The apparent simplicity of sitting and being a Zen student

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  • Jinyu
    • May 2009
    • 768

    The apparent simplicity of sitting and being a Zen student

    Hi everyone!
    I've been thinking quite a lot about what Keishin said in another thread about the fact that being a Zen student is also being a Zen teacher. She said:
    I certainly consider myself to be a zen student; so when I first read 'since you are a Zen student, you are also a Zen teacher,' I balked...I don't want to be a Zen teacher!...then I understood just how serious this opening of my mouth can be. Others may think I know something: I have to be clear about what I don't know.
    It is so true that in our lives when people came to know that we practice Zen Buddhism, they tend to ask us so many questions about "life and the real answers to their very essential questions". And Zen practice gives a lot of answers, there are a lot of philosophical treaties by great masters of our school.
    But all this came from a very simple and strong dedication to our practice of ... Zazen - Kesa - Gassho/Precepts. Nothing really fancy.

    I did try to find answers to the "big questions" when people sometimes ask about "life and stuff"... I used to think:"what are my friends going to think if I don't say something meaningful"... But it was soooo arrogant and immodest but so much easier to do this to escape their disappointment.

    Lately, mostly because of the "work" we do here with you all under the guidance of Taigu and Jundo... and perhaps because of the hours spent on the cushion seeing one's true behavior and infinite games that are played in our heads..., I tried to be more honest with people.
    I tried to explain that it was all just about sitting, sewing, and sharing things with everyone and everything... People usually get bored quite quickly but I must say I feel better!

    I even sat twice with a bunch of friends these last weeks, in a very simple way... In fact I also tried to make them sit in a Sangha (Zen or not) in Brussels, but no one wanted to be part of "a sect". That is the word they use when I talk about any Buddhist Sangha, "What, your sect/cult!? No, I won't go"... Of course they all know Buddhism is not a sect at all, but they like to annoy me...But I am happy that they could just seriously sit for quite a long time. It was a pleasure to share that simplicity!

    Simplicity is a luxury lately, at least for me!

    It reminds me that I've been reading something from "facts and principles" by Zen Master Taido on this subject: (sorry for my poor translation)
    " The Buddha mind doesn't really need any additional instruction. The water is cold and the fire is hot, when someone call we answer and we also can move our arms and legs.
    We know all this without need to study it. Birds and other animals know the same things.
    ...Everyone know these same things without need to study. If you are "consistent" (in adequacy) with things, without conscience, then the credo of Zen manifest : " a special transmission out of the Doctrines". Some people think that behind that phrase is a big mystery.
    But there is nothing but simplicity. The big knowledge is simply knowing that water is cold and fire is hot..."
    I hope in the future, when someone ask me a "big question" I'll have the courage to answer with simplicity about what we actually know and experience... water is cold and fire is hot / We do zazen and sometimes our knees hurt / We sit and sometimes our thoughts keep coming / We bow and sometimes the floor is quite cold!
    But come on ... just forget all this... our silly minds like intellectual stuff so much, at least my silly mind does! :mrgreen:
    Thanks for reading!

    Deep gassho,
    ps: G-d I wasn't expecting to write about so many things at first... :lol:
    pps: It is quite late so I hope all this will be understandable!
    Jinyu aka Luis aka Silly guy from Brussels
  • Shokai
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Mar 2009
    • 6386

    Re: The apparent simplicity of sitting and being a Zen student

    Hi Jinyu;

    Very understandable!, I think you hit the nail right on the head.;

    gassho, Richard
    gassho, Shokai

    仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

    "Open to life in a benevolent way"


    • Taylor
      • May 2010
      • 388

      Re: The apparent simplicity of sitting and being a Zen student


      I tried to give a lengthy explanation of Buddhism and Zen to a friend's friend. It left me feeling confused, so really I'm sure it did him little good.

      I redacted my statement with a bow and an apology. Truly we are not here to impress others with rhetoric, only to point them to the moon and ask what they see.

      Gassho, again


      • murasaki
        • Mar 2009
        • 473

        Re: The apparent simplicity of sitting and being a Zen student

        I have also tried to apply this thinking to times when I talk about other subjects to people. Sometimes I fancy myself somewhat of an "authority" on a subject just because I've worked with it a lot, or studied it, or whatever.

        But I find it's good practice -- and very healing and freeing -- to be a non-authority about things that I might even truly know a good deal about. Why do I think I've got to impress people, or avoid letting them down? Why am I better because I told someone something they didn't know? (The answer is, I'm not.)

        The moment I discovered how good it feels to say, "I don't really know" or "It's just a thing I like to do sometimes", I felt a change in myself. More calm.

        Not to say I don't ever spew out any majorly bombastic crap anymore...every so often I can be caught doing that! But every time I can catch myself and refrain, it's a healing experience.

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

        Feed your good wolf.


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

          Re: The apparent simplicity of sitting and being a Zen student


          I don' talk about Zen to my friends...I just live.
          My partner could care less about it, and that's great.




          • Jinyu
            • May 2009
            • 768

            Re: The apparent simplicity of sitting and being a Zen student

            Originally posted by Taigu
            I don' talk about Zen to my friends...I just live.
            It's probably the best thing to do! :roll: Even if I knew some of my friends through Zen practice (not the majority of course).
            But what to do when friends keep asking questions?...
            Yesterday, I've found a solution... We just made an apple crumble and talked about Belgian politics! :lol:

            Jinyu aka Luis aka Silly guy from Brussels