meditation

A favorite quote from the book, Zen Training alvin February 10, 2019 - 6:32am

This is a favorite quote from the book, Zen Training. Anyone who has ever meditated deeply at home, in the mountains, or on retreat has probably had these feelings.

“Absolute stillness and silence, as if one had landed on the Moon” alvin February 3, 2019 - 11:39am

“On one occasion of my own practice, nearing deep samadhi, I happened to notice that the stage of my mind was quietly turning and a new scene was appearing. In this new scene no wandering thought popped up its head; there was absolute stillness and silence, as if one had landed on the Moon.”

~ Zen Training

How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering? alvin February 2, 2019 - 4:03am

“How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering? How can we learn to focus our attention on one thing?”

“The answer is that we cannot do it with our brain alone; the brain cannot control its thoughts by itself. The power to control the activity of our mind comes from the body, and it depends critically on posture and breathing.”

~ From the book, Zen Training, by Katsuki Sekida

The farther you get away from the body, the more you know you alvin January 27, 2019 - 7:40pm

On the recent drive back to Colorado I listened to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In the book, The Lady Chablis talked about how much the estrogen shots affected her, mentally and physically — her thoughts, such as who she was attracted to, and her physical attributes.

I’ve often thought about how our thoughts and behavior are affected by our hormones. That’s one reason I like meditation: The farther you get away from the physical body and chemically-influenced brain, the more you can figure out who you are.

What I know about deep meditation states

The following is a (long) discussion of some things you might run into during deep meditation.

Fake Absolute Silence

These days in meditation I spend a lot of time in a place I call “Fake Absolute Silence.” In this state you might be fooled into thinking that you’re in the real state of Absolute Silence, but that’s part of the problem — you’re still thinking. Things are definitely quiet in this state; there aren’t many thoughts, and your concentration is focused on your breathing without distraction. However, I find that I’m still very aware of my body and outside noises. But despite that, it’s generally a mentally quiet place.

Shinzen Young and meditating in the freezing cold alvin December 22, 2018 - 12:43pm

Introduction: After reading the following text in the book, The Science of Enlightenment, I decided to try meditating outside in sweatpants and a hoodie in the freezing cold in the evenings. It’s now my favorite form of meditation because you either do it right, or suffer the consequences.

~~~

Several months later, as winter approached and it was getting cold and uncomfortable, the Abbot told me that if I wanted to be trained in traditional Shingon practice he would allow it — but I would have to do with the old-fashioned way. I would have to do a solo retreat for one hundred days in winter, most of the time with no source of heat, in complete silence other than occasional instruction from him, and with no meal after noon.

My training began on December 22, the day of the winter solstice. The Abbot had warned me that part of the old-fashioned way involved certain ascetic practices derived not from Buddhism, but from the shamanic tradition of Shinto, Japan’s pre-Buddhist tribal religion. One of the most common methods that tribal cultures use to obtain visions of gods or spirits is through prolonged exposure to extreme hot or cold. In India, Hindus have the five fires practice; in North America, Native Americans have the sweat lodge and the sun dance. These involve heat. The traditional Shinto shamanic practice goes in the other direction. It involves cold — squatting under freezing waterfalls in winter, standing in cold springs, dousing your body with ice water, and so forth.

Standing on a street corner (in meditation) alvin November 10, 2018 - 10:53am

Sometimes during meditation strange things happen. As just one example, this morning I was enjoying a deep meditation, just focusing on the breath ... focusing on the breath ... and suddenly I was standing on a street corner. I looked around briefly, then thought, “What the heck just happened,” and with that thought I returned to my meditation.

How to have lucid dreams alvin November 8, 2018 - 6:15pm

From this LionsRoar.com article on how to have lucid dreams: “Studies have shown that meditators have more lucid dreams, and for a true meditation master, all their dreams are lucid. We’re non-lucid to the contents of our mind at night to the extent we’re non-lucid to the contents of our mind during the day. Become lucid to your thoughts during the day by practicing mindfulness meditation and you’ll naturally become lucid to your dreams at night.”

Quotes about work and Zen (practicing Zen at work) alvin October 17, 2018 - 5:23pm

For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I had read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seemed like Zen and work must be totally unrelated. But over time I came to understand phrases like, “When working, just work.”

This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

On Zen and finding true sanctuary alvin October 17, 2018 - 12:40pm

When we enter the empty meditation hall we experience a tangible awareness of peace. The uncluttered space, accentuated by the orderliness of the simple cushions, seems quietly alive, a reflection of inherent beauty. We find a feeling of safety and sanctuary.

However, in Zen practice, true sanctuary is not isolated from everyday life. True sanctuary includes everything, shutting out nothing, because it has no doors and no walls. Finding true sanctuary means expressing who we really are.

~~~~~

Tozan and his disciple Sozan were the founders of the Soto Zen school in China. When it came time for Sozan to leave his teacher, he want to say goodbye.

Tozan asked him, “Where are you going?”

“To an unchanging place,” Sozan answered.

“Is there really any going to that place?”

“The going itself is unchanged.”

In this story Sozan is saying that the activity is the place of unchanging. He is pointing to continuous effort, uninterrupted practice, as the “place” of sanctuary.