How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

mddrill
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How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by mddrill » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am

Hello. I've been practicing Zazen for about 3-4 years now. I try to sit for 30 minutes twice a day (but a lot of times it's more like once). I go to a local (Soto) Zen center on and off, but I've mostly just been practicing on my own from what I read in books.

I would like to go deeper into Buddhism, but I don't really know how. Whenever I try to talk to the teacher at the Zen center about this, she just tells me that there's nowhere to go and nothing to accomplish. Which I guess is true, but what's the point of practice then? There has to be something to gain out of this or she would just stay home. I'm considering trying other forms of Buddhism because of this. I tried Tibetan, but it seems to be mostly chanting and not a lot of meditation. Theravada sounds interesting, but I thought I would ask the Zen practitioners of this site for advice before giving up on Zen :D

What should I do if I want to go deeper into my Buddhist practice, but don't really know how to go about it or even I'm looking for? I've heard something about taking refuge and vows, would that be a good place to start?

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:10 am

First, I would reconsider your idea that 'meditation' means just sitting quietly. If your idea of meditation sets that limitation, it doesn't matter the tradition, it will prevent you from going deeper.

Beyond that, just try different places out, get a feel for what they are doing, don't be afraid to adk questions. Don't assume yoy understand what a practice is without experiencing it for a while.
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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by Meido » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:14 am

There are some basic practices you can learn from books and start to try working with. What you should be doing in the meantime is searching patiently and carefully for a teacher, who will be able to prescribe practices that actually fit your conditions.

Elaborating on what JD said: take the time to read books from different teachers, listen to talks, research online, and go if possible to meet and attend retreats with them. Reach out by email to anyone. Get in touch with as many teachers and places as you want. Don't worry if it's Rinzai, Soto, Chan, Seon, Thien, Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, whatever. Search until you find a teacher and community that strikes you (metaphorically, at first).

When you find a teacher that interests you, address your questions to him/her. Request to practice, if you want. Receive instructions in return. Follow them and practice to the best of your ability...with honesty as to what "best" really is for you. Continue. Etc.

In short, if I were you I would start by learning about, and then darkening the doors (or at least inboxes) of, as many teachers and their centers as I could. The good thing is that teachers, generally speaking, are interested in teaching. So you will usually find your inquiries very welcome.

Eventually you can take refuge and vows. But right now you if just have the feeling, "I don't want to waste my life," it's really good. Even better is if you give rise to the resolve, "I want to my life to benefit others." And really good is if, strongly resolving those things, you inwardly and repeatedly entreat the enlightened beings of the 10 directions (i.e. everywhere): "Guide me so I can be of help to all the suffering beings. Help me to enter the correct path." If you do that, things will change.

~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - 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

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PuerAzaelis
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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by PuerAzaelis » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:10 am

At the end of the day perhaps I have to be my final court of appeals, i.e. it is, at the end of the day, my practice. Btw, OP: sometimes that kind of feeling you’re describing happens when I am on the edge of some kind of step forward ... ?
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by CedarTree » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:09 am

Your teacher is telling you something very deep. Spend time trying to understand/embody it.


mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am
Hello. I've been practicing Zazen for about 3-4 years now. I try to sit for 30 minutes twice a day (but a lot of times it's more like once). I go to a local (Soto) Zen center on and off, but I've mostly just been practicing on my own from what I read in books.

I would like to go deeper into Buddhism, but I don't really know how. Whenever I try to talk to the teacher at the Zen center about this, she just tells me that there's nowhere to go and nothing to accomplish. Which I guess is true, but what's the point of practice then? There has to be something to gain out of this or she would just stay home. I'm considering trying other forms of Buddhism because of this. I tried Tibetan, but it seems to be mostly chanting and not a lot of meditation. Theravada sounds interesting, but I thought I would ask the Zen practitioners of this site for advice before giving up on Zen :D

What should I do if I want to go deeper into my Buddhist practice, but don't really know how to go about it or even I'm looking for? I've heard something about taking refuge and vows, would that be a good place to start?

Practice, Practice, Practice

mddrill
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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by mddrill » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:09 am

CedarTree wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:09 am
Your teacher is telling you something very deep. Spend time trying to understand/embody it.


mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am
Hello. I've been practicing Zazen for about 3-4 years now. I try to sit for 30 minutes twice a day (but a lot of times it's more like once). I go to a local (Soto) Zen center on and off, but I've mostly just been practicing on my own from what I read in books.

I would like to go deeper into Buddhism, but I don't really know how. Whenever I try to talk to the teacher at the Zen center about this, she just tells me that there's nowhere to go and nothing to accomplish. Which I guess is true, but what's the point of practice then? There has to be something to gain out of this or she would just stay home. I'm considering trying other forms of Buddhism because of this. I tried Tibetan, but it seems to be mostly chanting and not a lot of meditation. Theravada sounds interesting, but I thought I would ask the Zen practitioners of this site for advice before giving up on Zen :D

What should I do if I want to go deeper into my Buddhist practice, but don't really know how to go about it or even I'm looking for? I've heard something about taking refuge and vows, would that be a good place to start?
I think I understand. She's telling me that all of Zen Buddhism is complete nonsense and I need to spend my time doing something else.

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by thecowisflying » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:42 pm

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:09 am
CedarTree wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:09 am
Your teacher is telling you something very deep. Spend time trying to understand/embody it.


mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am
Hello. I've been practicing Zazen for about 3-4 years now. I try to sit for 30 minutes twice a day (but a lot of times it's more like once). I go to a local (Soto) Zen center on and off, but I've mostly just been practicing on my own from what I read in books.

I would like to go deeper into Buddhism, but I don't really know how. Whenever I try to talk to the teacher at the Zen center about this, she just tells me that there's nowhere to go and nothing to accomplish. Which I guess is true, but what's the point of practice then? There has to be something to gain out of this or she would just stay home. I'm considering trying other forms of Buddhism because of this. I tried Tibetan, but it seems to be mostly chanting and not a lot of meditation. Theravada sounds interesting, but I thought I would ask the Zen practitioners of this site for advice before giving up on Zen :D

What should I do if I want to go deeper into my Buddhist practice, but don't really know how to go about it or even I'm looking for? I've heard something about taking refuge and vows, would that be a good place to start?
I think I understand. She's telling me that all of Zen Buddhism is complete nonsense and I need to spend my time doing something else.
In that sense everything else would be nonsense too :namaste:

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by seeker242 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:02 pm

Retreats take you deeper into the practice. Sometimes way deeper than any book or philosophy ever could. That's their whole purpose! Plenty of zen centers hold retreats.

:meditate:
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: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:35 pm

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am
I tried Tibetan, but it seems to be mostly chanting and not a lot of meditation.
If you will forgive me to be contrarian for a moment, with only the best of intentions, some Tibetans might say that Zazen seems like a lot of just sitting, not a lot of just meditation.

It is a matter of perspective.
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by DGA » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:48 pm

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:09 am
I think I understand. She's telling me that all of Zen Buddhism is complete nonsense and I need to spend my time doing something else.
No. You have not understood at all. If you are in the habit of jumping to conclusions like this, you will probably have a hard time learning.

I encourage you to consider Meido's thoughtful post.
Meido wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:14 am
There are some basic practices you can learn from books and start to try working with. What you should be doing in the meantime is searching patiently and carefully for a teacher, who will be able to prescribe practices that actually fit your conditions.

Elaborating on what JD said: take the time to read books from different teachers, listen to talks, research online, and go if possible to meet and attend retreats with them. Reach out by email to anyone. Get in touch with as many teachers and places as you want. Don't worry if it's Rinzai, Soto, Chan, Seon, Thien, Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, whatever. Search until you find a teacher and community that strikes you (metaphorically, at first).

When you find a teacher that interests you, address your questions to him/her. Request to practice, if you want. Receive instructions in return. Follow them and practice to the best of your ability...with honesty as to what "best" really is for you. Continue. Etc.

In short, if I were you I would start by learning about, and then darkening the doors (or at least inboxes) of, as many teachers and their centers as I could. The good thing is that teachers, generally speaking, are interested in teaching. So you will usually find your inquiries very welcome.

Eventually you can take refuge and vows. But right now you if just have the feeling, "I don't want to waste my life," it's really good. Even better is if you give rise to the resolve, "I want to my life to benefit others." And really good is if, strongly resolving those things, you inwardly and repeatedly entreat the enlightened beings of the 10 directions (i.e. everywhere): "Guide me so I can be of help to all the suffering beings. Help me to enter the correct path." If you do that, things will change.

~ Meido

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jkarlins
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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by jkarlins » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:52 pm

Some good suggestions above. Do retreats. That's the main thing.

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by boda » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:30 pm

DGA wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:48 pm
mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:09 am
I think I understand. She's telling me that all of Zen Buddhism is complete nonsense and I need to spend my time doing something else.
No. You have not understood at all. If you are in the habit of jumping to conclusions like this, you will probably have a hard time learning.
Strangely, so appear to break you own advice while making it. If you don’t listen to what mddrill is saying you will probably have a hard time being of any help.

My impression (mddrill doesn’t say this explicitly) is that this is the feeling, and of course not the understanding of what the teacher instructed.

My advise is to pursue whatever it is that would be more meaningful, of course.

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:35 pm

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:09 am
CedarTree wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:09 am
Your teacher is telling you something very deep. Spend time trying to understand/embody it.


mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am
Hello. I've been practicing Zazen for about 3-4 years now. I try to sit for 30 minutes twice a day (but a lot of times it's more like once). I go to a local (Soto) Zen center on and off, but I've mostly just been practicing on my own from what I read in books.

I would like to go deeper into Buddhism, but I don't really know how. Whenever I try to talk to the teacher at the Zen center about this, she just tells me that there's nowhere to go and nothing to accomplish. Which I guess is true, but what's the point of practice then? There has to be something to gain out of this or she would just stay home. I'm considering trying other forms of Buddhism because of this. I tried Tibetan, but it seems to be mostly chanting and not a lot of meditation. Theravada sounds interesting, but I thought I would ask the Zen practitioners of this site for advice before giving up on Zen :D

What should I do if I want to go deeper into my Buddhist practice, but don't really know how to go about it or even I'm looking for? I've heard something about taking refuge and vows, would that be a good place to start?
I think I understand. She's telling me that all of Zen Buddhism is complete nonsense and I need to spend my time doing something else.
Naw, what she's saying is the real deal.

If it's just intellectual knowledge it doesn't do much though, people can tell you "there's nowhere to go and noting to accomplish" one thousand times, and it's no different than any other intellectual knowledge. If you aren't having the experience that you know this to be true (even for one second), then maybe it is time to re orient. That could mean Sesshin, it could mean checking out other traditions, it could mean sticking it out...
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

-Jeff H.

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by Fa Dao » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:07 pm

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am
Hello. I've been practicing Zazen for about 3-4 years now. I try to sit for 30 minutes twice a day (but a lot of times it's more like once). I go to a local (Soto) Zen center on and off, but I've mostly just been practicing on my own from what I read in books.

I would like to go deeper into Buddhism, but I don't really know how. Whenever I try to talk to the teacher at the Zen center about this, she just tells me that there's nowhere to go and nothing to accomplish. Which I guess is true, but what's the point of practice then? There has to be something to gain out of this or she would just stay home. I'm considering trying other forms of Buddhism because of this. I tried Tibetan, but it seems to be mostly chanting and not a lot of meditation. Theravada sounds interesting, but I thought I would ask the Zen practitioners of this site for advice before giving up on Zen :D

What should I do if I want to go deeper into my Buddhist practice, but don't really know how to go about it or even I'm looking for? I've heard something about taking refuge and vows, would that be a good place to start?
Sometimes its helpful to not just be doing meditation but find out what its actual purpose is and how to apply it in daily life. Check out Master Sheng Yens book "The Method of No Method: The Chan Practice of Silent Illumination" This book will fill in a lot of the blanks you appear to be having and will help to "deepen" your practice...
"But if you know how to observe yourself, you will discover your real nature, the primordial state, the state of Guruyoga, and then all will become clear because you will have discovered everything"-Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by CedarTree » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:13 pm

Bingo, gaining mind and looking for everything to fit into the discursive aspect of your personhood is going to limit you massively in your life.

This is the spiritual quest... This isn't like anything you've ever done or had exposure to before most likely.

Either way best of luck :)
DGA wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:48 pm
mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:09 am
I think I understand. She's telling me that all of Zen Buddhism is complete nonsense and I need to spend my time doing something else.
No. You have not understood at all. If you are in the habit of jumping to conclusions like this, you will probably have a hard time learning.

I encourage you to consider Meido's thoughtful post.
Meido wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:14 am
There are some basic practices you can learn from books and start to try working with. What you should be doing in the meantime is searching patiently and carefully for a teacher, who will be able to prescribe practices that actually fit your conditions.

Elaborating on what JD said: take the time to read books from different teachers, listen to talks, research online, and go if possible to meet and attend retreats with them. Reach out by email to anyone. Get in touch with as many teachers and places as you want. Don't worry if it's Rinzai, Soto, Chan, Seon, Thien, Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, whatever. Search until you find a teacher and community that strikes you (metaphorically, at first).

When you find a teacher that interests you, address your questions to him/her. Request to practice, if you want. Receive instructions in return. Follow them and practice to the best of your ability...with honesty as to what "best" really is for you. Continue. Etc.

In short, if I were you I would start by learning about, and then darkening the doors (or at least inboxes) of, as many teachers and their centers as I could. The good thing is that teachers, generally speaking, are interested in teaching. So you will usually find your inquiries very welcome.

Eventually you can take refuge and vows. But right now you if just have the feeling, "I don't want to waste my life," it's really good. Even better is if you give rise to the resolve, "I want to my life to benefit others." And really good is if, strongly resolving those things, you inwardly and repeatedly entreat the enlightened beings of the 10 directions (i.e. everywhere): "Guide me so I can be of help to all the suffering beings. Help me to enter the correct path." If you do that, things will change.

~ Meido

Practice, Practice, Practice

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KeithA
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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by KeithA » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:11 pm

"I want to go deeper..." is a big hindrance. To steal a friend's words: practice ane see what happens.

My 2 cents, spend or discard, as you please.

_/|\_

Keith

Simon E.
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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:55 pm

No Zennist me. But I wish you would post more often Keith.
A belated New Years Resolution 2018.

No posts or responses to posts outside of the Vajrayana forums. Its just a waste of time.

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by Astus » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:34 pm

mddrill wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:58 am
What should I do if I want to go deeper into my Buddhist practice, but don't really know how to go about it or even I'm looking for? I've heard something about taking refuge and vows, would that be a good place to start?
While seeking for the ideal teacher, you could try to clarify the basics of Buddhism:

The Core Teachings
Teachings from Sheng-yen
Teachings from Hsing Yun
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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KeithA
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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by KeithA » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:28 am

Simon E. wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:55 pm
No Zennist me. But I wish you would post more often Keith.
Thanks for the kind words, Simon. And for reminding me that I misspelled "and"! :tantrum:

No Soto person me, so I didn't want to interfere too much.

The teacher said:
Whenever I try to talk to the teacher at the Zen center about this, she just tells me that there's nowhere to go and nothing to accomplish.
And yet...

I remember a guy who was practicing with us for a while. It turns out he had the odd habit of collecting precepts from different traditions. So once he took ours, we never saw him again. Anyway, he went into interview one time and it was a very short one, which is unusual for my teacher and he returned to the Dharma a little red-faced. I guess he asked a similar question, framed a little differently. He said he wasn't satisfied with his practice, i.e. it wasn't deep enough. My teacher gave a very short answer "Zen - style", which don't remember exactly, but whatever it was, it pissed the guy off and he bowed out.

I think my teacher saw some superficiality that needed cutting down. He has this extremely annoying habit of answering a question with a question. But I understand now, and I know he will see through my bullshit. :bow:

(btw, I am not suggesting that mddril is suffering from this sort of superficiality. Obviously, there is no way of knowing that on an internet forum)

The point is imagining there is some deep place to get to is a hindrance. So, we just do the "miraculous power and marvelous activity" of our daily practice. And maybe the "deep place" appears all by itself.

The teacher can only gesture in the right direction. The student has to do heavy lifting.

Nowhere to go, nothing to accomplish.


_/|\_

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Re: How do I go deeper into Zen practice?

Post by SunWuKong » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:03 pm

Your post could mean one of two things if not both. One is you are out of your comfort zone and want more Zen. The other might be that you don’t have a context to understand adequately what Zen is. The teacher isn’t wrong, as Xen is first and foremost the practice of Sunyata, which in the Chan context can be called Emptiness, in Huayan Buddhism maybe Interbeing. It could be your teacher is trying to direct you to confront true Emptiness, which is the opposite of nihilism.
The other thing Is developing a context for which probably only reading books and reading on the Internet is going to satisfy and that can be directed by doing exactly what you’re doing and going online and getting good references to good things and listening to good people say good thanks ciao
"Cast off body and mind" (身心脱落 shēn xīn tuō luò)

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