Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

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Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by Dan74 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:52 pm

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=29215

Perhaps some folks here have something to add too.

From my side, just a little anecdote that convinced me that it is imperative to have close contact with a trusted teacher at times of intense practice.

I had very close contact with a teacher 2003-2009, doing around 4 retreats a year, some 5 days long and having regular opportunities to speak together. In 2009, Black Saturday bushfires happened in Victoria and my teacher's village was the worst hit. She immersed herself in trying to help the local community rebuild from the disaster.

A little while later a Zen teacher in Deshimaru lineage who was also a PhD student at the University where I worked, began running meditation classes at lunchtime on Campus. Johann was a sincere smart fellow who stuck to a very strict discipline - dress code, way to enter, never walk in front of the teacher's cushion (not his, his teacher's who was always represented by an empty cushion), etc. For a chaotic guy like me, it was a nightmare, but we persisted. To his abiding credit, he was very patient with my never-ending faux-pas. I also realised that I would drop into samadhi there every time, something that was not usual for me at all. I started recalling one of my favourite koans: "Not knowing is most intimate," it resonated with several early experiences that I had and somehow kept nagging on me.

I won't describe the sits, but after about a year or so, in 2011, not knowing opened up right under my nose in the most intimate immediate vastness, where it's been all along. Everything went totally transparent luminous and vibrant. No boundaries or walls anywhere. There was no reason to stop sitting, no reason to say anything, nothing whatsoever to do. Johann thought I had fallen asleep and when we were all gathered for a coffee at last, everyone had a laugh. Me too! Later I wondered if I should've said something, but I don't think he would've known what to do, TBH. I should've contacted my teacher, but she had been busy with her local projects still and somehow I didn't want to bother her. The next few months stayed like this and I didn't actually say anything to anyone, just going on doing what I did. Desire was gone, or sexual desire at least. I could still go through the motions, it seems, but with no sensual pleasure, just a sense of being with my partner and looking after her. Same with a sense of disgust. Cleaning poo off my toddler was no different to making love, being with others, caring. Of course describing it now is already wrong. And then... gradually it faded. It's hard to tell what if anything remains, not much I think. Sometimes there are weak flashbacks of it. And a knowledge that those old masters were not fooling us.


Now 7 years on, my practice is weak, my mind easily swayed. An opportunity lost. I'd like to put a positive spin on it, to find a silver lining and maybe there is, but I don't know what it is. Maybe I've learnt to let it be a bit. Fall down seven times, get up eight, blah blah... I don't know.. There it is.


Gradual cultivation. Important. <- that's all you need to know.

_/|\_

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by [james] » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:20 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:52 pm
....
Now 7 years on, my practice is weak, my mind easily swayed. An opportunity lost. I'd like to put a positive spin on it, to find a silver lining and maybe there is, but I don't know what it is. Maybe I've learnt to let it be a bit. Fall down seven times, get up eight, blah blah... I don't know.. There it is.


Gradual cultivation. Important. <- that's all you need to know.

_/|\_
Positive spin? You’re not dead yet and, evidently, the fire has not gone out.

The word ‘gradual’ has always suggested, to me, a goal and conclusion of some sort. It imposes a timeline on the properly ceaseless activity of ‘cultivation’. You may see your practice as weak but some quality of practice is still gnawing on you and so cultivation is ongoing. At times we may hardly be present in our own practice and yet it can be humming just below (or deep down below) the surface of our garden. As in the making and using of compost, in cultivation/practice we are favoring the processes of combustion ... living and dying. Awakening is of little consequence if cultivation is central.

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by fuki » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:43 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:52 pm
Now 7 years on, my practice is weak, my mind easily swayed. An opportunity lost. I'd like to put a positive spin on it,
Try a humorous spin.

“If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.”
– Pema Chodron
:lol:
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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by Pablo » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:47 am

Thanks for the link, Dan. Very inspiring resources.

As for your practice, seems to me that your mind is in the right place. You know what needs to be done. Let's do it together :)
Jeff Shore's website: https://beingwithoutself.org

Zazen in Madrid: https://pandazen.es

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by Dan74 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:31 pm

James, I agree with all of your post, except this sentence which leaves me in doubt:
Awakening is of little consequence if cultivation is central.
I would say that cultivation is only of consequence post awakening. Prior one is really polishing the brick into the mirror, notwithstanding all assertions and subterfuges to the contrary. Or so it seems to me.

Fuki, yes, getting out of the way of the Way, is the best way, sometimes. :)

Pablo, thank you, Brother. This way demands a lot from a practitioner. Support of kalyana-mitras, spiritual friends, is something we all need. It's a rare blessing. :bow2: :bow2: :bow2:

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by [james] » Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:24 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:31 pm
James, I agree with all of your post, except this sentence which leaves me in doubt:
Awakening is of little consequence if cultivation is central.
I would say that cultivation is only of consequence post awakening. Prior one is really polishing the brick into the mirror, notwithstanding all assertions and subterfuges to the contrary. Or so it seems to me.
Think “chop wood, carry water”, leave out the before and after. Dogen is said to have said that practice is realization ... nothing about prior and post there. There is only now. How do we practice now?
... notwithstanding all assertions and subterfuges to the contrary.
Can you elaborate on this?

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by Dan74 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:36 pm

[james] wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:24 pm
Dan74 wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:31 pm
James, I agree with all of your post, except this sentence which leaves me in doubt:
Awakening is of little consequence if cultivation is central.
I would say that cultivation is only of consequence post awakening. Prior one is really polishing the brick into the mirror, notwithstanding all assertions and subterfuges to the contrary. Or so it seems to me.
Think “chop wood, carry water”, leave out the before and after. Dogen is said to have said that practice is realization ... nothing about prior and post there. There is only now. How do we practice now?
... notwithstanding all assertions and subterfuges to the contrary.
Can you elaborate on this?
My take on Buddhism, James, is that it's basically about relinquishing or seeing through the delusion and ignorance - the self-seeking attachment and aversion and the whole kit-and-caboodle that follows. This is liberation. The delusion is subtle and like roots of the weed that spread through the entire garden, it takes not only the uprooting of the main plant, but also the careful pulling out of the remnants, while not forgetting to tend to the many herbs and flowers and fruit trees. We are welcome to accept that the weeds are also wonderful, but they will eventually choke most of the garden, which we are also free to accept and live like that, but that's not what the Dharma is about. Nor does it help to get worked up about the weeds and our lack of progress, etc. Just weed and tend, that's all. And while there are ultimately no weeds and flowers, no distinction, no two and not even the gardener, we do live blown about by vexations and dualities, until we are not. So the emptiness perspective is only real at the point when the stranglehold of the weeds dissolves. Prior to that, it can be another weed - a harmful concept. I think this is where the trouble with reading Dogen lies - he is like the Heart Sutra - no ignorance and no origination, and yet here we are.

Where there is a before and after. There is a time when Phil Connors stepped into that frozen puddle and the time when he avoided it.



By subterfuges I mean we are very good at creating little make-believe bubbles to justify whatever we'd like to believe. It serves a protective function, but unfortunately most of the time, what we are protecting is not what deserves protection. Buddhism, since its very inception and all the way through to Huineng and after, was about liberation and liberative insight. And about skillful means. If one is too focused on attaining liberation, apart from what is, one may be taught to ground oneself in this moment - that there is no before or after. If one is too complacent and like 'a rock soaking in cold water' to quote a recent post by Guo Gu, then there are teachings shaming the deluded and complacent practitioners for not trying harder and scaring them with all sorts of hells. At the end of the day, we've got to be persisitenly sharp. Don't be complacent. Pay attention! What is this now that has no before and no after??

But maybe all this is wrong-headed. Yours and my conditions are different. Our karma is different. What is meaningful and useful to you, may not be so to me, and vice versa. That's why we need good guides to help disabuse us of the nonsense. I enjoy Dogen's reminders and yet the grist of my life is firmly on the before-and-after wheel, so I work with that. This is my 'now'.

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:24 pm

It is “Just sit,” not “just sit now.” You can get trapped in the idea of “now” as well as in “past” or “future.” All dharmas are empty while being vitally important as everything depends on them.

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by [james] » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:37 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:36 pm
... I enjoy Dogen's reminders and yet the grist of my life is firmly on the before-and-after wheel, so I work with that. This is my 'now'.
One person’s now is as good as another’s.
:hatsoff:

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by KeithA » Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:18 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:52 pm
https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=29215

Perhaps some folks here have something to add too.

From my side, just a little anecdote that convinced me that it is imperative to have close contact with a trusted teacher at times of intense practice.

I had very close contact with a teacher 2003-2009, doing around 4 retreats a year, some 5 days long and having regular opportunities to speak together. In 2009, Black Saturday bushfires happened in Victoria and my teacher's village was the worst hit. She immersed herself in trying to help the local community rebuild from the disaster.

A little while later a Zen teacher in Deshimaru lineage who was also a PhD student at the University where I worked, began running meditation classes at lunchtime on Campus. Johann was a sincere smart fellow who stuck to a very strict discipline - dress code, way to enter, never walk in front of the teacher's cushion (not his, his teacher's who was always represented by an empty cushion), etc. For a chaotic guy like me, it was a nightmare, but we persisted. To his abiding credit, he was very patient with my never-ending faux-pas. I also realised that I would drop into samadhi there every time, something that was not usual for me at all. I started recalling one of my favourite koans: "Not knowing is most intimate," it resonated with several early experiences that I had and somehow kept nagging on me.

I won't describe the sits, but after about a year or so, in 2011, not knowing opened up right under my nose in the most intimate immediate vastness, where it's been all along. Everything went totally transparent luminous and vibrant. No boundaries or walls anywhere. There was no reason to stop sitting, no reason to say anything, nothing whatsoever to do. Johann thought I had fallen asleep and when we were all gathered for a coffee at last, everyone had a laugh. Me too! Later I wondered if I should've said something, but I don't think he would've known what to do, TBH. I should've contacted my teacher, but she had been busy with her local projects still and somehow I didn't want to bother her. The next few months stayed like this and I didn't actually say anything to anyone, just going on doing what I did. Desire was gone, or sexual desire at least. I could still go through the motions, it seems, but with no sensual pleasure, just a sense of being with my partner and looking after her. Same with a sense of disgust. Cleaning poo off my toddler was no different to making love, being with others, caring. Of course describing it now is already wrong. And then... gradually it faded. It's hard to tell what if anything remains, not much I think. Sometimes there are weak flashbacks of it. And a knowledge that those old masters were not fooling us.


Now 7 years on, my practice is weak, my mind easily swayed. An opportunity lost. I'd like to put a positive spin on it, to find a silver lining and maybe there is, but I don't know what it is. Maybe I've learnt to let it be a bit. Fall down seven times, get up eight, blah blah... I don't know.. There it is.


Gradual cultivation. Important. <- that's all you need to know.

_/|\_
Sigh...I know this story sooo well, except for the last part. I used to see it as an opportunity lost. But, in the end, it couldn't have happened any other way.

I am grateful for the share. It's usually some kind of taboo to talk about these kinds of experiences.

I was driving to work one day. It was early and I was a little tired, but it was a nice day. I had been doing some practice on my own, having read Three Pillars. I had been to a Zen Center once or twice, but it I didn't really know anyone, certainly not any teachers.

As I was driving along, I glanced over and saw a piece of machinery in a boatyard. The bottom fell out. Everything was absolutely perfect and complete. I shed some tears of relief and happiness on the rest of the way to work. When I got there, I just stood off in a corner, feeling completely whole and yet, not knowing what to do with it. By lunchtime, it was gone.

Over the years, this experience would dog my practice, as I tried to re-create it. As you say Dan, an opportunity lost. I regretted not turning the car around and going right to Providence ZC, where I had visited, in order to talk to someone, anyone about it. Now I think of it as a confirmation of what things look like behind the curtain of delusion.

In the thread you mentioned (or perhaps the concurrent one that was happening), someone mentioned that the idea was to kind of string together kensho's, closer and closer, until they become reality. I am definitely paraphrasing, but i am curious what the folks here think about that. My own view is that I find it intriguing, but as always, to aim for something like that is to miss by a million miles.

Anyway, a little noodling and appreciation for your share, Dan.

_/|\_
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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by guo gu » Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:59 am

hi all,

i didn't read through the dw threads, only the first few passages/citations. but i will say that the poster has not experienced awakening. if s/he did, s/he would chose the correct passages. instead, what s/he has chosen are mostly words for those who have not experienced awakening yet. they are good teachings, but they are from the standpoint of practice--pre-awakening, not post-awakening practice (with the exception of a couple vague ones). the poster cannot distinguish pearls from fish eyes.

for what is worth, and for those of you need it:

post awakening practice depends on the depth of the awakening. the ability of discern what needs to be done comes from experience and instructions from a qualified teacher.

for those whose experience is just a glimpse, it has no real transformative effect on vexations at all. what remains is just a memory... and the self trying to recreate it--which is inevitable, given the seeking (grasping) mind. but know that this is simply setting oneself for failure, as the seeking mind itself is delusional... delusion leads to delusion--not awakening. cause and effect.

another common problem with a shallow glimpse is arrogance--making a big deal out of a meager experience. one then thinks "this is it!" whereas in fact, one is far from "it." this arrogance comes from not knowing what vexations are, and a lack of knowledge of the works of ancient masters and doctrine (stages of practice and insight--yes, there is a place for "stages" just as there are teachings on stageless practice--context determines everything).

another relatively common phenomena is a person experiences something... a temporary loss of a sense of self or a oneness experience, then later on one encounters buddhism and believes s/he has experienced what buddhism talks about as "awakening." in fact it is questionable whether such experiences is chan/zen/seon awakening. only a qualified teacher may know--but even this is not guaranteed. but by practicing with the person, in close contact, and observation will the teacher know.

thus, post glimpse awakenings must focus on forgetting about that experience and continuing diligently without seeking anything. this must be done under the guidance of a qualified teacher. the teacher will point out these and other mistakes in practice. depending on the caliber and honesty of the teacher, the student will mature in practice.

for those with substantial awakenings, like having being in awakening for weeks and months, grasping after an awakening would be ridiculous. the way that person thinks and relates to thoughts, feelings, self, and others would have dramatically changed. contrived effort is meaningless. yet, practice continues. how? one would have understood that nonabiding, nonseeking is the key to practicing in all activities. by "practice," i mean nothing special--just go on as one is required and obliged. there is no separate reality; there is no distinct way to practice. thus, the saying "chopping wood, carrying water--all is practice," or "when sitting, sit; when standing, stand, etc." these instructions are for post-awakening practitioners. a qualified teacher is still useful. a good teacher will be able to expose subtle shortcomings and habit tendencies.

in substantial awakenings, life is practice. one would embody the workings of causes and conditions: recognizing, flowing with, creating causes and conditions in different circumstances b'cuz one is and can only be causes and conditions. in the midst of change, notions of grasping and rejecting, having and lacking, etc., and all the calculative mental gymnastics (i.e., scheming) or reifying one's past "awakening" into a thing simply would not arise. however, when vexations or self-referentiality do arise (and they do arise, since one is not permanently awakened), they are like thorns--as in stepping on thorns!--painfully and so obviously experienced... one would catch it right away and not engage in them. post-awakening practice would embody nonabiding and nonseeking. practice and awakening are one. not separate.

there are numerous depths of awakening beyond this point, as one's vexations and distinct qualities are numerous. thus, in the midst of practice and living life, a path reveals in its own accord in this dusty world. only by not reifying experiences or anything into stagnant "things" and by recognizing but avoiding going against one's dispositions will awakening be perfected. the different situations in life and the karma that manifest becomes one's teacher. one focuses on what is called "acquired wisdom" (wisdom of expedient means). like smelting iron to making a sword. the burning and the hammering makes the sword (of wisdom) stronger. the path of samsara is perfection... yet, there are no such things. how dare i speak of twos!

this teaching is not for those who don't even recognize vexations... i'm tying this out so those who are there will recognize what this is about. there is more of course, but too much words is useless. just the basics is enough. for those of you who don't quite understand the above, that's fine. take what's useful and discard the rest. for those who have a penchant for arguing or whatever, these words are garbage. they are anyway.

be well,
guo gu

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by Seeker242 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:36 am

guo gu wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:59 am
these words are garbage. they are anyway.

be well,
guo gu
Good post and thanks for the garbage. :lol: at least the garbage doesn't stink. :D

:namaste:

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by Dan74 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 12:14 pm

:bow2: :bow2: :bow2: Guo Gu.


It seems to me there is another option too. An awakening that lasts weeks or months, but where one's derply ingrained habitual tendencies, rather than being perceived as thorns, very slowly and subtly reassert themselves, so that after some time, they obscure the clarity and the unimpeded free function.

In any case, a postmortem on kensho isn't really important, I feel, or even whether or not it was a real kensho or just some prolonged weirdness, and as you say it's not to be attached to, or mulled over. The practice right now, such as it is, is what matters. The rest are just stories.

_/|\_

PS Post-retreat, my reply to james above feels quite intellectual and contrived. :) Sorry..

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by [james] » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:18 pm

guo gu wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:59 am
...
just the basics is enough.
...

be well,
guo gu
Good to read your words, though I wouldn’t call them garbage myself ... :namaste:

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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by fuki » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:47 pm

KeithA wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:18 pm
In the thread you mentioned (or perhaps the concurrent one that was happening), someone mentioned that the idea was to kind of string together kensho's, closer and closer, until they become reality. I am definitely paraphrasing, but i am curious what the folks here think about that. My own view is that I find it intriguing, but as always, to aim for something like that is to miss by a million miles.
Reminds me of a metaphor I often use and change freely, experiences are kind of like cheats, sometimes I can see the moon or sun through my window, sometimes the curtains are closed sometimes the sun or moon just passes by, since any experience in consciousness is changefull (a modification of consciousness) it's futile to try to hold on to the appearing of the sun or moon or a "flash in primordial space" In reality you cannot experience or grasp what you already are, that you can only "be", which is timeless and prior to consciousness. Even that experience how it might change everything concerning one's realtive daily life, from the viewpoint of the metaphorical sun there is no darkening or awakening, nor a "stringing together" until it becomes a reality, reality is what you are, expediently speaking all experiences are unreal or of temporary nature. Reporting experiences are always in the field of illusion, experiences lead to more experiences, they only have relative use in dealing with the world or people, but for myself they're useless and not something to desire. The first time I realized that "in reality nothing happens" it was obvious that there is no first time, nor origin, other then timeless/spaceless immediate presence permeating all time/space. See what I call "first time" or "second time" or "experience" is just a cheat, just go on about living as usually and know that one's true nature can never be forgotten or remembered, what is remember is merely like a shadow of a "conscious breakthrough" Not saying it is unimportant, but trying to string anything together sounds like attachment to memory to me, and by identifying the past with the present and projecting it into the future, the notion of a self or person comes into being, the story of "me in time", which is like the curtain open or closed again, neither open or closed or the unshakable Faith of one's true nature is glad/good living.
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Re: Good discussion about post-awakening cultivation over at DW

Post by lindama » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:06 pm

guo gu wrote:
Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:59 am
... the different situations in life and the karma that manifest becomes one's teacher. one focuses on what is called "acquired wisdom" (wisdom of expedient means). like smelting iron to making a sword. the burning and the hammering makes the sword (of wisdom) stronger. the path of samsara is perfection... yet, there are no such things. how dare i speak of twos!
:111:

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