Zazen Is Good For Nothing

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jundocohen
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:15 am

bodhi wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 11:56 pm
Is it Sacrilegious to point out the obvious fact that zazen is good for something, and that’s why people do it? :lol:
Of course it is good for something! That something is nothing. What happens when one Just Sits, dropping all comparisons including "something" and "nothing"? ABSOLUTELY nothing, which is just TOTALLY everything!

Stop turning something into nothing, stop making something out of nothing.

Getting nothing for something. That ain't nothing. Shiki soku ze ku- ku- soku ze shiki. When the Buddha twirled the flower, did he say "something" or "nothing"? I want my MTV. :558:

Gassho, J
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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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by boda » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:35 am

jundocohen wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:15 am
What happens when one Just Sits, dropping all comparisons including "something" and "nothing"? ABSOLUTELY nothing, which is just TOTALLY everything!
Is it actually useful for you to define dropping comparisons as “totally everything”?
Stop turning something into nothing, stop making something out of nothing.
I’m not doing that, nor am I turning dropping comparisons into totally everything.
When the Buddha twirled the flower, did he say "something" or "nothing"?
I don’t know, I wasn’t there. You weren’t there either.
I want my MTV. :558:
I hope you get it. :)

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by fuki » Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:53 am

Just a general observation, since ppl are often literalists and since the word "nothing" is automatically opposed to "something" (as in nothing meaning absence of something) I always say nothing (no-thingy) in particular. So zazen is good for nothing in particular, or nothing specific. The word nothing gets ppl into a dualistic cognitive dissonance while nothing in particular does not.

It also works when someone asks you what you want for diner, if you say nothing they respond but you got to eat something! But when you say "nothing in particular" they go mute and go into the store as a walking human koan :lol:
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by boda » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:17 am

fuki wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:53 am
The word nothing gets ppl into a dualistic cognitive dissonance while nothing in particular does not.
It’s redundant to define a cognitive dissonance as dualistic since the ‘dissonance’ must involve the perception of two conflicting cognitions. The concept of nothing, or nothing in particular, may or may not be involved in an instance of cognitive dissonance, depending on the circumstances.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Jun 11, 2018 3:23 am

fuki wrote:
Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:53 am
So zazen is good for nothing in particular, or nothing specific.
It's only good for something, anything, as breathing is good for something. And eating, and drinking water.

But, if you -- some person -- wants to see how it's good for anything, or nothing, well, don't hold your breath: Pick up the practice in proper quarters, from a qualified teacher, and persist with the sangha surrounding that person to fathom the depths.

I suppose that every generation feels called to say this or that about it. But, let's don't rely on first-principles (Axioms; hearsay; etc.): the only thing that rings-true is words conditioned and formed by actual experience, and quite a few metric tons of experience, at that. I hear unsubstantial tinniness from at least two-pi steradians, more than half the sphere of the Universe, that is, about this. But both my ears are open.

--Joe

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:08 pm

In another example of impermanence a number of off topic posts were deleted. If you wish to discuss different topics, please start new threads.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:05 am

Shikantaza teaches that there is "nothing to fix," so I have been spending a couple of days fixing and adjusting my description of that (A Koan). :-) Since this place does not let one go back and fix old posts, I will just park it here ...

NOTHING TO FIX, VERSION 2.0

===========

The following may be very counter-intuitive to some..

How radical is our "Just Sitting" as "what is," without goal or demand in Shikantaza?. Here's an answer:

In most forms of Zazen or meditation, there is good and bad, successful and not successful sitting. In Shikantaza, it is impossible by definition to have any bad or unsuccessful sitting. Simply sitting is, ipso facto, success. Good or bad, successful or unsuccessful judgments are washed away in automatic "Good Sitting which is Successful Just By Sitting" (one possible way to translate the meaning of the word "Shikantaza" right there). Unlike most forms of meditation, that means that even those sometime days of angry, confused, cloudy, wallowing in emotions sitting is "good, successful sitting."

However (now the wondrous twist, the tricky catch!), when one truly lets each and every sitting be itself, good and successful just by being itself, there is thus something transcendent of anger, confusion, cloudiness and wallowing simply by letting "anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing" (and all conditions of life) just be "anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing" (and all conditions of life as they are). As strange as it sounds, one is thus "free" of anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing even in the continued presence of anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing, as much as in their absence too. The "anger, confusion, cloudiness and wallowing" is completely transformed in Wisdom and Clarity by our non-resistance and equanimity about even our passing feelings of resistance and lack of equanimity. So long as one is sitting, with the act of sitting as all that is demanded of the act of sitting, this is the universe in fruition.

Why?

We are always trying to "fix" life. Take a head filled with "restlessness, anxiety and worry" during Zazen. The cause of the "restlessness, anxiety and worry" is precisely our dissatisfaction with the state of things, need to fix and resistance to how things are. I am not proposing to wallow in "restlessness, anxiety and worry." Rather, the radical dropping of need to fix ... including to fix anything including some passing "restlessness, anxiety and worry" ... is precisely the contentment that is the cure for "restlessness, anxiety and worry." If we did not feel dissatisfaction and a need to resist and fix the present conditions of life, we would not feel any "restlessness, anxiety and worry" about those conditions. Rather counter-intuitive, but true.

Thus, don't think that allowing oneself to feel anger and wallowing is really just wallowing. Of course, we do not intentionally wallow or boil in anger and, to the extent we can, we just breathe, letting the thoughts and emotions go without grabbing on or wallowing as we can.
Rather, radical acceptance of "just what is" including passing anger and wallowing thus transforms the anger and wallowing into a kind of clarity about anger and wallowing, a light that shines through anger and wallowing! Funny how that works.

The result is that (in a 'form is emptiness'/'blue sky is just precisely the rain clouds' way of experiencing reality both ways at once) "anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing" proves to be both there and not there at once.

It is a subtle handling of "anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing" by radically not trying to take any action whatsoever to handle it ... a bit like solving the problem by totally ignoring the problem thus rendering the problem not problematic, or like living with "terrorists" of the mind who no longer constitute "terrorists" when we just do not react and ignore their acts of "terrorism" (thus allowing them to do their thing, blowing up idea buildings and tossing emotion bombs, no more rejected than a table in the room where we sit or rain on the eaves or reflections in the mirror. The "terrorism" is ended when we respond with equanimity not terror, and the terrorists lose their power. Worldly TNT is one thing, but mental bombs of emotion lose their power when we simply meet them with equanimity. If you resist and react, you feed the terrorists. If you ignore them, the bullies lose their power as bullies.) One might experience "anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing" as just passing theatre to be observed placidly (observing one's lack of placidity placidly!). Absolutely nothing is needed or sought besides sitting, which is complete however and whatever it is.

Thus, please don't think that the meaning of what I write is that we should just twiddle our thumbs or bathe in an orgy of "anger, confusion, clouds and wallowing" or ""restlessness, anxiety and worry." That is not the meaning of Shikantaza. This radical non-doing transforms our experience of anger etc. It transforms by radically allowing and dropping resistance to "what is," thus abandoning all need to change and transform at all.

The counter-intuitive Wisdom of Shikantaza Zazen.

Gassho, J

Caodemarte posted a passage from Okamura Roshi today which made a similar point:
Sometimes this world [during Zazen sitting] becomes very bright, and sometimes a person may feel he or she understands everything. It may seem at this time that there is no doubt or question remaining about anything; everything is okay as it is. But that is just a condition arising from the states of the body, mind, temperature, humidity and all other conditions of our lives. These conditions are not the important point of our practice. Our practice is to keep an upright posture in any condition; we just go through all conditions. ...Sometimes we have no clouds at all with a completely blue sky, and this is very beautiful. More often we have different kinds of clouds coming and going. Sometimes more than half of the sky is covered with clouds, and sometimes the entire sky is completely covered with clouds, or even storms arise. There are many different kinds of conditions we must sit through in zazen, but the purpose of our practice does not include controlling the weather. The important point is to maintain this upright posture in whatever conditions we encounter. ...When we sit zazen, many different kinds of thoughts come up. We may think some thoughts are really good ideas, yet in zazen we have to let go of them; we open the hand of thought. Whether we like our ideas or whether we experience negative feelings about something, we try to let go because that is zazen. I think this letting go is the way we are free from our clinging, our preferences, our systems of value, and our ways of thinking. This zazen itself is freedom from attachment.
https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/zazen_instructions.pdf
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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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by desert_woodworker » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:13 pm

Ohayo,
jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:05 am
In most forms of Zazen or meditation, there is good and bad, successful and not successful sitting. In Shikantaza, it is impossible by definition to have any bad or unsuccessful sitting. Simply sitting is, ipso facto, success
Jundo, I don't know where that first notion comes from. Nor the second. I think you have set up a red herring. And you have set up a straw man.

I think no one who has sat a while carries any notion of successful, unsuccessful, good, or bad sits. Sits in themselves do not convey any merit or results: it's one's overall practice which does, one's overall life.

I have never heard of a successful sit, nor an unsuccessful sit. Again, I think anyone who has practiced a while and who has had (realistic!) guidance never thinks in this way, to regard any particular sit as "good or bad", or etc. I think you have written a fiction.

Really, if you need to say something about shikantaza, why set up a fable to "contrast" it with? I shouldn't think it's necessary (nor at all honest). A mature approach would be to sing the praises or neutrally describe the characteristics and fittingness of shikantaza itself. Setting up a fiction at the head of your write-up pollutes the whole body of text.

You also go wrong after you have set up your fiction, and then draw a contrast to what you call shikantaza. That contrast too is a pollution, and casts aspersions yet again from another angle on the whole body of your text, if not on your current mind-set:
Simply sitting is, ipso facto, success
Bull. It is not success. The actual fact is that it is neither failure nor success. Shikantaza doesn't play with polarities, ...even if you do.

Please review the basics of shikantaza before you attempt to write about it! For all Beings. And, when writing, write about it in a non-attached way, else readers will suspect that the whole Soto program is as you represent it in your skewed dualistic view, which is surely a perversion instead.

I send best regards, regardless, as you know,

--Joe
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by fuki » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:24 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:13 pm
I have never heard of a successful sit, nor an unsuccessful sit. Again, I think anyone who has practiced a while and who has had (realistic!) guidance never thinks in this way, to regard any particular sit as "good or bad", or etc. I think you have written a fiction.
Joe, I agree.

But since practisioners can sit with an internal narrative (or pre/after) categorizing practise/themselves as "good or bad/succesful/unsuccesful" I "feel" Jundo's words (and thus "target audience") is meant for those ppl. Saying every sitting is a "succes" is a way of saying there is no succes or unsucces, in other words Jundo is motivating sitting without being judgmental of "our" neurotics/weather. Whether there are any practisioners on zenspace who think in such opposing terms I doubt, but I feel Jundo's words were written for them.

It is ironic that he says "in most forms of zazen there is good or bad" ofcourse, since that depends on the practisioner and not the "method"
So then he gets at "shikantaza" where there is no succes or unsucces, the name for that it's all a "succes" :cat:

Anyways, only my observation of Jundo's function/relation/direction, to whomever it may apply.
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by desert_woodworker » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:28 pm

It's an unnecessary fiction.

--Joe

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by fuki » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:37 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:28 pm
It's an unnecessary fiction.

--Joe
It is for me but I see lots of fiction which appears to serve expediently (temporary) for others, but perhaps you're a better "judge" at that then me regarding what practisioners need to hear or not in a general sense.
So I will leave it in your and Jundo's hands now. :)
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:43 pm

fuki wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:24 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:13 pm
I have never heard of a successful sit, nor an unsuccessful sit. Again, I think anyone who has practiced a while and who has had (realistic!) guidance never thinks in this way, to regard any particular sit as "good or bad", or etc. I think you have written a fiction.
Joe, I agree.

But since practisioners can sit with an internal narrative (or pre/after) categorizing practise/themselves as "good or bad/succesful/unsuccesful" I "feel" Jundo's words (and thus "target audience") is meant for those ppl. Saying every sitting is a "succes" is a way of saying there is no succes or unsucces, in other words Jundo is motivating sitting without being judgmental of "our" neurotics/weather. Whether there are any practisioners on zenspace who think in such opposing terms I doubt, but I feel Jundo's words were written for them.

It is ironic that he says "in most forms of zazen there is good or bad" ofcourse, since that depends on the practisioner and not the "method"
So then he gets at "shikantaza" where there is no succes or unsucces, the name for that it's all a "succes" :cat:

Anyways, only my observation of Jundo's function/relation/direction, to whomever it may apply.
I feel you have my point.

And since many people around this place seem to be talking quite a bit about whether they are or are not achieving various things in their Zazen, such as Samadhi states, I would also say that a rose by any other name (this took about 5 minutes to hunt up) ...
desert_woodworker wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:33 pm
Results of sits which are immediate, and which also have a long life, include a kind of (optical... ) vision, which I've written about before (perhaps here, I forget; but definitely at ZFI in the past), where vision is as if objects are emitting their own light, and as if all surfaces are wetted, and cleaned, so that the depth and saturation of color is remarkably deep. Blacks are remarkably black, and seem to have a 3-D depth which continues beneath or below their surface. . ...
viewtopic.php?p=6605#p6605

I feel confident that this is a condition that helps to lead one to drop into samadhi states in sitting. As relaxation is important in most forms of zazen and other forms of sitting, some writers on the subject of samadhi write that one can continue to drop disturbances or "distress", as you come to notice them, one after the other. I suppose that's right, though I have thought of this as simply "relaxing", and relaxing perhaps more deeply with each breath. And sinking down.
viewtopic.php?p=6691#p6691

Samadhi may indeed be key in Zen practice, but awakening and seeing one's original nature is primary, and sudden awakening in many cases comes as samadhi breaks-up suddenly, and, in surprise, one wakes out of it, in a transition like the bursting of a bubble or the swift tearing of a sheet of paper before one's open eyes, as all becomes clear, and completely stops, for weeks or months. Well, so it is for some, I'll say.
viewtopic.php?p=5600#p5600

Effort and grace and natural purifications can ready a practitioner for susceptibility to the success of "pecking".
viewtopic.php?p=5604#p5604

And the fact of the experience of the condition of awakening or the awakened state is so unimaginable, that there's no use trying to crack it up to anything familiar beforehand. Yet, it's easy to identify some of the causes, or impetuses, afterward. Pecking is one of them. Certain enabling purifications is another. And of course one's overall practice is a chief one.
viewtopic.php?p=5649#p5649

With regard to kensho, I'm sure we discussed that. Waking-up suddenly out of samadhi is often the sudden dawning of awakening. I can't say whether kensho or awakening occurs at the breaking-up of a particular (numbered... ) jhana, but I can say it may occur at the sudden breaking-up of some samadhi-state. As I think is typical of Chan and Zen teachers, my own teacher did not discriminate as to or among "jhanas", but only referred to "samadhi-states" in the collective, or perhaps in their non-quantized gradations along the continuum of depths such as Guo Gu has written about here.
viewtopic.php?p=5673#p5673

to the extent that awakening in Ch'an and Zen circles often occurs as a sudden awakening out of samadhi, then samadhi-states or jhana-states are definitely part of Zen (practice). So let me be among the first to admit it. Guo Gu has also written here, to no one's real surprise, I think, quote: "The key is Samadhi". I'll spill the beans that the monastics colloquially call it "getting-in".
viewtopic.php?p=5756#p5756

This is stand-out, good, excellent!, commentary. And it is especially easy to implement, when one has already awakened, having had body and mind fall away under the care of a Ch'an master, using other methods and a different approach entirely. It's the body-and-mind-fallen-away that makes it a cinch, and only natural, to practice this way, as daily "maintenance" of one's realization and opening: it's what one needs, and what one sits down for.
viewtopic.php?p=5826#p5826

As far as our -- one's -- attitude toward jhanas (or, again, toward samadhi-states generally) goes, It's like when, as aspiring long-distance runners we develop our running rather quickly to the point of arriving at the level of training that opens-up or affords the phenomenon of "second-wind". Second-wind ("gratuitous-grace endurance") becomes first-wind, and any run of almost any distance becomes easy and possible to extend. Two miles, five miles, twelve miles, it's all practicable, and really is no skin off one's nose anymore. It seems miraculous, thinking back to how it was as novices when even half-a-mile found one puffing, and feeling pains in the guts, which our coach told us just to pound with our fists to alleviate, while continuing to run. ;)

Jhanas are a second-wind for meditators. They are more a result than a practice, but their continued practice deepens them. On sinking -- and sinking further -- there is less and less to characterize the samadhi-state.

Well, I'm sticking with jhanas and samadhi-states as "second-wind" for meditators (as a notion). I hadn't thought in those words before.

It's to be noted that the time interval before the "second-wind" comes-on after sitting-down decreases with continued practice, ...well, just as in running training. How 'bout that?
viewtopic.php?p=5851#p5851

At any point in zazen -- or at any point in any other Buddhist sitting practice, or, say Christian Contemplative, or Sufi, sitting practice, or, etc -- ;) ...by all means, break up the rhythm of the breath. You may have been breathing very steadily, a few breaths per minute, for, say, 15 minutes. The body and "mind" become BORED with this, just inured to the boredom of it. It's a RUT. Drop a bit of life(!), into these waters: surprise the "mind". Challenge it. Do a few very short, "sniffy" sorts of breath, not long or deep at all. Quietly. Silently. Not all the same length or depth. Mix things up, when/where it comes to the rhythm and depth of the breath. When you feel a need to. Or, when you feel a WANT to. You be the Judge, Your Honor... . :hatsoff:

This can enable the onset of samadhi, a sweet drip or drop into samadhi (a deep absorption). One drops into a new state, a deep state. Else, one doesn't. But, at least one has gained some experience with the practice of "bamboo-breath", and of intervening at a point when and where one will not disturb one's overall composure, or lack of distress, but will -- can -- deepen it considerably, miraculously, in almost an instant, or two... .
viewtopic.php?p=5194#p5194
Gassho, J
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by fuki » Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:34 pm

Hi Jundo, I understand, I also understands why Joe posts the way he does. I'm not gonna comment on that further, what is said is relative ofcourse (thus in relation to the reader or "target audience") so I dont see any issues. Sometimes the bees perception is useful, sometimes the human, but never to all bees or humans.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=191&start=440#p6798
So I can perceive the function of your posts and Joe's too. I leave that discussion to you two.

ps hope this topic will find ground for unity for vision where possible and not become too "scalloped" :)
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by desert_woodworker » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:16 pm

Thanks, Jundo, for reiterating those observations, most of which Michael was asking about in a recent thread.

Do I say any of the results, or things one notes are "good"?, "bad"?, "successful"?, "failures"? No, I don't think I do. Nor do I counterpose the observations with those that could be made, for example, from the point of view or experience of other ways of sitting ...until now!, where I make no comparisons or contrasts with straw-men or red herrings as to "good", "bad", "successful", "failures".

You can't sweep your fictions and fictional "contrasts" under the rug. Not in this dojo!

--Joe

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:25 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:16 pm
Thanks, Jundo, for reiterating those observations, most of which Michael was asking about in a recent thread.

Do I say any of the results, or things one notes are "good"?, "bad"?, "successful"?, "failures"? No, I don't think I do. Nor do I counterpose the observations with those that could be made, for example, from the point of view or experience of other ways of sitting ...until now!, where I make no comparisons or contrasts with straw-men or red herrings as to "good", "bad", "successful", "failures".

You can't sweep your fictions and fictional "contrasts" under the rug. Not in this dojo!

--Joe
Joe, you need to decide which side of the mouth you talk from. Your posts very clearly speak of what you believe to be good and fruitful attainments in Zazen necessary for its success as you see it. Which is it?

No strawmen or red herrings, I stand by my description. I believe that most folks around here would consider various mind states in Zazen as not "good" meditation, and other attainments or states as signs of good Zazen, while in Shikantaza one sits beyond such concerns. Calm down.

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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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by clyde » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:16 pm

It's an unnecessary fiction.
Some fictions are useful and even the Buddha is reported to have told the parable of the burning house to make that point.

However,
In most forms of Zazen or meditation, there is good and bad, successful and not successful sitting.
I’ve read many texts on Zazen and meditation, and received instructions on meditation many times from many Buddhist teachers. While some forms of meditation do have “good and bad, successful and not successful”, I can’t think of a single Zen teacher of any sect or lineage who uses those concepts when discussing Zazen.

But as Fuki noted, practitioners, myself included, do sometimes categorize sits as “good and bad, successful and not successful”. And this shouldn’t be surprising as the Buddha noted “vedana” (feelings of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral) is basic to human beings’ experience.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by michaeljc » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:49 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:25 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:16 pm
Thanks, Jundo, for reiterating those observations, most of which Michael was asking about in a recent thread.

Do I say any of the results, or things one notes are "good"?, "bad"?, "successful"?, "failures"? No, I don't think I do. Nor do I counterpose the observations with those that could be made, for example, from the point of view or experience of other ways of sitting ...until now!, where I make no comparisons or contrasts with straw-men or red herrings as to "good", "bad", "successful", "failures".

You can't sweep your fictions and fictional "contrasts" under the rug. Not in this dojo!

--Joe
Joe, you need to decide which side of the mouth you talk from. Your posts very clearly speak of what you believe to be good and fruitful attainments in Zazen necessary for its success as you see it. Which is it?

No strawmen or red herrings, I stand by my description. I believe that most folks around here would consider various mind states in Zazen as not "good" meditation, and other attainments or states as signs of good Zazen, while in Shikantaza one sits beyond such concerns. Calm down.

Gassho, Jundo
Joe is right. I specifically asked that no judgments should be applied to personal experiences expressed in the mentioned topic. For good reason

Some recorded experiences have been sneaked in here via a back door

It does not make for a durable enjoyable forum IMO

I for one enjoyed reading of other's experiences during Zazen

The fact that they may not fit into other narratives is of no consequence for me

m

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fuki
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by fuki » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:40 pm

michaeljc wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:49 pm

The fact that they may not fit into other narratives is of no consequence for me
Thanks Mike good point and example to all, in fact I'll "go" rest in the natural state of uncontrived wakeful natural effortless awareness, the background off all narratives. Sometimes called "zazen" "shikantaza" or "whatever" I guess :lol:

Goodnight.
ps the lounge may be the most enjoyable part of the forum as usual. ;)
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

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jundocohen
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:35 am

clyde wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:16 pm
It's an unnecessary fiction.
Some fictions are useful and even the Buddha is reported to have told the parable of the burning house to make that point.

However,
In most forms of Zazen or meditation, there is good and bad, successful and not successful sitting.
I’ve read many texts on Zazen and meditation, and received instructions on meditation many times from many Buddhist teachers. While some forms of meditation do have “good and bad, successful and not successful”, I can’t think of a single Zen teacher of any sect or lineage who uses those concepts when discussing Zazen.

But as Fuki noted, practitioners, myself included, do sometimes categorize sits as “good and bad, successful and not successful”. And this shouldn’t be surprising as the Buddha noted “vedana” (feelings of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral) is basic to human beings’ experience.
Hi Clyde,

I believe that we are all talking past each other here. For example, reaching in almost at random to Meido's fine book, I find it chock full of statements such as this, which I would call a description of "good/successful" Zazen in Meido's suggested way.
... The Zen practitioner who manifests this kiai in daily life is not only able to meet difficulties and suffering with fearlessness, zest, and a lightness of heart; such a person is also able to activate the wisdom attained through practice and apply it bodily within the world. Without such energy, any insight attained may prove largely useless since it does not vibrate forth from the totality of our embodied being.

Perhaps the description of Rinzai Zen as energetically sharp is not so incorrect then. True practice must resonate with the distinct and very physical kiai we have discussed. Ultimately, it is by means of this energy that awakening will penetrate our very bodies to the bone, and we may arrive at the great peace revealed by the image of the Buddha. This last point reveals a crucial, hidden aspect of Zen practice that as practitioners we must eventually grasp if we are to fully realize that the entire universe is the 'True Human Body.
But, of course, in both methods, part of the "success" is to drop notions of success. Here, in a discussion of susokukan, for example, he first cautions newer students (as I do) to stop judging their Zazen, but a few sentences later does provide descriptions of what may be considered success and failure in the method (sorry, no page numbers on the kindle). As in Shikantaza, "success" involves dropping ideas of success or failure:
When beginning such a practice, it is very common for students to worry that they are meditating incorrectly, and so they judge themselves constantly. For example, students will often think, "This meditation session is going badly (or well)." And they will become upset or elated depending on their perceptions of failure or success with the method. But this is all just another kind of distraction. There is no need to judge anything. Judging ourselves during zazen, in fact, reveals that there is some part of the mind that is not engaged in the method but rather standing aloof and apart, watching what is happening from a distance. Instead, as explained above, we must recruit all of our mind and body and just throw them completely into this method of counting the breath. It may be that this requires a certain kind of courage.

I often say the following to new students to illustrate the type of focus that the susokukan method initially requires. ... Imagine for a moment that you are walking across a tightrope over the Grand Canyon. Can you imagine how your awareness would remain with each step as you walk? It is likely that for you at that moment, it would seem that nothing else in the universe exists apart from the placing of each step, one by one. In this same way, we should enter with all our being into counting each exhalation.

Indeed, if we practice in this way with our whole existence—counting each breath as if it were our last act on this earth—we may well find ourselves sweating 'white beads" with the intensity of our effort, as Hakuin said we must.

Related to this, beginners often ask why we count the exhalations rather than the inhalations, or why we do not count both. The reason is simply that the mind's concentration and bodily power are both stronger during the exhalation phase. Also, it seems useful for the mind to alternate periods of the intense focus during exhalation I have described with a relaxed openness during inhalation. This is something like the function of a bellows, which stokes a fire powerfully when compressed but must then expand and open.

So what, then, is success in this susokukan method? In the beginning, it is not that our minds somehow become completely clear and still, free from arising thoughts. It is, rather, that when our minds do wander and are distracted, we notice. Noticing the distraction, we then remember to return our attention to breathing the count. That is success: noticing that we have wandered and remembering to return.

And what is failure? Only this: sitting without full effort, in a somewhat present and somewhat distracted state. In other words, it is failure if we sit half-heartedly.
Later, he has sections that seem to define "success" (whether it is called such or not) in the method as resulting states of deep samadhi and/or kensho experience.

It does not strike me here that Meido and I are saying anything very different, although perhaps "success" in what he is describing sometimes involves a certain "sweating white beads" intensity that is not particularly emphasized in Shikantaza. I will stick with my description based on Joe's and other folks descriptions of their practice that "good/successful" Zazen for them involves such deep Samadhi states and the like.

The emphasis in Shikantaza is perhaps more on radical stopping rather than pushing on and deep experiences. In fact, the two paths meet in the same non-place. Shikantaza also has a "good result" of attaining kensho (and sometime moments of deep samadhi) through such radical stopping of all effort for kensho.

Gassho, J
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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jundocohen
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:10 am

PS - I might also say that the emphasis on "good/successful" meditation is stronger in certain corners of Buddhism/Zen than others. I point to my earlier links ...
As examples of (1), some seem as if they call for a harder push than others. One hard approach seems to be found in this description by one of the founders of the mixed Soto-Rinzai-Sambokyodan line, Hakuun Yasutani Roshi on the "red hot iron ball" and "don't stop ... until MU breaks open and the whole universe has totally collapsed":

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=VUA ... ll&f=false

... I recently read a memoir of the F.A.S. society, and I can only describe this poor man's decades long push for Kensho Kensho Kensho as a kind of disease which led him not to be present along the way:

https://books.google.co.jp/books?redir_ ... at&f=false
(As someone may not be able to access the above links, I post a few sentences of the second for a taste):
By the fourth day, under relentless pressure from without and within I began to fear that would die the next time I was in the master's room. Nothing seemed left to me but to throw myself at his feet and hope for mercy. I was rational enough to tell myself that this was completely irrational. But from the fifth day, I could not face the four daily interviews. On the sixth day, when the bell woke me from the allotted three hours of sleep, my entire body was drenched In sweat.
Hakuin and others also seemed to have very clear ideas of what is success and good in Zazen, and what is bad Zazen (and his own "red herrings" and "strawmen") through language such as this ...
Once a person is able to achieve true singlemindedness in his practice and smash apart the old nest of Alaya consciousness into which he has settled, the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom immediately appears, the other three great Wisdoms start to function, and the all-discerning Fivefold Eye opens wide. If, on the other hand, he allows himself to be seduced by these latter-day devils into hunkering down inside an old nest and making himself at home there, turning it into a private treasure chamber and spending all his time dusting it, polishing it, sweeping and brushing it clean, what can he hope to achieve? Absolutely nothing. Basically, it is a piece of the eighth consciousness, the same eighth consciousness which enters the womb of a donkey and enters the belly of a horse. So I urgently exhort you to do everything you can, strive with all your strength, to strike down into that dark cave and destroy it. https://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings ... akuin.html
It all meets in the same non-place that comes to life in this world.

Gassho, J
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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