Eyes

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Greggorious
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Eyes

Post by Greggorious » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:25 am

I’m aware that some Buddhist traditions stress eyes closed, others eyes open, and others leave it up to you. I’m also aware that Soto Zen is in the eyes open category. Now, I don’t have an issue with this in principle, but I have very sensitive eyes, I blink excessively and my eyes itch a lot when I’m sitting there gazing at the wall. Would it be “sacrilegious” for me to close my eyes during Zazen? I’ve occasionally gone to meditation at a Theravada Temple simply cos they allow you to close your eyes, and not because I prefer that school of Buddhism. A lot of the time when I donit with eyes open my eyes start getting very irritated and then I get pissed off and disillusioned with practice.
I understand the why it’s stressed to have eyes open, as it stops you falling asleep, and Zazen is an open meditation rather than closing off, but still, I’m not sure what to do. If it’s a rule that I HAVE to always have my eyes open then I may well swap traditions, again, not because I want to, but because it would just be more practical for my needs.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Eyes

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:28 am

Greggorious wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:25 am
I’m aware that some Buddhist traditions stress eyes closed, others eyes open, and others leave it up to you. I’m also aware that Soto Zen is in the eyes open category. Now, I don’t have an issue with this in principle, but I have very sensitive eyes, I blink excessively and my eyes itch a lot when I’m sitting there gazing at the wall. Would it be “sacrilegious” for me to close my eyes during Zazen? I’ve occasionally gone to meditation at a Theravada Temple simply cos they allow you to close your eyes, and not because I prefer that school of Buddhism. A lot of the time when I donit with eyes open my eyes start getting very irritated and then I get pissed off and disillusioned with practice.
I understand the why it’s stressed to have eyes open, as it stops you falling asleep, and Zazen is an open meditation rather than closing off, but still, I’m not sure what to do. If it’s a rule that I HAVE to always have my eyes open then I may well swap traditions, again, not because I want to, but because it would just be more practical for my needs.
Disclaimer:
I am not a Soto student. I was quite some time ago, but a very non-committal one.

Neither my Zen teacher nor any of subsequent teachers in Tibetan traditions ever demanded one or the other - unless it was for a specific purpose. I.e. the answer as to whether or not your eyes should be open was due to specific circumstances of one's practice, the practice being done etc. Are you saying that the teacher actually comes by and makes you open your eyes? If not, then just do it and examine the difference. Eyes closed will naturally make you turn inwards towards "inner" phenomena such as somatic experience and emotion, thought pattern etc. Eyes open will (at least until you establish enough quietude) prompt all kinds of judgement, response to visual phenomena and related subjectivity etc...which eventually, one has to integrate into their meditation and with "inner" experiences.

There is a time and place though, you know? If my mind is particularly discursive or I am agitated then I start with closed eyes and "inward facing" meditation.

Really though, if you have not you should ask your teacher this specifically during dokusan, I cannot see this as anything but a very individual question requiring a very individual answer from an authority you trust.
"...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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JMGinPDX
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Re: Eyes

Post by JMGinPDX » Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:55 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:28 am
Greggorious wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:25 am
I’m aware that some Buddhist traditions stress eyes closed, others eyes open, and others leave it up to you. I’m also aware that Soto Zen is in the eyes open category. Now, I don’t have an issue with this in principle, but I have very sensitive eyes, I blink excessively and my eyes itch a lot when I’m sitting there gazing at the wall. Would it be “sacrilegious” for me to close my eyes during Zazen? I’ve occasionally gone to meditation at a Theravada Temple simply cos they allow you to close your eyes, and not because I prefer that school of Buddhism. A lot of the time when I donit with eyes open my eyes start getting very irritated and then I get pissed off and disillusioned with practice.
I understand the why it’s stressed to have eyes open, as it stops you falling asleep, and Zazen is an open meditation rather than closing off, but still, I’m not sure what to do. If it’s a rule that I HAVE to always have my eyes open then I may well swap traditions, again, not because I want to, but because it would just be more practical for my needs.
Disclaimer:
I am not a Soto student. I was quite some time ago, but a very non-committal one.

Neither my Zen teacher nor any of subsequent teachers in Tibetan traditions ever demanded one or the other - unless it was for a specific purpose. I.e. the answer as to whether or not your eyes should be open was due to specific circumstances of one's practice, the practice being done etc. Are you saying that the teacher actually comes by and makes you open your eyes? If not, then just do it and examine the difference. Eyes closed will naturally make you turn inwards towards "inner" phenomena such as somatic experience and emotion, thought pattern etc. Eyes open will (at least until you establish enough quietude) prompt all kinds of judgement, response to visual phenomena and related subjectivity etc...which eventually, one has to integrate into their meditation and with "inner" experiences.

There is a time and place though, you know? If my mind is particularly discursive or I am agitated then I start with closed eyes and "inward facing" meditation.

Really though, if you have not you should ask your teacher this specifically during dokusan, I cannot see this as anything but a very individual question requiring a very individual answer from an authority you trust.
Ditto that this is a question best left to the teacher.
I am currently a member of a Soto sangha, and have sat with a few others, and I don't even recall the jikijitsu or sensei doing an inspection, let alone look specifically at our eyelids. In fact, many Soto sanghas sit facing the wall, where it would be nearly impossible to observe eyelids.

I have experienced inspection from the jiki or sensei in Rinzai sanghas, but even then I don't think the sensei was checking eyelid opening. When standing above or even sitting across from a meditator, it can be difficult to tell if their eyelids are completely closed or only partially open.

Malcolm
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Re: Eyes

Post by Malcolm » Mon Mar 02, 2020 11:57 pm

Greggorious wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:25 am
I’m aware that some Buddhist traditions stress eyes closed, others eyes open, and others leave it up to you. I’m also aware that Soto Zen is in the eyes open category. Now, I don’t have an issue with this in principle, but I have very sensitive eyes, I blink excessively and my eyes itch a lot when I’m sitting there gazing at the wall. Would it be “sacrilegious” for me to close my eyes during Zazen? I’ve occasionally gone to meditation at a Theravada Temple simply cos they allow you to close your eyes, and not because I prefer that school of Buddhism. A lot of the time when I donit with eyes open my eyes start getting very irritated and then I get pissed off and disillusioned with practice.
I understand the why it’s stressed to have eyes open, as it stops you falling asleep, and Zazen is an open meditation rather than closing off, but still, I’m not sure what to do. If it’s a rule that I HAVE to always have my eyes open then I may well swap traditions, again, not because I want to, but because it would just be more practical for my needs.

When you are awake, your eyes are open. When you are asleep, your eyes are closed. Buddhadharma is a path of waking up.

Matylda
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Re: Eyes

Post by Matylda » Tue Mar 03, 2020 11:21 am

Greggorious wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:25 am
I’m aware that some Buddhist traditions stress eyes closed, others eyes open, and others leave it up to you. I’m also aware that Soto Zen is in the eyes open category. Now, I don’t have an issue with this in principle, but I have very sensitive eyes, I blink excessively and my eyes itch a lot when I’m sitting there gazing at the wall. Would it be “sacrilegious” for me to close my eyes during Zazen? I’ve occasionally gone to meditation at a Theravada Temple simply cos they allow you to close your eyes, and not because I prefer that school of Buddhism. A lot of the time when I donit with eyes open my eyes start getting very irritated and then I get pissed off and disillusioned with practice.
I understand the why it’s stressed to have eyes open, as it stops you falling asleep, and Zazen is an open meditation rather than closing off, but still, I’m not sure what to do. If it’s a rule that I HAVE to always have my eyes open then I may well swap traditions, again, not because I want to, but because it would just be more practical for my needs.
it is just kind of mistake in zazen. you should ask a teacher. Anyway, I guess you do not have this sensation when you do not do zazen in everyday life activity, otherwise you would already consult an eye doctor, right?
there are few points one could check
1. one sits to close to the wall, the distance should be quite save. in the sodo it is almost 2 meteres to the wall, I have seen in the West that sometimes people almost touch the wall with their nose. it is not good
2. this one is difficult. it is problem of two much stress and effort put in the eyes. since they are connected by some subtle channels, then life force energy is driven in wrong direction and it causes irritation both in the eyes and mental, often effects liver then it makes farther disturbance of energy causing either dissiness or tensions. however as I said this is very difficult point and could be only checked by an experienced teacher in private dokusan/sanzen meeting. i wrote it only for your information.
3. another difficult. it concerns instructions one received. they should be detailed at certain point concerning eyes, explaining the energy gates as the eyes are in fact, what is this energy, how it should be kept pure, protected against defilement etc. what condition of the eye should be how to attain it etc. there is no way I can write any details it is job of very experienced genuine teacher.

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