Dangers of Zazen

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michaeljc
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Dangers of Zazen

Post by michaeljc » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:00 pm

I don't agree with everything in Meido's book, by the way, not at all. I personally believe that some of it may be very misguided, even harmful to practice
Having followed Meido's posts through the years I can relay that he is fully aware that intensive practice (e.g sitting alone for more than 2 hours/day) can lead to harm, He has expressed caution and the need for a monitor on a number of occasions

I can't agree that anything in the book is 'misguided'

cheers

m

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bokki
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Re: Why Shikantaza is Complete, Boundless and Unlike Any Other Way of Zazen, Period. End of Story.

Post by bokki » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:14 pm

Having followed Meido's posts through the years I can relay that he is fully aware that intensive practice (e.g sitting alone for more than 2 hours/day) can lead to harm, He has expressed caution and the need for a monitor on a number of occasion.


LOL MONITOR ME ON A NBR OF OCC.

HARM?
Another log on the fire,
10,000 frogs singing in the rain,
burst into flames.
- Linda Anderson

ol' spikey

Re: Why Shikantaza is Complete, Boundless and Unlike Any Other Way of Zazen, Period. End of Story.

Post by ol' spikey » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:35 pm

:ugeek: :117:
michaeljc wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:00 pm
I don't agree with everything in Meido's book, by the way, not at all. I personally believe that some of it may be very misguided, even harmful to practice
Having followed Meido's posts through the years I can relay that he is fully aware that intensive practice (e.g sitting alone for more than 2 hours/day) can lead to harm, He has expressed caution and the need for a monitor on a number of occasions

I can't agree that anything in the book is 'misguided'

cheers


m

Modern Western psychology (Wilbur, Epstein, Brazier among others) has embraced meditation as a beneficial intervention. But the type of caveat above is also cited. So, especially if facing an existential crisis, meditation practice might be contraindicated. Consultation with a competent, Western psychotherapist, if available, would certainly be an option to consider. An attractive part of the conversation could involve the nexus of psychology and Zen.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Why Shikantaza is Complete, Boundless and Unlike Any Other Way of Zazen, Period. End of Story.

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:45 am

The only harm that can come out of sitting too much is excessive pride in one's self, an over inflated ego, and delusions of grandeur. With stumbling blocks like these who needs enemies? Falling from that height, you'll wish someone had simply broken a few of your bones instead. But to be honest, on some of these forums there's a abundance of pride, ego, and delusion, so more sitting probably won't make it much worse. And it will keep you out of the bars.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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michaeljc
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Re: Why Shikantaza is Complete, Boundless and Unlike Any Other Way of Zazen, Period. End of Story.

Post by michaeljc » Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:35 am

SWK -

With respect I don't agree. There are plenty of records of very bazaar physical reactions to intensive Zazen, where the student loses control of the physical body for a period of time.

Furthermore, there are credible accounts of students with particular psychological and/or psychiatric conditions who are adversely affected by intensive Zazen.

Maybe this topic warrants a place of its own.

Best regards

m

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bokki
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Re: Why Shikantaza is Complete, Boundless and Unlike Any Other Way of Zazen, Period. End of Story.

Post by bokki » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:15 am

well, thnk u all 4 contributing.
bout meditation being a danger...
LOL
do u know how many ppl die just getting out of bed?
a bee?"
oxygen? d fuel dat spars us is d poison dat will kill 1?

lol
killed by d spoon 1 is fed?

yea, so,
walking across d street is safe?
how bout


LIFE IS A DEATH SENTENCE.



??
Another log on the fire,
10,000 frogs singing in the rain,
burst into flames.
- Linda Anderson

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fuki
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Re: Why Shikantaza is Complete, Boundless and Unlike Any Other Way of Zazen, Period. End of Story.

Post by fuki » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:50 pm

michaeljc wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:35 am

With respect I don't agree. There are plenty of records of very bazaar physical reactions to intensive Zazen, where the student loses control of the physical body for a period of time.

Furthermore, there are credible accounts of students with particular psychological and/or psychiatric conditions who are adversely affected by intensive Zazen.
True, the danger is seeing "zazen" as a mean instead of what it is, a consequence/result. Many ppl should not blindly "try" what they are not naturally "ready for" Telling ppl to "do" zazen especially for long/intensive periods can enhance the virus/delusion. Motivation ppl is something else but ppl shouldnt feel forced by themselves or others (teachers included) to sit at all or to sit intensively, besides it's only "genuine" if it develops naturally from within, not because they think or are told that they should do this or that or that it's good for them (practise)
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Caodemarte
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:59 pm

There is indeed danger in everything. A sesshin I worked on had, fortunately, a trained medical volunteer who screened out people taking certain medications or with specific existing problems. There are problems that formal sitting zazen, and especially sustained sitting, will make worse.

I suspect most of us have seen people, especially first timers, crying or otherwise harmlessly flipping out a little during a sesshin. This seems due to the release of control over suppressed emotions or blocked energy as some would say or misplaced frustration.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Why Shikantaza is Complete, Boundless and Unlike Any Other Way of Zazen, Period. End of Story.

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:45 pm

michaeljc wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:35 am
SWK -

With respect I don't agree. There are plenty of records of very bazaar physical reactions to intensive Zazen, where the student loses control of the physical body for a period of time.

Furthermore, there are credible accounts of students with particular psychological and/or psychiatric conditions who are adversely affected by intensive Zazen.

Maybe this topic warrants a place of its own.

Best regards

m
Okay, granted that it's possible that harm could arise. People get harmed by medical assistance too. Does not mean that you didn't need the medical assistance.? I've personally counselled people who have had psychiatric complications in their sitting practice - and in most instances it's indiscriminant use of concentration with out being grounded in calm. I've rarely heard of people running into trouble who find calm, then add insight to it. This is kind of obvious, to practice what feels best and works well, but not all people are like that. The cases I've worked with they have a head full of notions and rarely listen well. The psychiatric condition is linked to not properly processing simple instruction. Its not exactly zazen that is the cause then, is it? When I hear that someone is so obsessive-complusive that they simply cant stay calm, i suggest another way, like MSBR or Qigong. If sitting isn't going well its not the only path. Sorry about that, if you disagree.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Great Sage EofH » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:03 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:59 pm
There is indeed danger in everything. A sesshin I worked on had, fortunately, a trained medical volunteer who screened out people taking certain medications or with specific existing problems. There are problems that formal sitting zazen, and especially sustained sitting, will make worse.

I suspect most of us have seen people, especially first timers, crying or otherwise harmlessly flipping out a little during a sesshin. This seems due to the release of control over suppressed emotions or blocked energy as some would say or misplaced frustration.
Cao: I hear you. To be more specific, trauma is stored in the nervous system as well as the body. It blocks memory, as it does in advanced cased of PTSD. Zazen practice, mindfulness practice, therapy, anything that works with releasing the mind can also trigger very painful traumas that are suddenly remembered. This is part of the healing process. This is part of my bitch and gripe about systemization of practices into megalithic corporate structures - it spawns an uncontrolled propagation of teachers not able to deal with the common results people will experience. This is a defect in the teachings being handed down rather than the emotionality of the person practicing. The goal of course, is to achive calm and equanimity, but people go through a lot getting there, especially when breaking through barriers during retreats.

I have to parse that however, with authentic cases of psychiatric illness, which should be screened for. Zen & zazen is not the only way, and for people with a psychiatric diagnosis only a skilled professional ought to sign off on whether zazen is safe and useful for them. Same goes with samatha or vipasana or whatever they practice. They might be better with a more suitable practice tailored to their temperment.

My objection is that for an advanced practice, 1,2,3,4 hours a day what difference does it make? Afetr the more common skeletons are removed from the closet we should feel free to practice as we see fit.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

Caodemarte
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Caodemarte » Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:42 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 5:03 pm
....Zen & zazen is not the only way, and for people with a psychiatric diagnosis only a skilled professional ought to sign off on whether zazen is safe and useful for them. Same goes with samatha or vipasana or whatever they practice. They might be better with a more suitable practice tailored to their temperment....
Agreed, formal sitting zazen or any other form is not suitable for all temperaments. Sometimes it can be contraindicated.

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Meido
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Meido » Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:30 pm

warning.jpg
warning.jpg (34.28 KiB) Viewed 631 times
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: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Meido » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:01 pm

Just to throw this also into the pot, since it's all meant to be applied within context:

How then can we carry ourselves non-attached to the things of this world? Here, sitting in meditation comes to be regarded as absolutely necessary. Self-liberation is possible only when we perceive our own formless self-nature in tranquil meditation and discipline our formless selves in such a way that they will operate on all kinds of practical affairs of this world even while we are out of meditation. In view of this we cannot be said to sit too much even if we keep on sitting as if sitting were the sole purpose of Zen. We should sit hard and sit a great deal to such an extent that it may even be said that we are disciplining ourselves in sitting rather than in Zen.

Omori Sogen,
Introduction to Zen Training

~ 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: Dangers of Zazen

Post by clyde » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:41 am

We sit, not to become better meditators,
but to become better (authentic or in Buddhistic terms, "noble") human beings.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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jundocohen
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by jundocohen » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:57 am

Hi,

I offer the following, but it is not meant as a comment on any individual's personal practice or path or training recommendations. It is just a general comment.

Zazen and all meditation comes in many flavors and intensities. There is also much discussion lately of "Dark Night" syndrome, and Dr. Willoughby Britton's research on that ...
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/arch ... ls/372766/

My feeling is that certain very intense and concentrated forms of Zazen and other meditation are apt, for the particularly sensitive or anyone at a certain point, to push people over the edge into all manner of breaks, depression and the like. I also believe that Shikantaza (at least as I guide it, as a low pressure, letting be and easy slipping into Wholeness and Kensho which has no "into") is less likely to do so, but even here one must be cautious. It is much like someone coming for swimming lessons at the community pool who looks particularly overweight or who may have a bad heart. I welcome them, and believe all may benefit, but I have sometimes required a medical doctor or mental health professional's approval after interviewing them.

Our Sangha, because of its heavily "online" format, has a relatively high number of members with serious disabilities and health conditions. I have folks who crawl to the toilet because of pain and muscle weakness or are confined to wheelchairs, others with serious back injuries or panic disorders. I hesitate about recommending any standard postures or time limits to such folks, because that is a kind of "shaming" or "you can't do" message that may be conveyed to such folks. I teach a particular lesson about Zazen in which Zazen is -not- a matter of time or quantity at all ... or even about "sitting" for the person who truly realizes that truth. No "butts" about it. In other words, sitting for a moment or endless Kalpa is all the same, as is standing on one's head or crawling to the toilet. However we sit for a certain number of minutes in order to realize that timeless truth that it is not about time or sitting. For members with physical restrictions, if they can only manage a few minutes or seconds while in their wheelchair or reclining or moaning and writhing in pain on the way to the toilet, that is "good Zazen" and holds the whole universe.

I also feel that pop-psychology, new age beliefs, certain kinds of magic, soothsaying and mysticism, certain pseudo-scientific and folk medicine beliefs and the like which sometimes get mixed into Zen practice can frequently be harmful at worst, or simply distracting from the real power of our Zazen practices. (Of course, views and definitions of each of those vary by practitioner.)

Finally, it is just my personal take, but I believe that any type of meditation which leaves the student thinking that there is something to attain, even subtly, is harmful. Also, leaving them with the feeling that they can just stay wallowing as they are, in their excess desire, anger and divided thinking is harmful. One must thread the needle of getting the message across that one becomes free of excess desire, anger and divided thinking by radically releasing all thought of something needed or to attain. However, this is just my usual Shikantaza spiel, and I do not mean it as a comment in any way on what any other way may be teaching or not teaching, or to imply that only Shikantaza does this. It is only "harmful" within the context of Shikantaza.

Gassho, J
Last edited by jundocohen on Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:21 am, edited 13 times in total.
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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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Great Sage EofH » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:59 am

Meido wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:01 pm
Just to throw this also into the pot, since it's all meant to be applied within context:

How then can we carry ourselves non-attached to the things of this world? Here, sitting in meditation comes to be regarded as absolutely necessary. Self-liberation is possible only when we perceive our own formless self-nature in tranquil meditation and discipline our formless selves in such a way that they will operate on all kinds of practical affairs of this world even while we are out of meditation. In view of this we cannot be said to sit too much even if we keep on sitting as if sitting were the sole purpose of Zen. We should sit hard and sit a great deal to such an extent that it may even be said that we are disciplining ourselves in sitting rather than in Zen.

Omori Sogen,
Introduction to Zen Training

~ Meido
gasp!
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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Dan74
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Dan74 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:02 am

Michael, I split your last post into a new topic, since it sounded to me that you were no longer exploring just the dangers but the entirety of the experience. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=378

I am not at all sure that this is a fit subject for conversation outside of the interview with one's teacher and quite possibly it will get shut down.. I will let the qualified folks make that call.

_/|\_

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by fuki » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:11 am

Meido wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:30 pm
warning.jpg
Yes my zen practise is the habit of distracting from what IS, cure me from zen practise please :P
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Meido » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:36 am

fuki wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:11 am
Yes my zen practise is the habit of distracting from what IS, cure me from zen practise please
This "what IS" is your main distraction.
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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fuki
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by fuki » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:15 am

Meido wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:36 am

This "what IS" is your main distraction.
:)
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
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