Whats your practice?

Discussion of Zen Buddhism, Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen, Chan, Seon and Thien.

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Dan74
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Dan74 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:20 pm

That's a big 'if', james, isn't it?

We are so good at fooling ourselves that it's percolating, churning, etc. Without a teacher to jolt us awake from these self-indulgent reveries, I think few of us have any real hope of breaking through.

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Meido
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Meido » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:38 pm

Just to tangentially riff on the "formal" vs "informal" thing a bit:

If by "formal" one just means "practicing in relationship with, and according to the instructions of, a qualified teacher," then certainly it's fine to say that Zen itself is formal, i.e. we have to admit that such is legitimate Zen practice as Zen itself defines it. "Informal" practice without recourse to a guide (at least, from the time of initial awakening) we could call "Buddhist practice," no problem. But not yet Zen.

However, I think many folks when they differentiate "formal" from "informal" are speaking to something else: a kind of atmosphere or tone, a body of inherited traditions, group participation and dynamics, and so on. So maybe useful to remember that even in so-called formal relationship with a teacher, practice can often be quite "informal." It's just the relationship that is crucial, and which gives life to so-called forms.

The main thing to recognize, I think, is that Zen is a path. One needs to know where, and how, to walk. We can repeat fine-sounding things like "Zen is a pathless-path, a practice-less practice, life itself is Zen, Zen is just 'this'!, and other such words as you'll see ad nauseam on every Dharma forum. But unless we have ourselves actualized such realization in a genuine manner, it's all just conceptual garbage and not worth the energy it takes to type or read.

For most of us, who are beginners and really quite confused, it is instead useful to just speak about the path practically, and try to experience for ourselves the point of view of a practitioner actually walking that path. Doing so, we see that the path has distinct pitfalls, signs of fruition, attainment, and so on. Some fruition we may have realized for ourselves in a shallow manner, and some not yet. There are distinct instructions that fit each person's unique conditions; since it is difficult to know what our own conditions and weaknesses are dispassionately and with clarity, we rely on guides to help us.

Torei: If you wish to attain this true and genuine Way, you must pay close attention to all the details.

If we are able to do this, then we are in fact uniting with the Zen path, walking in the footsteps of those who came before. We become practitioners, instead of talkers about Zen, and we receive the blessing and benefit of all the effort put forth by those in the past. Practice becomes something we ourselves are actually doing. We are on the playing field now, not in the audience. We are using the limited time left in our precious human lives well.

To share experiences along these lines, and to support, encourage, and help folks interested in walking the path, is to my mind precisely the value of an "informal" practice like participating in online fora such as this...nothing more, or less.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Meido » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:27 pm

Thanks, ElG. Happy to dive in when useful, and thank you for getting the ball rolling here. I'd encourage folks to also jump in at Dharma Wheel if they haven't already, since a pan-Buddhist board provides nice learning opportunities. But a Zen-specific board is also great and does the same...wishing success to the group here.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by daibunny » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:39 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:38 pm

To share experiences along these lines, and to support, encourage, and help folks interested in walking the path, is to my mind precisely the value of an "informal" practice like participating in online fora such as this...nothing more, or less.

~ Meido
Thats all well and good, supporting and encouraging others, but participating in online zen, if you dont have an actual on the cushion practice (preferably given you by a competent teacher), is in my opinion more destructive than helpful. Lots of nitwits craving recognition online and no one needs encouragement from them and trying to "win" discussions about zen and buddhism only results in more deeply entrenched errors. Errors that have to be dealt with later. I know this from my own experience.
The bridge is flowing, not the water.

~Shenxiu

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Meido
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Meido » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:32 pm

Certainly. Again, I think it important - especially given technological and cultural trends - for a Zen forum to stand strongly on the fact of Zen as something learned, practiced, and actualized in relationship with a teacher. Practice is not something one can bring to fruition completely on one's own. It is not something that can be learned solely online, through media of any kind, and so on. Online fora do not substitute for that relationship. But they might complement it, and increase communication/unity across lineages...worthy goals indeed.

Along those lines, I expressed concern at ZFI in the past about the blind leading the blind, i.e. persons in the forum not authorized as teachers but freely offering Zen practice advice and interpretation to one another. Even teachers, actually, have to be extremely careful about doing that except in general terms, given the limitations of the format.

Good board guidelines and moderation will be key, based on clear TOS.

What I'd mainly hope to see in a forum like this:
  • The central concern of topics to be Buddhadharma, Zen, Zen history, Zen texts, Zen research/academic subjects, Zen events, Zen resources, Zen tradition and innovation, Zen practice (at least, those aspects that can be usefully discussed online), Zen people, Zen issues, broader news and inter-faith issues that have a bearing on Buddhism and Zen, etc.
  • Free-for-all, lounge, or fun-and-games areas are fine to have, and discussion most suited to those rooms should take place in them.
  • Quality of discussion is the hoped-for goal. Forum culture and TOS should, above all, serve to foster that. Simply put: just as in any fruitful in-person discussion, we need folks to introduce relevant topics, and discussion steered to focus on those topics as they unfold.
A few things that come to mind I'd hope not to see, and which good moderation in any forum will generally prevent:
  • Tolerance of members who are clearly not in the right place and a detriment to the community. For example, instances we've seen when someone comes in to assert his own self-created Zen "system."
  • Members attempting to moderate other members, leading to endless in-thread (and thread-killing) argument.
  • Over-posting: that is, posting multiple times in a thread before anyone has a chance to reply, or posting in many threads rapid-fire for the sake of adding one's voice, but without adding meaningful content to a discussion.
To sum up: if we are going to have a Zen forum, I hope it can feature meaningful, intelligent, and wide-ranging talk about Zen Buddhism. If a forum ceases to do so, there's no need for it, and it is more likely as you note to be a detriment and source of obstructions to others.

And with that I recognize that I've offended common online forum etiquette myself here, by veering too far off the thread topic...

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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[james]
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by [james] » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:55 am

Dan74 wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:20 pm
That's a big 'if', james, isn't it?

We are so good at fooling ourselves that it's percolating, churning, etc. Without a teacher to jolt us awake from these self-indulgent reveries, I think few of us have any real hope of breaking through.
If one knows what it is to work diligently then one will also know when one is slacking off. If a student of Zen cannot be honest with himself what benefit can he have in working with a teacher? Can a teacher steer a willfully self deluding student to a sincere and productive self inquiry? Perhaps, ... Teacher??

If one is, from time to time, capable of recognizing when the personal work of Zen is being accomplished then why is this a self indulgent reverie?

In my arrogant opinion we each and all of us have exactly the same real hope of breaking through.

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:07 am

Day; Night.

Morning, Afternoon.

Evening; night.

Some say it all comes down to Night, and to the care and protection of all beings in Night-time. May all beings be safe, every night!

For those who dream, may dreams be ...benign.

(yes, some do; some don't, dream. If you don't, you sleep 'best').

--Joe
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

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Dan74
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Dan74 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:41 am

[james] wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:55 am
Dan74 wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:20 pm
That's a big 'if', james, isn't it?

We are so good at fooling ourselves that it's percolating, churning, etc. Without a teacher to jolt us awake from these self-indulgent reveries, I think few of us have any real hope of breaking through.
If one knows what it is to work diligently then one will also know when one is slacking off. If a student of Zen cannot be honest with himself what benefit can he have in working with a teacher? Can a teacher steer a willfully self deluding student to a sincere and productive self inquiry? Perhaps, ... Teacher??

If one is, from time to time, capable of recognizing when the personal work of Zen is being accomplished then why is this a self indulgent reverie?

In my arrogant opinion we each and all of us have exactly the same real hope of breaking through.
Working diligently is vital, I agree. As for honesty, there are layers upon layers of self-deceit, from gross to subtle, where it is more akin to delusion. But when we are emotionally invested in maintaining the said delusion, then it does qualify as self-deceit. In my view, these are the key obstacles that keep us from breaking through. And yes, a good teacher sees where a student is stuck, and pecks from the outside, as the student pecks from the inside. Thus the chick is hatched!

So it has been in Zen since time immemorial, as far as I can make it out.

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by jundocohen » Thu Nov 23, 2017 12:26 pm

Hi Guys,

Our Practice is Shikantaza, Hit the Mark Just Sitting, the one and only action necessary or which can be acted in all the universe in such momentless moment of sitting, all desires filled, nothing lacking, nobody else and nobody this, no before or after or in between, no more or less.

Rising from the Cushion, we carry such in the marrow of the bones as we live in a world of before and after, self and other, this and that and all the rest of the mess.

Very simple.

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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Dan74
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Dan74 » Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:56 pm

I've started looking for a centre in my vicinity (we moved countries about 10 months ago). So far 4 candidates (spoilt for choice!):

1. A Chan place in the tradition of Master Sheng-Yen (just like our member, Guo Gu) run by Hildi Thalmann (Chang She)
2. A Soto place in the tradition of Kosen Nishiyama, run by Hogen Shuei Osho
3. Another Soto place in the Deshimaru tradition run by Regula Siegfried and Nadine Trachsel
4. A Sanbo Kyodan place run by Paul Shepherd

I listed the 4th last, because it is nearly an hour's drive whereas I can commute to the first three easily by public transport. But a veteran English speaking teacher is attractive (my German has still got a long way to go). If anyone has any first hand knowledge of these teachers, I'd be grateful for a PM. In any case, I will try to visit all of them.

_/|\_

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Ed B » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:14 pm

I do Shikantaza usually early mornings.
The path is Soto Zen Buddhism so I read accordingly: Dogen, commentaries on Shobogenzo highlights, also Okumura roshi and hislineage of Uchiyama and KodoSawaki, but never allowing reading to overcome sitting in importance.
Practice is, for me sitting meditation close to a teacher who usually ignores me. But not really, he sees more than I care to know.
We have service on Sundays dedicating merits to the possibility that all sentient beings may find ourselves walking the lotus Path together.

Great to be here.

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Dan74
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:36 pm

Great to see you here, Ed. Thank you for joining.

_/|\_

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by guo gu » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:11 pm

daibunny wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:06 pm
Im always curious about this and i know that some dont like to talk about it, but if you do ...:)
Anyway here is mine: My teacher gave me the instruction to "Abide with mind", this was after i did the "Who is this?" (as in "Who is this reciting the Buddhas name?") hautou for a while.
So thats what i do the best i can, i sit, surrender, and abide with mind.

Hey i just realized, First Post, Huzzah!
the practice is being awake and not live in my dream, other's dream, and yet in dream offer to all this life.
be well,
guo gu

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KeithA
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by KeithA » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:37 am

Soooo great to see Ed's face!!! _/|\_

I practice in the Kwan Um tradition, which is Western Zen with Korean roots.

We are generally provided a range of practices and only asked to do one thing: "try".

My personal practice is to raise the question: "what is this mind?". I have been greatly influenced by the writing of Bassui, in addition to the Kwan Um teaching materials.

Good luck and thanks for practicing,
Keith
You make, you get.

New Haven Zen Center

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:00 am

wut is yur practice?
sitting
"Mindfulness of Breathing" either as one thing unto itself or as 16 tetrads
Anapannasati Sutta / samatha / vipassana / jhanas
also
Zazen / Shikantaza
moving
Qi Gong / yoga asanas / kinhin /trail hiking
art, pottery, poetry
Dharma Bum / kusulu
Gnostic Christianity / Unitarian / Universalist
music / dance
Tenzo style cookery
fire pits / cook outs / etc
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

Caodemarte
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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:05 pm

I aim to practice Buddhism (specifically a daily sitting practice, weekly sittings with a local Zen group, supplemented with retreats with a Rinzai Zen teacher 1-2 times a year when he visits the US).

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Great Sage EofH » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:27 am

So hmm mostly I do sitting Zazen but I’m trying to do the sitting standing walking lying down rotation too. To the best of my ability Shikantaza style, but in Southern Thein were taught samatha style minding the breath. Keeping in mind also 3 marks if existence, 4 Noble truth, 8 fold path! I’m exploring a number of local sangha, for the time being I’m under Thich Nhat Hanhs wing although I’ve never actually met him. I read a variety of Sūtras, not much into chanting. Do Zazen about an hour per day. I’m following all 5 precepts including no meat or alcohol for 2018, this is my 2nd year for boycotting all unnecessary purchases. I’m protesting the economy as well as observing non-possession to a slight degree. I prefer ancient texts but I’ll read these forums anyway. At least as long as I post here.thanks
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Jan 24, 2018 4:04 am

My form of practice is 'just sitting', zazen. I have committed to sitting daily this year, 45 minute sessions. And actually I have been finding it difficult lately - uncomfortable and boring. So I wrote that to someone, and as soon as i sent it, I realised why I'm having that problem - it's because I'm drinking wine in the evening. Not much, but that's not the point; I think it just means that I am not 'tuned in' to sitting. When you're tuned in, then the level of discomfort and the associated feelings fall away a lot more. You literally have to learn to park the body, as if it were a bike not being used. Just put it there. I'm finding that when you're able to do that, and real mindfulness kicks in, then there is a subtle kind of joy associated with it. Not that you can do anything to seek that joy, other than just keep sitting. But I think this is why a sattvic diet and the associated lifestyle is required. That is what I need to resolve to work on now - developing a rhythm.

Breathe in, breathe out.....
The most important thing is not at all important.

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Crystal » Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:50 am

My practice has always been about living and working in the modern world and meditating according to one-to-one instructions given to me by three Vajrayana teachers (I had one main Tibetan teacher for a number of years and then he died)... and two Theravada teachers.

Other than that, I don't discuss the details of my practice or my teachers in public, sorry.

I am also interested in investigating the Zen approach to the Dharma, which is why I'm here.

:namaste:

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Re: Whats your practice?

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:50 pm

Well, that’s different from my experience. What I find, is that sitting zazen is generally uncomfortable. The reason I can’t sit for longer than 45 minutes is simply that the discomfort becomes completely intolerable. The idea of being able to maintain that pose for any number of hours seems completely unreal. Maybe it requires some quality of ascetic discipline that I don’t have - maybe yogis are able to leave behind all sense of physical discomfort. I have read of such accounts, but they seem from a different world. But I am not giving up, because I think that learning to live with the discomfort is part of the practice.

I see your point about the plant (and, thanks for the video!) I guess what I mean is, that when I am sitting, I have a natural inclination to get up and move around (unlike a plant :D ). I mean, the feeling is that almost anything is preferable to ‘sitting still with your legs crossed’. So I don’t want to give in to the body’s inclination to want to get up and do something else.

There was a story a few years back by Lewis Richmond, called Most Buddhists Don’t Meditate. It said:
One Zen monk from Japan who was visiting a Zen retreat center in America observed the enthusiasm and numbers of meditators with astonishment. “How do you get them to meditate without beating them?” he asked. In his training temple in Japan, the young monks disliked meditation, and saw it as an unpleasant burden.
The most important thing is not at all important.

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