Zazen Is Good For Nothing

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jundocohen
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:04 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:59 pm
Hi, Roshi,

Jundo, no, I don't say those things.

I say however, and repeat again, that the Dogen Apologists do not admit that their claims (etc.) are made from the point of view of awakening, from "body and mind fallen away" (fallen-away at least in Master Dogen, as confirmed by Dogen's Ch'an master; if not in themselves).

I think Dogen is fine. And shikantaza is fine (it has been my practice for 4.0 decades). It's Dogen's apologists who are disingenuous, and, in my opinion, ceaselessly tend to give Dogen a bad name. Let Dogen speak for himself! All the apologia is too much, but not even too much of a good thing. It may be a Cottage-Industry, but that makes the Apologists' scriblings and sayings even that much worse, in my eyes. Peace, already... .

:namaste: ,

--Joe
Okay, let me make this simple for my and your benefit and others ...

YES, what you say is true, BUT ...

In Shikantaza one does not get the awakening first and then experiences Shikantaza. Instead, one enacts/pretends/sits through faith in such manner like a method actor (Taigen Leighton calls this an " enactment ritual") ...

http://www.ancientdragon.org/dharma/art ... ent_ritual)

... convincing oneself through faith and method acting that "Zazen is complete, the one place to be and act needed in the universe." One also sits dropping judgments except the subtly positive nature of Zazen (like the subtly positive nature of reality, again through faith and pretending if necessary). not grabbing thoughts ... radically dropping all goals besides sitting itself as the pinnacle of existence (again, a matter of faith and self-convincing at first) ...

... and, ipso facto, like the case of a method actor playing "Hamlet" who actually comes to embody Hamlet (or a Tibetan practitioner visualizing Taira who comes to life as Taira) ... one hypnotizes oneself into making such facts real. In other words, by truly feeling and believing so, it becomes a fact that there is no other place or act, and sitting is the pinnacle. As other desires and judgments are dropped away besides sitting, and as thoughts of before or after and other things are dropped away, we say that "sitting sits sitting" or "body mind dropped away."

You simply have the equation backwards, Joe, horse before the cart, by your insisting that "body mind dropped away" must come at the start for Shikataza to work.

I call it a "non-self fulfilling prophesy" in which the embodiment and goallessness fill one and flow as one and are experienced as reality. One might say that one catches on and catches up to what has been truth all along, and faith proves out. It is not that one must first realize truth and then experience Shikantaza as you say.

I hope that is clearer now.

In other words, "Fake it timelessly until 'you' make-non-make 'it'".

I personally believe that turning so-called "Shikantaza" into just "following the breath, dropping thoughts and goals" and little more (unfortunately, what is so often taught as "Shikantaza" these days), or a vehicle for realizing deep concentration or Samadhi states (although they happen in the above) or intense "sweat from the brow" Koan Introspection for Kensho (a good practice for some in its own right, I am sure, and I also believe that holding a Koan phrase can itself be Shikantaza if merely employed as a place to hold the mind lightly and goallessly like the breath or posture) misdirect from the above Shikantaza and its power.

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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Anders
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Re: Lewis Richmond on Shikantaza: Just Sitting, Going Nowhere

Post by Anders » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:36 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:05 pm
Disingenuous.

--Joe
:lol:

Caodemarte, what I hear Joe saying is a sort of inverse of the kind of "professional naivety" that therapists adopt - They may well have good ideas of what's going on, but the process requires open-ended, naive, investigation. So they adopt it and mean it. Similarly, I reckon there is room for a bit of well-meaning professional disingenuity from Zen master. Since even to open one's mouth is a mistake, we can perhaps assume so from the outset.

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Larry
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by Larry » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:45 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:04 am
like the case of a method actor playing "Hamlet" who actually comes to embody Hamlet (or a Tibetan practitioner visualizing Taira who comes to life as Taira) ... one hypnotizes oneself into making such facts real.
Overall a great post but I'm not sure about the word "hypnotizes". That would imply that Hypnosis proper would aid the "process". And I'm not sure it would. Otherwise you'd be using it.

I was a professional NLP Hypnotherapist for five years.

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bokki
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by bokki » Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:58 pm

Milton Erickson was a giant, a kind of hero to my small mind.
I wonder if zen teachers could use such approaches.
maybe they do not want to 'meddle' in to ones 'karma'
but if one asks for help, is it not oportune
to use 'skillful means'?
And M.E. had them!

May i ask, why did you stop with NLP?
thnx Larry
Another log on the fire,
10,000 frogs singing in the rain,
burst into flames.
- Linda Anderson

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boda
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by boda » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:42 pm

Larry wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:45 pm
jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:04 am
like the case of a method actor playing "Hamlet" who actually comes to embody Hamlet (or a Tibetan practitioner visualizing Taira who comes to life as Taira) ... one hypnotizes oneself into making such facts real.
Overall a great post but I'm not sure about the word "hypnotizes". That would imply that Hypnosis proper would aid the "process". And I'm not sure it would. Otherwise you'd be using it.

I was a professional NLP Hypnotherapist for five years.
Technically, in a meditative or trance like state, the 'fake it til you make it' aphorism is basically self suggestion so could general be considered hypnotic in nature.

Occasionally, when I have trouble sitting I'll listen to a hypnosis recording for relaxation and then go back to sitting. It works, in a more relaxed mindset I can concentrate and the mind can get quiet.

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Larry
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by Larry » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:57 am

Good point. I very occasionally use self hypnosis in meditation in a similar way. But wouldn't regard it as an important part of my practice.

I'm liking your new hypnotic suggestion. "I will be nice to Jundo. I will be nice to Jundo." :lol:

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Larry
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by Larry » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:03 am

bokki wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:58 pm
May i ask, why did you stop with NLP?
thnx Larry
I stopped using it professionally because I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. And, by the time I'd finished, I'd very fortunately made enough dosh to retire in my early 50's & pursue all things Cosmic :D

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[james]
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by [james] » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:16 pm

boda wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:42 pm
Occasionally, when I have trouble sitting I'll listen to a hypnosis recording for relaxation and then go back to sitting. It works, in a more relaxed mindset I can concentrate and the mind can get quiet.
It seems that hypnosis is good for something.
What about the zazen part of above? Sitting with “trouble sitting” would provide a good opportunity to put “Zazen is good for nothing” to the test. I find that it always is. Certainly more compelling than getting the mind quiet.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by desert_woodworker » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:05 pm

Dear Jundo,
jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 1:04 am
You simply have the equation backwards, Joe, horse before the cart, by your insisting that "body mind dropped away" must come at the start for Shikataza to work.
Jundo, no, for the eleventh time: I do not say "must". I say "Did". For Dogen.

Yet, all Dogen apologists disingenuously say there is one way only: that it is "Best", that it is "Supreme", that it is "Complete", that it is everything else, out the Wazoo.

(it's my own practice for 40 years, but it is not the One and Only, near and dear, to my true heart: there have been others (!). Granted, shikantaza grew for me from fine foundations. I thank my lucky Stars).

That is all I mean to bring in, here.

It's that disingenuous 'Little-Thing' that I find the Dogen-apologists do, which only serves to give Dogen a bad name. As I see it... .

No need for it. Nor for the Cottage Industry.

I do hope that's clear, Roshi.
_/\_ ,

--Joe
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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boda
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by boda » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:19 pm

[james] wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:16 pm
boda wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:42 pm
Occasionally, when I have trouble sitting I'll listen to a hypnosis recording for relaxation and then go back to sitting. It works, in a more relaxed mindset I can concentrate and the mind can get quiet.
It seems that hypnosis is good for something.
What about the zazen part of above? Sitting with “trouble sitting” would provide a good opportunity to put “Zazen is good for nothing” to the test. I find that it always is. Certainly more compelling than getting the mind quiet.
What I mean by 'trouble sitting' is basically a level of agitation and the associated nagging thoughts that accompany it. I can work this out off the cushion. For me, at this time anyway, I get a lot of benefit out of a quiet and relaxed mind.

I may not be following your meaning, however, and fully appreciate the value you propose. We could sit with agitation in order to practice discipline in concentration. I can see how that could be beneficial. Or we could sit with agitation to perhaps dig into the cause of it in a meditative way?

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Re: Lewis Richmond on Shikantaza: Just Sitting, Going Nowhere

Post by desert_woodworker » Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:34 pm

A.,
Anders wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:36 am
Since even to open one's mouth is a mistake, we can perhaps assume so from the outset.
Anders, you've arrived right on time. Thanks for: "Since even to open one's mouth is a mistake".

For all but ...pizza.

:namaste:

--Giuseppe
"There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us". – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

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jundocohen
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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:34 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:05 pm

Yet, all Dogen apologists disingenuously say there is one way only: that it is "Best", that it is "Supreme", that it is "Complete", that it is everything else, out the Wazoo.
Just to be clear on my little personal view, I would never say it is the only way, or even the best way, for everyone. (I even get in trouble sometimes on various Buddhist fora for saying that, for some folks, their Karma and circumstances might mean that Jesus or the spaghetti monster, not Buddha, might be the best way for their life right now. ) However, Shikantaza is a very very good way for many folks, and the best way for many folks.

Frankly, I don't know many Zen Teachers these days who say that "their way is the only way" for everybody. (That is a kind of rhetoric that actually is very old school, and is most likely to be heard from Tahui, Hakuin and Dogen himself back in the day.) Maybe there are some Zen Teachers who say such thngs about every method ... Silent Illumination in X teacher's way is THE way, Koan introspection in Y teacher's way is THE way, Shikantaza is THE way, the Nembutsu or Lotus Sutra is THE way. I would advise to take those folks with a grain of salt, and have one's salt shaker out when coming across that in somebody's book. I am not a "my way or the highway" Buddhist, although I do feel that folks should devote themselves once finding the way which resonates for them. Many roads up and down Buddha Mountain, but all the same Mountain. Pick one, then dive in with all body & heart.

Sure, Dogen had realization. There is no point to this Zen path without realization.

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 [james] » Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:48 am

boda wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:19 pm
[james] wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:16 pm
boda wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:42 pm
Occasionally, when I have trouble sitting I'll listen to a hypnosis recording for relaxation and then go back to sitting. It works, in a more relaxed mindset I can concentrate and the mind can get quiet.
It seems that hypnosis is good for something.
What about the zazen part of above? Sitting with “trouble sitting” would provide a good opportunity to put “Zazen is good for nothing” to the test. I find that it always is. Certainly more compelling than getting the mind quiet.
What I mean by 'trouble sitting' is basically a level of agitation and the associated nagging thoughts that accompany it. I can work this out off the cushion. For me, at this time anyway, I get a lot of benefit out of a quiet and relaxed mind.

I may not be following your meaning, however, and fully appreciate the value you propose. We could sit with agitation in order to practice discipline in concentration. I can see how that could be beneficial. Or we could sit with agitation to perhaps dig into the cause of it in a meditative way?
I remember having a good laugh and experiencing a sense of relief when first encountering “Zazen is good for nothing”, while reading about Kodo Sawaki. It was a novel idea for me at the time. Wow, not necessary to sit with any goal or purpose or need for accomplishment or arrival ... what a freedom this is. The mind, the body, the circumstances and conditions as they are. Agitations and quiet mind met with the same curious and welcoming equanimity. At ease with dis-ease.

Accompanying the sense of relief was a need to examine and test in some way the premise that Zazen is good for nothing. It had never previously seemed to me that Zazen was particularly good for anything, not in my experience. Agitation and nagging thoughts is my steady diet, focused concentration is only something I have heard about. So, what is the nothing that zazen is good for? This is where my sitting is at present, which I consider to be a good place. It is compelling to me because I see no end to it.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by boda » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:33 am

[james] wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:48 am
At ease with dis-ease.
Offhand I would say that this is the kind of ease the regulatory achieving a quiet mind affords, but then I may not be following your meaning because I lack the experience or something.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by [james] » Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:51 pm

Regulatory? Do you mean consistently or something else to do with following a protocol or regimen or practice?

If you do mean consistently then no that is not what I am getting at. After all there is nothing consistent or constant and to try and create/sustain such a condition is a fly in the face of reality. Once the created structure of “quiet mind” falls apart as, in my own experience, it always does, what then ... ? Perhaps there is a possibility of consistent, constant, dependable quiet mind, unshakable equanimity, but I have never encountered this in myself and have dropped the effort of trying to make it so. There is always ample material in dis-ease, confusion, doubt and the “three poisons” generally to investigate and recognize my self. Being calm and at ease in this environment is my direction for now.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:06 pm

[james] wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:51 pm
Regulatory? Do you mean consistently or something else to do with following a protocol or regimen or practice?

If you do mean consistently then no that is not what I am getting at. After all there is nothing consistent or constant and to try and create/sustain such a condition is a fly in the face of reality. Once the created structure of “quiet mind” falls apart as, in my own experience, it always does, what then ... ? Perhaps there is a possibility of consistent, constant, dependable quiet mind, unshakable equanimity, but I have never encountered this in myself and have dropped the effort of trying to make it so. There is always ample material in dis-ease, confusion, doubt and the “three poisons” generally to investigate and recognize my self. Being calm and at ease in this environment is my direction for now.
I wrote this today for a book I am working on. I am not sure if it directly applies to your situation, or if you would find it helpful:
 Sit in equanimity, as if your mind were like a clear mirror which peacefully accepts whatever appears before or in it … the beautiful or ugly, friend or enemy, good or bad … without judgement or rejection, pushing none of it away (nor running toward any of it). Mirrors take in whatever comes, all the same and without reaction. Don’t even judge the experience of your Zazen! If one has any judgment, it is a very subtle positive feeling, deep in the bones, that somehow there is something right and wholesome about Zazen, and somehow there is something right and wholesome about life overall. Zazen is not a grey or totally neutral sensation, but a slightly positive and optimistic sitting.

 Don’t think that Zazen is only “successful” when one actually feels peaceful, blissful or joyful, with the birds singing. Rather, consider the experience of Zazen as something like the weather which may change each day … some days sunny, some days rainy, some days stormy, some days clear as a blue sky without a cloud to be seen. Sit with equanimity toward all of it, even the stormy days. Let rainy days be rainy, clear days be clear. In fact, you may find that by sitting with acceptance and equanimity toward whatever is storming in your head that day, the storm actually settles and clears just by your doing so.
It is the radical equanimity and non-resistance, non-judging, that is a key to body-mind falling away as the self/other gap is healed.

There is a Buddha Equanimity which holds and sweeps through all small human equanimity and upset. Which means the one knows (Big E) Equanimity about sometimes sitting with anything but (small e) equanimity. It is like an awareness of the presence of the moon which is shining in the sky always, both when seen and even when hidden by the storming clouds. So, with such awareness, one is not bothered by the clouds nor overly needy of clear skies, for the moon is known in its clear and shining glory even when totally blocked by clouds. Weird, huh?

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 » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:53 pm

[james] wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:51 pm
Regulatory? Do you mean consistently or something else to do with following a protocol or regimen or practice?

If you do mean consistently then no that is not what I am getting at.
I meant to say 'that regularly'. My phone sometimes autocorrects in odd ways, but you seem to have caught the gist of it.
After all there is nothing consistent or constant and to try and create/sustain such a condition is a fly in the face of reality. Once the created structure of “quiet mind” falls apart as, in my own experience, it always does, what then ... ? Perhaps there is a possibility of consistent, constant, dependable quiet mind, unshakable equanimity, but I have never encountered this in myself and have dropped the effort of trying to make it so. There is always ample material in dis-ease, confusion, doubt and the “three poisons” generally to investigate and recognize my self. Being calm and at ease in this environment is my direction for now.
There seems to be a subtlety here that I'm missing. For my experience when sitting, if there's something nagging at me, some event that has me agitated to high enough degree, when I sit it will continue to pull my attention. If sufficiently disturbed by something, I could sit for an hour and pretty much dwell on the issue for most of the time. I don't see much benefit in doing this.

If I'm not too agitated by something, I can listen to a hypnosis audio recording for relaxation and it can relax me enough to sit without dwelling on whatever the issue is that might otherwise preoccupy the sit.

Maybe you can say where what you're trying to convey might fit into this scenario.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by [james] » Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:54 pm

Well, let’s say one is sitting for an hour and is agitated ... why not allow that condition to be during however much of the hour that it will be? Why does there need to be a benefit? Zazen, as I see it, is in large part a letting go of resistance to the conditions of the moment and an opening of alert curiosity. Nothing is permanent and constant. The agitation is endlessly modulating in response to other mental and physical factors in play during the one hour sitting. Resistance to a disturbance has, in my experience, the quality of nourishing the disturbance. Allowing a disturbance to be as it is presents the opportunity to observe dispassionately without preference or prejudice. The agitation may or may not dissipate during the hour, it may or may not be part of subsequent hours. One becomes less caught up and invested in the minutiae of the thought stream and less attached to desired outcomes. Nothing needs to be desired, accomplished or erased. And, if you wish, it’s only for an hour. The rest of the day is still there to be in the drama.

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Re: Zazen Is Good For Nothing

Post by jundocohen » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:19 pm

[james] wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:54 pm
Well, let’s say one is sitting for an hour and is agitated ... why not allow that condition to be during however much of the hour that it will be? Why does there need to be a benefit? Zazen, as I see it, is in large part a letting go of resistance to the conditions of the moment and an opening of alert curiosity. Nothing is permanent and constant. The agitation is endlessly modulating in response to other mental and physical factors in play during the one hour sitting. Resistance to a disturbance has, in my experience, the quality of nourishing the disturbance. Allowing a disturbance to be as it is presents the opportunity to observe dispassionately without preference or prejudice. The agitation may or may not dissipate during the hour, it may or may not be part of subsequent hours. One becomes less caught up and invested in the minutiae of the thought stream and less attached to desired outcomes. Nothing needs to be desired, accomplished or erased. And, if you wish, it’s only for an hour. The rest of the day is still there to be in the drama.
:bow2: If I may offer, just lovely.

One witnesses and sees through the minds coming and going as just passing weather, as if rain comes and then clear and then rain again. One knows that behind and right through all clouds the open sky is always present, seen or unseen. The rain is clear, and clear is the rain. The moon always shines, and is the clouds and the sky.

This is one aspect by which Shikantaza is rather unlike meditation forms meant to chase away the clouds to get at the sky and moon.

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 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 11:03 pm

Hi James,
[james] wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 1:54 pm
Well, let’s say one is sitting for an hour and is agitated ... why not allow that condition to be during however much of the hour that it will be?
Because, as I've mentioned, it will affect my ability to concentrate. I've discovered that, for me at least, a level of mental relaxation is needed in order to quiet the mind, and a quiet mind is beneficial.
Why does there need to be a benefit?
I don't know how to answer this question.
Zazen, as I see it, is in large part a letting go of resistance to the conditions of the moment and an opening of alert curiosity.
Agreed.
Nothing is permanent and constant.
Agreed.
The agitation is endlessly modulating in response to other mental and physical factors in play during the one hour sitting. Resistance to a disturbance has, in my experience, the quality of nourishing the disturbance. Allowing a disturbance to be as it is presents the opportunity to observe dispassionately without preference or prejudice. The agitation may or may not dissipate during the hour, it may or may not be part of subsequent hours. One becomes less caught up and invested in the minutiae of the thought stream and less attached to desired outcomes. Nothing needs to be desired, accomplished or erased. And, if you wish, it’s only for an hour. The rest of the day is still there to be in the drama.
This appears to be the crux of our misunderstanding. What's the difference between ruminating about some agitating issue while sitting still on a zafu or ruminating about it during some other activity during the day? I don't see the difference myself.

You seem to suggest that there's a way of sitting with 'disturbance' that's not 'in the drama'.

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