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practice July 05, 2006 4:15 PM

Practice is about experiencing the truth of who we really are.

Practice is about being with out life as it is, not as we would like it to be.

Practice is about the clash between what we want and what is.

Practice is about the transformation of our unnecessary suffering.

Practice is about attending to, experiencing, wherever we are stuck, wherever we're holding, whatever blocks us from our true nature.

Practice is about turning away from constantly seeking comfort and from trying to avoid pain.

Practice ultimately deals with just one thing: the fear at the base of human existence- the fear taht I am not. 

Practice is about willingly residing in whatever life presents to us.

Practice is about seeing through our belief systems; so even if they remain, they no longer run us. 

Practice is about turning from a self-centered view to a life-centered view. 

Practice is about learning to be no one; not giving solidarity to any belief system- just being.

Practice is about learning to be happy; but we will never be happy until we truly experience our unhappiness.

Practice is about slowly increasing our awareness of who we are and how we relate to life.

Practice is about moving from a life of drama to a life of no drama.

Practice is always returning to the true self.

Practice is about finally understanding the paradox that although everything is a mess, all is well.

Practice is about learning to say "Yes" to everything, even when we hate it.

Practice always comes back to just the willingness to be.

-Ezra Bayda 

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 July 28, 2006 12:53 AM

Anybody else look at something like this to help yourself to be more motivated towards your practices?  [ send green star]
 
anonymous Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind October 10, 2006 11:23 AM

I sometimes say a (probably slightly misquoted) poem by Thich Nhat Hanh while following my breath:
Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.
Also, I recently started reading "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki. It is making me more aware of my posture and mindfulness (areas in which I could use improvement.)  [report anonymous abuse]  [ accepted]
 
 November 02, 2006 11:57 AM

Practice and Fun

Summary: A discussion of a student's practice followed by Lama Shenpen explaining the place of fun in Buddhism.

A student writes:

"I have completed the first book of Trusting the Heart of Buddhism and this has not only deepened my understanding, but has had other effects.

Mainly, I have come to understand and trust that Truth is indeed coming to me from its own side.

As the course suggested, I did reflect and spend some time before meditation considering this fact.

During meditation when I came back to the present moment, I also reflected on this fact. I do in fact actually feel this adhistana."

Lama Shenpen:

Great.

Student:

"I want to meditate and look forward to meditating.

Daily life awareness which, before was more hit or miss has really kicked in.

However, along with this has come an anxiety or sense of fear. I feel that I have been at this place before and have shut down."

Lama Shenpen:

This is quite a common reaction actually.

Student:

"It is difficult to stay open but I am putting some effort in to it with some success.

I am recognizing when and how I shut down.

The ego mandala is saying things like 'you don't need this ... you could do this or that and distract yourself and feel better.' But now I see that distracting myself will only give me temporary relief and that the suffering will return."

Lama Shenpen:

That is right.

Student:

"So I am choosing the discomfort of the strangeness of opening.

I repeat the refuge prayer and the Guru Rinpoche Prayer and I wish that others who are experiencing what I am could have courage and persist. Does this sound right to you?"

Lama Shenpen:

It sounds spot on.

Student:

"I wish that there was someone close by that I could talk to about this. It would help to be able to pick up the phone and talk with someone."

Lama Shenpen:

Why not ring me?

Why not ask at the office for a new contact person?

Or another Sangha member to link up with? We have various schemes to help people to keep in touch with each other. ( Such as Dharma Buddies – see Sanghaspace. Ed.)

Student:

"Speaking of talking to someone, you had asked me to call you concerning my questions about thoughts in meditation.

I could not reach you when I called, however I am reading and going over your booklet on Formless Meditation. That along with just trusting the teaching seems to be working."

Lama Shenpen:

Yes, the telephone has been down on and off all summer - since the office moved. So just keep trying!

Student:

"One last question, where does fun fit in with Buddhism?"

Lama Shenpen:

It is the essence of Buddhism.

Student:

"Is it considered a diversion?"

Lama Shenpen:

No. A sense of fun is considered a virtue.

Buddhism is the complete opposite to a depressed and dull mind at every stage of the path - especially at the end.

But our problem is that we tend to mistake the objects of pleasure for fun and so miss the moment - having missed it all our so called pleasures turn into grief and the nature of chitta - the endless source of fun for ourselves and all beings gets entangled in attachment and we lose our sense of humour.

What a shame!

Student:

"I have seen many smiling faces on pictures of Tibetan people and also in pictures of the Sangha."

Lama Shenpen:

For good reason - when you have found the path to Awakening there is no need to ever feel despondent.

--- By Lama Shenpen Hookham

http://www.buddhism-connect.org/default.asp?ID=566

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Fun? What would DT Suzuki say? :) November 05, 2006 7:31 PM

Anyone who has read the works of Seung Sahn, the Korean Zen Abbot and Teacher, will get the same message...Zazen is not supposed to be a grueling, gut-wrenching, strenuous practice...He urges us to breathe and relax and enjoy the moment...

My meditation is currently attached to my Aikido practice and it is still a lot of fun.

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 November 25, 2006 8:04 AM

I belive such dialoges like above take place becuase a lot of people are looking for receipes like for making a cake. If you use this and that, and do this or that then it will work, and you will get enlightned. like a money back guarantee. or a guarantee for sucessfull mastering the way to enlightment.

like a manual or handbook for a tech devices. if u follow the rules it will work. well we all know different. if u follow the the pc handbook it may happen it still not work, especially when u are running windows..hehehe

Perhaps it would be easier to understand when we use another aproach. By martial (Bushi Do)arts, which is a excellent entrance, perhaps, origami, the cha-do, ink-painting or haiku-poetry, just to name a few. All this arts require contemplation. A good sensai in each of these disciplines will teach his students. Like John told about his Aikido practice. A great way to understand the value of practicing. The mental re-collection after a Bushi Do practice. If one does that awarefull questions about happyness and smiling yes/no/maybee become obsolete because you can feel it, know it, are aware of it(however to express)

....to be honest, sitting on a peak amd meditating, even if it is a small one just a few rope lenghts, after a nice climb experiencing how mind and body comes at ease is something one do not need to diskuss whit a sensai, you just experience it. it is not something you should do because of precticing in the sense of  training somethin. it is somthing i do becuase i feel the need to do.
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 November 25, 2006 2:58 PM

The ideal of how we should be is the most poisonous thing in the whole world.”

“The thing that erodes self-centeredness - the mischief in our life - is the open experiencing of our life at the moment.”

“The intelligent suffering of experiencing seems horrible from the usual self-centered point of view of most people.”

“Practice is not thinking about our life; it is bodily feeling the totality of life.”

“A good practice is absolutely simple.”

 

Charlotte Joko Beck / Elihu Genmyo Smith

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 November 25, 2006 3:00 PM

Some Suggestions on Practice

by Joko Beck

  Joko Beck has written the following suggestions to help her students with their practice:

  • Don't begin a sitting period without considering why you sit. Know your intention. Know that there is "nowhere to go, nothing to achieve." Be aware of ambitious thoughts.
  • Check your posture. No matter how you sit, the body should be erect (but not stiff), balanced, and at ease. The sitting place should be neat and pleasant. (But we can sit anywhere and in any position--even lying down if ill or exhausted).
  • Sit every day. Try not to miss more than one day in a week. If resistance arises (it is a normal part of practice), be aware that it consists of thinking; like all thought, it need not dominate you. Just observe it. Feel it in the body. And do not bully yourself, ever.
  • Once a week, sit 10-15 minutes longer than you want to sit.
  • Don't become obsessed by sitting. In no case should one's work or family responsibilities be neglected in order to sit.
  • When upset, don't avoid sitting. Hard as it may be, it is crucial to sit when difficulties arise.
  • Know that sitting is simply maintaining awareness of body and mind. Be aware of any desire to turn sitting into an escape from life by entering peaceful, trance-like states; such states can be seductive but they are of no use.
  • Be aware that the honeymoon period for new sitters is often followed by resistance, possible turbulence, and emotional uprisings. Just continue practice with particular emphasis on feeling your bodily sensations.
  • Be aware that "achieving something" in sitting (such as special clarity, insight, calmness of mind) is not the point. These may occur--but the point is your awareness of whatever is happening, including confusion, discouragement, or anxiety.
  • Keep your practice to yourself. Don't attempt to teach others; do not proselytize. Leave your friends and family alone. There is an old saying, "let them ask three times..." What you can give others is how you live.
  • Don't spend your sitting time in planning. Nothing is wrong with planning per se, but set up another time for it. If you hear planning thoughts when you sit, label them.
  • In daily life, be acutely aware of the desire to gossip or complain, to judge others or yourself, to feel superior or inferior.

All practice can be summed up as

(1) observation of the mental process, and

(2) the experiencing of present bodily sensations. No more and no less.

And finally, remember that real practice is not about the techniques or koans or anything else as ends in themselves, but about the transformation of your life and mine. There are no "quick fixes." Our practice is about our life, and we practice forever.

Copyright (c), 1996 by Charlotte Joko Beck

http://www.prairiezen.org/art&talks.htm

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 November 25, 2006 3:06 PM

Charlotte Joko Beck is one of the best writers on Zen out there today...You can't go wrong following her teachings.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 November 25, 2006 3:50 PM

So, do any of you use Koan in your practice?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Koans November 28, 2006 1:08 AM

I used to do - but stopped after a while and went back to "just sitting" practice....

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anonymous step one all over again! December 20, 2006 12:49 PM

I have seen many faces on pictures of Tibetan people and also in pictures of the Sangha.(I will realax more from now on.)  Practice is about experiencing the truth of who we really are(Remembers some "original mind."and trying not to try,to return to that mind.)  Practice is about attending to,experiencing,wherever we are stuck,wherever we're holding,whatever blocks us from our true nature....( Thinking that too much "masculinity."(strongness)and not enough femininity..ying/yang? is opposing eachother... Can someone help with this? )more sitting? More non-thinking walking?   This is new to me,John,........I  rarely saw a dojo where they  could smile and still practice respectfully....until recently when my daughter and I started sparring and working together with the techniques. lol....Skysail...............lol.........oooh,so that's what was wanted, a guarantee of enlightment somewhere embedded in the subconsious.......I better dig my head in a hole....hide away.....thank you everyone for reminding me just to be more aware,live,at the moment.  PATT...yes,Agreed,"The idea of how we should be is the most poisonous thing in the whole world."......but even though I do"be in the moment." ......and relax,.......some others with their own issues won't understand what real relaxing is.They will always find something to complain about.!They don't want to begin to understand the "its the bodily feeling and the tot ality of life.,or "a good practice is absolutely simple." That's been my "un-goal."lol for years. The most difficult part of "learning all this..." is when "Resistance,possible turbulence,and emotional uprisings," occurs.  I don't use Koans much,decidng what I want to do for a new career,seems to have become my Koan.(seriously and half jokingly.)This IS the question,cause  [report anonymous abuse]  [ accepted]
 
reality December 21, 2006 4:22 AM

The Buddha said, "Learning and thinking are like being outside the door;
sitting in meditation is returning home to sit in peace." How true this is!
While learning and thinking, views have not stopped and the mind is still
stuck - that is why it is like being outside the door. But in this sitting
meditation, Zazen, everything is at rest, and you penetrate everywhere -
thus it is like returning home to sit in peace.

An ancient said, "When confusion ceases, tranquility comes; when
tranquility comes, wisdom appears, and when wisdom appears, reality is
seen."

--Keizan Jokan (1264-1325)

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anonymous Wild minds... February 15, 2007 1:55 PM

I'm currently reading Kerouac's Dharma Bums, a novel that (among other things) explores the diverse paths Buddhists follow on their journeys toward awakening. I see the same spirit, vitality and diversity alive and well here too.

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