Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sitting In Chairs Is Not Zazen (part one million and seven continued)

First I'll tell you a story. About three years ago I started getting emails from a guy I didn't know. He'd read my books. He said he was interested in Zen practice. But he had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). His disease had progressed to the point that he had lost most of his core body strength. He could barely sit in a chair let alone on a cushion. He asked what the alternatives might be.

We went back and forth in our emails for a while until we finally settled on a posture that involved him lying on his back on a hard surface with his hands in the traditional Cosmic Mudra. After that I lost contact with him.

About a year later a young guy I didn't know showed up at the Hill Street Center in Santa Monica where I led a weekly zazen meeting each Saturday. After we sat this guy told me that he was the son of the man with MS who I'd been writing to. He told me how happy his father had been with our conversations. He'd practiced zazen in the manner we discussed until he died. His son had come all the way to California to thank me.

This is what I'm talking about when I say it's not necessary to champion the cause of the physically disabled for doing zazen. People with non-standard abilities who are serious about practice will always find their own way. Always. Don't worry about them. Worry about your own practice.

Here's another story. A woman who came to the Hill Street Center for zazen practice told me how happy she was to be sitting with such an easy-going group. When she was seven months pregnant and living in New York City she visited one of the local zen groups. Pointing out her condition, she said that normally she sat on a cushion but asked if she might be allowed to use a chair. They told he no and showed her to the door. At Hill Street Center that day she sat on a cushion. She was no longer pregnant.

And now just a few general observations. In Japan I never once saw a zendo that even had accommodations for people to sit in a chair. I'm not sure what would happen if you asked to do so in your average Japanese Zen temple. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be nice about it. The more traditional Zen temples in the US also don't have many such accommodations for chairs. There are a couple of spots in the corners at Tassajara where people can sit in chairs. Four maybe? As opposed to perhaps 80 or more spots on cushions. I never counted. The zendo at the City Center of the San Francisco Zen Center is similarly equipped. Sitting in chairs is allowed, but it's discouraged by limiting the numbers. The unspoken message is, "These few chairs are for those who really, honestly need them. If that's not you, sit on a cushion and leave the chairs for those who actually need them." They're sort of like the handicapped parking spots outside of Wal Mart in that sense.

I'm saying all this because some people read what I say about sitting on cushions and decide I am the cruelest and most heartless Zen teacher on Earth. Or else they assume I made the whole thing up, that I am the first and only person who ever said this. Furthermore they assume I am only saying this to be mean and nasty, to arbitrarily exclude the unfit from practice like some kind of Nazi dictator of Zen.

The truth is, I'm on the fairly liberal end of the spectrum when it comes to this. The reason it doesn't seem so is because certain of the meditation teachers who get popular and show up on the Internets are the kind who are inclined to make the practice as easy as possible in order to get the most butts on cushions or chairs or anywhere butts will fit. They'd tell you that you could meditate in a recliner if that'd get a few more people in the door. Most of these guys aren't from the Zen tradition. Some are from no tradition at all. But lots of folks these days just mix all the traditions into one and resent it when you tell them there are differences.

In the comments section of my last piece Rob Myers said, "My teacher, Jisho Warner (no relation) says 'You can sit in a chair; it's just harder.'" That's true. One of the most important points in zen practice is keeping the spine straight with little or -- preferably -- no support. It's a balancing act, like riding a bicycle. There's a reason bicycles aren't built with comfy reclining chairs on them. You'd fall over.

When you sit with your back against a chair, you are robbing yourself of that feeling of physical balance. And whenever I've attempted to do something like zazen in a chair, the chair has forced its own ideas of balance upon my body. There is no tilt to the pelvis and therefore no way to make the spine balance on its own.

Those kneeling chairs they make for people who work on computers all day can be modified to make a decent compromise. Because it's not really about how you screw up your legs. You don't have to sit in the full lotus position (I predict in the future at least 27 more people will say, "Brad Warner says you have to sit in the full lotus position" even after I say you don't 39 more times). It's just that the full lotus position creates a really, really stable base for the spine. There is a very good reason it's been a favorite for around 3000 years. Still, there may be other slightly less efficient but still acceptable ways to get the spine to balance.

The standard straight backed chairs you get at the local Furniture Hut are just not one of them. If you really honest to goodness need to sit on a chair you'll have to work a lot harder at zazen than those who sit on cushions on the floor.

Does anyone even care about this? Perhaps not. Not really. Those who want to argue will argue. Those who want comfort at all costs will reject zazen. Which is no problem as far as I'm concerned. Those who want to do practice will do practice.

* * *

Let me tell you about something really exciting!

I was at a used bookstore in Bruxelles yesterday and made the greatest score of my weird sci-fi ephemera collecting career. Just as I was about to leave I spotted a stack of old dusty magazines and decided to rummage through them on my way out. The mags turned out to be issues of Star Cine Cosmos, a French sci-fi mag from the early sixties. The guy wanted three euros each for them.

Among my haul was this issue featuring a cover photo that I think is from the film Planet of the Vampires.

Yet inside is a photo comic of the classic British giant-ape-on-the-loose movie Konga!!

Next up, this one features a cover painting clearly based on the British-made Godzilla rip-off Gorgo:

But inside it's actually a photo comic of the second Godzilla film Godzilla Raids Again aka Gigantis, the Fire Monster!

And finally the most amazing of all, a photo comic of my (almost) favorite film of all time Planeta Bur (Planet of Storms)!!!!

This is the Soviet-made sci-fi epic that later was cut up to become Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women!!!


captcha_hypho said...

Sitting in chairs is not Zazen.

Sitting in chairs is not sitting in chairs.

Zazen is not Zazen.

Fred said...

Sitting in chairs on the planet of
vampires. More swiss cheese brains.

Zen irony. The platform sutra is
a collection of fiction. Looking
under the blanket of voynich you
see what is real.

Anonymous said...

'. If you really honest to goodness need to sit on a chair you'll have to work a lot harder at zazen than those who sit on cushions on the floor'
Let's work hard in chairs, because the ordinary life is usually tough.!

john e mumbles said...

"Worry about your own practice."

Sage advice.

Now, about that pesky ol' "Cosmic Mudra..."

cormorant said...

Actually, I think the front cover is from Robinson Crusoe On Mars.

Unknown said...

Big Smiles - I really appreciate your further consideration of the "to chair or not to chair" issue.

captcha_shethom said...

"Balancing the autonomic nervous system" is not Zazen.

Zazen is not "balancing the autonomic nervous system".

Pseudoscience is not science.

The Date Detective said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J Hudson said...

Under the guidance of a Chinese qigong teacher, I did meditation in a chair for decades before doing zazen. He adjusted my posture and never allowed to lean against the back of the chair. Among the many types of meditations he taught me, the "highest" form of mediation was "don't think anything." Now, to conform to the practices of my sangha, I do zazen on a zafu rather than meditation in a chair. I find the pain of sitting on a zafu a distraction, but isn't that one of the reasons for the zafu and the lotus posture?

Mysterion said...

I'll wait for an authentic vision on this...

even if I must be reborn as Foxes 300 times...

or not.

Anonymous said...

are you thinking that cross=legged sitting have some special effect?
But zazen isn't life itself, northing more, nothing less?
Zazen isn't some special balance, or anything else, but only things as they are.

Mark Foote said...

I would say pain is not one of the reasons to sit zazen on the cushion. Kobun Chino Otogawa said he never had pain in the lotus, neither did he experience any numbness. Sometimes he would sit three seven-day sesshins in a row. Granted, he started zazen at I think age seven.

If we accept that the stretch that we find ourselves in from one moment to the next is capable of generating action without any exercise of volition, and we look to how our sense of place affects our balance and generates activity, we can explore the translations of motion on the cushion from wherever we find ourselves in the moment. Literally. The aversion and attraction enters into the sense of place along with every contact of sense and some contact that is pre-sense, and each thing enters in even before we know it.

I'm realizing that it doesn't remain about aversion and attraction, equanimity spawns absorption and I don't have to be so scared about it. What can I say, a wussy Westerner, but I enjoy my coffee and 40 minutes in the lotus, how weird is that!

ok, thanks. Thanks, Brad, for keeping us all honest. Straightforward.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to disagree with this until every last cow and ox comes home. :)

Zazen, if I am to understand it correctly, is being still enough to quell the noise of the universe, when one's mind is free from thought and one's heart opens, which is the same thing. If you are going to limit such an experience to those who sit on cushions, then dammit, all beings will never be saved from samsara.
The incontrovertible and precious Dharma is true in that it is available to everyone.

Anonymous said...

God Brad, you're such a dolt and you've proven again what an amateur you are when it comes to this sort of thing. First of all there is actually a prescribed way of sitting zazen in the chair: feet flat on the floor back straight and unsupported, which means no leaning back. So all your talk about what the chair-backs should be like is completely irrelevant. Seeing as how you've never really worked with people with medical conditions or spent any real time at a monastery you should probably limit your superficial zen spew to topics you thoroughly know about, like punk rock, the evils of Big Mind, and what is or isn't Enlightenment. Wink, wink.

Anonymous said...

an3drew writes vertically to maximize his footprint. mysterion uses huge gaps to maximize his footprint. These guys have big feet!

anon #108 said...

I've been wanting to post something to sort all this out...y'know, the way you do. I've started from all sorts of angles and given up. I'm left with this:

john e mumbles, (quoting Brad Warner) said...

"Worry about your own practice."

Sage advice.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.

Anonymous said...

Zazen is basically sitting down in silence, so not sure why sitting in a chair is not Zazen ??? at the end of the day Brad is entitled to his opinion ... but this statement is a bit bonkers ...whether it's traditional to sit on the floor in a Japanese Zen center or not.

In our Zen center we don't have many chairs either because they take up more space .. and most people 'prefer' to sit or kneel ; simple as that .. but if the demand was higher for chairs then we would try and get more in, and if we grew in numbers that more people needed a chair ; whether through preference or due to a health issue ; we really would start to look for a bigger venue.

At the end of the day - it's personal choice and as long as you are sitting in silence i.e. practicing Zazen - what does it matter ?

I also don't understand whey Brad would appear to conclude his blog on the subject with the following comment : "Does anyone even care about this? Perhaps not. Not really. Those who want to argue will argue. Those who want comfort at all costs will reject zazen. Which is no problem as far as I'm concerned. Those who want to do practice will do practice" - so why even blog about sitting on chairs in the first place ? if it now appears such a non-issue ?

At the end of the day, sitting in a chair with a straight spine ; either through balanced posture on your sitting bones or with the help of a triangular (wedge type) cushion, or sitting on the floor with your legs wrapped around your head really does not matter, do the best you can without harming yourself physically or worrying whether you will upset the teacher ...

Personally, being told I would be 'allowed' to sit in a chair on the Antwerp or Manchester retreats comes across as a little too narcissistic ; and would put me right off attending !

may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering ...

tattoozen #2 said...

Why are you so pissed off, Anonymous above me? LOL, why do you care so much about what Warner wrote?

Mumon said...

Brad -
Get a Dwolla account.

Paypal's a ripoff.

I don't know if you're getting much $$$ via donations, but if you are, you'd get more of the donation through Dwolla.

I just did it at on my blog; it's easy!

Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

Just back from Eiheiji: They had a few chairs in their (guest-)zendo.

Korey said...

Serious question here Brad:

I know when I first discovered Zen, before I got down to the nitty gritty and started a daily zazen practice, like everyone, I had my ideas of what would come about from practicing Zen. From what I had read and heard, Zen was about being grounded in your core, in the present, and not worrying about past mistakes or the dreaded future.

And over time, this is how it worked in a lot of ways. But in the last couple months or so, the effects of my Zen practice have been the exact opposite in a lot of other ways.

As the fog slowly clears and that mental chatter quiets down, there are less and less of those deluded thoughts and ideas I can use to rationalize my past actions. There's no more room for self-deceit. Lately I feel like my Zen practice has just been drilling me with countless brutal memories of past actions - actions that have little left to hide behind, and damn it sucks.

I guess what I want to know is if all this will eventually run it's course in my mind and exhaust itself eventually? Should I just persevere and push through with my practice despite all these memories that keep popping up on a literally CONSTANT basis all day?

If anything, this will act as a firm reminder to approach future decisions more wisely.

Man, karma really IS a bitch. Fuck...

Anonymous said...

Dear Korey

Awareness is the key. Do we see the stories that we're telling ourselves and question their validity ? When we are distracted by strong emotion, do we try and remember that this our path ?

Can we feel the emotion and breathe it into our hearts for ourselves and everyone else ?

If we can remember to practice like this - even occasionally, we are training as warriors. And when we can't practice and feel distracted, we can learn to give ourselves a break, and still know that we are training well.

Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what is ...


Fred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
an3drew said...

korey writes

"I guess what I want to know is if all this will eventually run it's course in my mind and exhaust itself eventually?"

no, it won't it deepens and creates schizophrenia which is the whole problem with zazen !

like other posters on this board you are missing the experience and understanding of the essential dimension that keeps and nuances sanity

what is



the way you are going you will just join the usual ranks of aging hasbeen and slightly pyschotic zen practioners !

an3drew said...

"even if I must be reborn as Foxes 300 times..."

you have been pencilled in for 1000 rebirths as special education teacher in california !

no visions ever i am afraid just the hell, well have you ever seen inside these places?

an3drew said...

"And when we can't practice and feel distracted, we can learn to give ourselves a break, and still know that we are training well."

not correct pema, you always were a stupid halfway bitch !

an3drew said...

"I don't know if you're getting much $$$ via donations, but if you are, you'd get more of the donation through Dwolla."

lol, there's million bullshit buddhist blogs on the web

an3drew said...

"may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering ...'

may they all rot in hell which they all do anyway!




Khru said...

This comment thread is crappity, crap, crap.

And if you're completely closing your eyes during Zazen then it's NOT really Zazen. You have to keep them partially open to be doing REAL Zazen.

an3drew said...

this thread is crap and pearls which is usually the way it occurs!

what happens if you let go of the necessity for zazen? where ru you ?

afraid to find out?
see the sham for what it was

see real life in the door ?

"a dream within a dream?"


Anonymous said...

If you are thinking then you are not doing zazen. And if you are thinking while sitting in a chair then you are really, really, really not doing zazen. And if you're doing all this while not breathing fully in and out from your hara, then oh man, oh man, you might as well just give up and go back to Sunday Mass, lest you get laughed out of the zendo. Isn't that right, Brad?

an3drew said...

"If you are thinking then you are not doing zazen."

i don't know how to explain this to you but zazan is not some door into infinity!

with infinity zazen does not matter, everything has a natural place and progress, you reflect, you have moments and times of oneness

it's all quite natural but you have to be sensitive to what infinity or buddha is saying and it's quite hard to pick up sometimes

like being on this blog for me, it's frutiful, i don't know why and it's not what i would expect ?

i'm not actually telling you anything, i am saying how something is...........

you are telling me something that you need to to keep your rather pathetic investment in understanding intact

i always let understanding break down and let itself reform, it's the only way to see how it is !

an3drew said...

what's happening is we are just talking back and forth, you are restating your position, but i am letting my understanding reform, i don't know where it's going at all, but i let myself be directed by infinity and as brad warner has said, it's full of surprises !

you can see it even in my limited time on this blog, i am improving but you , while you have changed, you are getting worse !

i am so happy to be amongst dying schizophrenics : o )

Mysterion said...


an3drew said...

mamie van doreen, leader of the gill women and maybe a bit promiscious judging by the list of lovers !

i liked her quote

"I don't wear panties anymore – this startles the Hollywood wolves so much they don't know what to pull at, so they leave me alone."

an3drew said...

mysterion ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz : ! zzzzzzzz

Brad Warner said...

Great Mamie Van Doren quote An3drew!

Anonymous said...

"There's a reason bicycles aren't built with comfy reclining chairs on them. You'd fall over."

R said...

I really doubt Brad’s taste.

an3drew said...

the planet of prehistoric women has some clips on you tube

it's quite an acerbic movie, sort of a wry comment on the power relationships between men and woman
the women set out to kill the men, but they never meet and the men escape in their rocket ship just before they are about to be destroyed

pretty autistic theme actually

Janka said...

For those who really DO need the chair, for e.g. serious knee problems, would putting a wedge-shaped cushion on the chair that helped to tilt the pelvis be helpful in your opinion? Have you tried it that way?

PS. I don't need this information for myself, nor am I "championing"; I am just curious of the answer because it would clarify how you think about the position of the spine.

captcha_phogie said...

Whatever you THINK it is, it is NOT.

an3drew said...

"Whatever you THINK it is, it is NOT.'

grunt zen, stupidity for the stupids !

an3drew said...

all you “silent illumination” heretic's, where's your voice? tongued tied or just empty brains?

just try explaining something coherently and in depth !

any fool can post a few words of denial !

Anonymous said...

let's leave this blog to brad and his buddy andrew

have fun guys.


Anonymous said...

Dear An3drew,

An open schedule is not, as we once thought, freedom. Free time is of a different order than free-dom. Freedom, at least in the dharmic sense, depends on the quality of attention that we bring to our interactions.


Fred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
captcha_decalks said...

"When the best student hears about the way
He practices it assiduously;
When the average student hears about the way
It seems to him one moment there and gone the next;
When the worst student hears about the way
He laughs out loud.
If he did not laugh
It would be unworthy of being the way."

Tao Te Ching, Verse 41,
translated by D.C. Lau

Mysterion said...

By now, it is safe to assume that we have all read Shōyō Daishi ?

captcha_effitemp said...

One cannot find safety in assumptions but some people might find comfort.

Anonymous said...

Show yo' dashiki.

Say it loud: "I'm black and I'm proud!"

Fred said...

Assumptions are a bed of nails.

The Ineffable is the unknown.

Which is easier to lay down on?

Fred said...

By now, it is safe to assume that it is not safe to assume?

Gui Do said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gui Do said...

Pratice, practice, practice ... Obviously practice is a synonym for traditional sitting in the zazen posture, whereas it should be a synonym of your daily deeds done in a certain mindframe. So it survived 3.000 years? No, it didn't. Actually, the Pali canon allows a comfortable posture, that's why Theravada monks are sitting differently. What Brad is saying here is the blindfold of Soto Zen. I have met people with an upright spine who could hold it in their walking and sitting and still had a crooked mind. And I met a children's physician in Cambodia with a terrible posture who refused to pay a fee for visiting the Phnom Koulin mountain so courageuously that the last Khmer Rouge who threatened her finally gave up. It was her practice, the one that deals with helping others and is not worried about her own spine that made her do this - it was imprinted in her mind.

Fred said...

Is sitting in lotus on a pillow
made of wood fibers zazen?

Is sitting on a chair that resembles a pillow zazen?

Is sitting on a pile of words

Is no self sitting upon the
absolute on the other side of
nothing, enlightenment?

How should all these sittings be
differentiated in terms of form and

Gui Do said...

... and by the way, the Shakyamuni Buddha had no cushion ...

Anonymous said...

Shakyamuni had terrible posture. Have you seen some of the sculptures and paintings? He obviously had no discipline whatsoever. And I'm sure Gudo Nishijima would never have authorized him to teach.

Davros king of the Daleks said...

Everyone wants some authority figure to approve of their assumptions. If Brad says sitting in chairs isnt zazen they get mad, why? if they were comfortable with thier chair-sitting practice it wouldnt matter what anyone says.

stop looking for outside validation.


Brian Richardson said...

Hi Brad

Great topic, at least for me, been meditating for decades & that probably helps when I had to transition off the floor, I could manage pain from hip/knee/ankle injury but with heart condition every time I sit on floor my heart goes into palpitations & irregular heartbeat. Sometimes I persist and use palpitations as a focus like some do with ones breath & that helps my heartbeat return to normal. It seems so much easier to find that sweet spot were spine and all line up on the floor facing a wall. ;)

Anyway keep up the great work

Anonymous said...

Buddhism Before the Theravada

The Buddha did not teach in a vacuum. His teachings were directed to those who shared the social world in which he lived. John Peacock, a British scholar who studies and translates in more than a dozen languages and is familiar with the philosophical environment of the Buddha’s day, maintains that by framing the Buddha’s teachings in their original context, it is possible to recover the original meaning of teachings that have been ignored and lost by later Buddhist schools—including the Theravada. This weekend class will examine many of the ways in which Buddhist practice was radically different from the Brahmanical and Upanishadic thinking of the time and, indeed, how it differs in substantive ways from much present day understanding of the Dharma. The exploration will detail the Buddha’s shift away from metaphysical thinking to a focus on internal experience and ethical activity. In the process there will be consideration of how the Buddha’s earliest teachings diverge from much of the western philosophical tradition, and often from what has become the traditional view of the Dharma today as well.

Fred said...

I can't make it past Mr. Peacock's
opening lines, " nothing doesn't
come out of nothing. ", when in
fact nothing comes out of nothing
on all levels in every possible
way. including the sub-atomic.

Perhaps you can explicate the gist
of his presentation.

Fred said...

Buddhism may not have arisen in a
vacuum, but it is incorrect to say
that nothing comes out of nothing.
He is convoluting the idea that
something doesn't arise without
preconditions when there is no
proof for this. So, his choice of
words is sloppy right off the bat.

Leftist Migration Expert John Leo Hatley said...

Dear Brad,

I'm thinking about starting a zazen practice. I'd like to do my sitting in a chair.

My question is this: If I sit in a chair, is it zazen?

Thanks in advance for your carefully considered answer.

Mysterion said...


Mysterion said...







still awake?

Anonymous said...

Yeah I know, all these guys who say Buddha didn't teach in a vacuum, the Stephen Batchelor, John Peacock types always make the claim that if we only knew more about the culture of that time then we can really flush out the meaning of Buddhist scripture. Balderdash I say! This is zen, zen is experiential! You have the same body and brain that Buddha had, that all the patriarchs had, now do something with it! If zen's not for you then who is it for? What other purpose could there be other than to realize the ultimate reality?

And Peacock is wrong. Nothing does come out of nothing. That's called dependent origination, which is what Buddha experienced on his enlightenment. You just have to realize, as most zen masters do, that something and nothing are the same and interchangeable. The words don't matter. Of course academics and scholars like Batchelor or Peacock will never say this because their livelihoods and their paychecks are dependent upon words mattering. Fuck them.

Fred said...

Ok, we've got another couple of
hours before the Patriarch wakes up
and tells us we're all full of shit.
Just enough time to hear how
dukkha is a dirty space or hole,
and maya is yo momma.

Fred said...

"The words don't matter. Of course academics and scholars like Batchelor or Peacock will never say this because their livelihoods and their paychecks are dependent upon words mattering. Fuck them."

So what you are saying is if you
don't need a paycheck, then words
don't matter. Then something and
nothing are the same and there is
no suffering. If there is no
suffering to avoid there is no need
for zazen.

Anonymous said...

In the world of Buddhist commerce whoever makes the prettiest argument wins, gets the fattest paycheck, the most requests for lectures and the like. But these scholars and academics are only of use to the casual Buddhists who are still hung up on philosophy and duality,the people who may have a subscription to Tricycle Magazine but have never done a retreat and probably never will. All of this is fine. But it's just pap for the masses. The real seekers will find it themselves, intuitively, without any of this academic distraction as has always been the case for 3000 years.

Something and nothing are the same as are emptiness and form. Suffering is only perceived suffering; it as an illusion just as all your sensory data is an illusion. But one does not reach this conclusion through argumentation, that is too easy. It is only through suffering that you realize suffering does not exist, and zazen is suffering, let me tell you. 99.9% of Buddhists don't want to suffer. They want the sweet pill, always the sweet pill. Only a few individuals in every generation will actually go for it, and realize for themselves that suffering can only be transcended through suffering. That means no escape, no turning away, no retreat.

"If you find yourself going through hell, keep going."
--Winston Churchill

Anonymous said...

I live in Japan and sit zazen at a local temple. We have an elderly man that sits in a chair. Our priest strikes him with that Kyosaku like everyone else although he seems to strike him a little lighter than he does me.

Anonymous said...

"If you're going through hell, just keep going." - Rodney Atkins

Anonymous said...

if you some how think "shunyata" translates as "nothingness" check out:

Red Pine (Bill Porter) came to Red Cedar Dharma Hall in February, 2008, and gave a two hour class on the Heart Sutra.

Second half of Red Pine’s February 2008 class on the Heart Sutra.

an3drew said...

"Assumptions are a bed of nails.

The Ineffable is the unknown.

Which is easier to lay down on?"

wrong assumptions are a bed of nails right assumptions have to be tested



this IS the ineffable !

death lays us down quick enough, get there




you !

Anonymous said...

"If you're going through hell, just keep going." - Mitt Romney

Mysterion said...

"Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon the seeming ability of another; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are good; these things are not blameable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them."

Buddhism is a party of ONE. It exists in a (sangha) communities, perhaps, but ultimately singular.

So as from it you alone arrive, so to it you alone also take your leave.

it is nothing, nothingness.

Mysterion said...

Hell is not punishment, it's training.
- Shunryu Suzuki


Ersatz D. Chadwick said...

He never said that, Mysterion

Mysterion said...

"The system of hell is not punishment, you know, it is training [Laughter]."

from the transcript of Monday, June 12, 1967

repeated HERE

Also repeated in "Crooked cucumber: the life and Zen teaching of Shunryu Suzuki."
By David Chadwick

I reserve your right to be wrong, Anonymous Ersatz D. Chadwick.

chu said...

Before Zen came to the west, zazen was not just a word. Now it is only a word and can mean whatever you want it to mean.

Anonymous said...

Zen means "fist."

"How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

TerryW said...

"But what makes these 'experts' preach their own opinion and call it truth?" asked the inquirer. "Is it an inheritance of humankind to do this, or is it merely something they gain satisfaction from?" "Apart from consciousness," answered the Buddha, "no absolute truths exist. False reasoning declares one view to be true and another view wrong. It is delight in their dearly held opinions that makes them assert that anyone who disagrees is bound to come to a bad end. But no true seeker becomes embroiled in all this. Pass by peacefully and go a stainless way, free from theories, lusts, and dogmas."

- Majjhima Nikaya

an3drew said...

""Apart from consciousness," answered the Buddha, "no absolute truths exist."



Mark Foote said...
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Mark Foote said...

Alrightee, to the business at hand. Why the cross-legged posture. Positively.

Why the cross-legged posture?- because place in the occurrence of consciousness is utilized by the pulmonary and cranial-sacral respirations to impact stretch and open feeling, and the ligaments that guide place into pitch, roll, and yaw and an ability to feel are most intimately those that attach the sacrum to the pelvis. The lotus on the cushion (or a tree root, back in the day) dictates that the cranial-sacral rhythm place consciousness so as to open feeling throughout the senses, all six. The opening of feeling allows the free occurrence of consciousness with respect to placement, waking up or falling asleep. The free occurrence of consciousness is the cessation (of volitive action) of perception and sensation. One thing after another.

an3drew said...

'The opening of feeling allows the free occurrence of consciousness with respect to placement, waking up or falling asleep.'

even yoga would gag on this sort of barf

maybe it wouldn't


an3drew said...



Anonymous said...

"Nothing comes from nothing"

"Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the middle way.
Something that is not dependently arisen,
Such a thing does not exist
Therefore a non-empty thing
Does not exit."


"The emptiness of the conquerors was taught in order to do away with all philosophical views. Therefore it is said that whoever makes a philosophical view out of “emptiness” is indeed lost."


"Buddhas say emptiness
Is relinquishing opinions.
Believers in emptiness
Are incurable."


The Sutra on Totality

Monks, I will teach you the totality of life. Listen, attend carefully to it and I will speak.

What, monks, is totality ?

It is just the eye
with the objects of sight,
the ear with the objects of hearing,
the nose with the objects of smell,
the tongue with the objects of taste,
the body with the objects of touch
and the mind with the objects of cognition.

This, monks, is called totality.

Now, if anyone were to say, “Aside from this explanation of totality, I will preach another totality,” that person would be speaking empty words, and being questioned would not be able to answer. Why is this ? Because that person is talking about something outside of all possible knowledge.

(Samyutta Nikaya)

an3drew said...

"Nothing comes from nothing"

something comes from nothing and nothing goes to something !

an3drew said...

the cut and paste game


an3drew said...

what idiot readers is totality ?


Yogi Berra said...

If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be

Fred said...

His realization was incomplete.

"Something that is not dependently arisen,
Such a thing does not exist"

Something co-dependently arises
from nothing

Fred said...

J. Krishnamurti:

"So the question then is how to look at the totality of life non-fragmentarily. When we look at the totality of life—not as a Hindu, a Muslim, a communist, a socialist, a Catholic, a professor, or a religious man—when we see this extraordinary movement of life in which everything is included—death, sorrow, misery, confusion, the utter lack of love, and the image of pleasure that we have bred through centuries for ourselves, which dictates our values, our activities—when we see this vast thing comprehensively, totally, then our response to that totality will be entirely different. And it is this response, when we see totally the whole movement of life, that is going to bring about a revolution in ourselves."

chu said...

Who has their own thoughts? I haven't found anything original yet.

Anonymous said...

"Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness; emptiness no other than form. Form is exactly emptiness; emptiness exactly form. Sensation, conception, discrimination, and consciousness are also like this."

What Is Emptiness?

Emptiness (in Sanskrit, shunyata) is a foundational doctrine of Mahayana Buddhism. It is also possibly the most misunderstood doctrine in all of Buddhism. Too often, people assume it means that nothing exists. But this is not the case.

All Phenomena Are Empty

The Heart Sutra continues, with Avalokiteshvara explaining that all phenomena are expressions of emptiness, or empty of inherent characteristics. Because phenomena are empty of inherent characteristics, they are neither born nor destroyed; neither pure nor defiled; neither coming nor going.

Avalokiteshvara then begins a recitation of negations -- "no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, thing," etc. These are the six sense organs and their corresponding objects from the doctrine of the skandhas.

What is the bodhisattva saying here? Red Pine writes that because all phenomena exist interdependently with other phenomena, all distinctions we make are arbitrary.

According to the Mahayana teaching of shunyata, beings and things have no intrinsic existence in themselves. All phenomena come into being because of conditions created by other phenomena. Thus, they have no existence of their own and are empty of a permanent self. There is neither reality not not-reality; only relativity.

This emptiness is not nihilistic. All phenomena are void of self-essence, but it is incorrect to say that phenomena exist or don’t exist. Form and appearance create the world of myriad things, but the myriad things have identity only in relation to each other.

No beings or phenomena exist independently of other beings and phenomena. All beings and phenomena are caused to exist by other beings and phenomena. Further, the beings and phenomena thus caused to exist cause other beings and phenomena to exist. Things and beings perpetually arise and perpetually cease because other things and beings perpetually arise and perpetually cease. All this arising and being and ceasing go on in one vast field or nexus of beingness. And there we are.

In Buddhism, there is no teaching of a First Cause. How all this arising and ceasing began, or even if it had a beginning, is not explained. The Buddha emphasized understanding the nature of things as-they-are over speculation of what might have happened in the past or what might happen in the future. It might be said that the Buddhist version of Genesis is: Stuff happens, because other stuff happens.
Also, things are the way they are because they are conditioned by other things. You are conditioned by other people and phenomena. Other people and phenomena are conditioned by you.

"Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the middle way.
Something that is not dependently arisen,
Such a thing does not exist
Therefore a non-empty thing
Does not exit."


Fred said...


What do you see?

100 said...

Whenever someone mentions Dogma in a Buddhist context, I cringe. Invoking Dogma is just a variation on Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies.

Anonymous said...



Fred said...

Flowing through impermanence there
is nothing that is cringe worthy
other than the dogma i cling to
like a log bouncing in the bubbling
froth of life.

Anonymous said...

Cringing is a natural instinctive response to things we deem repellent. The key to walking the path is to keep cringing until there is no need to cringe anymore, until that instinct of avoidance completely disappears. You realize sooner or late that you are only cringing because that repellent thing you are looking at is actually you. The ego is repellant even to itself. But you must keep looking at it. You must stare it down like the innocent puppy who just shat your fifty thousand dollar alpaca rug, until he finally gets the point. And if that doesn't work, you rub his nose in it, every single time. Sooner or later, he'll learn.

Fred said...

The violence in your words is not
the path.

Anonymous said...

Did you cringe? If so, then you're welcome.

1,000,000 words for not that said...

It was more like an involuntary sympathetic spasm of the autonomic nervous system.

Wo-o-o feelings said...

The Autonomic Nervous System has the fundamental function of feeling all kinds of feelings.

Anonymous said...

If your autonomic nervous system isn't balanced then it's not REAL zazen.

Serious Intellectual said...

The sine qua non of zen is this:

Full lotus position for 45 minutes at a time, followed by 10 minutes of kinhin. Repeat FIVE TIMES. In fact, do not stop until your ANS is fully balanced.

That, my friends, is the only way to practice zen. Anything different isn't inherently evil or wrong. It's simply NOT zen and you are a fraud for attempting to pass your practice off as such.

Anonymous said...

20 minutes in the morning sitting half lotus, again in the evening if you can manage it is as de rigueur as Zen gets. You don't need a teacher, you don't need a sangha. You don't even need Buddhism.

REAL practitioner said...

Get REAL anonymous. 20 minutes? Are you serious? I take poops longer than that.

Mysterion said...

I think 20 minutes is sufficient for the experienced practitioner.

It's only a state of mind your are achieving.

Fred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred said...

Only $300 a year.

John Peacock seems to have quite
a few paying engagements as well.

an3drew said...

Shariputra, i'm just spinning a pile of crap the gullible are going to spew for thousands of years !

an3drew said...

"My commitment to you is to bring forth the Dharma in a way that works with your varied lifestyles and time constraints, one that is affordable and also respects and honors your personal spiritual journey. I have worked alongside the Big Heart staff to provide you options for studying with me that suit your individual needs and interests, and I hope you will join us in continuing to awaken the world and raise global consciousness.


oh kisses from genpo !

he can't even spin the crap as good as you lot!

what a wanker !


an3drew said...

"Get REAL anonymous. 20 minutes? Are you serious? I take poops longer than that."

you will have biofilm issues and scarring of the intestine !

my write up on constipation

basically squatting gets the right muscles working

an3drew said...

"Full lotus position for 45 minutes at a time, followed by 10 minutes of kinhin. Repeat FIVE TIMES. In fact, do not stop until your ANS is fully balanced."

full lotus 45 minutes is sue-ably thrombotic for some over the age of 45

yoga teachers show more caution than you guys, they understand some of the real world issues !

an3drew said...

fred you have got brain blood sugar problems or something, you really have to look at the dietary side

chromium for instance !

an3drew said...

better than zazen, a half hour workout posting on the hardcore zen blog ! good for the circulation and gets the brain going

and totally futile which is very zen : o)

an3drew said...

a warning on health, i don't know if you are familiar with bonnie treace (myotai in the zen parlance crap), but she was john loori's most competent dharma heir and really the only one capable of keeping the mt. tremper “monastery” going in any state of intellectual vigour but she got fibromyalgia which is rather dehabilitating so john got rid of her (ex-lover !) and unfortunately for her she is a total buyer of the conventional medical paradigm which can doing nothing for it so is on the gruelling slide downhill into the usual chronic health problems of zen

at the end of the day if you don't have health you don't have anything !

cause zazen is very still the lymph doesn't move and i think it was abig factor in dogen getting TB and a lot of the current health issues in long time sitters, no lymph movement you are going to get cancer more readily and permit stealth viruses and the like to get afoothold

genpo merzel has the right idea, lots of sex and miminal sitting !

genpo if you read this , i will point out you have a right of reply, for the reader, if you see no reply, mr. merzel has flaked out on “big mind” in a way even a child can see !

Mark Foote said...

The Gautamid walked 20 miles almost daily, from what I've read in the Pali Cannon- going between villages. They didn't start sitting all through the rainy season until there were a lot of monks.

Here's one for you, An3drew:

(Anyone)…knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye—neither to that is (such a one) attached. …(Such a one’s) physical anxieties decrease, and mental anxieties decrease, and bodily torments… and mental torments… and bodily fevers decrease, and mental fevers decrease. (Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind).

Whatever is the view of what really is, that for (such a one) is right view; whatever is aspiration for what really is, that for (such a one) is right aspiration; whatever is endeavour for what really is, that is for (such a one) right endeavour; whatever is mindfulness of what really is, that is for (such a one) right mindfulness; whatever is concentration on what really is, that is for (such a one) right concentration. And (such a one’s) past acts of body, acts of speech, and mode of livelihood have been well purified.

(Majjhima-Nikaya, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338, ©Pali Text Society)

And a favorite practice:

So he abides fully conscious of what is behind and what is in front.
As (he is conscious of what is) in front, so behind: as behind, so in front;
as below, so above: as above, so below:
as by day, so by night: as by night, so by day.
Thus with wits alert, with wits unhampered, he cultivates his mind to brilliancy.

(Sanyutta-Nikaya, text V 263, Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 235, ©Pali Text Society)

The thing I want to do, is figure out what's important in learning to sit the lotus and hope it matters to somebody who is trying to learn. What do you think?

an3drew said...

mark you have to start thinking for yourself and not let others thinkg for you !

when you do that you conclusions will be quite different from what they are now !

an3drew said...
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john e mumbles said...

Thanks for the passages from the Pali Canon, Mark.

Here's one I put into practice:

Anonymous said...

Buddha teaches that we don't have to be anything special. Practice is to be our life exactly as t is Buddha sit cross legged because that was the nothing special way of sitting in India Sitting in chairs in the west is the nothing special way of practice here. what we already are, thus nothing special or exotic. Nothing special. Western zazen is sitting in chairs. Nothing special. Buddha said that practice is to be the ordinary western people that we already are. Nothing more or less, balanced or not.

Phoebus said...

Comrade Brad! You like Planeta Bur? This PROVES you are enlightened! Best science fiction movie ever made!

Incidentally, I used to sit on a seiza bench and recently finally was able to switch to a zafu and quarter lotus position after a year of trying. The difference is substantial. One has to experience the difference to understand. I used to doubt that such things matter but the experience convinced me and I conclude that it is much better on zafu with quarter lotus. Same thing happened when I switched from chair to seiza: the improvement was big. Next step is half lotus soon I hope.

Jean said...

Sitting in chairs is zazen for cats, also lying sprawled out in a comfy chair or comfy lap, also lying on their backs doing the dead cat imitation that is so startling if the cat is old. Cats do zazen these ways because their attention is so purrrfect. Purrrfect means excellent almost always instead of less often, usually much less often, which is the human way.

Jean said...

Cats sitting in chairs is zazen, also cats in comfy chairs or laps, sprawled out on their tummies, curled up, or lying on their backs in an odd sprawl appearing to be dead. Cats can practice in this way because they are purrrfect. Purrrfect does not mean perfect but rather that their attention is usually excellent and steady. Human attention is usually... what was I typing?

Mysterion said...

pick it up on about page 130 of

Traditions of meditation in Chinese Buddhism
by Peter N. Gregory, Kuroda Institute

Sitting is sitting - even if it is standing.

adom kash said...

I would love to win because I have trouble sleeping on my current mattress. I broke my clavicle bone 2 years ago and ever since it seems my mattress is too hard to get comfortable. Thanks for the chance to win.
Cat Beds

Anonymous said...

Advise for chair sitting: place a rolled towel under your tailbone. This rotates the pelvis slightly forward and throws the spine into the proper curve.