Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

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jundocohen
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Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by jundocohen » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:35 am

So many Zen students think that the longer they sit the better. They believe 10 years surpasses 10 months or 10 days, which must be better than 10 hours, which is better than 10 minutes or seconds. They treat Zazen like a taxi meter or points to rack up, the more they sit the closer they are to the goal. They equate more and more sitting with going deeper and deeper, or becoming more and more peaceful, or more and more "Buddha-like", or more and more "enlightened".

However, Zazen only truly hits the mark when all measure of time and score, goals and attainment are dropped away. Only then does a moment of sitting contain all time, only then does one realize the destination ever present. Zazen is thus very unlike many forms of meditation (not to mention very unlike our usual clock watching, tally counting, comparing and measuring, goal oriented attitude toward the rest of our busy lives) in which deeper and deeper attainments, and greater and greater achievements, add up with time. In Zazen, one attains the deepest attainment and the greatest achievement, namely, the timeless which is right in each tick of the clock, the goal ever reached again and again in each passing mile on the road across town. But one only realizes so when one sits as the still and round face of the clock which holds all time as the hands make their circles ...

The taxi meter is turned off, yet the taxi proceeds forward on the ride of Buddhist Practice. Only now, however, one realizes that the whole journey is the constant total arrival ... from the door's closing, down every twist and turn, to whatever destinations await.

Please stop watching the score, the amounts, the distances, the measures of passing time ... and then one is in a Buddha taxi driving across Buddhatown, all Buddha all the way from uptown to down.

It is a very different attitude toward sitting and all of life from our usual "time is slipping away, the goal is ever distant" way of being.

But don't get me wrong, don't misunderstand: I am not encouraging you just to sit for half a minute or once a year, as if that is enough. Daily sitting is required. It usually takes some minutes of sitting for us to settle and realize that it is not about the minutes! In principle, sitting could be a moment or half a moment. However, a few minutes are usually required for making the mental and physical transition from our busy day to this sacred moment ... it takes a little bit of time to taste Timelessness!

Sitting for 10 months -is- usually better than sitting for 10 days ... but only if the sitting of 10 months is now beyond watching the clock and the scoreboard. The fellow who has been practicing for 10 years -is- likely to be better at attaining "timeless non-attainment" than the newcomer of 10 minutes. Thus, there is great import to sometimes sitting long and hard all to realize that this never was a matter of time at all. Enlightenment is truly timeless amid passing time ... it is the still center of the sweeping second hand ... and one does not realize such truth by counting the seconds and minutes. Nonethless, it usually take some time practicing to truly penetrate such "Timeless Truths".

Funny how that works.

Gassho, Jundo
Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha, an online practice place for folks who cannot commute to a Zen Center due to health, living in remote areas, work or family needs. The focus is Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen http://www.treeleaf.org

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lobster
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by lobster » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:53 am

Image

:560:
Many thanks, 🤩😇😍👍🏻😎🌈💗🙏🏽

:109: Sat :559:

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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by fuki » Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:43 pm

Thanks Jundo :560:

Time is a convenient mental fabrication, a human contrivance.
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Caodemarte
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Caodemarte » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:19 pm

:560: Thank you, Jundo.

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boda
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by boda » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:12 pm

You’re wrong, Jundo. Anyone with any experience knows that, for instance, one hour of daily meditation is better that 20 minutes. We can rationalize a lazy practice all we want, but the facts are the facts.

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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by fuki » Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:35 pm

bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:12 pm
You’re wrong, Jundo.
I wonder who's right then. :jump:

and who's long and short... :106:
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Dan74 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:22 pm

bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:12 pm
You’re wrong, Jundo. Anyone with any experience knows that, for instance, one hour of daily meditation is better that 20 minutes. We can rationalize a lazy practice all we want, but the facts are the facts.
I don't think Jundo's post advocated lazy pratice, but rather critiqued practice that fixates on tallies, achievement, etc.

I also think that there can be a time when tallies are useful and feeling proud of a daily sit, full hour, or whatever for 6 months running, is a good thing, like many other tallies, where we substitute the wholesome for the unwholesome. Eventually, when the time is right, it's good to let it go though.. or so it seems to me.

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boda
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by boda » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:43 pm

What exactly do you mean by fixating, and why is that bad?

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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Dan74 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:18 pm

bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:43 pm
What exactly do you mean by fixating, and why is that bad?
I mean when the focus becomes this sense of achievement as another palliative for the insatiable ego, another feather in the cap, etc... There is a time when this may well be the right thing, but past this time, is what I mean by fixating.

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fuki
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by fuki » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:24 pm

Any notion of long/short right/wrong represents a fixated pattern in consciousness, and the tighter clung to such self-affirmations the more entangled we become by such views which are the obstacles to recognition. Contrary to what some practisioners think regarding practise, especially the "right view" practisioners and the "longer the better" notions. Jundo was pointing to the very impediments of such views, and that it only reifies the obstacles instead of recognizing them.

But as Dan said if anyone needs that temporary view that longer is better as perhaps a motivation to practise then no problem, has nothing to do with good or bad, or lazy. Whether I sit for 10 minutes or an hour there is no notion of that being a parameter for anything, you dont walk around thinking all day; I practised so long and so long, improvements are also mental fabrications, its only self-grasping again by identifying the present with the past and projecting it into the future, the constant need to fill in the memory gaps and maintain the illusion of moment-to-moment existence and the continuation of a self seeking for so called "liberation"
Last edited by fuki on Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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boda
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by boda » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:34 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:18 pm
bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:43 pm
What exactly do you mean by fixating, and why is that bad?
I mean when the focus becomes this sense of achievement as another palliative for the insatiable ego, another feather in the cap, etc...
So a person could meditate for an hour or more a day for a decade, for example, and not benefit from the practice, other than feeding their ego (which is bad for some reason?)

Do you actually believe this???

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Dan74
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Dan74 » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:09 pm

bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:34 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:18 pm
bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:43 pm
What exactly do you mean by fixating, and why is that bad?
I mean when the focus becomes this sense of achievement as another palliative for the insatiable ego, another feather in the cap, etc...
So a person could meditate for an hour or more a day for a decade, for example, and not benefit from the practice, other than feeding their ego (which is bad for some reason?)

Do you actually believe this???
Let me ask you, do you believe that meditation on its own, ie sitting on a cushion quietly for an hour a day for a decade, is guaranteed to be beneficial?

And secondly, why see it as so black and white? Fixating on achievement can be a problem, or not? That's the import of the OP - encouragement to not fixate on the achievement, the tally, etc.

But because it is coming from Jundo, you react like this. Separate the words from the author in your mind. After all, Jundo is just your idea, just like Dan, etc. So it's Bodhi arguing with Bodhi, Dan with Dan, to a very large extent. \

This should give us pause every time, at least a little...

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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Crystal » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:48 pm

.

Thank you Jundo. I enjoy reading your posts.


:115: _/|\_


.

Caodemarte
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Caodemarte » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:12 pm

If you read the old Chinese Chan, Japanese Zen, or Korean Seon accounts (I have not read enough Vietnamese Thien to know), they warn against thinking you can “earn” enlightenment by long formal sitting or by an act of will. I have heard or read contemporary Japanese, American (United States citizens and one Japanese-Canadian), and Chinese say the same. That all warn against becoming a “samadhi junkie” or “macho sitting.”
If you fall into that trap or others, you can spend decades with no benefit and actual damage. Cleary, if your pride or ego is growing because of your practice, it has little to do with Zen practice or any true religious practice. If this is understood they encourage longer formal sitting, because as Jundo said, longer periods of formal sitting are generally, but not always, helpful if done correctly.

Please note that I am not giving personal advice here for any individual, but reporting the general advice that has been consistently given.

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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by fuki » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:32 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:12 pm

But reporting the general advice that has been consistently given.
I trust it is in accordance with your experience. ;)
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Caodemarte » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:37 pm

fuki wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:32 pm
Caodemarte wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:12 pm

But reporting the general advice that has been consistently given.
I trust it is in accordance with your experience. ;)
Oh yes. I spent years sitting at home without contact with a teacher or even fellow participants. I was really trying to do it by main effort. Did no good and had little to do with real zazen. But that’s my experience.

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KeithA
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by KeithA » Sat Mar 17, 2018 9:46 pm

bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:34 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:18 pm
bodhi wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:43 pm
What exactly do you mean by fixating, and why is that bad?
I mean when the focus becomes this sense of achievement as another palliative for the insatiable ego, another feather in the cap, etc...
So a person could meditate for an hour or more a day for a decade, for example, and not benefit from the practice, other than feeding their ego (which is bad for some reason?)

Do you actually believe this???
I do. Doing a bunch of practice guarantees nothing, except proof of being someone capable of doing a lot practice.

_/|\_
You make, you get.

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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Wayfarer » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:38 pm

I agree with the gist of Jundo's post. But sitting meditation is fundamental to Zen (in its various forms). A lot of the problems that Jundo is indicating are basically about practicing in a self-centred way - my enlightenment, my practice, my goals. Look what I have done/am doing/will do. That undercuts the spirit of the practice. So - practice does take patience and persistence, but also the attitude of 'not seeking', or self-forgetting, which adds up to the same. Forget about 'getting something from it', what's more important is learning to be useful and grateful.
The most important thing is not at all important.

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Nothing
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by Nothing » Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:01 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:38 pm
I agree with the gist of Jundo's post. But sitting meditation is fundamental to Zen (in its various forms). A lot of the problems that Jundo is indicating are basically about practicing in a self-centred way - my enlightenment, my practice, my goals. Look what I have done/am doing/will do. That undercuts the spirit of the practice. So - practice does take patience and persistence, but also the attitude of 'not seeking', or self-forgetting, which adds up to the same. Forget about 'getting something from it', what's more important is learning to be useful and grateful.
Well said Wayfarer :hatsoff:

And If I understood Jundo's post correctly, he is talking about "right effort'' in the practice, which is not exclusively related to longer hours of formal sitting in zazen, which can be totally useless if one does not carry over the practice in daily life and that imo is of crucial importance.

Gassho
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Re: Not Long or Short, Not A Matter of Time

Post by michaeljc » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:14 am

One of the most revealing bits of information I have learnt through reading Zen sites is that Zazen can and does influence different students quite differently.

My own experience is that 15 minutes sitting is beneficial, but 35 - 45 minutes is much more so. The real settling starts at 25 minutes. Likewise, sitting 3 times/day has a much deeper impact than sitting once/day.

I also find a great connection through practicing alone. I know that I can go much further on this road while practicing alone. It has its own special atmosphere that cannot be found within a group.

This is just me. Clearly others' experience is quite different - the lesson being that we should not judge or lay down the laws of practice to others.

m

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