Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

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  • ChrisA
    Member
    • Jun 2011
    • 312

    Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

    I have read through (though not watched all of the videos in) the series of talks for new folks, being new folk in every sense of the term. I was compelled by this recommendation by Jundo:

    [O]nce in awhile, maybe every two or three weeks or so, I recommend you sit Zazen in a truly disturbing place. Today, I am sitting Zazen in one of the busiest, brightest, noisiest parts of downtown Tokyo — to make the point that the true quiet room is within us as much as out. In fact, if we always need a calm and tranquil environment in order to reach the balance, stillness, ease, and freedom of this practice, then I believe Zazen loses much of its power. It is right at the eye of the storm that one can know stillness, and in the middle of chaos that we can taste peace.

    So, for that reason, I hope everyone will sit, once in awhile, in a truly disturbing, disagreeable, ugly, noisy, smelly, busy, and distracting place. In a stinking garbage dump, next to a construction site with jackhammers pounding, at an Ozzy Osbourne concert, in a game room, while crushed in a crowded city bus or parked in a parking lot off a busy highway.
    I thought of this post this morning. I usually sit early in the morning before the house rouses, but today I was sitting quite a bit later than usual, while my two daughters and wife were up and about. I don't mean to suggest that my everyday life is "truly disturbing!" However, finding "balance, stillness, ease and freedom" were a greater challenge among the dropped cereal bowls, cell phone ring tones, and chatter about who had or hadn't fed the dog.

    The experience made me eager to give zazen in a truly disturbing place a go -- and wonder whether y'all have yourselves. Where? What was it like?
    Chris Seishi Amirault
    (ZenPedestrian)
  • Rich
    Member
    • Apr 2009
    • 2601

    #2
    Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

    Sitting with my mind is sometimes the most disturbing place to be

    I'll have to think about where the most disturbing physical place was and get back to you.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

    Comment

    • Hoyu
      Member
      • Nov 2010
      • 2020

      #3
      Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

      Hi Chris,

      What a fun question! I'm also interested to hear from others on this one.

      Being a family man there are few places I even find myself in besides work and home. Most of my sitting is done at home though I have sat at work as well. Here at home, as with yours, is usually chaotic. Baby crying, video games, tv, etc. Sitting every day I sometimes feel like i've encountered it all! I have also sat out in public at a local Japanese garden.

      Here is my disclaimer for the next one: This should only be attempted by a trained professional and or a nutcase.
      I'll let you choose which for me :lol:
      The most extreme sitting I've done is in the car.....while in motion :shock:
      Granted I had to use a modified mudra(clutching the steering wheel for dear life :lol: )
      The story goes like this. I was driving to work while listening to one of the Treeleaf podcasts. As everyone knows it ends with Jundo's famous(to me anyway) line "Shall we sit with that?".
      So I figured why not. Seriously though it's not that much different. Perhaps more akin to kinhin only at 50mph! It would not be a recommendation of mine for obvious reasons though. However I had to at least try it once :twisted:

      Gassho,
      John
      Ho (Dharma)
      Yu (Hot Water)

      Comment

      • Ryumon
        Member
        • Apr 2007
        • 1706

        #4
        Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

        In recent years, I've had a number of MRIs. Sitting - well, lying down - while inside an MRI machine is extremely disturbing, but it sure helps get through the time. In some cases, I've been in there as much as 30 minutes, and those things are noisy! But I've managed, just about every time, to "sit" while there.
        ---
        Ryūmon (Kirk)
        流文

        SAT/LAH

        I know nothing.

        Comment

        • Hoyu
          Member
          • Nov 2010
          • 2020

          #5
          Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

          In recent years, I've had a number of MRIs. Sitting - well, lying down - while inside an MRI machine is extremely disturbing, but it sure helps get through the time. In some cases, I've been in there as much as 30 minutes, and those things are noisy! But I've managed, just about every time, to "sit" while there.
          I don't know how to spell clostriphobia but I do know how to feel it!! Just thinking about an MRI gives me the willies! I'm glad you are able to make lemonade out of lemons because Im not sure if even Zazen could help me out with that one!

          Gassho,
          John
          Ho (Dharma)
          Yu (Hot Water)

          Comment

          • AlanLa
            Member
            • Mar 2008
            • 1405

            #6
            Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

            Sitting (reclining, really) while getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist. Luckily, I have a hygienist that actually works silently and doesn't try to converse with me, the patient, as seems ridiculously usual from my experience. Sitting through that annoyance would make it a truly disturbing place. Anyway, as described, it's not that bad at all.
            AL (Jigen) in:
            Faith/Trust
            Courage/Love
            Awareness/Action!

            I sat today

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            • will
              Member
              • Jun 2007
              • 2331

              #7
              Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

              I practiced on the subway today. For a bit. Standing. My lower back was rather sore though. I might get that checked out.

              Gassho

              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]

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

                #8
                Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                Please do Will, but the chances are that it is just misuse. I had a really bad back for three weeks recently until I just noticed I was carrying quite a heavy rock sac on one shoulder. From brushing our teeth to walking, sleeping, sitting on a chair: we often misuse our body. Creeping toddlers don't. Once you go upright and throw stress, too much intention in the mix, you make it hard for yourself. That's why Fm Alexander ialways invited people to refrain from doing the wrong thing, inhibition which is also direction.
                If you can do that(so hard without a teacher) your back problem will just fade away.

                gassho


                Taigu

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                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39454

                  #9
                  Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                  At our Zendo in Tsukuba, for our Saturday morning Zazenkai, birds can usually be heard chirping prettily in the surrounding trees ...

                  ... but also, a truck or cars will frequently be heard rushing down the nearby road, carpenters banging fixing a neighbors roof, or a military helicopter passing overhead (I do not know why, but our house must be on some route they use to one of the nearby bases).

                  It has become one of the most powerful teaching tools I have for new students. I tell them that it is not to think "Oh, the birds are very lovely and peaceful ... but the trucks and helicopters disturb my nice Zazen". Rather, "the birds are singing as birds ... the trucks are trucks ... the copter just copters. Do not think one pleasant but the other ugly or detracting from the atmosphere. Then, there is a certain quiet and stillness that one can come hear behind and sounding right through all the sounds and noise."

                  I learned this sitting many a morning at Nishijima Roshi's old Zendo ... located right next to a NOISY child's playground and a highway.

                  Suzuki Roshi has a lovely little talk (one of his few video talks) on the mind's making "sound vs. noise". If I recall, his birds in the talk were not as pretty sounding as ours!



                  Gassho, Jundo
                  Last edited by Jundo; 02-12-2013, 02:37 AM.
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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                  • KellyRok
                    Member
                    • Jul 2008
                    • 1374

                    #10
                    Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                    Hello all,

                    Jundo thank you for reposting that video clip - I love it!

                    I've sat zazen, well lying down zazen in my chiropractor's/PT's office while I had electrical stim therapy on my messed up back...many times. I also chose to sit at a state park beside a waterfall; while some crazy teenagers were jumping off the cliff about 10 feet away from me. That was interesting!

                    Gassho,
                    Kelly/Jinmei

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                    • murasaki
                      Member
                      • Mar 2009
                      • 473

                      #11
                      Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                      I like this thread!

                      I sat on the light rail train on the way to school several times. I sometimes found it disturbing because there are creepy people on there, a couple of homeless/mentally ill people (one of them yells at you for doing things you didn't do but we all ignore because we feel sorry), loud and stoopid rude types, gangstas, and -- scariest of all -- high school kids on their way to or from the places here that call themselves schools. (They are really only half-abandoned buildings with their supplies gutted out to sell as firewood because of the severity of our education budget cuts. I exaggerate slightly.)

                      Sometimes I found sitting easier in these situations, and sometimes much more difficult. When feeling too threatened and on guard, of course, I did not try zazen.

                      I was aware every time that it was a far cry from my comfy home zendo with pretty little altar, reassuringly neutral fish tank filter white noise, incense of my choice, and my daughter putting her favourite stuffed animal on a peace-sign-printed "zafu" next to me. But it was good practice for me to drop likes and dislikes -- I tend to get very attached to those likes. Actually, I find that the hardest part of sitting in odious places is not dropping the dislike of those places...it's avoiding the mad rush back to full attachment to the likes when you get back to the cushy places.

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

                      Feed your good wolf.

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                      • ChrisA
                        Member
                        • Jun 2011
                        • 312

                        #12
                        Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                        That video is wonderful for many reasons, not the least being the ability to see Sunryu Suzuki Roshi. I grabbed and finished reading Zen is Right Here, the remarkable collection of anecdotes about Suzuki Roshi, right after watching it. Thanks, Jundo.

                        Got me attuned to the sound/noise distinction and changed my awareness of cars on the road outside, too. In particular, I was aware of the pitch of the cars rising thanks to the Doppler effect -- and, of course, my location relative to the cars' movement and sound. No sound separate from my being here and now; no here and now without awareness of the sound. No statis; all in/is motion.

                        And the cars? Just cars.
                        Chris Seishi Amirault
                        (ZenPedestrian)

                        Comment

                        • Ekai
                          Member
                          • Feb 2011
                          • 664

                          #13
                          Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                          I deal with painful episodes of IBS every now and then. When I get a flare-up, sometimes it feels like I am in child labor and lasts quite a few hours. While this is not an actual disturbing place but more of a very unpleasant situation, I try to sit (more like lying down) Zazen and be in the moment no matter how painful it gets. However, when it gets real bad my mind does wander to avoid the pain. I just keep bringing myself back to the present moment again and again.

                          Jodi

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                          • Onshin
                            Member
                            • Jul 2010
                            • 462

                            #14
                            Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                            Although i sit in my nice little Zendo-ette (the box room), to look at very calm and peaceful; uncluttered, subjued decor and an altar , a zafu and zabuton very nice. But - I am in a house on the edge of Heathrow Airport, a busy road outside the window leading to the M4 just up the road My Buddha Rupa rattles a lot with the Jumbos overhead so living in a disturbing place - very good for practice. I sometimes go to the country and sit in the quiet there, (those birds are noisy) Very good practice too. In fact all very good practice, even the Tube. :lol: 8)
                            "This traceless enlightenment continues endlessly" (Dogen Zenji)

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                            • Ankai
                              Treeleaf Unsui
                              • Nov 2007
                              • 910

                              #15
                              Re: Sitting Zazen in a Truly Disturbing Place

                              I was once sitting at LSA Anaconda in Balad, Iraq when one of the almost daily mortar attacks started. The first "boom" was a disyant thud; the next much closer, the third shook the walls. It crossed my mind to get up and head for a bunker, but I figured by the time I got my boots, helmet, vest, weapon, and medic bag together, it'd either be past or I'd already be hit, so, I stayed and sat. Two more dropped, then it was quiet again. Of all the wierdness that should have brought to mind, the thing that I kept thinking about was the absurdity of the whole thing, particularly being in a situation where I found it necessary to choose whether to sit zazen or grab a rifle.
                              Strange world we live in.
                              Gassho!
                              護道 安海


                              -Godo Ankai

                              I'm still just starting to learn. I'm not a teacher. Please don't take anything I say too seriously. I already take myself too seriously!

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