Grit in the Lotus

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  • Kokuu
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Nov 2012
    • 6737

    Grit in the Lotus

    Hi all

    A blog post I wrote earlier on illness, stories and seeing life as it is:

    https://andykokuumclellan.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/grit-in-the-lotus-or-when-zen-is-not-so-pretty/


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    #sattoday
  • Daiyo
    Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 819

    #2
    Hi Kokuu.

    Your post got me thinking.
    I've recently discovered that I'm pretty dumb expressing my thoughts in english, so I will avoid doing it.
    But I really liked your blog and consider it a fine source of reference about our style of practice.
    Thank you.

    Gassho,
    Daiyo

    Sat Today
    Gassho,Walter

    Comment

    • alan.r
      Member
      • Jan 2012
      • 546

      #3
      That is an amazing post, Kokuu. Thank you. And thank you for a call for truer stories, stories that aren't, what I would call, sentimentalized/romanticized versions of actual suffering; I think these truer stories exist, as with Matthiessen, but they are too few. Yours, of course, is one of them that feels real to me.

      I know you've been unwell - I have some friends in similar positions. My mom is currently very sick (C-diff) and I can't know anyone's pain; it can't be expressed just how awful it is. All I can say is I hope things improve, and this: don't feel judged or discouraged by these stories that are deflections of the what is really going on.

      Thank you again and gassho,
      Alan
      sattoday
      Shōmon

      Comment

      • Byrne
        Member
        • Dec 2014
        • 371

        #4
        Wonderful essay. Thank you for sharing. very thoughtful and candid. I'll be thinking about it a lot today.

        Gassho

        Sat Today

        Comment

        • Risho
          Member
          • May 2010
          • 3179

          #5
          Kokuu,

          That was simply amazing; you are a beautiful writer.

          Gassho,

          Risho
          -sattoday
          Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

          Comment

          • Shugen
            Treeleaf Unsui
            • Nov 2007
            • 4535

            #6
            Thank you Kokuu.

            Gassho,

            Shugen

            #sattoday


            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
            Meido Shugen
            明道 修眼

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            • martyrob
              Member
              • Jul 2015
              • 142

              #7
              Thank you, Kokuu, for that wonderful, eloquent, touching and honest account of your illness and the insufficiency of Zen practice to always confront the deep down, dirty reality of living. It really touched a nerve with me, partly because of the elegance and honesty of your prose but more so because of the great insight into the limitations and expectations we bring to our practice. This has been something that has been at the back of my mind; a sort of disturbing current that your essay has brought to the fore and will resonate with me for some time to come.
              I have just embarked upon training to be a 'Samaritan' and you essay couldn't have been more timely, expressing, with greater clarity, some of the exact same issues we were discussing last night (so much so I even thought of showing it to fellow trainees).


              “Being with suffering is hard and my former teacher Ken McLeod once pointed out that it is much harder to sit with suffering than to try and change it. It is human to want to help and to resolve things so that everything is okay again but this is not always possible, and not always what the suffering person wants.“


              This conundrum of the human wish to solve the problem rather than just being with the suffering person, in their hole, not feeling their pain but holding their hand and being present with their pain. Nor diminishing the pain with easy platitudes, with superficial sympathy and pity.


              So thank you Kokuu, for your powerful insights into the nature of suffering and how we might be kinder and more helpful to both our own and other's pain.




              Martyn


              Sat today.

              Comment

              • Kyonin
                Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
                • Oct 2010
                • 6739

                #8
                Hi Kokuu,

                Your post really touched me deep within. By no means I can compare what I am going through, but this year I have been in dental pain 24/7. Some days are good, some days are maddening. But all in all, zazen is the best pain killer I have experienced, to the point that I suspended all meds a few days after it all began.

                One gets to think a lot about other people suffering physical pain, send metta and just keep on living with what there is.

                Zen is useless, yes. But at the same time is life complete and uncut.

                Thank you for this teaching.

                Gassho,

                Kyonin
                #SatToday
                Hondō Kyōnin
                奔道 協忍

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                • Jakuden
                  Member
                  • Jun 2015
                  • 6142

                  #9
                  Thank you, that was very powerful! We can be a society of euphemisms and platitudes, although usually well-intentioned. There is a level of physical pain that transcends meditation, distraction, or any attempts at soothing, and sometimes there is no clear purpose or happy outcome (as there is in the closest thing I can use to relate, the pain of childbirth!) I often send Metta and thanks to nurses and health care workers along with their patients, as they are living that reality that no one wants to know about.

                  I hope you feel better (regardless of whatever helps to do it, you don't need to be judged in your illness either, by yourself or anyone else!!)

                  Gassho,
                  Sierra
                  SatToday

                  Comment

                  • Joyo

                    #10
                    Thank you very much Many bows to you, I appreciate your honesty and realness.

                    Gassho,
                    Joyo
                    sat today

                    Comment

                    • Mp

                      #11
                      Thank you Kokuu, lovely post. =)

                      Gassho
                      Shingen

                      #sattoday

                      Comment

                      • Kokuu
                        Treeleaf Priest
                        • Nov 2012
                        • 6737

                        #12
                        Thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate that you took the time to read what I wrote.

                        Martyn, you have my great respect for working with The Samaritans. It is my understanding that there are very restrictive guidelines on offering advice to distraught callers so you have no option but to reign in that natural human urge to make things better and instead listen to the suffering of another human being. Thank you for doing that.

                        Kyonin - toothache is a horrible thing. Thank you for your practice.


                        Gassho
                        Kokuu
                        #sattoday

                        Comment

                        • Myosha
                          Member
                          • Mar 2013
                          • 2974

                          #13
                          Hello,

                          Thank you.


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

                          Comment

                          • Jeremy

                            #14
                            Hi Kokuu,

                            I really enjoyed your blog too!

                            Thanks
                            Jeremy
                            st

                            Comment

                            • Jundo
                              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                              • Apr 2006
                              • 39074

                              #15
                              Thank you Kokuu.

                              You have a ministry to other people with chronic illness. I appreciate your essay ... but not completely. Actually, I think you may sell things a little short sometimes.

                              Did Buddhas and Masters really die in the Lotus Posture with a gentle smile on their face, beyond all pain? Perhaps for some, yes. I am sure of that. The mind is amazing, and don't discount the ability of some to do just that. (I have documented stories I could relate).

                              Others went down mostly kicking and screaming. That is Buddha too. We say that when moaning with pain and confusion, it is Buddha moaning with pain and confusion. No problem. When waking up in the middle of the night at wits end, just be so. When confused, that is simply Buddha lost in confusion.

                              But the next minute, great clarity may come and the whole experience appears quite otherwise. In fact, I know lots of folks who were a great mix, sometimes lost but most of the time surprisingly Buddha-like through much their illness. I have known such cases, and they were not necessarily Buddhists at all (My Christian buddy just died after a long cancer battle, and he was a tower of wisdom, acceptance, positive attitude and strength. Of course, he had moments of despair and fear and confusion his wife tells me.).

                              I do disagree with you very much on one point (and, granted, this does not come from someone living with chronic and heavy illness) ...

                              ... reports of those with terminal illness who begin to see each sunrise and snippet of birdsong as a blessing rather than those same people who struggle to change the dressing on a weeping sore sometime in the early hours? There are so many tales of the transformative power of suffering but it is important to remember that these accounts are mostly written in retrospect rather than in the middle of the struggle itself... rather than immediately waxing lyrical about the power of practice to transform a situation,

                              But it does transform the situation. At least sometimes or so much of the time. We do die with grace, we do face hardship with a gentle Buddha smile, at least sometimes. One can see the light which shines as and thru the weeping sore. More than just sometimes, and maybe as the rule more than any exception. Maybe most of the times even. Maybe all the time for the gifted. One does come to truly see the sunrise and to truly hear the birdsong, and other times to truly weep and moan. One can hear the birdsong that is the moan, the light that is darkness.

                              Maybe you are speaking truth where sometimes we are overly ideal, but maybe you are also selling this path a bit short.

                              Moan, groan ... admire the sun and birds ... despair and be confused ... sit upright in the Lotus with a gentle smile ... sun face Buddha, moon face Buddha ... all the trip.

                              Gassho, J

                              SatToday
                              Last edited by Jundo; 09-18-2015, 05:55 PM.
                              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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