Mental States and Zen

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

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by desert_woodworker » Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:27 pm

Marcel,
fuki wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:18 pm
Another fine metaphor, thanks.
It's easy to cast around for wording when there's an experience to describe.

The description does not come from a reliance on first-principles (dictionary look-up exercises), but words fall to place where they fit the actual experience. There's an "isomorphism" (it's a bit like "measurement", in Science). Without the pragmatic experience to populate words into the description most properly, there is just a cloud of uninformed guesses, and no collapsing of the wave-function at all, so to speak. ;)

And, yes, thanks, I'd say "metaphor" is the right "description-of-the-description" (although not all descriptions are metaphors, and the description or map is not here the same as the actual experience, or thing). Where uninformed (inexperienced) readers or listeners go reliably and characteristically wrong is in analyzing immediately, and not synthesizing. It's their insecurity, and inexperience. Forgivable! We all start somewhere; or, don't.
Relating to your metaphor I would say that a state is indeed like a personal prison for instance "I am lonely, I am angry/sad" etc while freedom from any particular state then whatever appears has no place to land and doesn't obstruct, so one is not bound by appearances that it becomes a state/prison (of mind) or an identification.
Sure, one can use this metaphor to advantage in the way one likes (provided it still works). But the intended meaning or use here is to state that when there is no mind, i.e., with mind dropped-away, there are no states of mind, and the condition of the, let's say 'person', or 'being' is that of living and dwelling in emptiness, which condition admits of no "states". :| (And, perhaps interesting to others also, I mentioned too that the look of the world is very different in that condition, and can be the source of rather different Art, if one is inclined even toward the most faithful and congruent representationalism).
This is what I call "non-dwelling"
It's good, I think. I'd say that non-dwelling does not mean "having no home", but means not being stuck to a leading idea, which leads to a proliferation of mental constructs (papañca, in Pali). Diamond Sutra says: "Abiding nowhere, let this Mind work!" But sticking nowhere and to nothing is a result of practice, not willfulness or direct suppression in a moment.

Fuki, as an example, Meido called you and I out for planting and growing a branching-tree of mostly irrelevancies in his thread about the coming Solstice training period at his and his sangha's new dojo. This (contribution there of ours) is papañca ("pa-PAN-cha").

An elegant and entertaining talk on 'papañca' is given by Christina Feldman, available free in two forms at the following places:
  • Written (English) transcript of the talk given on retreat:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/39710312/Chri ... f-Thoughts

  • Here you can download the retreat talk as an audio mp3 file for listening on your machine (53 minutes audio)
http://dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/44/6748.html

all best,

--Joe

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Christina Feldman, full of Compassionate fun
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fuki
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by fuki » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:55 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 8:27 pm

Fuki, as an example, Meido called you and I out for planting and growing a branching-tree of mostly irrelevancies in his thread about the coming Solstice training period at his and his sangha's new dojo. This (contribution there of ours) is papañca ("pa-PAN-cha").

An elegant and entertaining talk on 'papañca' is given by Christina Feldman, available free in two forms at the following places:
  • Written (English) transcript of the talk given on retreat:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/39710312/Chri ... f-Thoughts
Funny, I noted my mom on this just yesterday. Sometimes when ppl are in the 20th by-thought in about 2 minutes I say "snowball" or "cloud" and they know it's time to stop. Then I go back to the initial thought they had in the "conversation". For instance mom started out on the subject of a friend who spoke about "seeking God" 2 minutes and a few superimposed universes later I went back to topic. Thank for the text I'll study it more later to see if there's something I can use.
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Found this "cartoon" online a while ago, shared it with mom, she laughed and thanked me, it was like looking into her mirror of mind.
ps as mentioned I find zenspace a good place to connect with other practisioners, I will attempt to not be off-topic as it may vexate ppl or be unbeneficial to the forum's function.
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Dan74
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Dan74 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:18 am

fuki wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:55 am
I will attempt to not be off-topic as it may vexate ppl or be unbeneficial to the forum's function.
:560: :109: :shock: :101: :114:

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Great Sage EofH » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:15 am

I'm really confused by this thread; some posts list "mental states" as the topic, others "Psychedelics and Buddhism"

Psychedelic drug could be compared to psychic laxatives....

Zen then is more like a balanced diet with plenty of fiber

I've touched on this in previous posts, that meditation applied in a certain way produces much the same effect as LSD. That's not to say it's the best way.

That an expanded consciousness is possible isn't really a question worth asking, nor is the question of paranormal abilities. It's all in the sutras.

What I've said is that whatever states normally arise as one practices, they are what they are. I could draw a parallel to suppressed memories and recovering from amnesia that might occur from sincere practice. All kinds of therapeutic phenomena take place. See what is for what it is is a path of discovery, but ultimately practice leads to letting these things go.

So through practice, one does not become progressively more psychedelic, anarchic, psychic, or paranormal. They might be guideposts, they might be tombstones. Ultimately you learn to let it go.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by michaeljc » Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:25 am

I am more than comfortable with accepting that Zen is all about physio-mental states

Mental states cannot exist without a physical connection. Neuro messaging is via chemical and electrical pathways. Regular zazen changes our physiology e.g. the way we talk and walk.

Should one believe that there is more, it becomes a spiritual religion

Fine for some I guess

m

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Dan74 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:22 am

Mental states are not to be neglected for sure. They are the substance of our lives.

To me, this echoes the Host and Guest teachings. Mental states are the guests. What is the Host?

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by KeithA » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:04 am

Dan74 wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:22 am
Mental states are not to be neglected for sure. They are the substance of our lives.

To me, this echoes the Host and Guest teachings. Mental states are the guests. What is the Host?
That's well put, Dan. I have a Dharma friend who is a bit of samadhi junkie. Guest and host framework might be good medicine for that.

_/|\_
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fuki
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by fuki » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:03 pm

KeithA wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:04 am

That's well put, Dan. I have a Dharma friend who is a bit of samadhi junkie.
I've heared the term before but what are the symptoms/consequences/impediments of being a "samadhi addict" in your experience?
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:20 am

SunWuKong wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 4:15 am
I'm really confused by this thread; some posts list "mental states" as the topic, others "Psychedelics and Buddhism"....
This is because “mental states” was spun off here from the psychedelics thread.

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by KeithA » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:42 am

fuki wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:03 pm
KeithA wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:04 am

That's well put, Dan. I have a Dharma friend who is a bit of samadhi junkie.
I've heared the term before but what are the symptoms/consequences/impediments of being a "samadhi addict" in your experience?
It's just based on convo's we have had. He is really a interesting guy. Very experienced at doing long (3 month) retreats and has a very eclectic religious background. I suspect that varied background is where he gets a bit hung up on seeking certain states of meditation. To me, the consequence of seeking special states, is that one gets distracted from the actual practice. That's the problem when trying to "get" kensho, if one treats it as a special state (it isn't). The more one seeks it, the farther away it is. As Adam was always saying, "just practice and see what happens". Nothing to seek and nothing to gain. And yet...
As long as I don't aim,
I won't miss.
With the catalpa bow,
I shoot an arrow
Toward the open sky.
-Zen Master Ryokan, Trans. Sensei Kazuaki Tanahashi
You make, you get.

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fuki
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by fuki » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:09 am

Agreed, seeking only disturbs the mind, it's always the ego-construct or persona. Yet that is what got most of us started on "the path" to begin with, interestingly enough we fool ourselfs thinking that we're seeking something and there will be a result in the future, while all seeking is in the past. ;)

Anyways nature is a good example, a bird does not think, now I'm flying, now I'm chirping etc It just does its true job with no sense of personal gain. Something the human animal is mostly oblivious of. (its true job)
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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Great Sage EofH » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:40 pm

I find being on a path utterly soothing and releasing. Sidewalks and streets, flatland worlds, no rivers, no mountains, these are strange places for me.

A salmon seeks the headwaters even though his body is already rotting. They congregate in small pools when they've gotten as far as the can. I imagine they are laughing their asses off at the irony that this is the result of reproducing. Swim until you drop.

Sadly we try to make our mark on existence, as an offhand way to rage against they dying of the night. And in the end do we suspect that there never was an end, there never was a night, that rage was only a subtle amusement, and existence is not better or worse than non-existence?

The Fat Boy had it right, dropping the bundle. Picking it up. Go on about your business.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by jundocohen » Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:45 pm

Hi,

If I understand the discussion, I feel that the body and mind divide the subject/object, judge the objects which thus result mentally, feeling attractions and aversions, longings, fears, frustrations and all the rest.

In the satisfaction and balance of sitting, the hard borders of subject/object soften or fully drop away and all is resolved in wholeness. Attractions and aversions, longings, fears and frustrations all washed away into flowing peace. This is "bodymind dropped away."

It is a state of body, but also ultimately a mental state because all the brain can do is replace one model of reality (divided) with another (whole and fulfilled). Even the body is experienced mentally.

Maybe I misunderstood the whole conversation at this late hour, for which I apologize.

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: Mental States and Zen

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:27 pm

The putative purpose of this split-off thread was to enable exploration of the claim (which I think I made) that, with mind fallen-away, there are then no "states" of mind.

And, definitely no states of the delusive-mind.

--Joe

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:36 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:27 pm
The putative purpose of this split-off thread was to enable exploration of the claim (which I think I made) that, with mind fallen-away, there are then no "states" of mind.

And, definitely no states of the delusive-mind.

--Joe


For the construct of body/mind to fall away and for there to be no states then there must not have been “real” independent states or body/mind to begin with; this is all a construct, one of the many through which “we experience reality” (as I understand Buddhism 101). Hence mental states are not the main focus of Buddhism, except as they may help you to abandon them or see through them (and the notion of you). Any state, in principle, can be abandoned or seen through. It is telling that the Buddha dropped all the cool and deep states he had cultivated to go back to the simple, relaxed state he had experienced as a child, before abandoning all states and “breaking the rafter of the house, never to be raised again.”

None of this means that we should not cultivate wholesome states, eat our greens, get psychological help, do flexibility exercises,yoga, drink water, etc.and etc.

To be clear this is merely my opinion, based on my understanding of orthodox Buddhist teachings. I am neither ordained nor a scholar. However, I have found this line of thought very helpful to my practice. It may not be to all others and it may not be as well founded as I think it is. Nevertheless I put it out there to clarify my own thinking and hopefully to help others. “Misleading others,” as described in the parent thread, is not my intention.

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:08 pm

Çao.,
Caodemarte wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:36 pm
“Misleading others,” as described in the parent thread, is not my intention.
Ok; in that case I will not report your post to the Management. ;)

I won't dispute your reasoning, about body and mind falling away. I'd just encourage others to sit zazen with teacher and sangha, attend sesshin (or Ch'an 7-day retreat), and keep up our practice(s) in daily life.

That's about the size of it,

:namaste:

--Joe

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:18 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:08 pm
....

Ok; in that case I will not report your post to the Management. ;)

I won't dispute your reasoning, about body and mind falling away. I'd just encourage others to sit zazen with teacher and sangha, attend sesshin (or Ch'an 7-day retreat), and keep up our practice(s) in daily life....
Thanks Joe. I wouldn’t want to go to the hell realms :namaste:

Please also encourage me to continue to sit with teacher and sangha, attend session, and keep up practice in daily life as I have urged others. Nothing I have ever said should be taken in any other way.

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by desert_woodworker » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:27 pm

hi Ç.,
Caodemarte wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:18 pm
Please also encourage me to continue to sit with teacher and sangha, attend session, and keep up practice in daily life as I have urged others. Nothing I have ever said should be taken in any other way.
Of course, oh yes, well understood, for a long time.

But I do so encourage you -- as per your request -- to keep up practice. I wish ALL beings strong practice, as a matter of fact. Pretty regularly, I do.

--Joe

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Dan74 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:02 am

jundocohen wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:45 pm
Hi,

If I understand the discussion, I feel that the body and mind divide the subject/object, judge the objects which thus result mentally, feeling attractions and aversions, longings, fears, frustrations and all the rest.

In the satisfaction and balance of sitting, the hard borders of subject/object soften or fully drop away and all is resolved in wholeness. Attractions and aversions, longings, fears and frustrations all washed away into flowing peace. This is "bodymind dropped away."

It is a state of body, but also ultimately a mental state because all the brain can do is replace one model of reality (divided) with another (whole and fulfilled). Even the body is experienced mentally.

Maybe I misunderstood the whole conversation at this late hour, for which I apologize.

Gassho, J
I guess that in time, notions such as "also ultimately a mental state because all the brain can do is replace one model of reality (divided) with another (whole and fulfilled)" are seen as notions, models, insubstantial though sometimes useful, and 'fall away'.

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Re: Mental States and Zen

Post by Great Sage EofH » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:14 pm

I don’t go into a “mental state” with Zazen, it’s not an altered state, or what the TB’s call a Bardo State, or any “state” of consciousness recognized by psychology, however - I definitely go into a “zone” and at its best it’s self perpetuating, like a Rube Goldberg machine consisting of only one moving part maybe LOL. I’m really not inclined that this can be put into s phone app because the people who shared it with me really didn’t instruct me in it, that part you have to do on your own. The instruction part was more like anecdotes on how attachment can ruin yur day. Or distraction can carry you to your grave. Not really sure if this helps anyone, but it’s an attempt.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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