On being fearful of Shikantaza

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LastLegend
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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by LastLegend »

Zafutales wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:06 pm
WuMing wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:17 pm
here is some food for thought - a quote from Jiyu Kennett Roshi:
If you're afraid of being grabbed by God,
dont' look at a wall.
Definitely don't sit still.
maybe it helps one way or the other.
Or both!

I guess there is still an inherent need/wish to be made safe!

Anyway, maybe I am disclosing a little too much.
Karma! Nobody wants it.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.

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Anders
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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by Anders »

Zafutales wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:54 pm
I think I made the error early on, like 20 years ago, initially having an academic interest in the Dharma - as such ended up studying pretty much ALL traditions and consequently being able to see the validity in all. I started practising seriously about 15 years ago and have struggled with this throughout. Particularly where the practices are concerned. But you can only drive one car at a time (as it were).....I suspect I am now just in a state of attrition drowning in all the information I have gleaned over the years none of which is at all helpful to me now.

I envy the newbie who sits and ardently follows his breath to the exclusion of any other aspiration (no pun intended) other than to just do that.
  • Hongzhi and Dogen = .....just sit no analysis required, anything other than this is chasing your own shadow
  • Tsongkhapa and Nargajuna = ....a stone can just sit and not think....we must use our conceptual minds to great use
That type of thing :thinking: Given the relative sense of urgency to 'leave Samsara' whilst we have the capacity to do so....but not knowing which [path is valid (as they're the antithesis of each-other) the anxiety is palpable.

Metta
That may have been tsongkhapa's take on madhyamika in the 14th century, but it was most certainly not how the madhyamika school that was brought from India to China by Kumarajiva in the 4th century understood Nagarjuna and madhyamika.

Their take on the implications of emptiness is on the importance of ceasing mental acquisitiveness. Jizang wrote extensively on this and how how the initial analysis of phenomena and mentation is meant to demonstrate the futility of views and thinking and how we move beyond it. Sengzhao, one of the earliest patriarchs of Chinese madhyamika, wrote vididly and evocatively on how to make the implications of madhyamika come alive in our own experience in works like "prajna is not-knowing".

In fact, madhyamika masters in China were notable for how little they spoke or lectured in comparison to teachers of other schools. They were very much non intellectual (in their practical approach. Their writings betray very keen intellects when employed).

This is one of the reasons I feel that madhyamika as known in the West is at times very one sided, as it is understood through a Tibetan lens that often tends to reduce madhyamika to a dialectic tool and philosophical foundation, and hands off all the practical stuff to non-madhyamikan method (nevermind that there were some seminal madhyamikan works from this period that never reached Tibet and now exists only in Chinese translation from kumarajiva).

It has little resemblance to the kind of approach I see in Chinese madhyamika where it was seen as a full fledged school with its own full range of meditative methods and context and a strong urgency on the practical matter of not being stuck in discursive thinking and attention given to how this works in our actual lives.

Early Chan Buddhism is in many ways a kind of applied madhyamika based on works and approaches of these earlier masters.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by Astus »

Zafutales wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:54 pm
  • Hongzhi and Dogen = .....just sit no analysis required, anything other than this is chasing your own shadow
  • Tsongkhapa and Nargajuna = ....a stone can just sit and not think....we must use our conceptual minds to great use
Just sitting is a matter of not grasping at thoughts, and that itself is based on the understanding that clinging to concepts is the basis of samsara.
Analysis is used to assist one letting go of thoughts and thus free one from clinging to concepts.
They are not so different, merely various approaches to match the needs of various beings.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by Zafutales »

Astus wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:31 pm
Zafutales wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:54 pm
  • Hongzhi and Dogen = .....just sit no analysis required, anything other than this is chasing your own shadow
  • Tsongkhapa and Nargajuna = ....a stone can just sit and not think....we must use our conceptual minds to great use
Just sitting is a matter of not grasping at thoughts, and that itself is based on the understanding that clinging to concepts is the basis of samsara.
Analysis is used to assist one letting go of thoughts and thus free one from clinging to concepts.
They are not so different, merely various approaches to match the needs of various beings.
Thanks Astus!

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by Zafutales »

Anders wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:02 pm
Early Chan Buddhism is in many ways a kind of applied madhyamika based on works and approaches of these earlier masters.
Anders' I have PM'd you!

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seeker242
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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by seeker242 »

Zafutales wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 4:56 pm
I sit and I am there....with nowhere else to go and its worrying.
I would look at why there is a need to go "somewhere else" to begin with. If there was no need to go somewhere else, would it still be worrying?
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by Zafutales »

seeker242 wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:43 pm
Zafutales wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 4:56 pm
I sit and I am there....with nowhere else to go and its worrying.
I would look at why there is a need to go "somewhere else" to begin with. If there was no need to go somewhere else, would it still be worrying?
I guess the impetus to 'go further' is because I cannot un-know my understanding and experience of reality as being fundamentally incorrect - I see things as inherently existent when I (know) that they simply do not exist as they appear.

How can I not want to free myself from such an illusion?

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

You can't get free of illusion through effort and striving, this is as true in Zen as in Dzogchen....it'd be like trying to brush your teeth with candy. It might sound cliche but perhaps the issue is just that you need to relax. Go into a session with no expectations at all, including expectations surrounding this "problem" or if you cannot, then be aware of your sense of expectation, watch where it comes and goes, etc.

In modern psychological parlance you could say "what we resist persists".
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by seeker242 »

Zafutales wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:57 pm
How can I not want to free myself from such an illusion?
Nothing wrong with that but it's not something you need to bring onto the cushion with you. And obviously, that isn't working so. It's perfectly fine to set that aside when you actually go to sit down for a 1/2 hour or whatever. In fact, one could say it's even necessary. :smile: And if off the cushion it causes worry, fear, etc, that alone is proof it's not worth keeping. That can be set aside also.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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明安 Myoan
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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by 明安 Myoan »

LastLegend wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:23 pm
Karma! Nobody wants it.
:good:

Sometimes practice itself seems intimidating, no matter the tradition.
This is instructive about our collective state of mind.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by Zafutales »

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:56 pm
...perhaps the issue is just that you need to relax....
Probably very true. there is an uncomfortable sense of urgency at times regarding 'time' and the need to 'achieve liberation' before time runs out (as it were) - particularly as we are so often told about how time flies and we should grasp at the opportunity of having a human body.

Feels like someone is saying "...here, if you can complete this PhD in a week you've smashed it...if not then who knows when you'll get another opportunity....could be AEONS"!

No pressure then!!!

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by AJP »

Zafutales wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:00 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:56 pm
...perhaps the issue is just that you need to relax....
Probably very true. there is an uncomfortable sense of urgency at times regarding 'time' and the need to 'achieve liberation' before time runs out (as it were) - particularly as we are so often told about how time flies and we should grasp at the opportunity of having a human body.

Feels like someone is saying "...here, if you can complete this PhD in a week you've smashed it...if not then who knows when you'll get another opportunity....could be AEONS"!

No pressure then!!!
I would simply advise. Keep practicing through it, the Middle Way, Parami. If you have someone with experience in this meditation consulting them would be invaluable. When I practiced Theravada early on, there were experiences that changed things, having someone useful to talk to say on the phone for example made all the difference, even if what they said didn't hit the spot.

Another point, fear always comes from the ego-clinging, so if the ego in it's seat is being undermined by the Dharma it can do that.

The ego-clinging is clever.

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

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:good:
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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kusulu
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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by kusulu »

The problem for me is the technical and prior consented-to meaning of "enlightenment". Its a borrow word from western philosophy and overlays a logical system that Buddhism does not conform to. Technically speaking, we aren't interested in "enlightenment", but in bringing samadhi off the zazen/zafu and out into the zazen of all fields of activity. Samadhi is not just quiet mind still body, it is the radiant mind fully alive an awakened, and understood, and lived. Dogen is coming from a place that deconstructs time and space, speaking from his experience of zazen. It's not meant to comfort us in any sense, nor is it easy. I agree, it needs unpacking for the average (below average, in my history) person to utilize.

Like Narwhal said "entering meditation like a dragon entering water." This is a great illustration. It's also like trying to get dragons to give you the jewel in the lotus that they are dutifully protecting. You have to become a dragon to do so.
Last edited by DNS on Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: lengthy quote removed, just quote the appropriate part

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by kusulu »

But going back to the original problem, that is, if approaching shikantaza results in a feeling of anxiety or dread (check with your teacher on this) I would go back to the other side of the coin and just breathe. Allow the breath, the body, the cushion, the room, the sounds to become one. If you approach shikantaza holding onto a fear, you just approach it a different way. You have to start from where you are, there's nowhere else to start from. The essence of the practice is to allow what already is, to be. You don't replace it with something else - thats's impossible. You just wake up to what already is.

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Re: On being fearful of Shikantaza

Post by 明安 Myoan »

:good:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

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