Artwork

İçerik Silent Thunder Order tarafından sağlanmıştır. Bölümler, grafikler ve podcast açıklamaları dahil tüm podcast içeriği doğrudan Silent Thunder Order veya podcast platform ortağı tarafından yüklenir ve sağlanır. Birinin telif hakkıyla korunan çalışmanızı izniniz olmadan kullandığını düşünüyorsanız burada https://tr.player.fm/legal özetlenen süreci takip edebilirsiniz.
Player FM - Podcast Uygulaması
Player FM uygulamasıyla çevrimdışı Player FM !

143: Zen = More is Less

17:49
 
Paylaş
 

Manage episode 403549415 series 2835787
İçerik Silent Thunder Order tarafından sağlanmıştır. Bölümler, grafikler ve podcast açıklamaları dahil tüm podcast içeriği doğrudan Silent Thunder Order veya podcast platform ortağı tarafından yüklenir ve sağlanır. Birinin telif hakkıyla korunan çalışmanızı izniniz olmadan kullandığını düşünüyorsanız burada https://tr.player.fm/legal özetlenen süreci takip edebilirsiniz.

In our last segment of UnMind, on the meaning of “less is more” — a central axiom of design thinking coined by the famous architect, Mies van der Rohe — I introduced the notion that this adage may be usefully applied to Zen, as well. The simplicity of lifestyle and paucity of possessions surrounding the history of Zen, in China and Japan in particular, speaks to the general question regarding happiness and satisfaction in life: How much is enough? In this segment we will consider how “more” can often be “less.”

When we reach a certain level of stability in the normal stages of life in the “first world” countries of modern times, we may find that we have an overabundance of personal possessions: a complete household, and maybe a summer home as well, with the requisite home furnishings; maybe one or two vehicles, a boat, maybe even a private plane. At a certain point, unless we can manage the upkeep and maintenance of all our many acquisitions, our possessions begin owning us. That is, an increasingly large percentage of our time is devoted to taking care of the many things that we do not actually use very often, and probably don’t really need, in any realistic sense. Then comes the de-cluttering and downsizing, just to get back to a normal state of affairs — where we can spend our time on those aspects of life that we find most important and rewarding, such as family, friends — and, in Zen, personal insight into existence itself.

In examining our approach to Zen meditation, in the context of “less is more,” we see clearly that excess accumulation of material goods is not of much use, and can readily form yet another barrier to simplification of all the demands on our time and attention.

When it comes to meditation, we consciously choose to pay attention to the basics of existence, including the body and its posture, the breath and its pattern, and the mind and its machinations. In doing so, we witness the natural functions of the monkey mind as setting goals, ruminating over the past and worrying about the future, and so on. In order to simplify our task of waking up to reality as it is, we can recognize when we are setting goals, for example, and choose to stop setting goals, at least in terms of our meditation.

So I launched into the discussion of subtracting such elements from our practice, as we witness them arising, resulting in the concept of “goalless” meditation, which in itself may be defined as a “goal.” Or “timeless” meditation, where we set aside the burden of timing our sitting period, and allow ourselves to reenter real time, which has nothing to do with measurement. Eventually our meditation can become “effortless” — where we have been doing this for so long that, like driving a car, it really doesn’t require any conscious effort; and the physical effort has become second nature, so no big deal.

SENSELESS MEDITATION

Extending this idea, the various dimensions we observe in zazen, such as the six senses, yield the possibility of “sightless” meditation; “soundless” meditation; “odorless” and “tasteless” meditation; and even “sensationless” meditation, which would be akin to physical Samadhi, I suppose. It would also entail “weightlessness,” when our BMI and gravity come into perfect balance.

MINDLESS MEDITATION

And finally, “emotionless,” as well as “thoughtless,” or “mindless,” meditation — which latter would conventionally be interpreted as a pejorative. But in Zen, the “don’t-know mind” is valued most highly. Emotional Samadhi: less anxiety, more serenity; mental Samadhi: less confusion, more clarity. Eventually, “social Samadhi”: less friction, more harmony in relationships with others, as well as being comfortable in your own skin.

FORMLESS MEDITATION

From the perspective of posture, breath, and attention, which and when they all come together in a unified way, as Matsuoka Roshi would often say: “This is the real zazen”; we find ourselves practicing “posture paramita”: aiming at the perfect posture without ever imagining we have achieved it, another of Sensei’s Zen “secrets.” Through a process of profound sensory adaptation, we arrive at “formless meditation,” not only in terms of physical posture, or form, the first of the five aggregates, but also “mental formations,” the mysterious fourth skandha, meaning underlying motives, intentions, desires, and so forth, the psychological level of motivation. All gone away.

CONSCIOUS-LESS MEDITATION

The natural evolution of our approach to meditation would then naturally and logically lead to a kind of “conscious-less” meditation, an expression so countercultural that it requires a hyphen. The fifth aggregate comprehends the other four, in that we are, or become, conscious of form, sensation, perception, and mental formations, on deeper and deeper levels. Until we apprehend the “flip-side” of each, as the Heart Sutra indicates: “no form, no sensation, no perception, no mental formations”; “until we come to no consciousness also,” as the original English translation we used at Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago rendered the line. We are conscious of the other four — until we are not; and then we are conscious of consciousness itself — until we are not. This steady progression through — and adaptation to — the aggregates, outlined in the Surangama Sutra, is attributed to Buddha himself. So I am not just making this up as I go along.

BREATHLESS MEDITATION

That our meditation becomes “breathless” at some point may not be obvious — not in the sense of “breathless anticipation” — but in that we are not doing the breathing to begin with; the body is. So when we relinquish the idea of “control”: of the posture, the breath, and the direction of our attention; the natural posture, the naturalbreath, and the natural, or original, state of mind can come into play. We return to our original mind and body, which as Master Dogen reminds us, will unmistakably “drop off.” In good time.

OBJECTLESS MEDITATION

When our attention — and intention — come together in a unified or holistic way, then it may be said that our meditation has become “objectless.” Both in the sense of the senses and their objects merging in nonduality, and in the sense that we no longer can articulate any specific intention, underlying our practice. It has become “shikantaza,” the Japanese expression for the inexpressible unified field theory of conscious awareness. But we should not become enthralled with this as a concept, which threatens to morph into an expectation, rather than an aspiration. If we understand that “form and reflection behold[ing] each other” is the necessary and natural inflection point that meditation inexorably leads to — or returns to, to be more precise — we cannot go far astray.

CONCEPTLESS MEDITATION

This suggests yet another “less is more” dimension of meditation: that it can be utterly devoid of concepts, associations, or connotations, of any kind. This we might define as “pure” meditation, in the Zen sense of “purity” as nonduality, rather than conventional connotations of morality. No concept, however broad and deep its scope, can capture the breadth and depth of the effect, meaning, and implications of zazen. This is why the content and intent of Zen is sometimes referred to as “The Great Matter,” capitalized.

HEARTBEAT MEDITATION

On a less transcendent and more practical level, I would like to share with you some of my more recent discoveries in zazen fostered by my contracting COVID 19 in December of 2022, followed by a roughly three-month recovery period, amounting to an enforced “ango,” or traditional practice period, of ninety days. During this time, I lost a lot of strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination; and experienced the “mental fog” associated with the worst aftereffects of the pandemic, though I am not inflicted with “long covid” but only the exacerbated effects of aging in combination with the disease.

In taking the posture during this time, crossing my legs was increasingly difficult, and the resultant stiffness in my knees threatened to strain a tendon. So I took to sitting on the edge of the raised bench, with my feet on the floor. Getting up from the floor when manning the timekeeper (Doan) position became an agonizing exercise in finding the leverage to stand up. So I moved to chair-sitting. This adaptation to aging is not unusual, by the way — several veteran adepts have found that, by their mid-sixties, they could no longer sit in lotus posture.

In order to recover my ability to sit with stability while cross-legged, I began taking a more aggressive approach to the posture and breath, as well as to walking meditation, to compensate for the loss of my youthful vigor. My long-term engagement with kinhin, I am convinced, explains my relative sense of balance, compared to others my age.

In implementing this more active approach to the posture and breath, I discovered that I would begin feeling my heartbeat after holding my inbreath for a count of eight or ten, realizing that the tempo of the counting corresponded to the heartbeat. It is as if your heart is the metronome, counting off the time signature of your instrument, the body. By doing a full-body “crunch” while holding my breath, my spine would pop and pull into its natural s-curve, arching the small of the back forward and down, and pulling back and up on the chin, exaggerating the “cobra-rising” rigor of the upright seated posture.

Exhaling, I began counting the heartbeat instead of the breath, noticing how the two are synchronized. Gradually, as the breath slows down, so does the heart, from 2 beats per in-breath and out-breath to four, then longer sequences of pulsation as the outbreath, in particular, slows down to a soothing rhythm. Repeating this cycle of squeezing and letting go, the relaxation response begins to set in, embracing the squeeze-and-release cycle of the heart itself, allowing more relaxation time between pulses.

I could go on into more detail about how this rhythmic process smooths itself out until, as Matsuoka Roshi would say, the breath seems to come and go through the whole body, like a frog sitting on a lily pad, breathing by osmosis through the pores of the skin.

HEALING MEDITATION

I am convinced that this process of observing the integration of posture and breath has therapeutic, or healing, properties; which have immediate benefits of calming the nervous system, and long-term effects promoting longevity. The main benefit of longevity being that it affords a greater chance to wake up fully, in the Zen sense, during this brief lifetime.

You might consider expanding this discussion in your own words — such constructions as “compassionless” meditation — to consider whether the concept of compassion that you may be harboring actually conforms to the true meaning of the word, which is to “suffer with.” If you come up with any confounding notions along these lines, please feel free to share them with me. It may prompt a beneficial exchange as to the “limitless” meditation that is zazen.

In the next segment, we will return to consideration of “Election Year Zen” — with all the real-world ethics and civics implications that this focus implies. Please join in the dialog.

* * *

Elliston Roshi is guiding teacher of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center and abbot of the Silent Thunder Order. He is also a gallery-represented fine artist expressing his Zen through visual poetry, or “music to the eyes.”

UnMind is a production of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center in Atlanta, Georgia and the Silent Thunder Order. You can support these teachings by PayPal to donate@STorder.org. Gassho.

Producer: Shinjin Larry Little

  continue reading

100 bölüm

Artwork
iconPaylaş
 
Manage episode 403549415 series 2835787
İçerik Silent Thunder Order tarafından sağlanmıştır. Bölümler, grafikler ve podcast açıklamaları dahil tüm podcast içeriği doğrudan Silent Thunder Order veya podcast platform ortağı tarafından yüklenir ve sağlanır. Birinin telif hakkıyla korunan çalışmanızı izniniz olmadan kullandığını düşünüyorsanız burada https://tr.player.fm/legal özetlenen süreci takip edebilirsiniz.

In our last segment of UnMind, on the meaning of “less is more” — a central axiom of design thinking coined by the famous architect, Mies van der Rohe — I introduced the notion that this adage may be usefully applied to Zen, as well. The simplicity of lifestyle and paucity of possessions surrounding the history of Zen, in China and Japan in particular, speaks to the general question regarding happiness and satisfaction in life: How much is enough? In this segment we will consider how “more” can often be “less.”

When we reach a certain level of stability in the normal stages of life in the “first world” countries of modern times, we may find that we have an overabundance of personal possessions: a complete household, and maybe a summer home as well, with the requisite home furnishings; maybe one or two vehicles, a boat, maybe even a private plane. At a certain point, unless we can manage the upkeep and maintenance of all our many acquisitions, our possessions begin owning us. That is, an increasingly large percentage of our time is devoted to taking care of the many things that we do not actually use very often, and probably don’t really need, in any realistic sense. Then comes the de-cluttering and downsizing, just to get back to a normal state of affairs — where we can spend our time on those aspects of life that we find most important and rewarding, such as family, friends — and, in Zen, personal insight into existence itself.

In examining our approach to Zen meditation, in the context of “less is more,” we see clearly that excess accumulation of material goods is not of much use, and can readily form yet another barrier to simplification of all the demands on our time and attention.

When it comes to meditation, we consciously choose to pay attention to the basics of existence, including the body and its posture, the breath and its pattern, and the mind and its machinations. In doing so, we witness the natural functions of the monkey mind as setting goals, ruminating over the past and worrying about the future, and so on. In order to simplify our task of waking up to reality as it is, we can recognize when we are setting goals, for example, and choose to stop setting goals, at least in terms of our meditation.

So I launched into the discussion of subtracting such elements from our practice, as we witness them arising, resulting in the concept of “goalless” meditation, which in itself may be defined as a “goal.” Or “timeless” meditation, where we set aside the burden of timing our sitting period, and allow ourselves to reenter real time, which has nothing to do with measurement. Eventually our meditation can become “effortless” — where we have been doing this for so long that, like driving a car, it really doesn’t require any conscious effort; and the physical effort has become second nature, so no big deal.

SENSELESS MEDITATION

Extending this idea, the various dimensions we observe in zazen, such as the six senses, yield the possibility of “sightless” meditation; “soundless” meditation; “odorless” and “tasteless” meditation; and even “sensationless” meditation, which would be akin to physical Samadhi, I suppose. It would also entail “weightlessness,” when our BMI and gravity come into perfect balance.

MINDLESS MEDITATION

And finally, “emotionless,” as well as “thoughtless,” or “mindless,” meditation — which latter would conventionally be interpreted as a pejorative. But in Zen, the “don’t-know mind” is valued most highly. Emotional Samadhi: less anxiety, more serenity; mental Samadhi: less confusion, more clarity. Eventually, “social Samadhi”: less friction, more harmony in relationships with others, as well as being comfortable in your own skin.

FORMLESS MEDITATION

From the perspective of posture, breath, and attention, which and when they all come together in a unified way, as Matsuoka Roshi would often say: “This is the real zazen”; we find ourselves practicing “posture paramita”: aiming at the perfect posture without ever imagining we have achieved it, another of Sensei’s Zen “secrets.” Through a process of profound sensory adaptation, we arrive at “formless meditation,” not only in terms of physical posture, or form, the first of the five aggregates, but also “mental formations,” the mysterious fourth skandha, meaning underlying motives, intentions, desires, and so forth, the psychological level of motivation. All gone away.

CONSCIOUS-LESS MEDITATION

The natural evolution of our approach to meditation would then naturally and logically lead to a kind of “conscious-less” meditation, an expression so countercultural that it requires a hyphen. The fifth aggregate comprehends the other four, in that we are, or become, conscious of form, sensation, perception, and mental formations, on deeper and deeper levels. Until we apprehend the “flip-side” of each, as the Heart Sutra indicates: “no form, no sensation, no perception, no mental formations”; “until we come to no consciousness also,” as the original English translation we used at Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago rendered the line. We are conscious of the other four — until we are not; and then we are conscious of consciousness itself — until we are not. This steady progression through — and adaptation to — the aggregates, outlined in the Surangama Sutra, is attributed to Buddha himself. So I am not just making this up as I go along.

BREATHLESS MEDITATION

That our meditation becomes “breathless” at some point may not be obvious — not in the sense of “breathless anticipation” — but in that we are not doing the breathing to begin with; the body is. So when we relinquish the idea of “control”: of the posture, the breath, and the direction of our attention; the natural posture, the naturalbreath, and the natural, or original, state of mind can come into play. We return to our original mind and body, which as Master Dogen reminds us, will unmistakably “drop off.” In good time.

OBJECTLESS MEDITATION

When our attention — and intention — come together in a unified or holistic way, then it may be said that our meditation has become “objectless.” Both in the sense of the senses and their objects merging in nonduality, and in the sense that we no longer can articulate any specific intention, underlying our practice. It has become “shikantaza,” the Japanese expression for the inexpressible unified field theory of conscious awareness. But we should not become enthralled with this as a concept, which threatens to morph into an expectation, rather than an aspiration. If we understand that “form and reflection behold[ing] each other” is the necessary and natural inflection point that meditation inexorably leads to — or returns to, to be more precise — we cannot go far astray.

CONCEPTLESS MEDITATION

This suggests yet another “less is more” dimension of meditation: that it can be utterly devoid of concepts, associations, or connotations, of any kind. This we might define as “pure” meditation, in the Zen sense of “purity” as nonduality, rather than conventional connotations of morality. No concept, however broad and deep its scope, can capture the breadth and depth of the effect, meaning, and implications of zazen. This is why the content and intent of Zen is sometimes referred to as “The Great Matter,” capitalized.

HEARTBEAT MEDITATION

On a less transcendent and more practical level, I would like to share with you some of my more recent discoveries in zazen fostered by my contracting COVID 19 in December of 2022, followed by a roughly three-month recovery period, amounting to an enforced “ango,” or traditional practice period, of ninety days. During this time, I lost a lot of strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination; and experienced the “mental fog” associated with the worst aftereffects of the pandemic, though I am not inflicted with “long covid” but only the exacerbated effects of aging in combination with the disease.

In taking the posture during this time, crossing my legs was increasingly difficult, and the resultant stiffness in my knees threatened to strain a tendon. So I took to sitting on the edge of the raised bench, with my feet on the floor. Getting up from the floor when manning the timekeeper (Doan) position became an agonizing exercise in finding the leverage to stand up. So I moved to chair-sitting. This adaptation to aging is not unusual, by the way — several veteran adepts have found that, by their mid-sixties, they could no longer sit in lotus posture.

In order to recover my ability to sit with stability while cross-legged, I began taking a more aggressive approach to the posture and breath, as well as to walking meditation, to compensate for the loss of my youthful vigor. My long-term engagement with kinhin, I am convinced, explains my relative sense of balance, compared to others my age.

In implementing this more active approach to the posture and breath, I discovered that I would begin feeling my heartbeat after holding my inbreath for a count of eight or ten, realizing that the tempo of the counting corresponded to the heartbeat. It is as if your heart is the metronome, counting off the time signature of your instrument, the body. By doing a full-body “crunch” while holding my breath, my spine would pop and pull into its natural s-curve, arching the small of the back forward and down, and pulling back and up on the chin, exaggerating the “cobra-rising” rigor of the upright seated posture.

Exhaling, I began counting the heartbeat instead of the breath, noticing how the two are synchronized. Gradually, as the breath slows down, so does the heart, from 2 beats per in-breath and out-breath to four, then longer sequences of pulsation as the outbreath, in particular, slows down to a soothing rhythm. Repeating this cycle of squeezing and letting go, the relaxation response begins to set in, embracing the squeeze-and-release cycle of the heart itself, allowing more relaxation time between pulses.

I could go on into more detail about how this rhythmic process smooths itself out until, as Matsuoka Roshi would say, the breath seems to come and go through the whole body, like a frog sitting on a lily pad, breathing by osmosis through the pores of the skin.

HEALING MEDITATION

I am convinced that this process of observing the integration of posture and breath has therapeutic, or healing, properties; which have immediate benefits of calming the nervous system, and long-term effects promoting longevity. The main benefit of longevity being that it affords a greater chance to wake up fully, in the Zen sense, during this brief lifetime.

You might consider expanding this discussion in your own words — such constructions as “compassionless” meditation — to consider whether the concept of compassion that you may be harboring actually conforms to the true meaning of the word, which is to “suffer with.” If you come up with any confounding notions along these lines, please feel free to share them with me. It may prompt a beneficial exchange as to the “limitless” meditation that is zazen.

In the next segment, we will return to consideration of “Election Year Zen” — with all the real-world ethics and civics implications that this focus implies. Please join in the dialog.

* * *

Elliston Roshi is guiding teacher of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center and abbot of the Silent Thunder Order. He is also a gallery-represented fine artist expressing his Zen through visual poetry, or “music to the eyes.”

UnMind is a production of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center in Atlanta, Georgia and the Silent Thunder Order. You can support these teachings by PayPal to donate@STorder.org. Gassho.

Producer: Shinjin Larry Little

  continue reading

100 bölüm

Tüm bölümler

×
 
Loading …

Player FM'e Hoş Geldiniz!

Player FM şu anda sizin için internetteki yüksek kalitedeki podcast'leri arıyor. En iyi podcast uygulaması ve Android, iPhone ve internet üzerinde çalışıyor. Aboneliklerinizi cihazlar arasında eş zamanlamak için üye olun.

 

Hızlı referans rehberi