Apathy, Nihlism, or Non-Action

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  • mr.Lou
    Member
    • Apr 2012
    • 61

    Apathy, Nihlism, or Non-Action

    The element of practice that I find most challenging is in relaxing my desire to "attain" in my daily Dharma walk. I struggle to relax my "grip" on the goalless goal. Sometimes I feel as though I have found my middle way, but then I will panic and frantically clutch for something to make my practice more tangible. Like a person constantly wondering if the medicine they took is working.

    How can I avoid the pitfalls of apathy and nihilism as I continue to internalize that there is nothing that needs to be done but to sit?
    thank you
    -Lou Sat Today
  • Rich
    Member
    • Apr 2009
    • 2603

    #2
    Like the opening of the lotus flower sitting allows the opening of self, so the problem does not become apathy or nihilism but the doing of what needs to be done in a helpful and compassionate way which is not really a problem at all. Ofcause none of us are perfect in this.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

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    • Seiryu
      Member
      • Sep 2010
      • 620

      #3
      Hi


      The trick with this whole goalless goal, is when we make it a goal that we are trying to reach. And that is missing the mark as well. Apathy, nihilistic moments, they will come. But when they do, do not think of them as signs that your practice is not going well, just see them, and let them go and simply allow yourself to fully return to the present moment. Wanting to clutch on to something is normal. It is what the mind has been doing for years on end. So of course it will try to hold onto something during practice, its the only thing it knows how to do.
      In time, and with practice, you will begin to see and experience moments when you are not holding on. Moments where having nothing to hold on to, is fine.

      One of the pillars of this thing we call Buddhism is called, "Great Faith"
      Having faith in oneself, and in one's practice is vitally important.
      Allow yourself to have more confidence in this practice, and in the fact that just sitting isn't just all that needs to be done, but just sitting is the whole of this practice realized.

      Sorry for my speaking on topics I know nothing about...

      Humbly,

      Seiryu
      Humbly,
      清竜 Seiryu

      Comment

      • RichardH
        Member
        • Nov 2011
        • 2800

        #4
        Hi Mr Lou.

        Recently my wife and I had a goal to get out of the noisy house for a long overdue romantic evening.. We planned it , we were excited about it... but something came up. We were disappointed.. but then said “oh well, we'll try again next week” and dropped it. That goal mattered, but was not grasped as an absolute. I remember as a kid getting absolutely invested in a goal... like getting a model plane, then not being able to afford it, and going through a paroxysm of grief. .. because the goal was so opaque. This practice (as I understand it) involves having goals, but they remain transparent, not opaque, not absolute.

        Gassho, kojip
        Last edited by RichardH; 10-29-2012, 12:30 AM.

        Comment

        • Mp

          #5
          Originally posted by Kojip
          This practice (as I understand it) involves having goals, but they remain transparent, not opaque, not absolute.
          Nicely put Kojip.

          Gassho
          Michael

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          • disastermouse

            #6
            Originally posted by mr.Lou
            The element of practice that I find most challenging is in relaxing my desire to "attain" in my daily Dharma walk. I struggle to relax my "grip" on the goalless goal. Sometimes I feel as though I have found my middle way, but then I will panic and frantically clutch for something to make my practice more tangible. Like a person constantly wondering if the medicine they took is working.

            How can I avoid the pitfalls of apathy and nihilism as I continue to internalize that there is nothing that needs to be done but to sit?
            Are you talking about Shikantaza or are you talking about the greater practice of Zen? I'm not sure that it matters, but I'm curious about specifically what parts of the practice are most problematic for you.

            The taking of the medicine is the medicine.

            Comment

            • mr.Lou
              Member
              • Apr 2012
              • 61

              #7
              Originally posted by disastermouse
              Are you talking about Shikantaza or are you talking about the greater practice of Zen? I'm not sure that it matters, but I'm curious about specifically what parts of the practice are most problematic for you.

              The taking of the medicine is the medicine.
              Don't misunderstand what I am saying here.

              I am not complaining about an inability to follow the Soto tradition or bemoaning some lack of accomplishment in my practice. I am actually quite satisfied with my present being and the path I'm on.

              It is "desire" itself that I have issue with. Desire to be a "better Buddhist." Harder working, more knowledgeable, more diligent. This thirst for improvement serves me well in my educational and career pursuits, but it seems to conflict with my studies in this tradition because it makes me "grip" too hard.

              This thread is not so much a query for guidance as it is a question of commiseration. Do other people wrestle with this desire to be "more devout?" If so, how did you recognize it as different from that which is zen-tastic?
              thank you
              -Lou Sat Today

              Comment

              • Omoi Otoshi
                Member
                • Dec 2010
                • 801

                #8
                Originally posted by mr.Lou
                How can I avoid the pitfalls of apathy and nihilism as I continue to internalize that there is nothing that needs to be done but to sit?
                Vow and vow again to save all sentient beings. Sit, then get up and just do it! Save them all. Not just words, action!

                /Pontus
                In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                Comment

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

                  #9
                  Simple Lou, as you do whatever you are doing, understand that you are the very thing you are looking for, as you allow your being to just be and radiates, just enjoy being.
                  You are the seer, the eyes and the landscape, all three in every single ungraspable moment.


                  Gassho


                  Taigu
                  Last edited by Taigu; 10-29-2012, 08:49 AM.

                  Comment

                  • mr.Lou
                    Member
                    • Apr 2012
                    • 61

                    #10
                    thank you
                    -Lou Sat Today

                    Comment

                    • disastermouse

                      #11
                      Taigu's advice is spot-on - but I wanted to simply add this observation:

                      It can take a long time to let this sink in. It's is exactly true that liberation is immediately available, but there's also no 'end-point' of practice. It's no-liberation liberation, or self-such liberation. Every moment is an opportunity to let go, put your feet on the ground, and feel the middle way with your bare feet.

                      I'd suggest that if you feel ennui it's because you want something else. The Middle Way isn't something else.

                      Chet

                      Comment

                      • RichardH
                        Member
                        • Nov 2011
                        • 2800

                        #12
                        Originally posted by mr.Lou
                        Do other people wrestle with this desire to be "more devout?" If so, how did you recognize it as different from that which is zen-tastic?
                        It has changed ... "More devout" used to mean "as opposed to ordinary life".... leaving family, work, societal responsibilities,messy humanness, and retreating to a kuti in the woods, or a monastery (still messy and human), so as not to be distracted from.... what, exactly? Now "devout" is family, work, societal responsibilities, and messy humanness. So the desire to be "more devout" now translates as not running from life as is, what needs done, regardless, and realizing the suchness and peace in/as this every day.

                        Gassho, kojip.

                        Comment

                        • Daitetsu
                          Member
                          • Oct 2012
                          • 1145

                          #13
                          Hi kojip,

                          Originally posted by Kojip
                          Now "devout" is family, work, societal responsibilities, and messy humanness. So the desire to be "more devout" now translates as not running from life as is, what needs done, regardless, and realizing the suchness and peace in/as this every day.
                          Beautiful description!

                          In the last 2 or 3 days I had some "experiences" (I don't want to go into detail in the public area here), although I didn't seek these actively - nothing too spectacular though, but still.
                          Anyway, after these I came to realize that kensho, satori, the big "E", etc. pp. are not what really counts in life (for me at least).
                          It is watching a child fully immersed in an activity, receiving a friendly smile from a stranger, looking through the viewfinder of my camera, laughing together with friends, mowing the lawn or washing the dishes. (I know this sounds corny, but I just don't care.)
                          It feels great to simply be alive - no thing needs to be added.

                          Gassho,

                          Timo
                          no thing needs to be added

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                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39474

                            #14
                            no thing needs to be added.
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • Kyonin
                              Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                              • Oct 2010
                              • 6742

                              #15
                              We can have objectives and plans, but we drop all expectations and mindless desires.

                              Like the samurai said: Be ready for everything, but expect nothing.

                              I say this because this is how I became a runner. One day I realized I was just too fat and spent too many hours a day sitting. So I begun walking.

                              With nothing to prove to anyone, with no particular goal in mind. Day after day I walked, until I noticed that I wasn't getting tired anymore.

                              Then I started to run a few seconds. Two years later, seconds became minutes and minutes became hours.

                              My goal for this year was to run half a marathon in September. But when the time for registration came, I had no money. And that was the last local race of the year for me.

                              I felt a little disappointed but I just let it all go, since the important part was to get myself in shape for the race, not the race itself.

                              Maybe next year I'll run that race. Who knows?

                              Gassho,

                              Kyonin
                              Hondō Kyōnin
                              奔道 協忍

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