Dangers of Zazen

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

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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.
:)
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:18 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:57 am
....
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/.....
Crumgedeon’s pet peeve warning: I liked the article, but I really wish people would stop abusing “dark night of the soul,” a very specific term from Catholic mysticism and sainthood investigations. Buddhists or teenage lovers in pop songs do not experience the felt withdrawal of a very personal Christian God with whom they had a very specific intimate personal spritual relationship, resulting in a vast spritual aridity that borders the mortal sin of despair.

I think it must be something like what physicists feel when they see the word “quantum” used to make seem gobbledygook mysterious or sophisticated. Perhaps some here feel the same way when they hear the French advertising use of “Zen” to mean “cool” and “chic” as in “a Zen cigarette.”

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Meido
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Meido » Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:00 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:18 pm
I think it must be something like what physicists feel when they see the word “quantum” used to make seem gobbledygook mysterious or sophisticated. Perhaps some here feel the same way when they hear the French advertising use of “Zen” to mean “cool” and “chic” as in “a Zen cigarette.”
Or when I hear use of the word "koan" to mean obscure, mysterious, or illogical :lol:
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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desert_woodworker
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by desert_woodworker » Fri Jun 08, 2018 3:01 pm

Ç.,
Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:18 pm
I think it must be something like what physicists feel when they see the word “quantum” used to make seem gobbledygook mysterious or sophisticated.
Well, the "quantum world", or regime of the very small, and very short times, is truly weird. "Mysterious" is a vast understatement there, but it, too, applies. ;)

Discussions about how to interpret the almost perfect fittingness (to 16 decimal-places) of quantum calculations and predictions in ways that can possibly make sense in the macro-world have continued for about 100 years, since the 5th Solvay Conference 91 years ago in Copenhagen (Oct., 1927) devoted to Electrons and Photons. No consensus yet! Except that ...things are still "weird", and that may just have to be the last word.

;)

--Joe

ps A fine review of the "Copenhagen Interpretation" is given in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2016), hosted online at:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-copenhagen/

fifth_Solvay_Conference__Copenhagen_1927_700pix.jpg
17 of the 29 Conference attendees were or later became Nobel Prize winners.
.
fifth_Solvay_Conference__Copenhagen_1927_700pix.jpg (134.65 KiB) Viewed 353 times
fifth_Solvay_Conf_col.jpg
A lovely version of the photo, colored after the fact.

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fifth_Solvay_Conf_col.jpg (94.57 KiB) Viewed 341 times
{a fresh exposure; note that some people have moved]
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KeithA
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by KeithA » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:27 pm

Meido wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 2:00 pm
Caodemarte wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:18 pm
I think it must be something like what physicists feel when they see the word “quantum” used to make seem gobbledygook mysterious or sophisticated. Perhaps some here feel the same way when they hear the French advertising use of “Zen” to mean “cool” and “chic” as in “a Zen cigarette.”
Or when I hear use of the word "koan" to mean obscure, mysterious, or illogical :lol:
ah, you beat me to it... ;)
You make, you get.

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SunWuKong
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by SunWuKong » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:54 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
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
To place this in perspective, the monks who were used as a control group to measure the effectiveness of MBSR (I know it’s popular to trivialize this) had 30,000 to 50,000 hours of siting practice under their belt. This is why they are in the control group. Maybe it’s too much sitting for householders and people with worldly responsibilities, but I’d not say it was abnormal or obsessive. Given that’s it’s a cultural expectation in their faith community. You do the math and see what 2 hours a day equals. Maybe it’s enough for most of us. But humans are capable of amazing things. Of all the critters on the planet we are more adaptable to different environments than anyone. Shamen in the Arctic literally go into hibernation that lasts all winter. That’s an extreme form of samadhi, but again, it’s their training and culture. I find that sitting for one hour minimum makes the rest of my life manageable- a necessity if you read my bio. If more helps I can’t really say.

gasp!
--- Eric H., also know as Sun Wu Kong, "an authentic genuine human being"
Birth is thus
Death is thus
Verse or no verse
What’s the fuss?

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Meido
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Meido » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:38 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:54 pm
To place this in perspective, the monks who were used as a control group to measure the effectiveness of MBSR (I know it’s popular to trivialize this) had 30,000 to 50,000 hours of siting practice under their belt. This is why they are in the control group. Maybe it’s too much sitting for householders and people with worldly responsibilities, but I’d not say it was abnormal or obsessive. Given that’s it’s a cultural expectation in their faith community. You do the math and see what 2 hours a day equals. Maybe it’s enough for most of us. But humans are capable of amazing things. Of all the critters on the planet we are more adaptable to different environments than anyone. Shamen in the Arctic literally go into hibernation that lasts all winter. That’s an extreme form of samadhi, but again, it’s their training and culture. I find that sitting for one hour minimum makes the rest of my life manageable- a necessity if you read my bio. If more helps I can’t really say.
If you like that quote, you'll love this one: "If we are not sitting at least two hours a day, we are not serious."

I should here say that none of this is meant to belittle anyone for "not being serious." These quotes were given for people in a particular kind of practice situation. Again, context is important. More generally, I would affirm that folks should just practice in whatever manner and amount their teachers prescribe according to their situations, conditions, limitations, strengths, etc. There is a kind and amount of practice for anyone who's interested, and we don't have to worry or judge about what others are doing.

That being said, I think we should also recognize that Zen (and other such paths) are extremely direct and rapid. In the case of Zen we can say it is direct because it has the special quality of directly pointing out the nature of one's mind as not different from Buddha, and so leading the student to awakening as the gateway of the path. We can say it is rapid because the subsequent path rests upon exhaustive practice to fully actualize awakening within this body and this life.

How exhaustive? We don't need to wonder at all; we can just read the life stories of the patriarchs and great teachers for example after example after example after example...

Of course in these days when folks who complete short courses are meditation teachers, and you can get enlightened in a weekend seminar (if you pay the fee), it might not be a popular thing to say that what is meant by fully "practicing Zen in normal life" may not always be something appearing to general society as a very normal life. Against the stream, and all that...not so easy to do as to say. In terms of difficulty perhaps not unlike that of the challenge given our Christian friends, who are called to go into the world but remain not of it...

~ 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 ol' spikey » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:47 pm

Meido wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:38 pm


If you like that quote, you'll love this one: "If we are not sitting at least two hours a day, we are not serious."

I should here say that none of this is meant to belittle anyone for "not being serious." These quotes were given for people in a particular kind of practice situation. Again, context is important. More generally, I would affirm that folks should just practice in whatever manner and amount their teachers prescribe according to their situations, conditions, limitations, strengths, etc. There is a kind and amount of practice for anyone who's interested, and we don't have to worry or judge about what others are doing.

~ Meido
I believe the challenge is not so much in seated practice, or clocking its duration, but in actualizing seated practice.

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by desert_woodworker » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:04 pm

I'd emphasize "Dangers of Not Enough Zazen"... . --Joe

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by ol' spikey » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:46 pm

In particular, this would likely be true for Western zen practitioners who are not naturally as suited for or as successful (per research study*) as their Eastern counterparts.

*Engler, J. Therapeutic aims in psychotherapy and meditation: Developmental stages in the representation of self. J. Transpersonal Psychology, 1984, 16, 1, 25-61:

"Western students appear to become fixated on what may be called a psychodynamic level of experience (Brown & Engler, 1980). Their practice continues to be dominated by primary process thinking and "unrealistic experience" (Maupin, 1965), as well as by an increase in fantasy, daydreaming, reverie, imagery, spontaneous recall of past memories, derepression of conflictual material, incessant thinking and emotional lability, including dramatic swings in mood (M. Saydaw, 1973; Walsh, 1977, 1978; Kornfeld, 1979, Kapleau, 1965)

Note that Kapleau is zen lineage.

Quoted from the book Transformations of Consciousness , Wilber, Engler, Brown, 1986.

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by desert_woodworker » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:03 am

Well, a book 32 years old, and a paper 34 years old. Some of us are older than that. --Joe

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by ol' spikey » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:33 am

desert_woodworker wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:03 am
Well, a book 32 years old, and a paper 34 years old. Some of us are older than that. --Joe
Ageist.

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by ol' spikey » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:39 am

How old is Shobogenzo?

el gatito
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by el gatito » Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:19 am

Meido wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:38 pm
Against the stream, and all that...not so easy to do as to say.
This "Against the stream" has to be worded in a much stronger terms than "not so easy".

On ZFI, Huifeng did understand this properly, and he was emphasizing this always in his forum posts, but that was not accepted by the majority of participants, unfortunately.

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Meido » Sat Jun 09, 2018 2:20 am

el gatito wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:19 am
This "Against the stream" has to be worded in a much stronger terms than "not so easy".

On ZFI, Huifeng did understand this properly, and he was emphasizing this always in his forum posts, but that was not accepted by the majority of participants, unfortunately.
Layman P'ang had a famous conversation regarding ease and difficulty :)

But RE against the stream, broadly one can look at it in terms of society and the fundamentally "radical" or counter-cultural nature of Buddhadharma. But I think it really useful to look at in terms of oneself, i.e. how deeply the teachings cut against the stream of one's habitual self-clinging. In this light, I would say the most common or fundamental error is not understanding that one must accord with the teachings and practice, not mold the teachings and practice to accord with oneself. To examine this principle closely is to see how one fails thus, constantly, in very subtle ways if not major ones. In other words, how deeply entrenched is our self-clinging and self-centered view.

One of my teachers described shugyo - deep spiritual and physical training - as being defined by the attitude that whatever conditions one finds difficult, the fault, lack, or deficit is to be seen as one's own...and the challenge of transformation taken up. But the view of the average person is opposite to this: whatever conditions one finds difficult, they (people, things, situations) are blamed, and attempts made to transform them.

Anyway, back to zazen: Ol' Spikey's point that actualization of sitting practice is the real concern, not clock time, is well taken. The intent of the quotes I posted is just to point out that actualization of sitting practice takes quite a bit of sitting.

FWIW, the standard amount in Japanese monasteries has long been set at ~ 4 hours daily (non-sesshin days). The suggestion of 2 hours a day for committed laypersons - rising an hour earlier before work, and then spending an hour before retiring - does not seem too unreasonable in that light, though of course not everyone's schedule can be arranged that way.

~ 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 jundocohen » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:03 am

Meido wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 2:20 am

But RE against the stream, broadly one can look at it in terms of society and the fundamentally "radical" or counter-cultural nature of Buddhadharma. But I think it really useful to look at in terms of oneself, i.e. how deeply the teachings cut against the stream of one's habitual self-clinging. In this light, I would say the most common or fundamental error is not understanding that one must accord with the teachings and practice, not mold the teachings and practice to accord with oneself. To examine this principle closely is to see how one fails thus, constantly, in very subtle ways if not major ones. In other words, how deeply entrenched is our self-clinging and self-centered view.

One of my teachers described shugyo - deep spiritual and physical training - as being defined by the attitude that whatever conditions one finds difficult, the fault, lack, or deficit is to be seen as one's own...and the challenge of transformation taken up. But the view of the average person is opposite to this: whatever conditions one finds difficult, they (people, things, situations) are blamed, and attempts made to transform them.

Anyway, back to zazen: Ol' Spikey's point that actualization of sitting practice is the real concern, not clock time, is well taken. The intent of the quotes I posted is just to point out that actualization of sitting practice takes quite a bit of sitting.

FWIW, the standard amount in Japanese monasteries has long been set at ~ 4 hours daily (non-sesshin days). The suggestion of 2 hours a day for committed laypersons - rising an hour earlier before work, and then spending an hour before retiring - does not seem too unreasonable in that light, though of course not everyone's schedule can be arranged that way.
I am more a wei-wu-wei (爲無爲) kinda fellow, doing-non-doing. Neither resisting nor not resisting, going with the flow and swimming all at once. One does not go with the crowd, nor against. One does not become either a prisoner of one's own selfish instincts, nor a mere puppet of the universe. Neither needing to accord or not accord, for nothing to accord with ... and so we follow the rules, bow when the bell rings, light the incense, get up or go to sleep when everyone does so. Sometimes we go our own way into the hills, turning our back. Sometimes we work for change.

Monks sit long in monasteries in part because that is their job. Not all do, by the way. Some are cooks or bookkeepers. Many sit for decades with nothing much to show, some sit for an instant and realize all the Buddhas right here.
the attitude that whatever conditions one finds difficult, the fault, lack, or deficit is to be seen as one's own
This is true. Yet sometimes the system lacks, is faulty and needs to be fixed. Sometimes the training is even harmful and should be avoided. Case by case, and in any case, flawed yet flawless. The old ways and the monastic system are beautiful and time tested, the old ways and the monastic system are sometimes outdated or corrupt.

Zazen is never a matter of long or short. Some of our ancient ancestors, such as Mazu and others, seem to have implied that it is not necessary at all. Certainly, it is not a matter of attainments. Thus we sit each day, for a time, to realize that this way is neither about sitting nor time nor necessary at all.

Gassho, J
Last edited by jundocohen on Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:53 am, edited 2 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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michaeljc
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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by michaeljc » Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:37 am

For the moment and for some time I believe that there is a conditioning associated with sitting Zazen. It has the power to influence our/my temporary and permanent psycho-physical state. To do this to a reasonable level, time is required on the cushion

A middle-distance runner needs to run (on average) 100 km/week to stay in tune, backed up with other work

Maybe, when one is fully fit this could be cut down a bit, but not a lot

This approach, obviously need not apply to others, but the weight of evidence in the record suggests that it applies to most of us

I like Meido's clinical approach, maybe because I am of a pragmatic character, trained in science and engineering - boring aye? :)

m

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by jundocohen » Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:39 am

michaeljc wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 4:37 am
For the moment and for some time I believe that there is a conditioning associated with sitting Zazen. It has the power to influence our/my temporary and permanent psycho-physical state. To do this to a reasonable level, time is required on the cushion

A middle-distance runner needs to run (on average) 100 km/week to stay in tune, backed up with other work

Maybe, when one is fully fit this could be cut down a bit, but not a lot
Whence does one run from or to. as there is no place to go and all is ever thus?

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: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Nothing » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:03 am

I do not think that there are dangers if a lay practitioner is sitting more than 2 hours daily as long one practices the method given by her/his teacher.

As Joe noted there are more dangers of not doing enough zazen and many western practitioners are prone to that and they want to modify the practice according to their likes or dislikes, especially when they read the stories or the teachings of the ancient masters; just one example:" How can you make a mirror by rubbing a tile?" Master [Huairang] said, "If I can't make a mirror by rubbing a tile, how can you achieve buddhahood by sitting in meditation?" they think that they do not need to do zazen , but they do not realize that the conditions were ripe for Ma-tsu to receive that teaching and he spent many hours in zazen up to that point.

Viktor

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Re: Dangers of Zazen

Post by Meido » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:37 am

Nothing wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:03 am
As Joe noted there are more dangers of not doing enough zazen...
Yes, legitimate concerns aside (e.g. certain conditions that preclude zazen), that is the more universally common problem.
Nothing wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:03 am
...just one example:" How can you make a mirror by rubbing a tile?" Master [Huairang] said, "If I can't make a mirror by rubbing a tile, how can you achieve buddhahood by sitting in meditation?" they think that they do not need to do zazen , but they do not realize that the conditions were ripe for Ma-tsu to receive that teaching and he spent many hours in zazen up to that point.
The common practice of reading texts and interpreting them according to one's own understanding, preferences, and aversions can be like injecting good medicine with a dirty syringe, or looking at a masterpiece painting through a cloudy lens. There is a reason that Buddhadharma, despite making use of texts, is - when it comes to learning and actualization - dependent upon oral transmission.

Even something like what I wrote, taken mostly from talks and meant to be straightforward and instructional, should be used with a lot of care: at best one hopes it could be something useful for most people...but it could never be useful for all.

~ 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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