Thoughts like clouds in the sky

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  • Rimon
    Member
    • May 2010
    • 309

    Thoughts like clouds in the sky

    Dear friends:

    I found very interesting as a practice to notice what I'm thinking or what I'm paying attention to, but not being carried away by it, to see thoughts as "clouds passing in the sky" as the famous metaphor goes. It is specially helpful to realise non-self: when I see my "monkey mind" jumping from one subject to the other it is easier to accept that maybe there is no da5id at all...
    I do enjoy it specially while walking. So while I'm going from point A to point B my attention is caught by noises, other people passing by, stuff in shops, posters, traffic lights changing colors... you name it.
    Interestingly -or not- I found it much more difficult than paying attention to my breathing. In less than five minutes I rapidly get caught by what my consciousness is paying attention to, so instead of watching the clouds in the sky I start running to catch them. I can watch two or three posters just noticing what they say, but the fourth will rapidly get me thinking about what it says, and start pondering, feeling attachment or rejection and plop! concentration is gone.

    So my question is: is there some sort of formal meditation to work on that or some tricks to make it easier? The general concept I know: let your mind wander without attaching to any thought, but it is easier said than done!

    Thanks a lot for your help

    Gassho

    Da5id
    Rimon Barcelona, Spain
    "Practice and the goal of practice are identical." [i:auj57aui]John Daido Loori[/i:auj57aui]
  • Taylor
    Member
    • May 2010
    • 388

    #2
    Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

    Keep trying! As far as I understand things, it never gets easier and it never gets harder. Some days will seem more peaceful and others more frantic. Sometimes even in the same sitting there will be a whirlwind of thought. Occasionally I'll feel like I'm as large as the entire room or totally absorbed in the great size of the sky. Then a moment later a thought that I latch onto and it's into a hurricane of thought and emotion. Then I "wake up" and come back.

    It's hard NOT to strive for something, not to strive for that feeling of peace and "oneness". When it happens, great! When it doesn't happen and you just feel like David, not David-one-with-the-universe, great! Just let it be what it is. We have an aim in zazen, to be present, but as Uchiyama Roshi said, we have no target. There is nothing to get, but damn if we don't keep trying to get it!

    I hope I'm on the right track with this but my best advice is: Keep practicing. Even if there isn't anything to achieve, just keep practicing.

    Gassho
    Taylor
    Gassho,
    Myoken
    [url:r05q3pze]http://staresatwalls.blogspot.com/[/url:r05q3pze]

    Comment

    • CraigfromAz
      Member
      • May 2010
      • 94

      #3
      Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

      Originally posted by da5id
      Dear friends:

      I found very interesting as a practice to notice what I'm thinking or what I'm paying attention to, but not being carried away by it, to see thoughts as "clouds passing in the sky" as the famous metaphor goes. It is specially helpful to realise non-self: when I see my "monkey mind" jumping from one subject to the other it is easier to accept that maybe there is no da5id at all...
      I do enjoy it specially while walking. So while I'm going from point A to point B my attention is caught by noises, other people passing by, stuff in shops, posters, traffic lights changing colors... you name it.
      Interestingly -or not- I found it much more difficult than paying attention to my breathing. In less than five minutes I rapidly get caught by what my consciousness is paying attention to, so instead of watching the clouds in the sky I start running to catch them. I can watch two or three posters just noticing what they say, but the fourth will rapidly get me thinking about what it says, and start pondering, feeling attachment or rejection and plop! concentration is gone.

      So my question is: is there some sort of formal meditation to work on that or some tricks to make it easier? The general concept I know: let your mind wander without attaching to any thought, but it is easier said than done!

      Thanks a lot for your help

      Gassho

      Da5id
      This is very similar to my experience. Focusing ON ANYTHING is easier than focusing ON NOTHING. However, I never get the sense of non-self, the experience that everthing I am looking at is new, when focusing on my breathing - but that happens often when I am out walking/biking and focusing on nothing. Then, sooner or later, my mind will latch onto a thought, re-assert itself and I am back to "Craig looking at the same old scenery I've seen for 25 years." (That sounds kind of mystical and weird when I write it down, but does not seem so when I experience it).

      Sorry, I don't have any tricks to keep this state of "no-mind" - or I would be there now instead of typing this response :wink:

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39453

        #4
        Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

        Originally posted by Taylor
        Keep trying! As far as I understand things, it never gets easier and it never gets harder. Some days will seem more peaceful and others more frantic. Sometimes even in the same sitting there will be a whirlwind of thought. Occasionally I'll feel like I'm as large as the entire room or totally absorbed in the great size of the sky. Then a moment later a thought that I latch onto and it's into a hurricane of thought and emotion. Then I "wake up" and come back.

        It's hard NOT to strive for something, not to strive for that feeling of peace and "oneness". When it happens, great! When it doesn't happen and you just feel like David, not David-one-with-the-universe, great! Just let it be what it is. We have an aim in zazen, to be present, but as Uchiyama Roshi said, we have no target. There is nothing to get, but damn if we don't keep trying to get it!

        I hope I'm on the right track with this but my best advice is: Keep practicing. Even if there isn't anything to achieve, just keep practicing.

        Gassho
        Taylor
        Sometimes it takes folks many years of Practice to master what you seem to have understood very quickly and naturally, Taylor.

        Like all of life ... some days are like this, some days are like that ...

        Nine Bows, J
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Taylor
          Member
          • May 2010
          • 388

          #5
          Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

          Originally posted by Jundo

          Sometimes it takes folks many years of Practice to master what you seem to have understood very quickly and naturally, Taylor.

          Like all of life ... some days are like this, some days are like that ...

          Nine Bows, J
          Oh my, I'm afraid I may have made myself sound more experienced than I am. Many humble gasshos ops:

          Yesterday I attended a small sitting group that alternates 30 minutes of sitting with 30 minutes of walking for an hour and a half. Long story short: The theme song from Disney's "Mulan" was on constant replay through my head. Many struggles with that large cloud. :wink:

          Anyways, David, the phrase that helps me most is "dropping all resistance". We fight with things so much or try to change them while we sit. So much so that I tried to replace that song with any other song as long as it was different (Krishna Das' "Mountain Hare Krishna" actually...) when really we're just hooking ourselves twice or more. Even if it's the largest, most turbulent and black cloud that has ever crossed your mind, just let it be what it is. Even if it seems to come back just when we find "peace".

          Gassho
          Taylor
          Gassho,
          Myoken
          [url:r05q3pze]http://staresatwalls.blogspot.com/[/url:r05q3pze]

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39453

            #6
            Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

            Originally posted by Taylor
            Originally posted by Jundo

            Sometimes it takes folks many years of Practice to master what you seem to have understood very quickly and naturally, Taylor.

            Like all of life ... some days are like this, some days are like that ...

            Nine Bows, J
            Oh my, I'm afraid I may have made myself sound more experienced than I am. Many humble gasshos ops:

            Yesterday I attended a small sitting group that alternates 30 minutes of sitting with 30 minutes of walking for an hour and a half. Long story short: The theme song from Disney's "Mulan" was on constant replay through my head. Many struggles with that large cloud. :wink:

            Anyways, David, the phrase that helps me most is "dropping all resistance". We fight with things so much or try to change them while we sit. So much so that I tried to replace that song with any other song as long as it was different (Krishna Das' "Mountain Hare Krishna" actually...) when really we're just hooking ourselves twice or more. Even if it's the largest, most turbulent and black cloud that has ever crossed your mind, just let it be what it is. Even if it seems to come back just when we find "peace".

            Gassho
            Taylor
            It is a rainy day here in Tsukuba. The rainy season has started, and there will be many wet and cloudy days to come, some truly stormy.

            But there will be sunny and cloud free times too. What is more, the sun and open sky are always there ... sometimes peaking through the clouds ... usually lighting up the clouds, shining right through them and letting them be seen ... when we are aware of the light. The light and boundless sky are there, even at times when hidden and dark.

            Let it rain.

            The point of this practice is not to make a world and life in which it never rains, never is cloudy. Rather, when it rains ... just let it rain. When it is sunny and clear ... let it be sunny and clear. Appreciate the light and sky which is there all along, even on the darkest days. Then the clouds of thought and emotion (usually seen as delusion in Buddhist practice) are suddenly seen and experienced and given shape quite differently from before ... now light and airy, filled with light and enlightened. They are now seen through, translucent. Many fade away when not stirred up, clung to, run from or resisted.

            Seek to avoid the thunder storms of greed, anger, excess ... for they are storms mainly of your own creation. We do not create as much stormy delusion and we did before. We learn how to avoid and get out of most lightning storms.

            And even on those days which are dark ... when not an inch of light can be seen ... when lightning strikes you on the backside no matter all your good intentions ... just that too. It is just the weather in this moment, which is always changing.

            But if you seek to find a world in which it is always sunny, never rains ... rich, vibrant life is not possible there.

            Something like that.

            Gassho, J
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • Tb
              Member
              • Jan 2008
              • 3186

              #7
              Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

              Hi.

              The sun is always shining, it's just that the clouds get in the way some times.

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

              Comment

              • Rimon
                Member
                • May 2010
                • 309

                #8
                Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

                I'm very happy with all your replies. I've asked for "tricks" and you gave much, much more. Real wisdom. It's raining now here in the countryside in Catalonia, but yeah inside me the sun is shining more than ever.

                Let it rain

                Resistance dropped

                Thanks for all your wise observations

                Gassho

                Da5id
                Rimon Barcelona, Spain
                "Practice and the goal of practice are identical." [i:auj57aui]John Daido Loori[/i:auj57aui]

                Comment

                • doogie
                  Member
                  • Feb 2008
                  • 77

                  #9
                  Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

                  I have been away from the cushion (and Treeleaf) too long. This thread has been very helpful. Too often I have focused on "let the clouds pass, let the clouds pass" and I have become attached to the idea of letting the clouds pass; trying so hard to resist looking at one or the other. And too often I have held onto the notion that I will one day be beyond that completely -- that I will achieve some state of "advanced" practice where thoughts no longer tempt me. The idea that there are good days and bad days is important for me to remember. Thank you. And the idea that 'the aim is what matters, not the target' came as a revelation. Gassho.
                  'Judge a man not by his answers, but by his questions.' Voltaire

                  Comment

                  • Jundo
                    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                    • Apr 2006
                    • 39453

                    #10
                    Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

                    Originally posted by doogie
                    The idea that there are good days and bad days is important for me to remember.
                    There are no "good" and "bad" days, except in the judgment of the mind. Never were and never will be. ...

                    ... and that applies even to the truly good and bad days. :shock:

                    (zen folks talk out of both sides of no sided mouth)
                    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                    Comment

                    • disastermouse

                      #11
                      Re: Thoughts like clouds in the sky

                      Drop the witness too. The blue sky and the clouds are none other than your body and breathe, sensation and thought...so not ABOVE, but INTO.

                      IMHO, YMMV.

                      Chet

                      Comment

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