I just got. In the intro, I read:

      "The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry - what am I? - is needed throughout Zen practice."

      Just kind of interesting to share.

      gassho
      Julia

      Hi Julia,

      I am in bed today with the flu, but wanted to crawl out to say that such thoughts and distractions will come again and again and again in Zazen (ad nauseum ... not the best expression for me today). If you legs are uncomfortable, just briefly "Gassho" and adjust your position, but do not think during Zazen about "who's legs are these?" or the like.

      Do not even think that you should not be thinking! :shock: Just don't think.

      Of course, thoughts will come back, but just let them drift out of mind without latching on to them or stirring them up. Do not even think about Suzuki's "what am I?" (I am sure he did not mean you were to ponder that during Zazen). Zazen is more like doing "what am I" than thinking about "what am I".

      Thoughts are like clouds drifting in a clear blue sky.

      We do not chase after these clouds of thought, or play with them, neither do we reject them or encourage them ... we simply let them drift from mind. We return 10,000 times and 10,000 times again to the wide, open sky.

      That does not mean the thoughts are good or bad (even though they are delusions). For example, if fear that you can't pay the phone bill this month comes to mind during Zazen (I think that is on the mind of many folks these days), let it go ... just sit. If the phone bill comes back during Zazen, let it go again ... just sit. Find that silent place between phones' ringing ... 10,000 times and 10,000 times again. If phone bill will not leave some days ... just sit with that. The bill collector is Buddha!

      Repeat.

      Gassho, Jundo

      Hi Jundo,

      What a lovely, simple, gentle response - just as it is (where is the happy face with closed eyes?)

      gassho,
      Jinho

      Comment

      • murasaki
        Member
        • Mar 2009
        • 473

        #4
        Re: last night's sitting

        Originally posted by Jundo
        Zazen is more like doing "what am I" than thinking about "what am I".
        Jundo
        Jundo,
        I like that description! It clarifies a lot for me.

        As you can see, it's going to take a lot of..."not-work" to calm my scattered mind. I realized recently that I am an expert at tuning everything *out* in order to concentrate on my thoughts (I promise you, my ability to do this is seriously amazing), and I have to turn around 180 degrees and learn to tune the thoughts out to concentrate on the "everything" so to speak. (Does that make sense?) This, at a rather stressful period in my life that gives rise to many more thoughts than normal. But that's what brought me here and I am glad about that.

        I just thought it was funny that I had the thought, "Who am I?" and then a short while later, read about that very question being "the first inquiry" of the beginner. A lot of odd little coincidences have been happening like that to me lately.

        One positive thing (I hesitate to call it an accomplishment as we are not trying to accomplish anything) is that I have begun to stop placing judgments on myself for things I think and do...I just notice that it's a tendency or a pattern I have. That one small thing is truly priceless, when you are accustomed to beating yourself up about every little thing you do.

        Thank you and I hope you feel better soon, Jundo.

        Gassho
        Julia
        "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

        Feed your good wolf.

        Comment

        • murasaki
          Member
          • Mar 2009
          • 473

          #5
          Re: last night's sitting

          "what am i?" is a non-intellectual question.
          I don't understand the purpose of this statement, or its relevance to what I said.

          You are better off not doing zazen if you want to quiet your mind.
          I don't understand the helpfulness of this statement to a beginner. If Jundo agrees with this statement, then he must have allowed me to join Treeleaf for some other purpose, because I cited this reason as a big reason for me wanting to join.

          If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively. My apologies.

          gassho
          Julia
          "The Girl Dragon Demon", the random Buddhist name generator calls me....you have been warned.

          Feed your good wolf.

          Comment

          • will
            Member
            • Jun 2007
            • 2331

            #6
            Re: last night's sitting

            If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts.
            Oh! No! :shock:



            I agree Julia. That's exactly how it is when we begin. We can't be expected to just drop body mind right away. That would be cool, but unrealistic. The main thing is to pay attention I think, and get some idea of not trying to calm your thoughts,but just let them go when you sit. Jundo probably said it better.


            Gassho
            [size=85:z6oilzbt]
            To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
            To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
            To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
            To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
            [/size:z6oilzbt]

            Comment

            • Jundo
              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
              • Apr 2006
              • 39074

              #7
              Re: last night's sitting

              Hi Julia, Hi Empty,

              At the heart of our practice is "quieting the mind" of so much of the noise which fills it, causing suffering and separation. In Zazen, we drop away thoughts, emotions, judgments, past memories and future imaginings, divisions ... and thus experience life still and whole.

              Rising from the Zafu, we return to a day-to-day life in which we must have (for otherwise we could not even make a can of soup, let alone hold a job) a head full of thoughts, emotions, judgments, past memories and future imaginings, divisions ... although, hopefully, we can now taste the stillness and wholeness within the chaos and noise.

              We also learn to drop away many of the thoughts, emotions etc. that we no longer need (see the "Bad Person" thread). We learn to drop away the harmful, for we can do without greed, anger, ignorance.

              So, yes, at the heart of our practice is "quieting the mind".

              That being said ... what emptyzen may be referring to is that one had best not merely use Zen practice as just a cheap form of "relaxation", like an afternoon Yoga or pottery class. That is just dabbling, and misses the real fruits of the practice (which are about true "self discovery" .... really, "no self" discovery ). Just "dabbling" in such way, just as a way to relax and such, is often called "Bompu Zen"

              In bompu zen, one practices to take a vacation from the grinding of the wheels of society and work, and also tries to build up a sense of calm. Or it can focus on "character building," as it does for so many modern Japanese. Many huge corporations in Japan send their employees and executives to Zen temples or to places that teach Zen-inspired practices for a week or two, to "toughen them up," ... Bompu zen is concerned only with the issues of health and well-being and that's a fine place to start: starting to allow ourselves to recognize the richness of our own experience. It is a fine place to start, but we need not stop there.
              To really taste the fruits, one must bite deeper.

              Also, what EmptyZen might have meant (Empty?) is that some folks wrongly think that Zen practice is about dropping all thoughts and emotions, in order to be completely "empty headed" and without any emotion. As I said above, it is not that ... and is more about being free of harmful emotions and thoughts, able to see through the theater of all thoughts and emotions, and able to taste the stillness amid the noise.

              Something like that. Empty, is that what you meant?

              Gassho, Jundo

              PS.

              Originally posted by murasaki
              If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively. My apologies.
              Yes, these are some fine examples of "not needed thoughts"! Drop those, Ms. Murasaki! You are most welcome here.
              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

              Comment

              • Jinho

                #8
                Re: last night's sitting

                Originally posted by Jinho
                Originally posted by murasaki
                "what am i?" is a non-intellectual question.
                I don't understand the purpose of this statement, or its relevance to what I said.

                You are better off not doing zazen if you want to quiet your mind.
                I don't understand the helpfulness of this statement to a beginner. If Jundo agrees with this statement, then he must have allowed me to join Treeleaf for some other purpose, because I cited this reason as a big reason for me wanting to join.

                If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively. My apologies.

                gassho
                Julia
                Dear Julia,

                No! Please post! You have such lovely posts!!!!!!!!!!! More important, - constructive, destructive, whatever, you are most welcome here. And you never know who will be helped by what you write.

                I slightly disagree with Jundo, in that I was taught (when I first encountered zazen about 28years ago) that there are many "types" of zazen. There is "bompu" zazen, which was translated for me as "ordinary" zazen which is doing zazen for its beneficial physical and mental effect. "quieting one's mind" comes under this type and is a perfectly valid reason to do zazen. This will probably happen anyway no matter why one does zazen. Another reason is to experience/understand what Shakyamuni Buddha and the past (and present) zen masters experience/understand (though of course one's own experience/understanding is unique as well as "one" with their experience). But as Susan Myoyu Anderson, Roshi said to me the important thing is to "get your butt on the pillow" (and see what happens).

                I think maybe Emptyzen might have been using a tact which is common in medieval zen writings of saying something paradoxical, (since one would as soon tell someone not to sit as tell them not to breathe). Having read almost all of the medieval Chinese and Japanese zen writings, can say that this paradoxical method is very common. But I can ABSOLUTELY say that everyone here at treeleaf is here to be welcoming and to assist YOU to practice and gain the benefit of zazen. There are no exceptions to this.

                As for sitting to quiet one's mind, it is probably more effective if you can sort of set aside having a conscious goal of quieting or clearing your mind (as in gently setting aside any conscious thought of "I want to quiet my mind, I want to quiet my mind") and just sit with a gentle acceptance of all of who you are at that very moment. Having a conscious/focused goal takes one out of the present Moment into a desired future moment, and so one can miss the enlightenment/understanding waiting for us Right Here and Right Now. However, your need to quiet your mind is part of you, and should be cared for and respected as all of you should be loved and cared for and respected. But this is sometimes hard (speaking as one who personally has a hard time with this).

                gassho,
                rowan

                Comment

                • Tb
                  Member
                  • Jan 2008
                  • 3186

                  #9
                  Re: last night's sitting

                  Originally posted by murasaki
                  If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively.
                  Hi.
                  We'll all come beat you with the kyosaku for that one.
                  We're all beginners.
                  Your posts are perfect just as they are.
                  Post more if you feel like it.

                  Mtfbwy
                  Tb
                  Life is our temple and its all good practice
                  Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

                  Comment

                  • Jinho

                    #10
                    Re: last night's sitting

                    Originally posted by Fugen
                    Originally posted by murasaki
                    If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively.
                    Hi.
                    We'll all come beat you with the kyosaku for that one.
                    We're all beginners.
                    Your posts are perfect just as they are.
                    Post more if you feel like it.

                    Mtfbwy
                    Tb
                    Thank you TB for saying in four short lines what it took me a long page to say. So eloquent.
                    gassho,
                    rowan

                    Comment

                    • Tb
                      Member
                      • Jan 2008
                      • 3186

                      #11
                      Re: last night's sitting

                      Originally posted by Jinho
                      Originally posted by Fugen
                      Originally posted by murasaki
                      If I, as a beginner, am so naive as to be tedious to anyone, than I invite those afflicted to not read my posts. I will also post less, as it seems I am too new to participate constructively.
                      Hi.
                      We'll all come beat you with the kyosaku for that one.
                      We're all beginners.
                      Your posts are perfect just as they are.
                      Post more if you feel like it.

                      Mtfbwy
                      Tb
                      Thank you TB for saying in four short lines what it took me a long page to say. So eloquent.
                      gassho,
                      rowan
                      Hi.

                      Well, what to say in reply?
                      On the one hand i should yell at you, on the other say thanks.
                      I think i'll just say "shall we sit with that?"

                      Mtfbwy
                      Tb
                      Life is our temple and its all good practice
                      Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

                      Comment

                      • will
                        Member
                        • Jun 2007
                        • 2331

                        #12
                        Re: last night's sitting

                        deleted by Will
                        [size=85:z6oilzbt]
                        To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
                        To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
                        To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
                        To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
                        [/size:z6oilzbt]

                        Comment

                        • Jundo
                          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                          • Apr 2006
                          • 39074

                          #13
                          Re: last night's sitting

                          Originally posted by emptyzen
                          2) Thought cannot be you, or a threat since they are percievable
                          Please explain 2) a bit more. Thought cannot be you, or a threat ... that's fine and clear. But why "since they are perceivable"?
                          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                          Comment

                          • will
                            Member
                            • Jun 2007
                            • 2331

                            #14
                            Re: last night's sitting

                            Thoughts are absolutely part of you. That's like saying my arm is not attached to my shoulder.

                            Of course, we could speculate what is and isn't you. But why?

                            Gassho
                            [size=85:z6oilzbt]
                            To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
                            To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
                            To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
                            To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.
                            [/size:z6oilzbt]

                            Comment

                            • Shugen
                              Treeleaf Unsui
                              • Nov 2007
                              • 4535

                              #15
                              Re: last night's sitting

                              We're all beginners.
                              Your posts are perfect just as they are.
                              Post more if you feel like it.

                              Mtfbwy
                              Tb
                              I agree.

                              Ron
                              Meido Shugen
                              明道 修眼

                              Comment

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