Thursday, November 23, 2006

dealing with the negative inside

This forum seems like a better place to post this instead of Brad's comments section, though it's really in response to his Michael Richards post, which is well worth reading.

Brad wrote: "There is a lot of stuff in your head right now that you do not even know about. Some of it is very good and some of it is intensely bad. When you do Zazen this kind of stuff starts to bubble up to the surface."

While Brad's whole post is an excellent one, I'm choosing to pull out and focus on that issue I've quoted above.

Lately, like the last five or six months, zazen has become a daily struggle. We all know that "stuff" bubbles up while we sit on the cushion, but lately it seems like everything that bubbles up in me is intensely negative. I don't like it. I don't know what to do about it, if anything. I don't know what it means, if it means anything at all, other than that my subconscious mind is a nasty place to hang out.

Back to Brad's bit I've quoted above, the part about there being bad stuff inside "that you do not even know about," how do you deal with it when you DO know about it, when, through daily practice, you DO see the bad stuff inside your own head?

Brad says there's good and bad stuff there, but right now what's bubbling up is only the bad. I don't mean bad in a Son of Sam, I-hear-voices way. More like simple negativity that appears when I sit. I'd really like to have some peppermint covered dolphins to hug, but that ain't what's inside, apparently. I wonder if all this crap is just a stage or a barrier to pass through, or whether it's something to ignore?

Only Zazen does it for me...

The posture of Zazen, I guess, is how it is because it is the position in which it is easiest to be in a balanced state. Zazen isn't done in the "washing dishes" posture or the "lying down" posture. But then, what I've concluded anyway, I should try and focus on what I am doing and find a balanced state in whatever I am doing.
But isn't this impossible? The posture of Zazen is quite an unnatural position - I wouldn't ever find myself in that position if not for Zazen - and seems to, for whatever reasons, bring the mind into a balanced state. A state which can't really be found at any other time or in any other posture (I'm not saying Zen is the only way, but I mean that within Zen the posture seems to be the only way).
So because I feel that it is only during Zazen that my mind becomes balanced, I'm kind of playing a waiting game - something will happen in your Zazen that will unlock special powers (although it sounds dumb, I do still think that) for your daily life so just wait, keep doing your Zazen, try and remain aware during the day and something will happen. I don't feel that I can have a balanced mind with the mind I have right now. I suppose that's my point : Without some great 'unlocking' I can't see how I can remain balanced as I am during I'm waiting for something, which I'm pretty sure isn't a very wise thing to do.
Anyone have any ideas on this? Can anyone decipher the question within my post :-) ?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kodo Sawaki

"It is just to punish those who disturb the public order. Whether one kills or does not kill, the precept forbidding killing [is preserved]. It is the precept forbidding killing that wields the sword. It is the precept that throws the bomb."

This is a quote from Kodo Sawaki made (in)famous from Brian Victoria's book Zen at War.
I mentioned it in the last post from Anatman but I thought it should probably be a separate topic. Does anyone know anyhing about the background behind this quote? Comments?

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Poem by Kodo Sawaki

Doing zazen calmly in the dojo,
Putting aside all negative thoughts,
Obtaining nothing but a mind without desire,
-This joy is beyond paradise.

The world runs after fame, honor,
Beautiful clothes and comfort.
But these pleasures are not true peace.
You run and stay unsatisfied until death!

Wear the kesa and black robe and practice zazen.
Concentrate with a single mind, whether still or in motion.
See with your own eyes deep inner wisdom.
Observe and know intimately the true aspect of all action and all existence.

Be able to observe balance.
Understand and know with a mind that is perfectly still.

If you are like this,
Your spiritual dimension,
The highest in this world,
Will be beyond compare.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

you can't force your mind to awaken

 In reply to "Oh Ye of Little Faith" posted by Anatman, Karen said...

If you know something to be true, you don't have to believe in it. I think if you believe in something you are hoping that it is true. I don't have to say I believe the sun comes up everyday because I know it does. As far as faith goes, I see faith a little differently. I was raised catholic also and went to catholic school most of my life. Faith for me is implicit trust in the universe that all is well and all will be well. I forget which mystic said that but one of them did. And I really feel that way. When I get to worrying, wondering, driving myself crazy with why people are the way they are etc, I just know that it is the way it is and everything will be ok. That doesn't mean that I sit back and do nothing. I do what I can, when I can, but I'm not married to the outcome. For me this is the meaning of form is emptiness and emptiness is form. I sit, but I don't have to sit to come upon reality and people who sit to gain a glimpse of something are going to be in for a big disappointment. You can do a lot of things with your mind. One of the things you can't do is force your mind to awaken. I have in the past tried to do this. It doesn't work. Neither does all this talk.
November 03, 2006

And I thought it was such a good comment I'd like to repost it here - I hope Karen doesn't mind! It struck me as having an important similarity with the passage I've included below.

"... Yet the superficiality of this consciousness is seen in the fact that it cannot and does not regulate even the human organism. For if it had to control the heartbeat, the breath, the operation of the nerves, glands, muscles, and sense organs, it would be rushing wildly around the body taking care of one thing after another, with no time to do anything else. Happily, it is not in charge, and the organism is regulated by the timeless "original mind," which deals with life in its totality and so can do ever so many "things" at once.

However, it is not as if the superficial consciousness were one thing, and the "original mind" another, for the former is a specialized activity of the latter. Thus the superficial consciousness can awaken to the eternal present if it stops grasping. But this does not come to pass by trying to concentrate on the present - an effort which succeeds only in making the moment seem ever more elusive and fleeting, ever more impossible to bring into focus. Awareness of the "eternal now" comes about by the same principle as the clarity of hearing and seeing and the proper freedom of breath. Clear sight has nothing to do with trying to see; it is just the realization that the eyes will take in every detail all by themselves, for so long as they are open one can hardly prevent the light from reaching them. In the same way, there is no difficulty in being fully aware of the eternal present as soon as it is seen that one cannot possibly be aware of anything else- that in concrete fact there is no past or future. Making an effort to concentrate on the instantaneous moment implies at once that there are other moments. But they are nowhere to be found, and in truth one rests as easily in the eternal present as the eyes and ears respond to light and sound."

Alan W. Watts 1957 "The Way of Zen"

I really like his explanation. It was something the me of 1987 didn't really understand but the me of 2005 did. And thanks Karen for stating it so well also.