zen

On wasting your time meditating

Meditation: If you’re not putting 100% of your being into it, you’re wasting your time.

~ a note to self

The correct mental state for Zen and mindfulness meditation

There’s a scene in the movie, The Family Man, where Nicolas Cage is sitting in a chair and trying to stay awake, because he knows that when he falls asleep his “glimpse” will be over.

The moments just before passing out are like that. Assuming that you’re not panicking, you’re vibrantly aware of everything around you — colors, smells, etc., because you don’t know if you’re just passing out or this is Game Over.

The end of a lucid dream can also be like that. You can be in the dream, know that you’re dreaming, and then know that you’re starting to wake up. You don’t want to leave, but you don’t have a choice, so you pay great attention to the environment because you know that you may never see it again.

To the best of my knowledge, all of those are also the correct mental state for Zen and mindfulness meditation. As Shunryu Suzuki says, “The true practice of meditation is to sit as if you are drinking water when you are thirsty.”

(Namaste)

On Zen and finding true sanctuary

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.

Katsuki Sekida, English teacher, Zen teacher

From the back cover of, Two Zen Classics: The Gateless Gate (Mumonkan) and The Blue Cliff Records (Hekiganroku):

“Katsuki Sekida (1893–1987) was by profession a high school teacher of English until his retirement in 1945. Zen, nevertheless, was his lifelong preoccupation.”

Similarly, my work these days involves computer programming, and my preoccupation is Zen and meditation. Unless you’re willing to go live in a monastery, we all have to work to pay the bills, but that doesn’t mean we can’t practice.

How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering?

“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

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.

“Bring your mind to one point and wait for grace” alvin December 7, 2017 - 3:07pm

“Bring your mind to one point and wait for grace.”

~ Ram Dass in Polishing the Mirror, on what the Maharaji told him