Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Zazen is a Balance Pose


Someone wrote me this:

So I have a question relating to proper posture. I graduated from massage therapy school about a year and a half ago. It's taught me to be much more aware of my body, more cognizant of what's going on.

Recently I've noticed some unhealthy things going on with my zazen and I was wondering if you could help me pick the lesser of two evils.

I generally sit Burmese style on a crescent shaped zafu. This has started to really make my knees and ankles hurt. Not the kind of hurt you get from sitting zazen for 30 minutes; the kind of hurt you get when you're starting to damage a joint. It's difficult for me to get up and walk after sitting like this.

So I've been trying a seiza bench so that I can keep my knees on the ground. This doesn't hurt my knees or back too badly, but it makes my arms, wrists and hands very uncomfortable. In Burmese posture I rest my hands in the cosmic mudra on my lap. But on the bench I don't really have a lap, just my thighs that angle away from me toward the floor. This causes my hands to be kinda pressed into my belly above my belt buckle. It makes my shoulders rotate forward, putting undue stress on my rhomboids. At the end of a sitting I'm quite sore from my upper back all the way down to my fingers. My wrists pop loudly and end up very stiff.

So I'm wondering what to do. I can sit on a higher bench, with my legs crossed but my knees off the ground. This will alleviate my upper back and arm pain since my hands can rest in my lap. Or I can sit on the bench, with my knees touching the ground, and put my hands on my thighs without making the mudra.

Is one more desirable than the other?


I answered thusly:

Hmmmmmmm....

I always have a hard time with questions like these because I've never had these kinds of difficulties.

The really crucial part of the zazen posture is keeping your spine straight -- that is, upright. You're not trying to make it unnaturally poker straight. It's a balance pose in which the spine is balanced on the hips. If you've done Tree Pose in Yoga, that's also a balance pose. But you're standing rather than sitting so it is very clear when you lose balance. In a seated balance pose, you can lose balance and not fall over.

So, I would say focus on that as your criteria. The full lotus posture is recommended because for most people, that's the best way to achieve a seated balance pose. But if this doesn't work for you, try adjusting your posture with your main criteria being to keep the spine balanced and erect. What happens with your legs and arms is less crucial. Although, I do believe the standard pose allows for energy to move through the body is a balanced way. So I would try getting as close to that as possible.

OK?

***

This is an example of how I deal with specific questions about posture when they are asked in a specific way by specific people. Giving general posture advice is much trickier because you never know who is reading you and how they're going to take it.

A lot of the general advice I see handed out these days about meditation and posture seems to be trying really, really, really hard to make it as user friendly and easy as possible. A lot of this advice makes it seem like you can sit any way you want to and everything will be just fine. It's very soft and huggy and sweet.

I'm never really sure what people are going for when they present it this way. A lot of times it feels to me like they're just trying to get butts in seats. The easier they make meditation seem, the more people will listen to them and this, in turn, makes their books sell better and gets more people in the door at their retreats.

But not everyone who presents it in this way is so mercenary. I've also seen teachers who are concerned that students not injure themselves. Like me, they have no way of knowing who might be reading what they write or watching their YouTube videos and suchlike. There's always the chance that someone out there in Internet Land or Book Reader Land or wherever either has some serious issue with their knees and legs or is just so gung-ho they're gonna force themselves into a posture they're not ready for. Rather than risk encouraging such people to do themselves harm, they tell them that sitting in chairs is also fine.

I struggle with this. I know for a fact and through my own personal experience that the traditional posture is critcal to zazen practice. I've also seen a number of people who truly cannot get into that posture but want to do zazen anyway. In my experience, these people always -- always -- find a way to either do what's necessary to prepare their bodies for the correct posture or, if that's not possible, to find some reasonable compromise. Will they get enlightened this way? Beats me! But I think some of them will find what they're looking for. They have as much chance of that as anyone else.

On the other hand, if they're not so keen on zazen in the first place they just give it up.

Zazen practice requires a certain degree of commitment. It's just like anything else worth doing. I try to deal with this the way I'd deal with someone who wanted instructions on how to play bass.

If they had all their fingers, I'd show them the standard method for playing bass and tell them to practice a lot. If they had just one finger on their left hand (and they were right handed) but they were very committed to playing bass in spite of this, I'd try to work with them to find a way to play. Django Reinhardt was a brilliant guitarist who could only use two of the fingers on his left hand. He was committed and found a way.

If, on the other hand, I had a student who had all his fingers but just didn't want to use them or to practice regularly, I'd tell him to get another teacher. I might even tell him he's not going to get very far with that attitude. Maybe that's not what he wants to hear. Maybe he won't like me for saying that. But hearing it might do him a bit of good.

If I were writing a standard book on bass playing I would tend to pitch it for people with all their fingers who were willing to practice. I'd tell them their fingers might hurt or even bleed a little at first, but that this would go away with continued practice. I'd encourage them not to give up just because it hurts at first. I'd tell them the pain was worthwhile. Because it was for me.

I wouldn't use up a lot of space in that book dealing with the problems of playing bass with one finger. I would figure that people with special needs like that would find their own way to either make what I wrote work for them, or find someone who could help them individually.

This is how I feel about zazen practice. I think that the vast majority of people can do the standard pose. Some may need to work at it. Others can do it right away. But there's a reason that pose has been standard for 2,500 years. It is not arbitrary. It is worth working at, if that's what it takes. I don't tell the general public it's fine to use chairs because I don't think that helps anyone very much. It only encourages people who don't want to bother with the traditional posture not to work at it. I figure those who actually need to use chairs will find their own way just like a guy who really wants to play bass but only has one finger.

I worked at the posture. It hurt. But it was worthwhile. I'm glad I put in the effort and I'm glad I had a teacher who pushed me to do so, who saw that I could do the posture if I tried.



AND AGAIN, FOR ANYONE WHO PLANS TO YELL AT ME ABOUT FULL LOTUS -- THERE ARE TRADITIONAL POSTURES OTHER THAN THE FULL LOTUS, SUCH AS HALF LOTUS AND BURMESE STYLE. SO WHEN I TALK ABOUT THE TRADITIONAL POSTURE I AM NOT TALKING EXCLUSIVELY ABOUT FULL LOTUS.

(Sorry for yelling, but whenever I say anything about the traditional posture I get a dozen commenters screaming bloody murder about full lotus.)

200 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brad sed:
AND AGAIN, FOR ANYONE THOSE WHO PLANS TO YELL AT ME ABOUT FULL LOTUS -- THERE ARE TRADITIONAL POSTURES OTHER THAN THE FULL LOTUS, SUCH AS HALF LOTUS AND BURMESE STYLE. SO WHEN I TALK ABOUT THE TRADITIONAL POSTURE I AM NOT TALKING EXCLUSIVELY ABOUT FULL LOTUS.

No one asked you about the above.
I'm just wanting you to clarify what you mean when you say "Sitting in a chair is NOT zazen".

Jinzang said...

Some people just don't give up, do they?

Brad Warner said...

No they don't.

But I think I've said all I want to about this. At least for now.

Anonymous said...

Here is a reason for you, if you truly wish for one.

I know a practitioner who broke his neck skiing. It was a bad cervical break, lost all movement in his legs with limited movement in his hand that he uses to operate his chair. He wasn't one of the "lucky" ones who cannot feel his limbs... to him, his nerves are still firing, and it makes him feel like he is burning. That his limbs are on fire... 24/7. Day and night.

He will NEVER... EVER be able to sit with his knees on the floor.
He will NEVER... EVER be able to sit erect, he looks perpetually slumped...
He cannot even put his hands in the Cosmic Mudra.

But the man sits like his life depended on it - and sits more full week sesshins than you probably do in a year.

Now the Question!

Is he doing Zazen? Or is he just wasting his time because he cannot control his body to the point where he can wrench his legs into a certain position on the floor>

Anonymous said...

If you want to know the reason I am pressing you Brad, that was it.

Brad Warner said...

I know a practitioner who broke his neck skiing. It was a bad cervical break, lost all movement in his legs with limited movement in his hand that he uses to operate his chair. He wasn't one of the "lucky" ones who cannot feel his limbs... to him, his nerves are still firing, and it makes him feel like he is burning. That his limbs are on fire... 24/7. Day and night.

He will NEVER... EVER be able to sit with his knees on the floor.
He will NEVER... EVER be able to sit erect, he looks perpetually slumped...
He cannot even put his hands in the Cosmic Mudra.

But the man sits like his life depended on it - and sits more full week sesshins than you probably do in a year.

Now the Question!

Is he doing Zazen? Or is he just wasting his time because he cannot control his body to the point where he can wrench his legs into a certain position on the floor


Of course he's doing zazen.

Sheesh. I've already made that abundantly clear.

Enough already.

the truth hurts said...

I don't have any physical disabilities (thankfully), and despite trying and trying and trying and trying for years, I have never gotten any closer to even being able to sit in half-lotus or burmese position. My knees are always up in the air, and no matter how hard I press them down, they bounce back up.

I've still been trying to sit in the correct way, despite making no progress. Why? Because if full lotus is the correct way, then it's the correct way. If I don't get into that pose, I'm not doing zazen.

If someone's not tall enough to dunk a basketball, and they never will be tall enough, then they never will dunk the basketball. Too bad for them. They will never know what that feels like. You can say, "Well, standing on a chair and jumping up to dunk kind of feels like that," but that's nonsense. It isn't the same thing. Some experiences are simply not available to all people. Zazen may be one of them.

I will never know what it is like to actually do zazen, no matter how much I sit.

Anonymous said...

And no Jinzang, I don't give up.

Anonymous said...

DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER FOLKS!

Brad sed:
Of course he's doing zazen.

Sheesh. I've already made that abundantly clear.

Enough already.


Thank you Brad, That was all I needed to hear, I am done grilling you now.
Topic is dropped.

Sitting in a chair *IS* zazen.

Jinzang said...

Priest Jianyuan of Tan once accompanied his teacher, Daowu, on a condolence call to a family funeral. When they arrived, he tapped the coffin and said, “Is this life, or is this death?”
Daowu said, “I won’t say life, I won’t say death.”
Jianyuan said, “Why won’t you say?”
Daowu said, “I won’t say, I won’t say.”
On their way back Jianyuan said, “You should say it quickly for me, teacher, or I will hit you.”
Daowu said, “Hit me if you will, but I will not say.” Jianyuan hit him.
After returning to the monastery Daowu said to Jianyuan, “You should take leave for a while; I’m afraid if the head monk finds out about this he will make trouble for you.”
After Daowu passed away, Jianyuan went to see Daowu’s successor Shishuang, told him the story, and asked for guidance. Shishuang said, “I won’t say life, I won’t say death.”
Jianyuan said, “Why won’t you say it?”
Shishuang said, “I won’t say, I won’t say.” Jianyuan immediately realized it.

Jinzang said...

And no Jinzang, I don't give up.

why not?

anon #108 said...

FWIW Anonymous, I get why you pushed and pushed. I applaud the fact that you didn't give up and that, responding to Brad's various responses, you finally reduced your argument to one (kind of) essential question.

So thanks for the questions, and thanks to Brad for the answers. Good, albeit somewhat tetchy, stuff.

Kobutsu said...

I began sitting full lotus 44 years ago... I've been sitting Burmese now for about 38 years. Perhaps ten years ago I started having knee trouble, had surgery on my left knee but it offered no improvement. Now I am a hair's breath away from a knee replacement, the only thing holding it at bay right now is an orthopedic knee brace. I can still crank into Burmese but I know that doing so slowly contributes to the thinning of the inner porting of the meniscus. It strikes me that there are just certain body-types who are unsuited for sitting cross legged on the floor. Being an Irish "fire hydrant" type is perhaps one such. Still, I have no regrets... in Zazen, everything is about posture, posture, posture!

anon #108 said...

Hmm...Just seen your post @9.43am - -

You wrote: DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER FOLKS! ...

Sitting in a chair *IS* zazen.

Brad had wrote: Of course he's doing zazen.

Anyway...

Captcha = steredg knowass

Kyoku said...

I started having knee trouble a while ago. A couple of times I ended up sitting in a chair. I found that I had some pride issues with this. I'd worked hard at being able to sit Burmese comfortably, and now I was sitting in a chair like some, um, chair-sitting person! So that was an interesting thing to encounter.
Now I'm back to Burmese but with cushions supporting my knees. It ain't pretty, but it beats the chair. The chair is no picnic: sore back etc.. I certainly prefer Burmese even if I do have to have this great wall of cushions on either side supporting my knees. And I can focus on that good old straight back and head held high.

Anonymous said...

I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE YELLING ABOUT !!!

Jinzang said...

If I haven't destroyed any good will I might have, here's my advice, Anonymous.

First, are you sitting with a group. If so, it's *far* better to take their advice than anything I might say here, because they can see you, know you, etc.

Here's the standard spiel I give when new people come to our group. The most important point is to sit witha straight, unsupported back is a posture you can forget because it is not too painful and not precarious. When you sit, you need to have your butt higher than your knees, otherwise you won't have proper balance. This means the cushion is the proper height. The firm square cushion (gomden) works best for people who are big or knees rise up high. Try "test driving" the cushion if you can. If your knees stick up, try leaving your legs uncrossed and unsupported. Don't do what I have seen some do, stuff cushions under each knee. Leaving your legs unsupported will let gravity to gradually stretch the muscles in your legs, so that they lower. Have Burmese posture as you first goal, then you can try for "quarter lotus" (foot on calf) and progress from there.

Tom Swiss said...

"Sitting in a chair *IS* zazen."

For that guy, yes.

In the legends of my karate school, there is a tale of a guy who broke his leg shortly before his black belt promotion. Rather than postponing the test, for the sparring portion they put him in a wheeled office chair, with someone behind to push him around, and had him fight from there.

(Since he couldn't back up, this was perhaps a harder test than people who could stand.)

Is sitting in a chair karate? For that guy, at that moment, it was. For some people in wheelchairs, it will always be. Does that imply any random person sitting in a chair is doing karate? No.

Bodhidharma's Beard said...

"Although, I do believe the standard pose allows for energy to move through the body in a balanced way." - Brad Warner

What form of energy?
Thermal?
Kinetic?
Chemical?
Magnetic?
Electrical?
Electrochemical?
Electromagnetic?
Elastic?
Nuclear?
Sound?
Orgone?

How is a "balanced way" of energy movement different from an unbalanced way?

What verifiable evidence can you present to support your belief?

Daniel said...

Brad said: "A lot of the general advice I see handed out these days about meditation and posture seems to be trying really, really, really hard to make it as user friendly and easy as possible. A lot of this advice makes it seem like you can sit any way you want to and everything will be just fine. It's very soft and huggy and sweet.

I'm never really sure what people are going for when they present it this way."


Brad what these people like me are going for is that we've been doing this stuff long enough to realize that it doesn't matter if you sit in full lotus posture or in seiza or whatever. Truth is you just got used to this because you did it this way for a long time. Your brain remembers that.

But for someone who just starts it doesn't matter. I always feel sorry for you when I read such rather strict rules you write about. I understand well that you have to do this to distinguish "Soto-Zen" from the many other schools of mindfulnes-meditation. But this way you'll always have to find weird reasons for that posture.

Fact is that any advanced meditator can be put lying in a magnetic resonance imaging machine and you can see that they get into "meditation" (lots of gamma activity etc) quite easily.

You never did "Zazen" sitting in a train or plane?! Or walking?! Your "meditation" is limited to the hour or something you sit on the ground?! Cmon, now laugh and have a look a the truth! :)

It's a dogma. Get over it. You're doing the same mistake most religions/traditions do...instead get real and take a honest look at why "zazen" works!

Daniel

anon #108 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

But Daniel,

What if zazen - the zazen that Brad is talking about - is not just a mental activity whose effectiveness can be assessed by analysing what your brain and its waves are doing "(lots of gamma activity etc)", but is an activity done with and by all of you?

anon #108 said...

...Like bass playing or karate?

mike papas said...

Brad, I think your response was good. Sometimes I think of Zen as being a practice of trying to do the impossible. Like sit perfectly still, or have a perfectly clear mind. We can do these things for a while but they are not really possible to "attain." Yet, we just do our best, and there is a lot of value in that. Even if we are screwing up in some major way I think we still grow in compassion and wisdom by walking the path as best we can. I also believe a lot of the rigorous, difficult, painful ( and valuable ) practice of traditional Zen was just perfect for a monastery full of 16 - 30 year old Japanese guys.Here in the USA we have much more diverse sangha communities.

Mysterion said...

Yep...

Exercise - even isometric exercise - and diet.

Buddha was no fat man. First, give up the myth that he was fat.

Second, give up the myth of "diet soda." It actually enhances obesity. Even the republicans get this.

TAXILA: "Taxila is the center of the famous Gandhara civilization that flourished here some two thousand years ago. Located south of the river Indus, Taxila is only about 30 kilometers from Rawalpindi, a little off the main highway. Steeped deep in history, the excavations at Taxila take you back 2,500 years into the world of Buddha, Alexander, Ashoka and of course the emperor Kanishka whose imprints are visible to this day."

Statue of starving Buddha - 200 BCE

If you are even 35 pounds overweight, work on that ALONG WITH settling in on a Zafu.

Or don't.

It makes no difference to me - or anyone else than YOU.

Anonymous said...

As a point of order...
When I said: "Ding ding ding we have a winner folks!" it was not a declaration of victory over Brad. It was a poorly conceived way of declaring that Brad had played the final, winning move.

(It was another one of the many reminders that my particular sense of humor does not translate well into straight text...)

boubi said...

Hi Brad

You just said "standard pose allows for energy to move through the body ".

Very interesting.

Could you tell something more about it?

Harry said...

There is certainly a lot of 'magical thinking' going on in zen about zazen as far as I can see.

Master Nishijima's ANS theory, whether it was the intention or not, can be and has been seen as a sort of rational excuse for the magic thought that sitting cross legged for an hour a day will make us all better and balanced eventually... and I think there actually is a truth in that, but it's not the whole truth (if we are observing buddhist tradition, and certainly Master Dogen's records, that is), and it is very restrictive to assume it is the whole truth (just as one might assume that there is one 'true god', one 'true way', one 'true posture', one 'true buddhism' or other such ideas that we make up in our littel heads).

This can be contrasted to Master Dogen's approach which was to sit 'dropping off body and mind' (including the 'balanced' body and mind) and bring the experience to bear creatively and insightfully on questions such as the nature of self, time, buddhist theory, existence, thought, words etc etc etc...

The problem with the 'just sitting is enlightenment' fallacy as merely an object of redundant belief/faith is that:

1. It's too easy, and would not likely have us make the effort of bringing our practice to bear on all aspects of ourselves and all aspects of our existence and...

2. It's a very self defeating sort of assumption/ belief in that it negates effort other than just sitting... and it panders to the age-old imbalance towards anti-intellectualism and group un-think in zen... can make zen zombies/ vacant 'yes men' in other words.

The fallacy has also been used as a sort of materialist denial of realisation/enlightenment which is particularly lamentable. It devalues the insight that is one of the main features of Buddhism. The term 'enlightenment' is undoubtedly problematic given the nature of our habitual striving after ideas and goals, but to respond to that situation with just a sort of vacant blanket denial really does not seem to be a clever response, and it was certainly not Master Dogen's response, nor the response of countless other Buddhist ancestors.

Regards,

Harry.

Colin said...

Anon,

read comment above from Tom Swiss and get real, ye Teen Jundo. Ah'm sure ye haven't practiced zazen a bit, ye twat. Ah bet yir around 14 years old and ye live in yir parent's basement. Get real and grow up. Go out playing fitba and forget this stupid Zen shite.

And try tae understand this: zazen in chair IS NOT zazen, unless a person can't practice zazen elsewhere.

And Harry: piss off, ye arrogant cunt who is trying tae play smart. Ye don't know a shite of yir aunt's arse.

Anonymous said...

Brad, I find that because of my body type the easiest position for me to meditate in is laying down with a small cushion under my head. I have tried and tried to "sit" in a chair but because of stability issues I have found that position impossible even after years of trying. My question to you is, Is laying down with a small cushion under my head Zazen? Thank you.

GHOST said...

Brad, I am disembodied spirit. I have no corporeal form or any physical substance whatsoever. If I were to "possess" a Zen practitioner who was using a seiza bench, would that be correct? Or should I only haunt/possess someone in full lotus?

Bob said...

Kobutsu Malone.. I remember you from efnet #Tibet back in the day. Damn, it's a small internet..

Rhysman said...

All I can say is:

Holy atomic bomb Batman!!!

Please correct me if I'm wrong but...
Hui-neng was enlightened just by hearing the heart sutra once.

I think enlightenment comes when it comes. To quote Brad "Sit Down and Shut Up"

Rhysman said...

One more question for Brad,

Where did you get the pic of the hot chick with the dreads and ankle tat?

Anonymous said...

Rhysman, That's one of Brad's Suicide Girls. He's a dog.

Jeepers Reekers said...

Enlightenment comes from turning on the light in yet another self-loathing gay republican's closet.

gniz said...

I like Brad's newest post. He's slowly clearing up the miscommunication...

Some of his examples, and others' examples, make a good point about how differing circumstances create different answers.

However, the logic--if you follow it all the way down--leads to this. You don't NEED any particular position to do what needs doing.

Zazen is not separate from life, and what you "attain" when in that position is not something unique to it. Just like doing downward dog is not more "healthy" than jumping jacks.

I can enjoy playing guitar with two fingers, or some people listen to music even if they're deaf--through vibrations.

The notion that there is only one position to accomodate enlightenment or any other so-called spiritual attainment is dogma at best and insanity at worst.

So do it if it works for you, but please--spare me the b.s. that only sitting zazen can you "get it."

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

zazen is a placebo
after practicing 12/30 year you will gain a miraculous thing: your very ordinary life

Jinzang said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong but...Hui-neng was enlightened just by hearing the heart sutra once.

It was the Diamond Cutter Sutra.

john e mumbles said...

H. C. R.I.P.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/books/harry-crews-writer-of-dark-fiction-is-dead-at-76.html

Anonymous said...

Anon sed:
"Brad, I find that because of my body type the easiest position for me to meditate in is laying down with a small cushion under my head. I have tried and tried to "sit" in a chair but because of stability issues I have found that position impossible even after years of trying. My question to you is, Is laying down with a small cushion under my head Zazen? Thank you.

I think I smell a troll... but I will throw my 2 cents in.

It's funny, but me and Brad don't differ too much really when you get down to it.
We both agree that lotus is by far, bar none, the most stable position for zazen - followed by half-lotus, followed by Burmese, followed by seiza, and the least stable is a chair.

(Let's face it, if you fall asleep, you have a lot farther to go before your head hits the ground...)

I have actually sat with a group affiliated with the Rochester Korean Zen folks, where this one lady would sit one period in a chair... and in the next would roll out this extra long zabuton and do the next period lying down.
(I heard snoring on more than one occasion.)
Now is doing zazen while lying down zazen...?
Sure - if you are doing zazen.
If you are sleeping...? Not so much.

Conversely, is doing zazen while in a lotus where your feet are so high on your hips that you can scratch your ears with your toes zazen...?
Sure - if you are doing zazen.
But if you are asleep in the lotus...? Not so much.

As far as sitting in a chair... There *IS* a difference between "sitting in a chair" and "SITTING in a CHAIR" - your body's position is a reflection of what is going on in the mind... I've seen dudes with impressive lotus legs sitting rock solid, but with the thumbs of their mudra both sticking straight up in the air like antennae - they were probably having a Big Titty Makyo...

Time is the true test however - this practice is the endeavor of a lifetime, not 2 weekends out of the year...
If you are doing what works for you, and you are truly doing your best, then I wouldn't be too worried.

Mark Foote said...

The lotus is a posture that allows feeling for the pivots of the sacrum.

These gentleman have the balls of their feet on the sacrum, no doubt they are breathing to their heals being true men- er, gods.

These gals are perched on the ligaments that tie the sacrum to the pelvis, you can bet they are giving them a good stretch!

uh-oh, the curse of Khru if I write this sentence...

Jinzang said...

"Although, I do believe the standard pose allows for energy to move through the body in a balanced way." - Brad Warner

What form of energy?


It's called prana in Sanskrit, rlung in Tibetan.

How is a "balanced way" of energy movement different from an unbalanced way?

There are different, pathological, ways the energy can be unbalanced. When balanced, the energy settles in the navel chakra.

What verifiable evidence can you present to support your belief?

Whenever I hear the word verifiable, I think here is another person that has not heard positivism has been dead for the past 50 years.

Spider from Goodfellas said...

I remember seeing Brad on a YouTube video talking about whether Buddhists "jack off."

Brad's response, and I'm paraphrasing a VERY tiny bit here, was that "I jack off daily and I sometimes do it while on my cushion, leading to a cumshot while sitting zazen."

Unless Brad jacks off while in the lotus, I'm thinking that his advice is uneven and inconsistent.

Sylvia said...

"Although, I do believe the standard pose allows for energy to move through the body in a balanced way." - Brad Warner

Braaaad.. Can you give an example of what that could possibly mean? Energy moving through the body in a balanced way?? I'm sorry but that sentence is really creepy.

Daniel said...

I think we can all agree that different circumstances dictate what a person is and is not capable of.
I think that zazen requires us to do the best that we possibly can with what we have. Nothing more. Nothing less.

proulx michel said...

Colin said

And Harry: piss off, ye arrogant cunt who is trying tae play smart. Ye don't know a shite of yir aunt's arse.

That's a tad harsh on poor Harry. His
"The problem with the 'just sitting is enlightenment' fallacy (...) is that:
1. It's too easy (...)
2. It (...) negates effort other than just sitting... and it panders to the age-old imbalance towards anti-intellectualism and group un-think in zen... can make zen zombies/ vacant 'yes men' in other words.

The fallacy (...) devalues the insight that is one of the main features of Buddhism."


has quite a good lot of good sense in it. What I observe, however, is that the words of anyone (here Nishijima or Brad) taken out of context tend to be subject to a lot of criticism. Nevertheless, you shall observe that Brad, in his first book, tells of an anecdote ("Eating a tangerine is real enlightenment") which shows that things are not so clean cut.

The problem with the E word is that, like so many other things, as long as you expect it, it never comes ("A watched pot never boils").

Therefore, the recourse to some negation of it doesn't seem so foolish...

Bodhidharma's Beard said...

"It's called prana in Sanskrit, rlung in Tibetan."
"There are different, pathological, ways the energy can be unbalanced. When balanced, the energy settles in the navel chakra."
"Whenever I hear the word verifiable, I think here is another person that has not heard positivism has been dead for the past 50 years." - Jinzang

Evidence that is not verifiable is not really evidence. Your explanations don't actually explain anything. They only beg more questions.

Anonymous said...

Learn to stand on one toe!

Anonymous said...

I agree that zazen is a Balance Pose. Thus you won't gain anything with some pose. You are deluded thinking that you are gaining something of a pose. Zazen is useless, I love it.

john e mumbles said...

"What verifiable evidence can you present to support your belief?"

Mrs. Romney was asked about her husband's unyielding game face, "Do you have to fight back some criticism, like 'my husband isn't stiff, ok'?"

Caught on the defensive, she laughed and responded, "Well, you know, I guess we better unzip him and let the real Mitt Romney out because he is not!"

Anonymous said...

Ok... so the impression I am starting to get again is that Shikantaza - as far as Dogen Sangha International is concerned - is basically a seated position with no mind instructions...? As Harry said:

"Master Nishijima's ANS theory, whether it was the intention or not, can be and has been seen as a sort of rational excuse for the magic thought that sitting cross legged for an hour a day will make us all better and balanced eventually."

So I guess (if any Dogen Sangha International folks wish to answer this) my question is then, is that why posture stressed so much?

I read a collection of talks on Shikantaza (the Art of Just Sitting) and did you know that there is a picture of Shikantaza that's presented there that seems different from the Shikantaza that you teach? It's not just physical position, but a very specific mental awareness of thought.

Mark Foote said...

Practice and verification, to me: realize the activity necessary to the movement of breath in the movement of breath, and realize activity precipitated by the place of occurrence of consciousness in the occurrence of consciousness.

This morning my practice consisted of activity in the sartorius and gluteus muscles that rotates the pelvis on the hips, and activity in the piriformis muscles that rotates the sacrum opposite to the pelvis. Sartorius from below the knee to the wings of the pelvis on each side, longest muscle in the body; gluteus from the ilio-tibial tract on the outside of the legs to the sacrum; piriformis from the upper leg bones under the notch of the pelvis to the front of the sacrum. This rotation/counter-rotation keeps the pressure out of my knees in the lotus.

Verification, helps to accept the stretches that approach painful and the stretches that approach pleasant in the place of occurrence of consciousness.

Good morning!

Mark Foote said...

"Dogen said: "To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self."

Simply by being where we are, we can come to forget the self. The sense of place engenders an ability to feel, and each thing we feel enters into the sense of place- even before we know it.

This being where we are with each thing, even before we know it, is shikantaza." -yers truly

Thinking, too; that would be the basis of Dogen's "non-thinking", being with the sense of thinking even before we know it as thought. Balanced energy, an aphorism for relaxed from the shoulders to the wrists, from the hips to the heels, and from the sacrum to the top of the head; helps waking up or falling asleep, to relax while I'm at it.

Hey, sleepy!

Anonymous said...

Dogen said: "To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self.

And doing that is more than just sitting in a specific position.

anon #108 said...

Anonymous,

Here's one presentation of the Dogen Sangha understanding of zazen:

http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/PDF/experience5.pdf

And - http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/PDF/experience9.pdf

More scattered throughout here:

http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/downloads.htm

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon 108, those were helpful.

(if you feel so inclined, if you could point me in the way of a beginning instruction, that would also be awesome.)

Anonymous said...

For me, the Half-lotus & Burmese positions are much less painful than trying to get rid of the monkey mind.
You're exactly right when you emphasize the straightness of the spine. When you start to slouch, the mind does, too.

anon #108 said...

Well, as a printed word introduction to the DS presentation of Zen/Buddhism, this is nice, I think:

http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/IBPZ/IBPZ-English.pdf

It's a very brief summary of Gudo's teaching and so includes his ANS theory - which you have my permission to take or leave (FWIW, I'm not bothered one way or other about it).

Alan_A said...

A few observations:

-- I practice Iyengar yoga at a pretty strict studio. Teachers are demanding but also flexible. There's no rigid "right way" to do a posture - there's an ideal form but also lots of variations to account for different body types and capabilities.

-- Many of the people in my class (intermediate level) are very good practitioners. None of them does lotus, half-lotus or burmese. Easy Pose is as far as they get. No one has the flexibility for the others.

-- It's one thing to force yourself into a posture. It's another to sit in it for hours at a time. That's where the injury comes in. For more, read this: http://www.amazon.com/The-Science-of-Yoga-ebook/dp/B005GG0MKG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333730576&sr=1-1

-- Just because a yoga teacher tells you to do something doesn't mean it's a good idea. There are yoga teachers and yoga teachers. See the link above.

-- A thought - maybe Dogen's detailed advice about how to sit means something different in a culture where people routinely sit cross-legged and therefore have the flexibility to do so. In other words, he offers very detailed instructions about something completely ordinary. That's different from teaching people how to do something exotic. In the West, he might have instructed people how to sit on a chair at a table. The point is to do an everyday thing with strict attention to form, not to do something unusual.

-- In the example above, if "Western Dogen" had taught about chair-sitting, people in Asia might be buying themselves chairs and tables in order to do the practice right.

-- In other words, obsession with sitting cross-legged could be a Western addiction to Eastern exocticism - and perhaps also another case of tying up the cat (http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2012/02/cat-zen.html).

-- My own experience - sitting in half-lotus produced a better meditation experience and almost destroyed my knees. Seiza for me.

-- Remember, this is just text.

-- It isn't aimed at anyone, it's just escaping on the run.

-- Me too.

Anonymous said...

That hot chick's mudra looks the opposite of relaxed.

It's fairly terrible to think of "zen badboy" Brad Warner sitting in lotus and masturbating. The anonymous above who brought this up (me) really needs to rethink what he's doing. (I won't)

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"That hot chick's mudra looks the opposite of relaxed."

1. She's not a hot chick. That's your projection.

2. She is relaxed - anain, your projection.

2. She is a yoga instructor and has the more flexibility than you need to sit on a zafu.

Worry about you zafu and your ass, not hers.

Or, you can sita with your sitar.

These "filmmakers" need a bit of fetchin' up regarding recording AUDIO - you know, the squeaky stuff that goes with pictures?

PS remember cover your barn door with lamb's blood to protect your first born goldfish, koi, finches, kitties, puppies, sheep, goats, cows, &ct.

Mysterion said...

every moment is zazen, once you wake up.

now go back to sleep.

buddy said...

she's doing the mudra 'rinzai style'- held unsupported against the navel- as opposed to 'soto style'- resting on the heels. i know this from sitting at a rinzai place. (they will either yell at you or whack you with the stick if your mudra gets droopy.) plus it looks like her thumbs are too squished together instead of lightly touching.

Anonymous said...

mysterion, you might enjoy this episode. funny.

Uku said...

And here's more pictures of that chick above plus really nice zazen instructions:

http://homepage.mac.com/doubtboy/ZazenInstructions.html

And here's little more detailed instructions: http://www.zen.ie/zazen.html

So? Exactly. It's your zazen. There's nothing left than to practice it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry mysterion, Liza Rose is a hottie.. Only an old man or a mental case would not think so.

Not Zazen said...

Zazen is Zazen.

Not Mysterion said...

That's an old pic, probably 5 years old. She's not that hot anymore.

Anonymous said...

And a few virile old think so men too.

Anonymous said...

anon@11:36, You must be the mental case?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, she had a kid back when that set of photos was taken, she probably has a couple more by now. And the ankle tat's saggin' -among other things.

Khru said...

Full lotus, half-and-half lotus, great big YAWN.

Anonymous said...

This is a sentence.
This is a second sentence.
This is a third and final sentence.

Dude said...

That is, with out a doubt, the worst Khru comment yet.

Cidercat said...

Look, you will never separate your posture from your outlook, your personality, or your life, because it encapsulates and expresses all those things. You can see all you need to know about a person from the way they stand, walk, talk and sit if you look clearly. It's all just right there, and you can't hide it. Forget the words and see.

By defending a compromised posture, you defend your ego from the breakthrough which will open your damn eyes! The work leading to good posture is not a thought process, it is purely real life stuff, becoming who you are. Whoever heard of a (healthy) animal that slumped, sagged or refused to use its body well? We don't make the laws, they are just that way - good posture is ri, poor posture is muri, in Japanese.

Anonymous said...

That's just contrived, judgmental bullshit, cidercat.

Trey Ling Wanabe said...

swami sed >it
i believe it
it's enough for me

Trey Ling Wanabe

Anonymous said...

That's fear talking boyo - show your face!

Mark Foote said...

"every moment is zazen, once you wake up.

now go back to sleep."

Being-time? It's true that the Gautamid only slept in the middle watch of the night, and sometimes on a hot day in the afternoon (a lot of hot days in India). Do we want to value waking up over falling asleep?

Jinzang said...

Evidence that is not verifiable is not really evidence.

Okay, say you have a definition of verification, A. And I have a different definition, B. How would you go about proving your definition, A, is correct and my definition, B, is incorrect? Would you use your definition, A? That would be circular reasoning. Or a different definition, C? That would lead to an endless regress.

When people realized positivism was biting its own tail, it swallowed itself and vanished into a puff of smoke. But skeptics, who make it a point of honor not to read philosophy, still haven't heard the news.

Anonymous said...

so happy that all six types of form can be known

Trey Ling Mysterion said...

I'm so happy that the countless forms of the super parasite blogger mysterion can be so easily recognized. He should bow down and kiss Brad's feet for allowing him to spam his craziness here every single day.

Anonymous said...

I have a very hard time getting into full lotus, if I do I can't hold it anymore then 10mins. My body is beat up and way out of wack. However I only started trying to get into the full lotus about a year ago and today I can do the half lotus.

A friend showed me a sciatica stretch that really helps a lot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZO-bKdmFFM&fb_source=message

I do notice the meditation is much 'deeper' as I get closure to full lotus.

One interesting experience of mine is at a Sesshin last summer, the teacher who taught me how to meditate straightened my back with the kyosaku, and then then tilted me backwards a notch...much more intenese!!!

However, I find chanting and meditating are like two hands of a greater body. People always neglect and poo poo chanting. I can't help but think that they haven't taken a serious attempt at it(and I don't mean chanting "Namo Tofu Veggie Burger" all day long. I tried it, nothin'). Chanting is like an OCD copeing mechanism to negate delusion and bring the BodhiMind into focus. Just try it sometime and then argue~~~

I figured out how the back should be from looking at a poster of a statue of a Buddha. Recently I've been holding my hands like this Amitahba Buddha statue http://cdn.stylishandtrendy.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Kamakura-Great-Buddha-statue-Japan.jpg

It's far more comfortable for the hands, arms, and shoulders(also I would highly suggest that a person who has soreness in these areas to place their hands within the folded hem of the bottom of the shirt to steady/rest them.) It's a more natural hand posture, and I don't get drowsy or day dream too much. Plus(I know this sounds like bunk) I find I am more in-tune with myself and those around me. That being said, the Shakyamuni Buddha Comsmic Mudra with the focus of the thumbs touching just so to aliviate the monkey mind is just as good, just a little different.

Also, I find sometimes that I really breath heavily as I focus in...it's not natural and it distracts a person in my opinon.

We our once a month Ch'an Meditation Sesshin tomorrow!!!

Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Pusa...
Namo Amitabha Pusa ;)

jason

Bodhidharma's Beard said...

"How would you go about proving your definition, A, is correct and my definition, B, is incorrect?" - Jinzang

So far you haven't presented any evidence that was either verifiable or falsifiable by anyone's definition. You've only introduced the red herring of philosophical disagreements over philosophical arguments. Your original claims are metaphors or analogies at best and pseudoscientific metaphysical nonsense at worst until you can present evidence that supports them and define your terms more clearly.

Bernard's Backhair said...

Ah! You've got me right where I want you!!

Anonymous said...

Jinzang said:

When people realized positivism was biting its own tail, it swallowed itself and vanished into a puff of smoke. But skeptics, who make it a point of honor not to read philosophy, still haven't heard the news


Uh, it's not un-normal to require evidence for one's claims... you cannot simply pull a explanation out of your butt and claim it is as equally valid as all other claims.

Weasel Tracks said...

Bodhidharma's Beard said...
"How would you go about proving your definition, A, is correct and my definition, B, is incorrect?" - Jinzang

So far you haven't presented any evidence that was either verifiable or falsifiable by anyone's definition. You've only introduced the red herring of philosophical disagreements over philosophical arguments. Your original claims are metaphors or analogies at best and pseudoscientific metaphysical nonsense at worst until you can present evidence that supports them and define your terms more clearly.


Testimony is evidence. Almost the only evidence when speaking of subjective experience. There are ways of evaluating the truth of testimony, but it's not the same as verifying empirical data.

A way of speaking need not be literally true to convey useful information. Religion in general is like this, if you shift your attention away from considerations of literal truth or falsity. Acupuncture explains its workings with prana/chi theory. Science has found no evidence of subtle energies at acupuncture points, yet the traditional theory is used to teach where to place the needles.

With regard to subtle energy movements during meditation, I can add my own testimony that, after some amount of zazen, perceptions of something flowing like a liquid or wind develop. I am not the only one saying so.

So, evaluating our testimony involves questions of clarity and honesty.

I am not offering an interpretation, simply reporting what I perceive. If what I report is delusional, I am still reporting my delusion accurately. Since others report the same delusion, perhaps there actually is a subjective experience that is shared by a number of people in their practice. What lies behind the delusion is still of interest, and their testimony is evidence to consider.

So, are people who report subtle energies lying? Are they engaged in a conspiracy to pitch woo at the general public for purposes, perhaps, of personal enrichment and egoic enhancement? I had a close friend who once told me that he didn't think anything happened in Zen meditation -- people who spent years investing countless hours in sitting still and quiet just did not want to admit that their efforts were a waste of time. A pretty decent theory -- you can see why I had to kill him.

There's your evidence, in our testimony. You need to evaluate if we're lying. But the best verification is continuing the practice, so you yourself can say "The Buddhas and patriarchs haven't lied to me!" Or not.

john e mumbles said...

Trey Ling Mysterion said..."I'm so happy that the countless forms..."


Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?

Mysterion said...

So, are people who report subtle energies lying?

No, they could be delusional, misled, suffering from a small form of mass hysteria, goofy, inebriated, psychotic, or under the influence of Feng Shui VooDoo Ouija MoJo®.

Some energies are much less subtle and people consistently fail to report effects.

Anonymous said...

I want the angel that will not shatter
Every time I whisper "Girl, it doesn't matter."

-Jim Carroll

Unwise

Anonymous said...

Guardians of the World
hiri = moral shame
otapa = moral dread
~ Buddha

gniz said...

I don't think testimony of people who are all inoculated with similar propaganda is necessarily that useful in determining truth.

If you ask 300 evangelical Christians what they experience during prayer, they might tell you a lot of similar stuff. But they are all listening to the same preachers, reading the same books--and so they are in a sense brainwashed or at least predisposed to believe in certain occurrences.

Which is why I've always said that it would be interesting to take a complete novice and just make them sit in lotus (or burmese) position and give no instruction other than to keep the posture. Would they get anything out of it, would they report any of the stuff that people who constantly read Dogen and study old texts and listen to dharma talks report?

We can't easily separate what we're experiencing from what our minds are expecting to have occur. Our predispositions greatly contribute to what we find as outcomes in our practice.

Although I won't say individual testimonies are useless, I think they're much less useful than people like to think, when it comes to determining the accuracy of any tangible claim of subtle experience.

Anonymous said...

Weasle Tracks said:

Testimony is evidence.

Yep... anecdotal evidence is the worst and least reliable form of evidence that exists.

Read Em and Weep said...

Her boobs look perky.

Brad Warner said...

Dogen said: "To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self."

And doing that is more than just sitting in a specific position.


Yeah. But he also wrote Fukan Zazengi in which he gets very specific about the physical practice.

Brad Warner said...

As for the movement of energy through the body...

I'm sorry if that sounds spooky to some people. It's an effort to try to put into words what I have noticed in three decades of working with this posture.

It feels like energy is flowing more evenly through my body when I keep the cosmic mudra than it does when I don't.

Try it for yourself.

Brad Warner said...

Wow you can become a fan of LizaRose (the model who posed for those zazen pictures) on Facebook now!

Mysterion said...

I would avoid premature kundalini

leeking vermicelli

and even

premature Spaghetti

over Lisa Rose.

Bodhidharma's Beard said...

I bow to Weasel Tracks.
I would only like to change one word of what he wrote. I would prefer "sensations" in place of "perceptions" in the phrase "perceptions of something flowing like a liquid or wind." The difference to me is that the original phrase implies that something is actually flowing and it is perceived. Describing it as a sensation implies that it feels as if something is flowing whether it actually is or not. Even without that one change I still would not disagree with anything that he wrote and I don't need any further explanations, definitions or clarification.
I bow a second time to Weasel Tracks.

Brad's explanation that "It feels like energy is flowing more evenly through my body..." is slightly better than his original statement but is still very vague and Deepak Chopra sounding.
No bows for Brad. Better luck next time.

Anonymous said...

Moshe Feldenkrais: "All negative emotion is expressed in flexion." Spinal flexion = poor posture. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

All Dogen wisdom was summed up by himself:
"Eyes are vertical, nose is horizontal".
Zazen is useless, but all deluded people like me and Brad need waste time with zen
Because we are porsuing special things, we are
deluded, thinking that we need special balance or special energy flow.
Doing zen we think that it is a special practice, but after 30 years or more doing it we will discover that it is only the ordinary life, nothing more or less.
We can't use zen to avoid ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Qigong Master Chunyi Lin says that 20 minutes of full lotus is equal to 4 hours of any other kind of meditation. He also says Full Lotus is good for your vitality.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"Zazen is useless"

to you, perhaps...

your point being...

In this book Zen Buddhism becomes the opening wedge for an extraordinarily wide-ranging exploration of consciousness.

It was our 'book of the month' reading in December 2000, as I recall. An interesting read for those in any field (e.g. left field, right field, in field, out field).

On a lighter read, try Book of Five Rings. It's about managing yourself.

john e mumbles said...

As per James Austen's work (see Mysterion's link), and/or more likely Dr. Albert Hoffman's, I altered the hell out of my brain chemistry in the 1970's and 1980's, then took Iggy Pop's advice when he sang "no more beatin' my brains, with liquor and drugs." 'Cause, like him, and Van Gogh, I have a Lust For Life.

There's no telling how much it has been altered by meditation. And love, and other stuff, like the joys and ravages of time.

What is life if not a grand experiment?

And then, as has been noted, you're dead.

Anonymous said...

Mysterion Apr 7, 2012 04:37 PM Anonymous said.."Zazen is useless" to you, perhaps...

delusions and books are countless.

all of us are more or less deluded

if Brad could call himself a "deluded teacher" it would be very hardcore...

Anonymous said...

Hunger Games?

Stay Hungry.

Anonymous said...

hungry ghosts

Korey said...

Mysterion, I will ask you once more to PLEASE supply me with your e-mail address, please and thank you. This time it's incredibly urgent.

What's so urgent you ask? I need you to confirm my awakening, which I am certain I obtained last night. I had a mystical, psychedelic experience last night after meditating for a VERY long time (about 45 min) and it left me in a profound state of bliss. It felt as if a light bulb went off in my mind and a sudden realization swept over me that I had indeed reached the same level of cosmic understanding that Bradley achieved while he was walking to work through the forest that one day and became one with science and mathematics and the rising of the sun. I feel as if all the pieces of the cosmic puzzle have finally been put into place.

But I can't be completely certain, and that's why I need a second opinion. Provide me with your e-mail so that I may go into further detail about how I attained The Sacred Truth last night and see if we're both on the same page.

Thanks friend.

Sincerely yours,
Enlightened Korey (I really like the sound of that)

Thomas said...

The time you spent arguing "what is best" you should better spend with doing "it".
Really... who cares what anyone of you (or me) think?

Some guy once said "shut up and sit". Oh my was he right with this :-)

Mark Foote said...

Wow, fantastic, people! I am humbled, thoughts leading to "eyebrows horizontal, nose vertical" in my head, too!

I write to develop a vocabulary I can understand when the need arises. Chi didn't get it for me, the tan-t'ien was not my experience. Now I see that the sense of location I have connected with awareness shifts, palpably, tangibly when I am falling asleep. I discover a similar sensation waking up. Sometimes the shift occurs around the area classically described as the tan-t'ien. I am working to understand the descriptions the Gautamid gave of the feeling he had associated with the material meditative states, closest thing there I guess is third state, equanimity, like lotuses that bloom under water, never break the surface of the water.

So far only one person has reported finding the same experience I describe as "waking up and falling asleep", but I am hopeful we (meaning the amazing community including all the folks on this thread) will find the words to convey something. Practice is something I do because I can't help it based on my physical reality, beliefs, and experience; verification to me means the hypnic myoclonic twitch effects the very same experience. The "where" shifts, the balance shifts, the mind and body fall. On belay, on belay; falling, fall.

On the piriformis, that one didn't get it for me, this is closer to what I experience in the lotus. I seem to be sitting on these muscles in part, in the lotus?

Anonymous said...

Korey, want to go out for a coffee & chat?

Jinzang said...

So far you haven't presented any evidence that was either verifiable or falsifiable

The point of my post was to show the subjective nature of what's considered evidence. People disguise their prejudices, even to themselves, behind such requests. There's never enough "evidence" for evolution or global warming or whatever else you want to disbelieve. I've played this game often enough, reporting evidence with citations, only to be told my evidence was not good enough. By their (subjective) standards, I'm sure my critics were right.

But I'll assume your good faith and say a few words about inner energy, qi, prana, rlung, or whatever. We're dealing with a theoretical construct, not an actual observable. Just as you can never see a quark, you can't see qi. So the notion of direct verification is a bit simple minded. There's an entire "inner technology" founded on these practices that has to be judged a success or failure.

And it has two notable successes: tantra and Chinese Internal Martial Arts (nei gong.) Both are successful in their own ways. Tibetan Tantric practitioners have been observed in the lab to be able to raise their body temperature through the practice of tummo and internal martial arts proved its worth in China.

Korey said...

[make my font in italics]Anonymous said...
Korey, want to go out for a coffee & chat?[/make my font in italics]

Hmm, I dunno. I'm sort of shy at first. Where bouts are you?

Anonymous said...

I'm in Belgium.

  said...

 

Mark Foote said...

Stillness-Movement and Gift of Tao Neigong

Korey, how is your practice? I'm asking because you are sure something happened, so I wonder where your practice is coming from now.

Maybe you can't put it into words for us all, but I thought I'd ask.

♥ said...

 

Anonymous said...

"Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies,"

element said...

Mysterion
Did you read his latest book?
Meditating Selflessly: Practical Neural Zen

I have not read it, but it seems that I'm interested in it.

On amazon you can look inside
http://www.amazon.com/Meditating-Selflessly-Practical-Neural-Zen/dp/0262015870/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1333878406&sr=8-2

If you look in the contents, in Part 5 he talks about Daily life practice.
Thats what I'm interessted in, in the moment.

Korey said...

Mark Foote,

Actually, I think i got a little ahead of myself yesterday and got overly excited. It turns out - judging by how I feel this morning - I had not attained The Divine Realization afterall. I think I just got too much sun from my new job working outside on Friday.

Anyways, I';m still going to need your e-mail address Mysterion.

Mysterion said...

Mysterion
Did you read Meditating Selflessly: Practical Neural Zen

Not yet. I'll buy it when we get back from Carmel.

I bookmarked the link, thanks...

Chas, Hisa-chan, & Shiro

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

Why eyes open during zazen - good reasons please Brad !

Anonymous said...

Yes Brad! And why not earplugs during zazen. Good reasons only please Brad.

Brad Warner said...

Here's what I said in 2006 about keeping eyes open in zazen:

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2006/09/open-your-eyes-see-lies-right-in-front.html

Daniel said...

@Brad:

Yeah. But he also wrote Fukan Zazengi in which he gets very specific about the physical practice.

Yea sure but Dogen also wrote very specific about how to physical clean your ass or how to go to the toilet.

So you follow that too? ;)

Whiney the Pooh said...

Yeah nobody talks about that. Now that you brought it up, how are you supposed to clean your ass according to Dogen? With a certain kind of stick? If so, are you supposed to change the stick every day or use the same stick all the time?

Bodhidharma's Beard said...

Whenever I hear the word verifiable, I think here is another person that has not heard positivism has been dead for the past 50 years.

When people realized positivism was biting its own tail, it swallowed itself and vanished into a puff of smoke. But skeptics, who make it a point of honor not to read philosophy, still haven't heard the news.

We're dealing with a theoretical construct, not an actual observable. So the notion of direct verification is a bit simple minded.

Jinzang,
I've had just about enough of your unjustified condescending attitude so this conversation is over for now.

Anonymous said...

"how are you supposed to clean your ass"
this seems that you are a hater, but this idea is useful (and literally HARDcore).

Dogen teach a detailed zazen pose just in order people not fight or think about how to do it.

About zazen, they asked a zen master what is more important, sitting or shitting.






He answered: Shitting of course!

Anonymous said...

yeah but you do need to sit to shit well whereas you don't necessarily need to shit to sit at all. so i say sit,

Anonymous said...

Brad's all-time worst post ever?

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2006/09/zen-is-not-bottom-line-is-what-works.html

Anonymous said...

you can live without sitting, but not without shitting

Anonymous said...

Brad's second worst post of all-time?

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2006/08/looks-at-books.html

Anonymous said...

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2006/04/gudos-answers.html

Anonymous said...

....aaaand anon @ 5pm takes it!

Korey said...

How is that his worst post?

Were you the Bottom Line Is What Works Best Guy he';s referring to? lol

Mark Foote said...

From the all-time worst post, above:

"Shunryu Suzuki said, "If the teaching doesn't feel like it's forcing something upon you, it's not good teaching." That is the real spirit of Buddhism. If you're not ready for that, you're not ready for Buddhism."

Sounds a little like tops and bottoms, as Brad wrote.

Thing is, if the teaching feels like it's forcing something on someone, then I don't believe that teaching will change the world. As a friend of mine said, it's got to be fun to change the world. As Gautama who was later known as the Buddha said, there is a happiness associated with the cessation of sensation and perception, even if followers of other faiths (Buddhism, perhaps?) question that it could be so.

Jinzang said...

I've had just about enough of your unjustified condescending attitude so this conversation is over for now.

You make a good point. I have tried to avoid criticizing people and stick to criticizing their ideas. But, as you say, if I say your ideas are stupid, I am really saying you are stupid. And almost no one takes well to being criticized in that way. When I criticized Brad/Nishijima's translation of the MMK, Brad got pretty upset. If someone with the imperturbable calm of a Zen Master gets upset at criticism, what hope is there for the rest of us?

So I won't post criticism any more. Which means I'll be posting less, but I probably should be working more on my software projects. Next year when the Republicans take over Congress and slash the NASA budget, I will need a software portfolio to find a new job.

Otto G. said...

It's a short jump from "if I weren't so stupid, I'd get it" to "if people weren't so stupid, they'd get it."

We project our own fears all over the place. It's a human thing to do.

And I might say a bit more interesting than developing software, but then I would just be projecting.

Careless Reach Around said...

Jinzang said...
I have tried to avoid criticizing people and stick to criticizing their ideas.

Bold words from someone who believes in Tibetan magic and homeopathy.

Anonymous said...

When I sed:
Dogen said: "To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self."

And doing that is more than just sitting in a specific position.


Brad sed:
Yeah. But he also wrote Fukan Zazengi in which he gets very specific about the physical practice.

Very true!
But in the Fukan Zazenji Dogen only talks about full and half lotus... and you say that one can sit in Burmese as well as seiza (you even gave an example of a zen teacher who did) - this belies referencing Fukan Zazenji at all if Dogen is the final word on what is or is not zazen.

If one's position can give almost the same benefit (stability, an open diaphragm for deep breathing, straight spine, enough balance to sit without fear of falling over) then game on!
The only difference between us is that I include one more position - sitting in a chair.

http://www.tricycle.com/-cushion/leaving-lotus-position

Anonymous said...

Jinzang said...
I have tried to avoid criticizing people and stick to criticizing their ideas.

Then Careless Reach Around said...
Bold words from someone who believes in Tibetan magic and homeopathy.

HA! Totally thought the same thing!
"Mwahaha Positivism is dead - didn't you hear the news...? Now 'scuze me whilst I take this sugar pill..."

Harry said...

The problem with the E word is that, like so many other things, as long as you expect it, it never comes ("A watched pot never boils").

Therefore, the recourse to some negation of it doesn't seem so foolish...


Hi Michel,

The problem with negation is that, if it's just a philosophical negation, it don't count for nuts in real terms.

Philosophical/intellectual negation is just one perspective of course. Dogen was remarkable for his talking about it in positive terms, in his expressing realisation as a real, concrete act/process, and trying to contextualise it in suitable terms. Besides, it's really very easy to negate this notion of Enlightenment... negate this, negate that, negate everything (and all that generally expresses is philosophical laziness and some piss poor assumptions about Buddhist philosophy!)... but it ain't so easy to put one's head above the pulpit and try to express realisation as what it really is, as Dogen did.

Eating something is not neccesarily enlightenment of course. It is always a real act, but, subjectively speaking, it can just as easily be a simple act of greed, or ignorance, or unconsciousness/ ignorance... So what makes it a substantial enlightened act?

Regards,

Harry.

Mysterion said...

LOL

Dogen doesn't talk about Zazen on a 747 or 767 either but that exclusion doesn't mean it's forbidden.

"and they speak of things that matter...
with wouds that must be said..."

Mysterion said...

wouds is part of the liturgy of the Purple Question Mary cult...

Mark Foote said...

Harry, where did Dogen talk about enlightenment without negation?

After reading Bielefeldt's "Dogen's Meditation Manuals", I concluded not only did Dogen primarily instruct by saying what things are not, but he stole most of his material, at least as far as Fukanzazengi and "The Lancet of Meditation" (I know, great artists steal mercilessly, ok).

You want someone who spoke positively and substantively about practice and enlightenment, that would be Gautama, at least as recorded in the Pali Canon. The man's last words were essentially, "take this with a grain of salt" (everything changes; work out your own salvation); doesn't get more empowering than that, my opinion.

Returning to our main topic for shouting at Brad, Kobun said: "you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around". I don't find this so different from Gudo Nishijima's "zazen is action". Now how do we explain that positively and substantively? How do we then explain zazen in the lotus?

"If you're studying seated meditation, meditation is not sitting or reclining."<22>

'22. "Sitting still" zaga: The translation follows the interpretation of most commentaries, which treat this term in reference to the "four postures": walking, standing, sitting and reclining (gyô jû za ga); hence, "sitting and reclining". The element ga here could also be interpreted as an intensive; hence, "sitting still" or "repose".'

(from Zazen Shin, Stanford Project)

Note that in the explanatory notes, the translator offers "sitting still"- seated meditation is not sitting still or reclining. But we are talking about seated meditation. Not sitting still.

Meditation in the lotus is not sitting still. It's a regular hypnic myoclonic twitch fest.

Jesus The Litch said...

The words of a talebearer [are] as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Proverbs 26:22

Anonymous said...

can't tell if you are agreeing or disagreeing with 8:17am Mysterion... very Mysterious...

Anonymous said...

mysterion is in his own world kid.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, isn't anybody going to tell me how Dogen said I should clean my ass? Give me chapter and verse, please.

Anonymous said...

The proper way to clean your ass is to have a Tibetan magician give you a Lam Rim job.

Anonymous said...

On Washing Yourself Clean (Senjo)
Page 79 of PDF, marked page 53 in the original.

http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/Shobogenzo.pdf

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Shobogenzo link. Here is the pertinent passage: (so this is where the phrase "go pound sand up your ass" comes from!)

When doing your training under a tree in the forest or out in the open, you
will not find a privy already built. So, using water from some convenient valley
stream or river, clean yourself off with sand. Since you do not have any ashes at
this time to cleanse yourself with, simply use two sets of seven balls of sandy soil.
The way to use these fourteen balls is as follows: after having removed your robe,
folded it, and put it aside, you take soil that is sandy [rather than dark earth], shape
it into balls about the size of a large soybean, and place these atop a stone or some
other convenient place, with two rows of seven balls each. Then, provide yourself
with some pebbles that can be used for scouring your hands. After that, you relieve
yourself. After you have finished relieving yourself, use a wooden or bamboo toilet
spatula, or some paper, to clean yourself off. You then go to the edge of the water
to wash. Make sure to take three of the balls with you to clean yourself. Put one of
the balls in the palm of your hand, add just a little water, mix the ingredients
together until their consistency is thinner than mud and quite soupy, and begin by
cleaning off your genitals. Then take another sand ball and, preparing it as before,
clean off your buttocks. Again, prepare a sand ball as before and, in the same
manner, clean off your hands.

unjustified condescending attitude said...

Are you guys still talking about
enlightenment?

Less words; more stillness said...

"Note that in the explanatory notes, the translator offers "sitting still"- seated meditation is not sitting still or reclining. But we are talking about seated meditation. Not sitting still. "

Stilling the mind we sit on the
other side of Nothingness.

Anonymous said...

shitting is enlightement.
to clean your own ass is enlightement.

Korey said...

I just had s sudden "Aha! moment": Mysterion seems dangerously similar to that dude Brad describes in Hardcore Zen who farts nonchalantly all the time.

Mysterion said...

What IS it?

1) you sit down

2) you shut up

after 20-30 minutes, go about your life.

repeat the practice for a few weeks and if you feel unrewarded, drop it for a while - or forever.

nobody is forcing you to sit Zazen.

either sit zazen or don't. If you want to do it the preferred way - lotus od 1/2 lotus on a zafu - then go for it.

choose your own means to your salvation - that is the ultimate message of the Buddha.

"Be unto yourself a Lamp and a Light. Applying diligence, work out your own salvation."



Sri Sathya Sai Baba 11.05.1998, SS, Vol.41 No.6

Mysterion said...

Korey - that IS me.

Dr. Oz says: "When you have to ffart, ler 'er rip!"

I'm just following the Dr.'s advice!

Harry said...

Hi Mark,

I didn't say that Dogen talked about enlightenment without negation. It's not a matter of negation, or the absence of negation, although negating our ideas about things has its uses, but it's not the emphasis of Buddhist practice as indicated by Dogen.

He clarified that the inherent recurring weakness in Buddhist philosophy of just negating things is not the nature of Buddhist practice. His overall approach is affirmative, immanent and practical, not a philosophical dead end... he doesn't leave us hanging in some notion of, or 'not notion', of 'emptiness' in other words.

This is most clearly and succinctly expressed in the opening lines of Genjo Koan:

"When all things and phenomena exist as Buddhist teachings, then there are delusion and realization, practice and experience, life and death, buddhas and ordinary people. When millions of things and phenomena are all separate from ourselves, there are no delusion and no enlightenment, no buddhas and no ordinary people, no life and no death. Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas..." (Nishijima trans.)

There are many passages of Shobogenzo where Dogen finds the words of past masters as lacking because they don't make it over the pimple of philosophical negation... the 'scarcity' of seeing things as one big empty, negated blob for example.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

p.s.

Also, check out Dogen's interpretation of the Heart Sutra, Maka-hannya-haramitsu, in Shobogenzo (vol. 1 of the Nishijima/Cross trans.)

In it he takes the unusual (and refreshing!) step of *affirming* all the various things as instances of prajna as opposed to the traditional negation of things as 'empty', 'void' or whatever. That's a good insight into his take on shunyata. It can also be seen to be very unorthodox to treat such a core value/philosophical assumption of Buddhism like that... now, I'm inclined to think THAT was Hardcore!

Regards,

Harry.

Jinzang said...

I think the opening lines of the Genjo Koan are about the interplay between affirmation and denial, the relative and the absolute. To take only one or the other is to have a one sided view.

Anonymous said...

Shobogenzo On Washing Yourself Clean, page 57:


Do not dig at or
draw on the ground with your toilet spatula; it should be used for cleaning yourself
after you have evacuated your bowels.


TOILET SPATULA????

I am lost in the interplay between affirmation and denial.

Mark Foote said...

"Do not soil either side of your garments; do not let them
get stained front or back. During this time, you should remain silent. Do not talk or
joke with the person in the next stall, chant, sing, or recite anything aloud. Do not
spit or blow mucus from your nose onto the area around you. Do not strain or make
grunting sounds excessively. You should not write on the walls. ... Also, if you use paper, you should not use old paper or paper with characters written on it."

Love it, thanks! A little negation there in the toilet instructions, but I take your point, Harry. Guess it depends on the particular piece.

Tempted to declare those the "Hardcore Zen" blog comment instructions. Some folks seem to think silence would be best here too, at least that we should all refrain from grunting. Or blowing snot.

"Stilling the mind", a practice; sitting on the other side of Nothingness, verification. When is "stilling the mind" necessary, and where do ordinary people verify this, I wonder?

Anonymous said...

I think HARRY is the most fundamental Buddhist I know. And probably the most blind. Notice how he always praise Dogen and diss old Gudo, Brad and Dogen Sangha. So pathetic. Harry, you're like one of those Christian blind biatches who ain't seeing nothing but their own truth. But you're even worse - you're just imitating Dogen, you're like a parrot. It's obvious you haven't practice zazen a bit and it's clear you haven't understood Dogen's teachings. So bloody pathetic.

Like Brad said "sit down and shut up."

Anonymous said...

A monk asked Ummon, "What transcends Buddha and the Patriarchs?"
Ummon replied, "Rice cake!"

A monk asked Ummon, "What is Buddha?"
Ummon said, "A dry shit-stick!"

Anonymous said...

A monk asked Ummon, "What is Buddha?" Ummon said, "A dry shit-stick!"

Great!!

Tamy said...

So do you guys shit like Dogen did? To me this all sounds like SOME weird believe-system you're in guys...I thought Zen is something quite different but I guess I was wrong. It's just another belief-system just "pray to god" replaced with "sit in a weird posture"...I'll have a shit now...my way ;)

Mysterion said...

TOILET SPATULA????

It was a sponge on a stick.

In ancient times, many cultures used such a tool.



- shedding light upon ignorance since 1971

Harry said...

Well, I'm just a mildly affected Dogen nerd I suppose. I ain't going grabbing my rifle or casting out anyone who's impure if they don't get nerdy about it like me.

I particularly like Gudo's stuff, and I like Brad's stuff, but it's a bit thin and black and white at times when compared to Dogen's take on things, and I think that's worth pointing out... and I like winding up the Brad/Gudo fanboy fundies... call it a twisted pleasure if you like. If you're big girls and boys of 'adult practice' I'm sure you're superior Real Buddhist Balanced Nervous System won't let you sting for too long.

It seems that the beginning lines of Genjo-koan are about more than just some sort of dry philosophical stand-off between 'the relative' and 'the absolute'... both human created fictions if ever I heard of things worth negating! As expressed in the third line clincher:

"Buddhism is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so [in reality] there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are people and buddhas..."

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Dogen understood Buddha.

dogen wisdom was summed up by him: "eyes are horizontal, nose vertical".

You already have your ordinary life: eating, shitting, cleaning the ass

our ordinary life is the practice, not what they did many time ago.

Anonymous said...

Harry said, "I like winding up the Brad/Gudo fanboy fundies... call it a twisted pleasure if you like. If you're big girls and boys of 'adult practice' I'm sure you're superior Real Buddhist Balanced Nervous System won't let you sting for too long."

I think that is the thinking behind every unkind comment made on this blog. Make the poor deluded bastards hurt. Show them what's real. You'll be doing them a favor actually.

Anonymous said...

this ordinary life is what it shoud be, or you were thinking that something should be different?

Sleepy said...

Harry, Jinzang, Mysterion, are all a bunch of shade tree intellectuals. They lead with the head, not the heart. No wonder they're grumpy old men.

Harry said...

"Make the poor deluded bastards hurt."

Well, they would be your words. I wouldn't call anyone here a bastard, or try to hurt anyone.

But, sure, I stir the shit and think I'm 'right' in doing so, just like the next bozo. Might be a small bit more interesting than floating around being afraid to say 'boo' to each others' gooses... that or the standard issue online passive-aggressive Buddhist fare.

Regards,

Harry.

Fred said...

Making someone hurt doesn't wake
them up. Pain makes the fictional
self more solid. Lost in the
corridors of the fictional self,
awareness loses contact with the
Ineffable.

Harry said...

Hi Fred,

They say the Buddha had interesting things to say about pain (or 'dukkha' which, pun intended, may be an unsatisfactory estimation of 'pain').

Not least of his reported achievements was that he noticed very directly that dukkha is inevitable, that trying to avoid it is inevitably also a source of further dukkha, that people will inevitably further piss themselves off in trying to control the world so as to avoid pain, in trying to control each other. Sensible chap was he, if there's any truth in it at all.

Where pain is concerned I don't see that there is a 'fictional self'. When we're feeling pain, it's real, or nothing is real. The fact that we are effectively making ourselves suffer doesn't make it any less real. It's sort of tragic, but anyone who claims to have overcome it, or to have 'transcended' it, is more likey than not some sort of psychopath (as contrastable to a 'spiritual master') IMO.

Now, there's some more intellectualising that I'm sure will annoy an anonymous person or persons regardless of how I intended it!

Regards,

Harry.

Mysterion said...

The heart pumps blood.

The time of Feng Shui VooDoo Ouija MoJo® has past.

The sun does not revolve around the earth.

Brain chemistry determines mood.

What is left is consciousness or awareness or cognitive processing - for those who have the ability.

A reasonable person works out reasonable solutions. An emotional person works out emotional solutions - Feng Shui VooDoo Ouija MoJo® Pentecostal Snake Dancing, and the like.

Oh, there are emotional experiences in the universe - the loss of a pet, spouse, parent, and so forth. But those emotional experiences (suffering) are directly proportional to the attachment to the pet, spouse, parent, and so forth. Even that has nothing to do with the heart - which pumps blood until it doesn't.

Dick Cheney got a different heart. Does that - in and of itself - change his feelings? I doubt it. Does it make him any less a member if the simians?

Nope. He's just another ape.

Was SV-40 in polio vaccine responsible for a cafeteria of diseases? Wait, and see.

Mysterion said...

I am my spiritual master:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
--------- William Ernest Henley

mysterion's mom said...

FUCK YOU MYSTERION YOU SELF-IMPORTANT DOUCHE!

Anonymous said...

Dogen understood Buddha. dogen wisdom was summed up by him: "eyes are horizontal, nose vertical".

this ordinary life is what it shoud be, or you were thinking that something should be different?

when Dogen said to sit lotus, he was saying to sit ordinary.
Our ordinary sitting is in chairs.
To stop porsuing something different of ordinary life is very hardcore.

Fred said...

Hardcore Zen doesn't cling to
anything, especially the dogma of
a brass Buddha.

Fred said...

Yes Harry, but what does the inner
Buddha say?

Anonymous said...

dogen anal raped buddha

buddha anal raped dogen

actually

i

think

ch'an was kinda homosexual!

Anonymous said...

buddha had dogen's dick in his mouth

dogen had buddha's dick in his mouth

h e y !

T r a n s g r e s s i v e

brad warner and hardcore zen take it up the arse

yeah fred facefucks mysterion and harry !

Harry said...

Hi fred,

I'm afraid, and glad, that we have to work it out for ourselves and can't depend on buddhas either inner or outer.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

"I'm afraid, and glad, that we have to work it out for ourselves and can't depend on buddhas either inner or outer. or outer"

No inner or outer Buddha.
YOU ARE BUDDHA.

Anonymous said...

You are allways Buddha, even when sitting in chairs.

Jinzang said...

Harry, Jinzang, Mysterion, are all ... grumpy old men

Hey you kids! Get off of my Zen garden!

Pattie said...

Buddha died for somebody's sins, but not mine.

an3drew said...
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an3drew said...
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an3drew said...
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AccordingtoAndrew said...

Dear Brad,
I am one of those people who came into the world tightly wrapped. In more ways than one! I have found that as much as I have beat up my body sitting in Siddhasana is about all my knees and back can take. But I still sit. Yogasana has helped to open and discipline the body-mind over the years, but I find the dedication of my mind to "just sitting" is the most important. Occasionally I flirt with Ardhapadmasana but that one gets my ankles. Bummer, huh? The point being (really?) I have encouraged myself and others to zazen as best they can or in other words, just sit. Hard to say more than that although I just did. Ha! It's a Friday morning ramble and the Dragon already roars from the withered tree.
Peace and maybe a wee bit o' tranquility.

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Caodemarte said...

I would be very interested in what exercises Brad or others have taught to help make the legs more flexible for sitting.


In way of background for this request:. I have no physical injuries, but I have been unable to sit even Burmese style. This is not because I'm unwilling to endure pain or have over the years stopped trying. My knees just don't go down. I sit seiza which can be very painful, but is doable.