Monday, June 7, 2010

What Good is this Sit?

I currently believe that zazen does nothing in itself. It is not the "vehicle of change."

I think the point of zen is to live without picking and choosing. To live without clinging to ideas and ideals. To take what is here now in your face, and at your feet, and all the other metaphors of immediacy, and grasp that this is all "it" is. The wood is wood until it is ash. Then it is ash, it is not "was-wood."

Zazen is a great barometer of how well that's going for you, it ain't necessarily what gets you there.

I find I have tons of trouble these days just sitting for 30 minutes. Seems almost laughable when written. "What, you can't just sit for 30 minutes? What's your problem? You call yourself a Buddhist?" Fair engout, but what does it *mean* that I can't sit for 30? It means that my "self" has not accepted "now" as reality. It's churning so hard on things that are not real and are not here and are not now that it can't abide "just sitting."

The intellect is important to we humans because it is with the intellect that we must tee up this shot. We must conceive of the 100 foot pole. We must frame the idea of climbing through the window. But then we must abandon intellect. We must swing with our entire life. We must jump into the nothing around the pole. We must pull our tail through the window without a concept of tail and window to work with.

At least that's how I suppose it should be. That is all intellectual pondering, of course. I won't know what it's like until I stop the pondering, and step fully onto the path of no-hinderance. I think my ego has been partnering with Mara to keep me from this. Secretly giving me "goals" and "embarrassment" about zazen to trip me up. They are conspiring to bind me up in endless strings of thoughts, excuses and pondering.

Who can give me one true word to cut through to the gate-less gate? Come take this seat.


James A said...


Jordan said...


Harry said...


Lauren said...

Thanks, all. Please each take the seat.

Jordan, I will presume you meant the sound " raspberries"?

Uku said...

Hi Lauren!

Good post. I think practicing Buddhism is sometimes hard for everyone. That's why it's called a practice and it's natural that sometimes it's not easy. Heck, life's not always easy so zazen can't be easy all the time. But I think we shouldn't be too harsh on ourselves. If we can't sit for 30 minutes, then it would be better to sit 15 minutes and then maybe after a week or so, could try to raise into 20 minutes and so on. But if 30 minutes feels all the time like shit, then maybe it would be better to take it easy for a while and sit less. But I think it's important to sit every day. I sit everyday, usually in the morning about 30 min and in the evening about 40 min. Sometimes I'm too tired etc. so I just sit less. But I sit everyday because this is a practice and practice means practicing it regularly, even if I can just sit 10 minutes. Sitting zazen 5 minutes is being Buddha for 5 minutes or something like that Nishijima Roshi said. Zazen is a practice. It's quite impossible to run a marathon if you haven't ran before at all. But sometimes zazen is just full of shit and that's the way it is then. Do you have a sangha where you can sit with others?

Take care, all the best!

Jordan said...

Hi Lauren,
this morning after sitting, I went to the girls room and blew rasberries on Hannah's cheek. We both experianced a great awakening! I then went to Iko and did the same thing. She smiled and pulled the covers over her head.

I think our practice is sometimes like this. Somtimes we feel great and sometimes we just want to pull the covers over our heads.

The next time you sit, and you feel a little itch on your cheek, maybe it is just a bodisatva blowing rasberries on your cheek.

MyoChi said...

Hi Lauren,

Personally for me, Zazen was a great way to settle myself..I have some restless mind! Eventually I realized that if possible, I need to take the same awareness in daily life when I get off cushion, which has not happened very successfully...:) However, I also came to the same conclusion recently - zen is accepting things as it is. It is interesting though, I also noticed that it is the non acceptance that keeps this world moving..keeps people motivated and they look forward to is almost like a necessary evil for the world to run the way it is I have some appreciation for the "design" of this system.

Jeremy said...

I'd say the mind is like a bottle of pop shaken up all zazen sort of lets the fiz settle our "stories" & tensions down whenever we practice it, whether in our daily life or on the cushion. I have a 3x5 index card [taped to my wall] with an excerpt from "Zen Mind, Beginner's mind" on it to myself as a reminder that my stories about things are getting the best of my attention/energy/ I need this reminder all the time!!:
"When you believe you have some problem it means your practice is not good enough. When your practice is good enough, whatever you see, whatever you do, that is direct experience of reality."--from Zen Mind Beginner's Mind
Hope this is helpful to someone, as it is to me many days.

Jeremy said...

I'd say the biggest issue for me is that i tell myself I'm meditating...which is my story continuing. Watching the mind without creating more thought is the task of all tasks. Cheers!