How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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  • Tobiishi
    Member
    • Jan 2009
    • 461

    How I Spent My Summer Vacation

    Gassho

    For me, trying to find the Middle Way of moderation in all things is kinda like following Farmer Orville's directions to the Amish open-air market: "Well son, yer gonna falla this road about a mile 'n a half, and take the second left fork. Then yer gonna turn left where Paulson's meat shed used to be, and hang a right about two-hunnert yard before the T over the low hill."

    For this reason, I'm considering leaning a bit into the ascetic side of things, without going on a hunger strike or lashing myself with leather straps or anything. My intention is to start on the summer equinox and finish on the winter equinox, and to follow something like the following rules:

    -Eat only vegetables, absolutely no meat or fish. This follows the first of the five precepts.
    -Abstain from caffeine. This follows the fifth precept.
    -No snacking between meals. Maybe 2 meals per day, not sure.

    -Carry no money, or only have what is necessary to purchase what is needed for a specific trip to the store.
    -Buy nothing new for myself, except personal hygiene items.

    -Sit two half-hour zazen per day minimum.

    -Start a volunteer relationship somewhere (does an animal shelter count?)


    So this is just off the top of my head- if anyone has comments, suggestions, or just to tell me I'm being stupid, let's have it!

    Gassho,
    Tobiishi
    It occurs to me that my attachment to this body is entirely arbitrary. All the evidence is subjective.
  • will
    Member
    • Jun 2007
    • 2331

    #2
    Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

    So what you're describing actually looks quite practical, depending of course on your personal attachments & aversions.
    Yes. Don't get down if you slip.

    Do it. It might start to become a habit. however, keep in mind here and now. It is morning; time to sit. It evening; time to sit etc..

    Don't feel guilt if you do not adhere to say "eating meat". Our existence alone takes up space, but it's a compassionate effort.

    If you have the time, the ability, and the gumption. Do it.

    W
    [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

    • Shohei
      Member
      • Oct 2007
      • 2854

      #3
      Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

      Just this:

      -Start a volunteer relationship somewhere (does an animal shelter count?)

      absolutely.

      well and this:
      Sounds like a sound plan for a healthy life style anyway you slice it.

      Gassho Shohei

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39459

        #4
        Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

        Hi,

        Yes, of course, this is wonderous Practice ... the Buddha's Practice! It is a "retreat" from the world, out in the world.

        In fact, I have not announced this yet, but I am thinking to combine our Jukai/Precepts study this year with a 100 day Ango (concentrated Zazen and Practice period) culminating about the end of the year ... similar to what Tricycle magazine hosted recently, and combining some elements very much as you are describing. So, Tobiah, you are our guniea pig ... please start a thread on the forum, and diary how it is going for you so that many can learn from your experience.

        Our way is moderation, neither punishing the body nor giving in to excess. We do not starve ourselves ( the Buddha tried that ... gave up ... here are a couple of scary Buddha statues for ya') ...






        nor stuffing ourselves. The rule of thumb is what is healthful, what we truly "need", what does not encourage excess attachments or greed and allows us to release our attachments.

        In our tradition ... even for householders who would take up the life for a time ... practice has traditionally involved periods (of various length ... often lasting a lifetime, good to do all the time as much as we can) in which we would put down our reliance on things and pleasures, eat simply just for sustenance, avoid overstimulating the senses, release our desires.

        (We had a surprise retreat in Florida a couple of years ago when a hurricane came through and we were without electric power ... including grocery stores, refrigerators, tv, computers, telephones and cars ... for nearly a month. Lovely! We think we need these things for happiness ... when they are taken away we resist ... then find we did not need any of that for life and happiness at all!)

        As to reducing our need for material goods and pleasures, one's caloric intake (and even fasting for a time ... if with medical supervision) and cutting back on the material aspects ... let me make clear that this is, in fact, the path of the Buddhas. We all should do this from time to time.

        Now, also pay attention to what Will said ... this practice is not a race, no finish line to cross ... even as we continue our journey forward step by step. Like counting the breaths, we go back and back should we slip. There is no "falling off the horse" even as we "fall off the horse" ... which does NOT mean, of course, that we should not try diligently to stay on the horse, or get back on if taking a tumble. Remember, we work very hard, very carefully and diligently ... all while knowing that there is nothing to achieve. This is very important.

        So, we look forward to your posting your diary here ...

        Gassho, Jundo

        PS- Yes, volunteering with animals does count, if you put your sincerity into it. Clean up the dog turds, knowing that there is nothing to clean.
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Keishin
          Member
          • Jun 2007
          • 471

          #5
          Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

          Sure, go for it.

          Remember, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans"

          While you lay out these noble guidelines for your behavior
          your behavior ultimately cannot be regulated in such a manner.
          There are aspects of human nature which defy being 'regulated' this way.
          Befriending these aspects--this comes from understanding them

          You can say 'its a start,' 'cause you (we all) have to start somewhere; but a start to what? where is this start going?
          This practice (of zazen) really and truly doesn't go anywhere.
          I would suggest what you've outlined is a self improvement program; one which uses aspects of zen buddhism.
          Fuggetaboutit!
          Zen buddhism is not a self improvement program.
          For one thing here is no such thing as 'improvement,' For another there is no one to be 'improved' and lastly no one to do the 'improving.'
          But by all means go ahead and make yourself a summer program--make the very best one you can devise.
          Then just let yourself be a zen buddhist trying to follow it the best way you can.
          Certainly you can have ideas about what you want your life to include and exclude.
          For silly example, you can make a rule you won't step on any cracks (or you'll break your mother's back!!). This means your walk becomes less smooth and less in harmony with what each step requires: now up hill, now stairs, now steps, now potholes, now ice.
          Avoiding cracks does make for a more entertaining way for the walker to walk!
          Just because I am bringing up silly no-stepping-on-cracks walking doesn't mean I am saying don't have improvement programs--they are useful for what they are--
          Zen buddhists can (and do) have all manner of projects and undertakings and endeavors.
          Anyone can.
          Anyway, what makes a zen buddhist's approach to such project, undertaking, endeavor different from 'anyone's'??
          Good luck from equinox to equinox!!
          keishin

          Comment

          • Taigu
            Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
            • Aug 2008
            • 2710

            #6
            Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

            It sounds really great Tobiishi. Just be very mindful no to become a pain for people around you, allow them to eat, drink and go they own way ( as an ex heavy smoker, I tend to be intolerant with smoking...). I think you could add this to your vows. And Will, Teishin, jundo , they all said it very eloquently: don't have a goal in mind, allow this path to be really vast and serene. We may have the impression of starting something which will take us somewhere. Our path is endless. Dieting is not our path. We just sometimes do it. Moderation is a real nice guideline.
            Good luck,

            gassho


            Taigu

            Comment

            • Tobiishi
              Member
              • Jan 2009
              • 461

              #7
              Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

              Gassho

              The root idea for this project was the question "Does ethical discipline follow more easily in the footsteps of physical discipline?" Like one person following another's footsteps in deep snow. Since forming that question a couple of weeks ago, the idea of ascetism has rolled around in my head and become more than a goal or experiment. Actually, it is not a goal at all anymore. I know intellectually that there is nothing to gain from this, no finish line (I set a six month limit precisely because I don't want to be a pain for my family. They will have to adjust little enough if I do it right though.) I hope to find out more viscerally that this is true. I know that this will not make me a better Buddhist, or a better human being. I do hope it opens my eyes a bit to what truly is required to be content.

              Keishin brought up something important:
              I would suggest what you've outlined is a self improvement program; one which uses aspects of zen buddhism.
              Fuggetaboutit!
              Zen buddhism is not a self improvement program.
              For one thing here is no such thing as 'improvement,' For another there is no one to be 'improved' and lastly no one to do the 'improving.'
              I agree completely. I am in no way attempting to use Zen. I am using lifestyle adjustments to deepen my practice, to better understand things which cannot be put into words, explained to someone who has only book knowledge of them. If my practice becomes more meaningful to me or those around me, happy day. I'm still most interested in the original question of ethical discipline.

              And Jundo Sensei, bless your clairvoyance! I had intended to say to the head of the animal shelter, (insert cheesy Indian accent here) "Please for me, a humble job- Jundo says I must pick up turds."

              I will of course post for you all the grizzly details of my summer- hair falling out, ribs protruding, being arrested for vagrancy at Wal-Mart :wink:

              Gassho
              Tobiishi
              It occurs to me that my attachment to this body is entirely arbitrary. All the evidence is subjective.

              Comment

              • Jundo
                Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                • Apr 2006
                • 39459

                #8
                Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                Originally posted by Tobiishi
                I know that this will not make me a better Buddhist, or a better human being.
                Just because we have no goals, nothing to obtain, and as beings not the slightest need of "self improvement" ... don't think that there is nothing to be improved, or that this might not make you a better Buddhist and human being in some ways. Why not?

                Gassho, Jundo (he who always speak out of both sides of no sided mouth)
                ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                Comment

                • disastermouse

                  #9
                  Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                  I often wonder how to enforce such disciplines without egoic intrusion into such plans. Perhaps you can let us know about that as you discover it in your experiment?

                  Chet

                  Comment

                  • Tobiishi
                    Member
                    • Jan 2009
                    • 461

                    #10
                    Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                    Originally posted by disastermouse
                    I often wonder how to enforce such disciplines without egoic intrusion into such plans. Perhaps you can let us know about that as you discover it in your experiment?

                    Chet
                    You're going to have to elaborate here, I don't follow.
                    It occurs to me that my attachment to this body is entirely arbitrary. All the evidence is subjective.

                    Comment

                    • Tobiishi
                      Member
                      • Jan 2009
                      • 461

                      #11
                      Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                      During the Kamakura Period in which Dogen lived, there were some who neglected the precepts and regulations and others who put emphasis on observing them. Representatives of the former were the Pure-land-Buddhists, especially Shinran, an example of the latter was Eisai. It seems that Dogen sought the middle-way, that is keeping the precepts without clinging to them, without expectation of some reward from observing them. Dogen emphasized just keeping them and practicing without the defilements of human sentiments.
                      -From Shobogenzo-Zuimonki, 1-2

                      The bald-headed fool
                      draped in an invisible robe
                      skulking in the Buddha Hall-
                      better to fall off the mountain
                      and attain enlightenment
                      on the way down.

                      -Tobiishi

                      Gassho
                      It occurs to me that my attachment to this body is entirely arbitrary. All the evidence is subjective.

                      Comment

                      • Al
                        Member
                        • May 2007
                        • 400

                        #12
                        Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                        Hi Tobiishi-
                        I wish you all the best on your journey for the summer. For the past 3 years, I've observed my own little version of the traditional Vassa rains retreat. This year, Vassa runs from July 8 through October 4. I wrote a bit about it on my blog last year, but here's the short version of my usual Vassa practice:

                        - Listen to a Dharma talk daily
                        - Intensify my meditation practice
                        - Follow the 5 precepts wholeheartedly
                        - Refrain from alcohol and other objects of craving that are personal to me

                        At first, these things were a real challenge. When I look back on my journals from the first year, I was SO irritable I couldn't have a drink with my friends. However, now I hardly drink at all and it's not even an issue. So I found that the practice soaked in over time and somehow became everyday life instead of just a practice period.

                        The traditional rules of Vassa observance are a bit much for me (and probably many people in modern life) but learning about Vassa gave me a lot of inspiration when I was first starting this kind of practice period. I love the idea of Jundo's ango and I look forward to undertaking that practice with the sangha.
                        Gassho _/\_

                        brokenpine.tumblr.com

                        Comment

                        • Jinho

                          #13
                          Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                          Originally posted by Jundo
                          Originally posted by Tobiishi
                          I know that this will not make me a better Buddhist, or a better human being.
                          Just because we have no goals, nothing to obtain, and as beings not the slightest need of "self improvement" ... don't think that there is nothing to be improved, or that this might not make you a better Buddhist and human being in some ways. Why not?

                          Gassho, Jundo (he who always speak out of both sides of no sided mouth)
                          Hi Jundo,

                          thank you for mentioning this. I feel it is important to remember that every moment is a choice, every moment is an action, there is no such thing as inaction. and while it is true that "all things are exactly as they are at that particular moment", because I MUST make a choice at every moment (it is not possible not to make a choice) the best I can do is try to make the best choice at each moment. It is important not to ignore Form, while embracing Emptiness. Form does exist. Part of enlightened understanding is understanding the inseparable, simultaneous reality of Form and Emptiness. In fact, perhaps it is better to say "Form/Emptiness" as one word, also "Relative/Absolute" and "Impermanence/Absolute" (I am sure other people can think of better words).

                          And while it is true that we are all enlightened just as we are, there is a WHOLE lot of uncovering to be done, not to mention a ton of polishing (reminder to self - must make BIG order for rouge......)

                          gassho,
                          Jinho/rowan

                          Comment

                          • disastermouse

                            #14
                            Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                            Originally posted by Tobiishi
                            Originally posted by disastermouse
                            I often wonder how to enforce such disciplines without egoic intrusion into such plans. Perhaps you can let us know about that as you discover it in your experiment?

                            Chet
                            You're going to have to elaborate here, I don't follow.
                            How do you prevent it from becoming 'Spiritual Heroism'?

                            Chet

                            Comment

                            • Tobiishi
                              Member
                              • Jan 2009
                              • 461

                              #15
                              Re: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

                              Originally posted by disastermouse
                              Originally posted by Tobiishi
                              Originally posted by disastermouse
                              I often wonder how to enforce such disciplines without egoic intrusion into such plans. Perhaps you can let us know about that as you discover it in your experiment?

                              Chet
                              You're going to have to elaborate here, I don't follow.
                              How do you prevent it from becoming 'Spiritual Heroism'?

                              Chet
                              The only way I can think of for this whole enterprise to stay completely free of anything that could be interpreted as 'Spiritual Heroism' is for this to be my last word on the subject. It was not my idea to post a 'diary'- my original question went PM to Jundo. He suggested I keep the Sangha informed, but if its going to be an issue of "Look at what I'm doing!" then I'll wait for the Ango, when perhaps everyone will be able to ride in the same boat and compare experiences.

                              Gassho
                              Tobiishi
                              It occurs to me that my attachment to this body is entirely arbitrary. All the evidence is subjective.

                              Comment

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