Ice Cream is Served ...

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39074

    Ice Cream is Served ...

    Hi,

    Ice Cream is being served over at the "Sit-a-Long" ...

    Please have a taste ...

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/01 ... rs_24.html

    Gassho, Jundo the "Good Humor" Ice Cream Man




    (I think you maybe had to have been a kid in New York to get the reference)
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Rev R
    Member
    • Jul 2007
    • 457

    #2
    Zen Master Masquerading as Ice Cream Man: Here is you cone.
    Me: Vanilla? I asked for chocolate.
    Zen Master: Shut up and eat your ice cream.
    :lol:

    Good one today.

    Comment

    • Stephanie

      #3
      Watched the video and enjoyed it. But I'm not sure the metaphor completely works for me, because if you just shut up and ate your ice cream every day, you wouldn't end up in a very good condition! Maybe if you just shut up and ate your Wheaties... :lol:

      In all seriousness, you present well the Zen teaching of truth as "just this." I am well acquainted with the "truth" of a cold wind or a warm bath. But yet I have an intense desire to know more, to know why... And why is that? Maybe if I could figure out why I want to know "why," it would tell me all I need to know, but it seems just as elusive to me. I think life as it is without any "big questions" answered is pretty good, so why I have such an intense hunger to know the answers to those questions is baffling at times.

      If I could just shut up and enjoy the ice cream... or Wheaties... or wheatgrass... :lol: I could live a fairly contented existence. But it would also kind of be a... blah existence. It makes me think of the descriptors of existence in the animal realm of the Six Realms. I mean, that's samsara, isn't it? Just going from one thing to the next without asking "why"? If this is our truth, why not just prostrate ourselves in front of our dogs and cats and ask them for their teachings?

      I mean, they seem to live pretty contented lives, but they also live at the mercy of those who "own" them, and there are lots of dogs and cats who end up in horrible situations. Seeing an animal suffering, and the way its entire being seems to express total confusion as to why what is happening is happening to it, is heartbreaking. An animal's life is only romantic if it has had the good fortune to end up in decent environs. I think "just eat the ice cream cone" is easier for people whose "ice cream cone" involves a decent place to live, a good job, loving relationships, wine with dinner, etc., than for those people whom life has handed a big plate of shit.

      I have a lot of "gut feelings" about what is important and what is a good way to live, to be happy. Following them, I've discovered a lot of joy and peace. But yet, I wonder where these feelings come from, and even more, I find it's not enough. Maybe that is just ignorance or neurosis... I don't know. But it's something I just can't shake. This feeling that there is something to know, and that I really want to know it. I've talked to a good many folks, including my father, who propose that this is just a byproduct of the way the human animal is wired neurologically, that this "why?" question is just a non-sequitur. Maybe that's true. But it's a non-sequitur that has me by the throat.

      Comment

      • will
        Member
        • Jun 2007
        • 2331

        #4
        Just sit.

        Gassho Will
        [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

        • Jun
          Member
          • Jun 2007
          • 236

          #5
          No matter whether you are feeling low or high, deluded or enlightened, happy or depressed, half-enlightened, half-deluded, three-quarters deluded, full of hope or despair - that is simply the way it is. Only YOU have the answers as to "why."

          You can want the world to align with your wants and desires, to provide you with all the answers to your questions - but it ain't gonna happen.

          I think "just eat the ice cream cone" is easier for people whose "ice cream cone" involves a decent place to live, a good job, loving relationships, wine with dinner, etc., than for those people whom life has handed a big plate of shit.
          Even living in a big "plate of shit" is living, no? It is life at least. How you perceive that life and what you make of it is entirely up to YOU.

          Having lived for a considerable time amongst the poor and needy, among people who live in cardboard boxes and rubbish piles often with nothing but what they are wearing and pieces of cardboard and plastic to keep them protected from the elements; I can say I've experienced what it is like to live in a "plate of shit."

          Quite often these people living this way are HAPPY! They are content! Why? Because they are ALIVE! They do not concern themselves with "why?"

          "Why" will not provide for you. Be content in LIFE, NOW, AS IT IS. Doesn't matter "why."

          To twist a line by the great master Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no why."

          gassho
          Gassho
          Jun
          The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

          Comment

          • Stephanie

            #6
            Thank you for the reply, Jun.

            As nice an idea as it is, people living in poverty aren't happier on average than those who do not. Areas of greater poverty and want are also subject to other signs of social unrest or distress, such as crime and violence.

            Of course, a country like Bhutan might have a stronger "Gross National Happiness" than a wealthier country, but I would argue it's not because people in that country don't ponder the question "why"--it's that they do, and they have answers to it!

            Victor Frankl proposed eloquently that what gets people through the worst conditions in life is a sense of meaning. To Frankl, this doesn't have to be meaning on a cosmic level, it can be something as simple as having a sense of "mission" or "purpose," something one wants to live for.

            As for me--I can certainly agree it would be easier if I could simply be content and let go of this "why" business. But it's not a matter of logic. It's something I've tried to resolve and let go of somehow countless times, but it keeps coming back to haunt me.

            I even have a sense of mission that gives my life meaning, things that I know I believe in regardless of what I do or don't know about the nature of the universe. I have a pretty decent life and a lot to work with. But for years, I've been compelled to focus most of my energy on this search for meaning, this search for the answer to "why."

            My father has told me that he went through the same thing I did, and ultimately came to the conclusion that "why" is a meaningless question. I know it is common that children follow in the footsteps of their parents, and so I might go through the same thing that he did. But I really don't feel like I will. His lifestyle choices would trouble my conscience, and my conscience is the strongest guiding light and source of happiness in my life. It would be a dismal existence if the light of my conscience went out.

            I know I can live a happy and fulfilled life if I live in tune with my conscience. But yet I am also bothered by a yearning to know where the wisdom and joy of the conscience comes from. How do we know what is right, and what is wrong? One response to such questions is to say conscience comes from God, but sticking that label on it does little for me. I want to know. Maybe that is impossible. But that wanting is there, like the libido, like hunger, like the urge to dance to a song with the right beat.

            Trust me, I do enjoy my life. I don't spend every waking moment wondering "why." But it always comes back, like the refrain to a classic song that just won't work its way out of consciousness.

            Comment

            • will
              Member
              • Jun 2007
              • 2331

              #7
              If your going to ask yourself any question, and it seems you must, ask "How" and don't forget to sit. Remember to that your answers for everything are in you Stephanie not looking or pondering the actions of others, but understanding your own actions. It seems that if you want to help anyone, you should first work with your own stuff. Now. Don't give me some long explanation. Just sit. Which I think I'm going to go do right now.

              Gassho Will
              [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

              • Longdog
                Member
                • Nov 2007
                • 448

                #8
                Ah beat me to it Will I was just thinking the question you could be asking is 'How' . How can I become more accepting of .......?

                And before we talk nihilism as Jundo said to me about my situation and as Dogen says we can have 'acceptance sans acceptance' so we can accept life as it is but that doesnot preclude us from also being open to other options.

                In my experience asking 'why?' is a sign of feeling that things are done to me rather than accepting that things are as they are, but I have a choice as to how to re-act to them.

                We could not ask any question and just sit.

                Having opened my big mouth I'm away for the weekend away from the distracta-net, but I'll check in sunday .

                In gassho, Kev
                [url:x8wstd0h]http://moder-dye.blogspot.com/[/url:x8wstd0h]

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39074

                  #9
                  Hi Steph,

                  "Why" is a funny question about some things.

                  "Why" is a stone a stone? "Why" is a tree a tree? Whether there is a "reason" and purpose to it or not, the stone is still a stone.

                  The best way for humans to know the ocean, perhaps, is not to ask "why" the ocean is the ocean. Nor is it to to discover and memorize every inch of its coast line, the place of every grain of sand on its beaches, the height of all its waves and the direction of each current. Instead, we can dive into the ocean that is right before us, feel its wetness and taste its salinity. We can intimately know the ocean that way. If one were born as a fish in such an ocean, the best course of action might not be to ask "why", but merely to swim swim (before some bigger fish catches you). That is the best possible way for us to know and experience the ocean, I think.

                  We can take it a step further and ask "why" that ocean sometimes rises up in great waves that can kill hundreds of thousands of people in one swoop. Is there a reason or purpose to it or not? Whatever the answer, the wave still rises up and does its damage.

                  Now, Stephanie, if you were to ask me for my opinion about "why" we are born, why that happened despite all the physical and biological factors necessary to go into it having worked out so nicely for us, why the universe is the way it is (both so amazingly life friendly to our existence on this "goldilocks" planet that is our home, yet sometimes so harsh and painful and apparently arbitrary), why "bad" things happen to seemingly innocent people ... well, I do have some suspicions (I am actually working on a book not unrelated to this that posits a couple of ideas). I do have a couple of theories in my head. But I do not try to profess those ideas or teach them as part of Zen Practice. And you may ask "why" I don't ...

                  Because our Zen Practice says something like this: If there is a "god" or "grand unifying principle" or other "reason" for life, just live life. If there is no "god" and no "principle" and no "reason" for life, just live life.

                  I have been studying hydroponic farming recently. If 100 seeds are planted, some will grow tall and healthy, some will never take root. Some will grow strong, only to later become food for pests or ruined by infection. That is just the way things are on a farm, the natural state. Not so different from the human condition, really, by which some of us thrive and some of us die young. That is the natural state of things, which might be as close as a human can come to grasping a "why".

                  Heck, human beings ... just a tad smarter than a dog or cat ... might not even be able to grasp a greater "why" even if there is one.

                  And anyway, maybe if we knew a "why" it would spoil the game, like knowing the last page of a mystery story spoils the book. The result might be a truly "blah" existence or, maybe, no existence at all.

                  Now, like a cat ... I think I will go take a nap.

                  Gassho, J
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • will
                    Member
                    • Jun 2007
                    • 2331

                    #10
                    I hope having all these men telling you what to do won't scare you off
                    I prefer fellow human.

                    G,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

                    • Jun
                      Member
                      • Jun 2007
                      • 236

                      #11
                      As nice an idea as it is, people living in poverty aren't happier on average than those who do not.
                      That does depend on your definition of "happiness." Is happiness having all the possessions you want? Is it having everything you can afford? Or are we talking contentment, the happiness of just "being."

                      I've been compelled to focus most of my energy on this search for meaning, this search for the answer to "why."
                      Isn't that why man has invented his gods and religions, to help explain the "why" of life?

                      I am also bothered by a yearning to know where the wisdom and joy of the conscience comes from.
                      Ha!, now if anyone knew the answer to that one.

                      How do we know what is right, and what is wrong? One response to such questions is to say conscience comes from God, but sticking that label on it does little for me.
                      The origins of human ethics and righteous morals, now that is a tough one. What one culture considers right may be considered wrong in another. Morals and ethics are determined by many factors some of which are just plain common sense and some of which are cultural. Ethics and morals have also evolved over time. What was "right" 400 years ago may not be so today.

                      I don't think attributing the origins of human characteristics and behaviours to a fictional fabricated god is at all helpful.

                      I do believe our consciousness may be primarily the continuous story we tell ourselves, from moment to moment, about what we did and why we did it. Our consciousness is the only reason for thinking we exist.
                      Gassho
                      Jun
                      The life and teachings of Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi - http://kongoshin.blogspot.com/

                      Comment

                      • Jundo
                        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                        • Apr 2006
                        • 39074

                        #12
                        Originally posted by HezB

                        I think we can pursue asking why AND just sit, just not at the same time (or rather you can do 'em both at the same time but that is no longer 'just sitting' in the Zazen/ shikantaza sense).
                        Yes yes yes.

                        And so many answers come when we drop the questions. That is not giving up the search, but a true answer finding.

                        So many questions that human beings ask about the universe are much like asking "Are there pink flying elephants or red flying elephants?" "Is Rome the capital of France or the capital of England?" "How many eggs can a Rooster lay?" and other like Koan.

                        In our Zen Practice, by quieting the mind, we experience first hand that the universe does not function solely by the "who, what, where, when and why" that the human brain imposes on it and in the manner that humans demand of it We try to recast and define the universe in our own mental images. Our usual ideas of time, place, identity and reason are partial, both absolutely true and completely false. You are not simply who you think you are, are not only where you think you are, it is not when you think it is and ...

                        Try dropping the "why" during Zazen and perhaps you will discover the limits of the question, and also a first hand answer.

                        "Why" did Bodhidharma come from the West? The cypress tree in the garden, of course!

                        But my father, from Brooklyn, I think had the best answer for me when I would ask a silly "why" question. He would say, "Because if my aunt had nuts she'd be my uncle".

                        Gassho, J


                        PS- Dad would also say that seeing pink and red flying elephants means ya best cut back on the beer.
                        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                        Comment

                        • penney

                          #13
                          Great metaphor, very simple and refreshing. But it also made me want to run down to the local Ben & Jerry's.

                          Comment

                          • Stephanie

                            #14
                            Originally posted by will
                            Now. Don't give me some long explanation. Just sit.
                            I'll do what I damn well want to, will :wink: :lol:

                            Originally posted by will
                            Remember to that your answers for everything are in you Stephanie not looking or pondering the actions of others, but understanding your own actions. It seems that if you want to help anyone, you should first work with your own stuff.
                            In all seriousness, I appreciate the sentiment and content of what you are saying. And here is where I agree with Buddhist teaching, particularly Mahayana, 100%. Whatever the nature of things may be, that nature lies in radical subjectivity. Whatever you see, it all arises in mind, abides in mind, declines in mind. It's the funhouse-mirror, Indra's net quality of emptiness. Hofstadter's "strange loop." I get a sense of that quality a lot. But as mind-blowing as it is, it's also somewhat of an "empty" feeling (ha). I get tired of feeling "freaked out" like that all the time. :shock:

                            How did I get off on that tangent? :lol: Anyway, it's always a helpful reminder that to know "what's going on" one needs to turn the light of awareness inward. Dogen's instructions in this vein were actually incredibly helpful on the solitary retreat I did.

                            Originally posted by Longdog
                            In my experience asking 'why?' is a sign of feeling that things are done to me rather than accepting that things are as they are, but I have a choice as to how to re-act to them.
                            Interesting. Not quite the feeling I get. For me, "Why?" doesn't arise out of a sense of victimization, but out of bewilderment. It's a sense of the absurd that gets me. Though I suppose there's a connection because that sense of the absurd has to do with a feeling that my life is random or arbitrary, that in its details it just seems silly sometimes. Not bad or even something I want to change. It's kind of a bemused quality, like "Huh?"

                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            "Why" is a stone a stone? "Why" is a tree a tree? Whether there is a "reason" and purpose to it or not, the stone is still a stone.
                            Sure. And I like stones and trees, as they are, without explanation. I generally like human beings as we are, without explanation. I like this world in all its messy glory. But I still wonder why.

                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            We can take it a step further and ask "why" that ocean sometimes rises up in great waves that can kill hundreds of thousands of people in one swoop. Is there a reason or purpose to it or not? Whatever the answer, the wave still rises up and does its damage.
                            The funny thing is that tragedy, disaster, suffering, and misery generally aren't what prompt the why-ing. It's pretty plain to me that violence is an inherent aspect of life on Earth, and yet the heroic side of human beings is their capacity to take a different path from violence. Disaster, suffering, it all feels "real" and "true" to me, that these are the moments where love and compassion come out. It's more the humdrum tedium of life that initiates the why response. It's not a tormented reaction to suffering, but more of a general refrain that haunts me whether I'm doing something I dislike or something I enjoy, something I've chosen to do or something unchosen.

                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            ... well, I do have some suspicions (I am actually working on a book not unrelated to this that posits a couple of ideas). I do have a couple of theories in my head.
                            Of course, I'd be curious to hear them. But of course, even if I did, it likely wouldn't resolve whatever existential issue I've had for about as long as I can remember. I've fallen in love with 1,000 ideas and theories, only to find some time later that it was just a phase. Whatever the direct hit of logos comes from, I know it's not from someone else's thoughts. Or even my own. The problem is that I'm losing my faith that it comes from anywhere, even sitting, even practice. I can't quite articulate it, but I feel like there's "something there," but that whatever it is I've been doing isn't connecting me to it, and either (a) "it" doesn't exist, or (b) the 1,000 spiritual paths I've been on are "wrong." Or maybe I've just had a lot of false starts. I've had so many experiences of "This is it!" But then that feeling fades, and whatever seemed so promising or right or true, even if it still feels promising and right and true, still plainly isn't "it." What the fuck is "it"? :lol: Doesn't Dogen have a chapter of the Shobogenzo titled that?

                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            But I do not try to profess those ideas or teach them as part of Zen Practice. And you may ask "why" I don't ...
                            Actually, no, I think you'd obviously be a "bad Zen teacher" if you did.

                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            Because our Zen Practice says something like this: If there is a "god" or "grand unifying principle" or other "reason" for life, just live life. If there is no "god" and no "principle" and no "reason" for life, just live life.
                            Right, and this is what frustrates me. I have such confidence in what I have discovered about the sources of joy and fulfillment in this life, in what I know to be "right," that I would live the same way whether or not there was a god or a "essence precedes existence" sort of reason or an afterlife or rebirth, etc. So why is it I can't shake this fixation on "why"? It wouldn't change how I lived that much, if at all, I don't think. I'm basically happy with my life as it is. And yet... there's this feeling that something is missing, and it's this connection with whatever the "why" question is pointing me to. Again, I certainly find it plausible that this is just some sort of brain-hiccup, but it persists nonetheless.

                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            And anyway, maybe if we knew a "why" it would spoil the game, like knowing the last page of a mystery story spoils the book. The result might be a truly "blah" existence or, maybe, no existence at all.
                            I like that. Gassho.

                            Still... :lol:

                            Originally posted by HezB
                            I hope having all these men telling you what to do won't scare you off.
                            If men telling me what to do scared me off, I would just have to move to a different planet... :lol:

                            Sometimes telling other people what to do is where we get our LOGOS from! I'm not about to spoil anyone else's fun :wink:

                            Originally posted by HezB
                            I think we can pursue asking why AND just sit, just not at the same time (or rather you can do 'em both at the same time but that is no longer 'just sitting' in the Zazen/ shikantaza sense).
                            Right, exactly. That's what I'm doing now. I have faith in zazen that it is one of the best things one can do with one's human being-ness. So I continue to sit, and watch all these stray thoughts swirl around. If anything, the more I sit, the more often I'm struck by this "WHY?" during the rest of the day, as if getting struck with one of Zeus's thunderbolts. There's a glimmer of hope that the whole matter will resolve itself eventually. As for now, I just feel IRRITATED! :lol:

                            I just keep having these moments where I'm really struck by the truth of something... The heart opens, tears come, and I know I've finally found this long-lost truth. This happened last semester with social justice and Tolstoy. And I still am moved by the truth of his teaching that one of the supreme freedoms is knowing that no one can force you to act against your conscience. And then the notion that we can build "Jerusalem" (fill in your own term/metaphor if that one doesn't do it for you) here on earth... yes! But then, it fades. I still feel these things are TRUE, and important... But I still haven't found this elusive "it," the ultimate, final truth that will shut my mind the hell up! :lol:

                            Originally posted by HezB
                            If we just accept (but do not engage) our neurosis in Zazen we quickly see that it is as free and 'enlightened' as everything else by nature.
                            Excellent. Yes. If this wasn't the case I think I might have thrown myself off a cliff by now out of sheer annoyance with my own mind...

                            Comment

                            • will
                              Member
                              • Jun 2007
                              • 2331

                              #15
                              Here's something that you might find interesting Stephanie. Do all people sit down the way that we do day after day? It's quite a priviledge to have stumbled upon this practice in our lifetime.

                              Gassho Will
                              [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

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