How can I be sure its valid

Matylda
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Matylda » Tue May 23, 2017 8:16 pm

boda wrote:
Matylda wrote:
boda wrote: So you can't explain why, it's just something you read in a manual. Fair enough. :namaste:
because genuine realisation depends on complete surrender to the teacher, entirely...
As stated, this would appear to mean that shikan taza is superfluous to genuine realization. All anyone would need to do is completely surrender to a zen teacher. Maybe you would like to rephrase, or at least show what you read in the manual?
Chcek Yuho Yokoi's Gakudo yojin shu.. you will find it for sure..

Zafutales
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Zafutales » Tue May 23, 2017 8:40 pm

dharmagoat wrote:]
I empathise with what you are saying. Doubt stifled my practice for many years. I would ask myself the question "why do I sit?" and other than "because I must", I couldn't answer it. So I didn't sit, and that may have been the breakthrough.

My ease returned when I began to take my shikantaza practice outdoors to quiet and empty places. Free of pressures and unwanted influences, I was able to enjoy the moment and sit for short times, open up to my surroundings and completely embrace everything within my perception. In that settled and receptive state I was able to accept the world for what it is and establish a connection with all things. Even as people and machinery encroached on my sanctuary, I was able to expand my goodwill and acceptance to include them too. Rather than being a grim acquistion of skills, my practice has become a living and heartfelt engagement with the world.

Obviously everyone's experience is different, and each of us has a unique solution. I am sharing this because it is the best way I know how to give assurance that there is a way through these times of stagnation and doubt. They may even be necessary.
Thanks, that's very helpful. One of the things I enjoy is the ability to sit anywhere at anytime.

Zafutales
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Zafutales » Tue May 23, 2017 8:50 pm

20 odd years of hard laborious practice before even beginning to expect any benefit?

Not a particularly attractive welcome message for those new to Buddhism.

:/

boda
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by boda » Tue May 23, 2017 9:33 pm

Matylda wrote:
boda wrote:
Matylda wrote: because genuine realisation depends on complete surrender to the teacher, entirely...
As stated, this would appear to mean that shikan taza is superfluous to genuine realization. All anyone would need to do is completely surrender to a zen teacher. Maybe you would like to rephrase, or at least show what you read in the manual?
Chcek Yuho Yokoi's Gakudo yojin shu.. you will find it for sure..
From: https://terebess.hu/zen/dogen/GakuDoYoJinShu.pdf

The closest thing is:

  • When you visit a master and listen to their teachings, make your body and mind pure, and make your eyes and ears calm. Just hear the master’s teachings and don’t mix in any other images at all. Making your body and mind one, be like a jug ready to be filled with waster. Then you will surely be able to get the master’s teachings.

This is simply being open to a masters teaching. "Empty your cup," as the well worn saying goes. Doesn't mean complete surrender to a zen teacher.

boda
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by boda » Tue May 23, 2017 9:44 pm

Matylda wrote:look for good examples.. like Oka Sotan.. all his disciples followed him unquestionably. Among them such famous like Ishizawa Ian - teacher of Shunryu Roshi, Gyokujun So-on, Eko Hashimoto, Sawaki Kōdō, Harada Sōgaku, and I met disciples of most of them, all were giving this example of total surrender... there is no question about it.
How can there not be a question? Mind reading? Can zen masters read minds? But then the student may not even consciously know how deeply they've surrendered. I think only a test would remove any question. A test like asking the student to do something that is not in their interest and seeing if they comply. It would need to be something drastic of course. But they don't do that.

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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by DGA » Tue May 23, 2017 10:34 pm

Zafutales wrote:20 odd years of hard laborious practice before even beginning to expect any benefit?

Not a particularly attractive welcome message for those new to Buddhism.

:/
Not expecting benefit is different from actually benefiting from the practice. It's an admonition against expecting an easy, primrose path of instant gratification.

Similar: we are taught to respect all beings you encounter without expecting them to return the favor. if you do, you will find that many will treat you respectfully even though you didn't lay that expectation on them.

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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by boda » Tue May 23, 2017 11:09 pm

Indeed there's a whole section of the Gaku Do Yojin Shu, linked to above, about having a gaining attitude. See:

4. Do not practice Gautama Buddha’s teachings with the intention of getting something.

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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Wayfarer » Tue May 23, 2017 11:52 pm

Matylda wrote:genuine realisation depends on complete surrender to the teacher, entirely.
Which also provides the perfect means to maintain the hierarchical, patriarchal power structure common to many religious institutions.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind also contains many warnings against 'practicing with a gaining idea' at many places in the text.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Meido
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Meido » Wed May 24, 2017 12:31 am

DGA wrote:Not expecting benefit is different from actually benefiting from the practice. It's an admonition against expecting an easy, primrose path of instant gratification.
And, I would add, a challenge to the initial (and perfectly natural) aspiration for personal benefit that leads one to enter the path in the first place. To beginners it is in many cases an unexpected broadside, I'm sure.

Such aspiration is not challenged because it is wrong to wish to benefit for oneself. It is surely not challenged because one will not benefit. It is challenged because purely self-referential aspiration will prove insufficient: lacking a broader aspiration, doubt and obstacles will be insurmountable. This is why Torei (on the Rinzai side) says regarding doubt and obstacles:
To state it concisely: by the power of the vow of Great Compassion [i.e. to save beings] all karmic obstacles disappear and all merit and virtue/strength are completed. No principle remains obscure, all ways are walked by it, no wisdom remains unattained, no virtue incomplete.
...............
The first requirement for trainees, therefore, is to let go of "I" and not to cling to their own advantage.
This is not different from what is meant by these terse words,
4. Do not practice Gautama Buddha’s teachings with the intention of getting something.
Really, warnings against desire for benefit are just to be taken as nuts-and-bolts practice advice, i.e. to be examined within the context of one's own practice and motivation/vows.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

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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dharmagoat
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by dharmagoat » Wed May 24, 2017 8:27 am

It may be useful to make a distiction between the concepts of 'reward' and 'result'. A reward brings personal fulfillment, whereas a result provides a broader benefit, even if just to indicate that our practice is valid.

I think it is reasonable to expect results when we dedicate ourselves to a practice. Otherwise there is no way to gauge its efficacy first-hand.

Zafutales
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Zafutales » Wed May 24, 2017 5:45 pm

dharmagoat wrote:It may be useful to make a distiction between the concepts of 'reward' and 'result'. A reward brings personal fulfillment, whereas a result provides a broader benefit, even if just to indicate that our practice is valid.

I think it is reasonable to expect results when we dedicate ourselves to a practice. Otherwise there is no way to gauge its efficacy first-hand.
:good:

Exactly.

Its almost self flagelistic to do something for no apparent reason that could take 20 years.

I mean why?

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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Meido » Wed May 24, 2017 8:26 pm

Zafutales wrote:Its almost self flagelistic to do something for no apparent reason that could take 20 years.

I mean why?
If you are a Zen practitioner, you are certainly familiar with the Four Vows. If so, how can you ask why, or think that there is no apparent reason?

It has already been clearly explained that "not seeking gain" does not mean one will not experience benefit. In fact I know of no one who, practicing correctly and with a motivation sufficiently strong and broad, did not experience tremendous benefit and change rather quickly.

"Correctly" and "with a motivation sufficiently strong and broad" are the things one should examine if doubts and other obstructions arise.

More on motivation, and on "why", from Torei:
When closely observing sentient beings, it appears that they always throw away the origin and chase after end-states; thus, much attached to all kinds of karma-producing activities, dying here and being born there, they revolve through the various stages of the Wheel of Becoming. The Five Signs of Decay of heavenly beings, the Eight Hardships of men, the states of hungry ghosts and of animals, the excruciating pains of the hells—just try with all your might to imagine these and feel them in your own heart.
----
Again, life after life, all sentient beings become fathers and mothers, are brothers and sisters, world after world. Considering this today, what a great debt of love we owe to each other! Reflecting on this, Great Compassion is bound to arise in the heart.
----
The strength of the vow [to save beings] is founded on Great Compassion …Truly, truly, Great Compassion is the origin and foundation of becoming Buddha.
----
If at this point your spirit and morale slacken, all the more rely on this vow/aspiration. If faith in the heart is shallow and weak, all the more rely on this vow/aspiration. If obstacles are many, all the more rely on this aspiration. If you are intelligent and clever, all the more rely on this aspiration. If you are stupid and dull, all the more rely on this aspiration. If your seeing into the true nature becomes fully clear, all the more rely on this aspiration. If your insight and function become fully free, all the more rely on this aspiration. Right from the beginning, from the first aspiration of the heart to the final end, there is no time when you do not rely on the strength of this vow/aspiration.

Reciting the Four Great Vows, directing them from the mouth outwards, and inwardly ever holding them in the heart, invoking them as a prayer day by day and continuously pondering them, then just like a wondrous scent or an old strange custom, or like fine mist that yet drenches one's clothes, or as the smell of incense pervades and clings, so the awareness of Buddhas and patriarchs will ripen of itself and, benefiting oneself and others, everything will be accomplished.
~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

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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dharmagoat
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by dharmagoat » Wed May 24, 2017 10:46 pm

Meido is definitely the one to listen to here.
Meido wrote:If you are a Zen practitioner, you are certainly familiar with the Four Vows.
Could the aspiration to benefit beings be a result of our practice, serving to further reinforce it?

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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Meido » Wed May 24, 2017 10:59 pm

dharmagoat wrote:Could the aspiration to benefit beings be a result of our practice, further reinforcing it?
We all start out mostly selfish. But yes, the softening of obsessive self-fixation, and the smoothing out of ups and downs in practice, show that one is on track.

One need not wait 20 years for this.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

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

Zafutales
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Zafutales » Thu May 25, 2017 5:54 am

To put it another way then.

Do you think it's a little pedantic re the difference between benefit and gain?

The Four Vows are said despite also having no agenda...how?

You may ask where I get these impressions from? It's all over Zen literature. "We sit with no aims or agenda" "Zen is good for nothing" etc....

Zafutales
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Zafutales » Thu May 25, 2017 9:42 am

I don't think I have articulated my question well.

My experience over the years in other traditions has meant that Shikantaza is a tangential in terms of a meditation MO. Be it Anapanasati or Mahasi noting etc... there has always been a focus of sorts with a result or aim (Jhana or Insight). My time spent in the Gelug tradition taught me that deep and active analysis into the nature of the mind was the conduit to understanding.

I struggled with all of the above methods for reasons rendering.

Then I discovered Shikantaza. Wonderful, effortless and immediate in terms of benefits as Meido suggests.

However, as it is so far from my experience and understanding of what the Buddha taught I am concerned that I might be lapsing into a self congratulatory sense of indifference and like I said, 'Zoning Out'.

Hence my question, how do I know the relative ease in which I find I can 'just sit' is not some sort of self delusion and I am in fact wasting my time?

Thanks again :anjali:

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dharmagoat
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by dharmagoat » Thu May 25, 2017 10:22 am

Zafutales wrote:Hence my question, how do I know the relative ease in which I find I can 'just sit' is not some sort of self delusion and I am in fact wasting my time?
A great question. From a Zen perspective, is there even an answer?

Zafutales
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Zafutales » Thu May 25, 2017 11:03 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Zafutales wrote:Hence my question, how do I know the relative ease in which I find I can 'just sit' is not some sort of self delusion and I am in fact wasting my time?
A great question. From a Zen perspective, is there even an answer?
I hope so!

Otherwise thats more of a quandary that I am prepared to hold. At least those who practice Anapanasati (for example) can 'expect' to experience something they know as valid - Jhana or Nimita for example.

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dharmagoat
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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by dharmagoat » Thu May 25, 2017 11:39 am

Zafutales wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:
Zafutales wrote:Hence my question, how do I know the relative ease in which I find I can 'just sit' is not some sort of self delusion and I am in fact wasting my time?
A great question. From a Zen perspective, is there even an answer?
I hope so!

Otherwise thats more of a quandary that I am prepared to hold. At least those who practice Anapanasati (for example) can 'expect' to experience something they know as valid - Jhana or Nimita for example.
Maybe, as Meido says, in times like this we must simply rely on our aspiration to realise Buddha nature for the benefit of beings. Sometimes the verification we crave is out of our immediate reach.

If I knew more I feel I could be more helpful. It sounds to me the heart could be engaging more.
Last edited by dharmagoat on Thu May 25, 2017 12:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: How can I be sure its valid

Post by Wayfarer » Thu May 25, 2017 11:41 am

Zafutales wrote: Hence my question, how do I know the relative ease in which I find I can 'just sit' is not some sort of self delusion and I am in fact wasting my time
Well, answering as another student of Zen, and not by any means a teacher of it, my answer would be, how can just sitting be a delusion? Unless you're entertaining yourself with fantasies or pursuing streams of ideas, then you are indeed literally just sitting. And how could your just sitting be a waste of time, unless your actual existence is a waste of time? - which, of course, it is not.

Again, I think what you're experiencing are just quite understandable doubts, which literally and simply are one of the 'five hindrances' on the Buddhist path. The reason 'the hindrances' are mentioned at all is because they are, in fact, hindrances, and they do set out to stop your practice, make you question what you're doing, and so on. So from your questions here, those doubts are actually doing a very effective job!

I remember on one of my very few retreats (and it wasn't a Zen retreat) the first thing I said to the teacher was, oh my legs hurt so much, usually at home I can sit, here it just seems like constant pain. He said, well this is part of the resistance that manifests to actually doing the practice. They're like soldiers, these resistances, that really come out and try and stop you from persisting.

I think you have to realise you have a big stake in NOT sitting. It is actually casting light on things that really you would prefer not to see. So those things that don't want to be seen, then throw up this smokescreen - 'hey, you're wasting your time here. Can't you see this is just delusion?' And I feel that is what is happening in your case.

The other thing is that asking about the result is also the manifestation of a sense of lack. 'Oh this experience isn't nearly enough. Surely through the practice of this marvellous Zen meditation I hear about, some amazing experience must be forthcoming. Where is it? Why am I lacking that?' Remember in the Record of Rinzai, how many times it is said, you have nothing further to seek, and freedom is knowing you have nothing further to seek. This is a a hard truth.

But be assured, this is perfectly natural and part of the course. Stay with it. Believe it or not, these very doubts, these very obstacles, they themselves contain the seed of wisdom. The way to transform them from obstacles, into boons, is to see them as they are - just stay totally with them, allow them to arise, but don't follow them, and don't try and dissipate them. Just seeing them for what the are. That is what you're actually doing here.

:namaste:
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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