A ReMINDer from Jundo on Zazen ... "In the Zoneless Zone"

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39065

    A ReMINDer from Jundo on Zazen ... "In the Zoneless Zone"

    Hi,

    This came up on another thread, and just is one more opportunity to emphasize this about Zazen ... when someone feels that "good Zazen" is feeling peaceful, feeling balanced, feeling good, feeling "in the Zone" ... while "wrong Zazen" is not feeling so. Think (or better "non-think") again! It is but is not, right beyond and right through "is" or "is not", "right" and "wrong" and all points between.

    Shikantaza Zazen is a (Big J) "Joy" and (Big S) "Stability" in life that surpasses any momentary feeling of enjoyment and stability. It is a "Joy" that holds all human joy and sadness, excitement and boredom, sickness and health, etc. etc. Shikantaza is a Peace and Wholeness that envelops all life's broken pieces. So, this sitting is far beyond merely sitting to feel a certain way. Shikantaza reaches to the existential root of human dissatisfaction and suffering in life, and not simply some passing pleasures or calm or peace or being "in the zone" etc. (a couple of valium or a needle of opiates will do a much better job at delivering momentary peace and pleasure if that is what one seeks).

    Thus, in Shikantaza one allows all the thoughts and emotions to drift by without getting caught ... happy thoughts and sad thoughts, silent thoughts or noisy thoughts, positive thoughts and negative thoughts ... not a prisoner of any of that, finding the Light which shines through and illuminates each and all, the Still Axis at the heart of the swirling hurricane.

    Sometimes say stuff like this ...

    It is a a kind of Positive (Big "P") that holds, dances and flowers as all the small human moments of positive and negative, smiles and tears, safety and distress. One need not even feel happy all the time, and there is a certain "Positive" as one sits broken hearted next to the casket of someone loved. It is a Peace that holds peace and war, all the round and sharp pieces of life. No need to feel merely "peaceful" all the time. My Teacher, Nishijima, and countless other Buddhist teachers, say that Buddhism is a positive, even "optimistic" philosophy (despite all the talk of "suffering", the real focus is not that ... but "Liberation"). When we drop thoughts and selfish judgments and appraisals, what remains is ... not an empty nihilistic nothing, not directionless chaos, not greyness, not darkness ... but peace, freedom and fertile possibility! Not an empty hole ... there is Wholeness. Even a Wholly Holy Wholeness.

    An old Zen saying ... "Every day is a good day" ... 日々是好日 ...

    There is something about this reality that is Positive, not negative, not positive (small "p"), going in the direction all needs to go, so Beautiful ... even though ugly sometimes. It is a Beauty encountered when we drop all small human judgments and demands of "beautiful" (small 'b') and ugly. Thus, we sit in the Wholeness of Shikantaza.

    ...

    So hard for us to realize that this is Buddha, that is Buddha, quiet is Buddha, noise is Buddha, coming is Buddha, going is Buddha, thoughts are Buddha, absence of thoughts are Buddha, peace is Buddha, anger is Buddha, stillness is Buddha, movement is Buddha, alive is Buddha, dead is Buddha. Buddha is not simply silence and stillness. We simply sit because, in the day to day clutter and confusion of our minds, a space for a bit of silence and stillness may help us better realize such fact when we drop all the cutter and confusion for a time. But the point is not that the silence and stillness of sitting is "where its at", because our way is to "non-find" (because always present in the bones even though rarely seen) a Silence and Stillness (Big "S") that --is-- and always has been the clutter and silence and peace and chaos and confusion and stillness. Both peace and anger are Buddha, but anger blinds us to such fact because so divisive! As well, peace can hide Buddha too if we think that is the only place Buddha is to be found.

    The eye and everything the eye sees is Eye all along. True Peace is peace and tumult and all the round and sharp pieces of life.

    ...

    The True Piece of Shikantaza is a Peace so Peaceful, a Beauty so Beautiful, that it sweeps in and out the peaceful moments and the sharp pieces of life, the beautiful and ugly to the human eye. The Silence is so Silent, that it hold the chirps of the birds, breeze in the branches, cannons and bulldozers.
    Clear?

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2015, 08:29 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Myosha
    Member
    • Mar 2013
    • 2974

    #2
    "Clear?

    Gassho, Jundo"


    . . . in an opaque, sort of . . . way . . . don't know.


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

    Comment

    • lorax
      Member
      • Jun 2008
      • 381

      #3

      SAT TODAY
      Shozan

      Comment

      • RichardH
        Member
        • Nov 2011
        • 2800

        #4
        Sat today

        Gassho
        Daizan

        Comment

        • alan.r
          Member
          • Jan 2012
          • 546

          #5
          Thank you, Jundo.

          Maybe the reason we think Buddha is in silence and stillness alone is b/c we're running in circles most of the time? We run from worry to worry, from good to bad, from obsession to obsession, sometimes not even realizing as much, trying to not look at our lives very closely or with any awareness, and so the quiet and still break in Shikantaza from our everyday life circles, that quiet and stillness feels like a hugely different thing, a hugely different experience of being alive, and so we turn it into the "true thing," the big answer, the nirvana to samsara. But such quiet and stillness can become just another circle, another thing to chase. Something like this?

          Thank you again.

          Gassho,
          Alan
          sattoday
          Shōmon

          Comment

          • Jundo
            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
            • Apr 2006
            • 39065

            #6
            Originally posted by alan.r
            Thank you, Jundo.

            Maybe the reason we think Buddha is in silence and stillness alone is b/c we're running in circles most of the time? We run from worry to worry, from good to bad, from obsession to obsession, sometimes not even realizing as much, trying to not look at our lives very closely or with any awareness, and so the quiet and still break in Shikantaza from our everyday life circles, that quiet and stillness feels like a hugely different thing, a hugely different experience of being alive, and so we turn it into the "true thing," the big answer, the nirvana to samsara. But such quiet and stillness can become just another circle, another thing to chase. Something like this?

            Thank you again.

            Gassho,
            Alan
            sattoday
            Yes, Alan, I feel so.

            At first, ignorant Sentient beings are lost in noise, runaway thoughts and emotions, desires, separation.

            Then, by this Practice, one sometimes encounters a certain Silence, Clarity, Peace, Wisdom, Resolution, Wholeness. One tastes such on the Cushion, one feels At Home.

            ... But it would be a great error to wish to remain so (assuming that remaining so exclusively is truly an option while alive as flesh and blood).

            The True Power of this Way comes from learning how the two were never apart, that Emptiness is precisely Form, hearing the Silence in the greatest noise, Peace and Wisdom and Clarity shining right thru and Illuminating our ordinary thoughts and emotions (now held in balance and moderation), Resolution at the heart of human desires (also now balanced and moderated), Wholeness and separation not two.

            Then the noise, thoughts and emotions, desires, separation are not as before, but are perfumed with Peace, Wisdom, Clarity and all the rest.

            Mumonkan, Koan 19: Ordinary Mind Is The Way

            Joshu asked Nansen, "What is the Way?"
            "Ordinary mind is the Way," Nansen replied.
            "Shall I try to seek after it?" Joshu asked.
            "If you try for it, you will become separated from it," responded Nansen.
            How can I know the Way unless I try for it?" persisted Joshu.
            Nansen said, "The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion. When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?"
            With those words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.

            The accompanying poem ...

            The spring flowers, the autumn moon;
            Summer breezes, winter snow.
            If useless things do not clutter your mind,
            You have the best days of your life.
            Gassho, J

            SatToday
            Last edited by Jundo; 04-28-2015, 03:58 PM.
            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

            Comment

            • Matt
              Member
              • Oct 2012
              • 497

              #7
              Originally posted by Jundo
              But the point is not that the silence and stillness of sitting is "where its at", because our way is to "non-find" (because always present in the bones even though rarely seen) a Silence and Stillness (Big "S") that --is-- and always has been the clutter and silence and peace and chaos and confusion and stillness.
              Thank you, Jundo. This is very helpful.


              Matt
              #SatToday

              Comment

              • alan.r
                Member
                • Jan 2012
                • 546

                #8
                Originally posted by Jundo

                The True Power of this Way comes from learning how the two were never apart, that Emptiness is precisely Form, hearing the Silence in the greatest noise, Peace and Wisdom and Clarity shining right thru and Illuminating our ordinary thoughts and emotions (now held in balance and moderation), Resolution at the heart of human desires (also now balanced and moderated), Wholeness and separation not two.
                Never separate. Thank you, Jundo.

                Gassho,
                Alan
                sattoday
                Shōmon

                Comment

                • Joyo

                  #9
                  Thank you, Jundo. In all honestly, I've been frustrated with my zazen in the last few weeks. It seems like putting my butt on the cushion has programmed my brain to think it is now time to jump around like an out-of-control monkey mind. I have felt down on myself, that perhaps my Buddhist practice is all wrong, that I am doing things wrong. This really helps. In fact, I'm going to save it and read it frequently to really help it all sink in.

                  Gassho,
                  Joyo
                  sat today

                  Comment

                  • Kyosei
                    Member
                    • Feb 2012
                    • 356

                    #10
                    After reading it again, and the comments of another users,
                    sorry if maybe there was a misunderstanding, but when I wrote I meant I'd prefer to have moments of Zazen in which I don't feel so much pain in my legs and my mind is more at ease...

                    Don't know if it's that easy to "like" (I know the right attitude may be nor "like" or "dislike") it more to be that way when I sit, but certainly it facilitates me to appreciate the moment. I still find it a little hard to appreciate when my mind's full of torrents of thoughts coming from nowhere or when my legs are hurting so much or when I can't find a good position.

                    If body-mind is just one thing, why should I strive to achieve the opposite state? Shouldn't I appreciate moments of stillness where is easier to my mind to focus-unfocusing?

                    I've heard and read that Buddha was illuminated under a tree, having not engaged on the "illusions" that "Mara" showed him. Maybe, I don't know, if his legs were hurting that much or if He had an argue with his girlfriend, or were shouted by his boss, maybe I don't know if he would be in balance to achieve it...

                    Maybe to maintain this encompassing mind is the work on "mastering" Shikantaza...

                    Even in the teachings here, I see the focus is to achieve a calmer mind, a more stable and still posture...

                    I'm understanding Zazen-mind should encompass good and not so good moments, stable and off-balance, all in one thing, but how we can appreciate more the bad ones instead of (those we feel as) the good ones?

                    Please note that I'm not saying I do "reject" bad times and "accept" only good ones, usually I sit with good or not so good, but I feel more relaxed and more propense to have a "enjoyable" Zazen - a more relaxed, more still, etc. when I feel that way. Am I wrong?

                    I'm just trying to understand it a little more.
                    _/|\_

                    Kyōsei

                    強 Kyō
                    声 Sei

                    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

                    Comment

                    • Jundo
                      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                      • Apr 2006
                      • 39065

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Marcos

                      Don't know if it's that easy to "like" (I know the right attitude may be nor "like" or "dislike") it more to be that way when I sit, but certainly it facilitates me to appreciate the moment. I still find it a little hard to appreciate when my mind's full of torrents of thoughts coming from nowhere or when my legs are hurting so much or when I can't find a good position.

                      If body-mind is just one thing, why should I strive to achieve the opposite state? Shouldn't I appreciate moments of stillness where is easier to my mind to focus-unfocusing?

                      I've heard and read that Buddha was illuminated under a tree, having not engaged on the "illusions" that "Mara" showed him. Maybe, I don't know, if his legs were hurting that much or if He had an argue with his girlfriend, or were shouted by his boss, maybe I don't know if he would be in balance to achieve it...

                      Maybe to maintain this encompassing mind is the work on "mastering" Shikantaza...

                      Even in the teachings here, I see the focus is to achieve a calmer mind, a more stable and still posture...

                      I'm understanding Zazen-mind should encompass good and not so good moments, stable and off-balance, all in one thing, but how we can appreciate more the bad ones instead of (those we feel as) the good ones?

                      Please note that I'm not saying I do "reject" bad times and "accept" only good ones, usually I sit with good or not so good, but I feel more relaxed and more propense to have a "enjoyable" Zazen - a more relaxed, more still, etc. when I feel that way. Am I wrong?

                      I'm just trying to understand it a little more.
                      Hi Marcos,

                      Mara is the hurting legs, the fight with the loved one, the shouting boss. To be free of these is not simply dependent on being perpetually rid of the physical pain in life, the broken heart, the obligations (that is not even possible in this complex life of flesh and blood), but to transcend and pierce through these trials. Oh, there are sunny days in life, but also rainy days. Sometimes problems are not there ... but when there, also not there.

                      Yes, the times of "in the groove" are vitally important to Zazen sitting, indispensible. One experiences oneness, wholeness, peace. This is not to be missed, and so important. The hard borders and frictions between our little self and the world soften, sometimes perhaps fully drop away. And yet, as Zen folks say, that is only 80% (not there yet). One must come to learn that the sun is shining, though hidden, even on the darkest days. Perhaps one may come to detect the Light illuminating the clouds all along. If one attends a long Sesshin, the "smooth sailing" days are vital, but the hard and painful days are vital. Life is just so. I dare say that the hard times, the trials, the pains and distractions are more vital to "rubber meets the road" daily Practice in life than the good times! So, both the smooth and the rough road is vital to this way ... for all is the Wide Open Buddha Highway.

                      This encounter with reality "emptiness is just form, nirvana is samsara" runs all thru Mahayana Buddhism. Today, I was reading the Flower Garland Sutra and there were such passages on transcending life right amid all the complexity of life, not two. It runs all through Zen Teachings, dropping away all categories right amid and as all categores. One sits, and is sat by, Shikantaza free of all categories amid and as all categories.

                      By superknowledge of phenomena, bodhisattvas know all phenomena are nameless, without essence, neither come nor go, are neither different nor not different, neither various nor not various, neither dual nor nondual, have no identity, have no compare, are not born, do not perish, do not shift, do not disintegrate, have no reality, have no falsehood, are of one form which is formless, are not nonexistent, are not existent, are not phenomenal, are not nonphenomenal, are not in conformity with conventions, are not not in conformity with conventions, are not actions, are not not actions, are not consequences, are not not consequences, are not compounded, are not uncompounded, are not absolute, are not nonabsolute, are not the path of enlightenment, are not not the path of enlightenment, are not emancipation, are not not emancipation, are not a certain measure, are not measureless, are not mundane, are not not mundane, are not born from cause, are not not born from causes, are not definite, are not indefinite, are not complete, are not incomplete, are not emerging, are not not emerging, are not distinguished, are not indistinguishable, are not logical, are not illogical.

                      These great bodhisattvas do not grasp conventional truth, do not dwell in absolute truth, do not discriminate phenomena, do not set up words; they accord with the essence of extinction, yet [nonetheless] they do not give up their undertakings. ... Though they know the character of reality cannot be verbally expressed, yet by expedient means and endless intellectual power they teach in an orderly fashion according to principles and according to meanings.

                      ...

                      though they know there are no forms, yet they explain all forms; though they know there is no sensation, yet they explain all sensations; though they know there is no perception, yet they explain all perceptions; though they know there is no disposition, yet they explain all dispositions; though they know there is no consciousness, yet they explain all consciousnesses; they always reveal everything by means of the wheel of the Teaching. Though they know phenomena have no difference, yet they explain their aspects of differentiation; though they know phenomena have no origin or annihilation, yet they explain all characteristics of origination and annihilation; though they know phenomena have no coarseness or subtlety, yet they explain the coarse and subtle aspects of phenomena; ...
                      Zen and all Mahayana Buddhism always see things absolutely from the right eye, relatively from the left eye ... both eyes together the Clarity of Buddha Eye.

                      Gassho, J

                      SatToday

                      PS - Believe me, I am feeling it today as I had a little work problem, enough to cause worry. There but not there.
                      Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2015, 05:35 AM.
                      ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                      Comment

                      • Hotetsu
                        Member
                        • Jun 2014
                        • 230

                        #12
                        Gassho
                        Hotetsu

                        #SatToday
                        Forever is so very temporary...

                        Comment

                        • alan.r
                          Member
                          • Jan 2012
                          • 546

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Joyo
                          Thank you, Jundo. In all honestly, I've been frustrated with my zazen in the last few weeks. It seems like putting my butt on the cushion has programmed my brain to think it is now time to jump around like an out-of-control monkey mind. I have felt down on myself, that perhaps my Buddhist practice is all wrong, that I am doing things wrong. This really helps. In fact, I'm going to save it and read it frequently to really help it all sink in.

                          Gassho,
                          Joyo
                          sat today
                          I know the feeling, Joyo. Just writing to say I've been there, too (like about a month ago!). That you're feeling that, I'd say, is a good sign!

                          Anyway, thank you for this comment about the "dark" days, Jundo. To me, dealing with those days in a way that is "better" (maybe calmer, maybe more accepting, maybe even just less violent or angry), even if just a small bit better than one previously dealt with those days before sitting and practice, that's where we really learn about our practice and ourselves.

                          Gassho,
                          Alan
                          sattoday
                          Shōmon

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39065

                            #14
                            Originally posted by alan.r

                            Anyway, thank you for this comment about the "dark" days, Jundo. To me, dealing with those days in a way that is "better" (maybe calmer, maybe more accepting, maybe even just less violent or angry), even if just a small bit better than one previously dealt with those days before sitting and practice, that's where we really learn about our practice and ourselves.

                            Gassho,
                            Alan
                            sattoday
                            So long as we are human, we will have moments when we are fearful, grieving, even angry and all the rest. Science has shown that all such is hard wired into the most primitive parts of our mammalian brains, and the emotional responses begin before we are even aware of their feelings. I, for one, do not believe that any human being ... even the very human buddha ... was ever totally free of such natural human emotions so long as inhabiting a human body and brain, no more than he was free of physical pain when sick and aging (he was not according to old stories of him sometimes taking to his sick bed and calling the doctor). Nor would I wish to be free of these emotions, as I do not want to be a machine, a stone, a wooden man living life robbed of my humanity.

                            It is my belief that many of the biographies of old, dead buddhas and masters were written to polish and strip their stories of any hint of their humanity, their emotions, much as we carve statues of saints which depict an ideal image robbed of any flaw (this is a process of casting ideal images of saints called "hagiography", but if one reads the writings of folks like Dogen and others, one can sometimes see their humanity peaking through). Perhaps a perfect buddha is a symbol of someone free of every human failing but, so long as we are not perfect buddhas ... merely bodhisattvas getting on with life in this complex world of samsara, in bodies made of meat ... we will act in human ways.

                            NOW ALL THAT BEING SAID ... when one sees and lives life with two eyes as not two, One Buddha Eye ... a wonderful thing happens. Fear may be present, but also something beyond all worry for life and death. The fear is moderated or fully fades away. One may feel loss at the death of a loved one, yet also such which is beyond all death and loss. One may feel anger arise, yet more quickly put it aside together with all frictions created by the "self-other" divide. One will continue to feel natural human emotions, but is less or no longer their prisoner. Life is balanced, the cloudy become clear.

                            Such is my view, at least until we are all Perfect Golden Buddhas living in some Perfect Buddha Land where nobody dies of cancer, nobody is hungry or cold, nobody is ever fearful or alone. In the meantime, we must make due with finding Perfect Golden Buddha right in and as this most imperfect world, the Buddha Land right here where we stand in the muck and mud. Perfect yet imperfect, the beautiful Lotus rising from the mire.

                            Gassho, J

                            SatToday
                            Last edited by Jundo; 04-30-2015, 03:56 AM.
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • RichardH
                              Member
                              • Nov 2011
                              • 2800

                              #15
                              Thank you Jundo. That is so beautiful and true. I'm glad you are you, and you are here. In a you-less., here-less way .


                              Gassho
                              Daizan


                              sat today

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