Author Topic: why zen  (Read 2726 times)

Offline whale

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why zen
« on: June 30, 2016, 04:40:36 pm »
Since having kids 8 years ago I have not go to any sangha.  I went to FPMT but I just followed the basics for about 2 years.  There is a Zen center by the house I just moved to and was wondering. Why some choose Zen.

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: why zen
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2016, 02:35:42 am »
Always been interested in Zen, although I finally chose the Triratna Order since that was the nearest center to me, and I liked the 'Western' aspects of their take on the Dharma. I think many are attracted to the 'sudden' part of Zen, that enlightenment will come in a sudden flash. It does, but not before years of hard work! Over the years I've  come to think of Buddhism as training the wild mind, in much the same way as training a wild horse. You can either 'break' the horse in, or you can 'gentle' it in. Both work, but in different ways. For me, many aspects of Zen are the 'break it in' school of training. Anyone else think that?

My only concern is with the Zen practice of sitting in a particular position for hour on end when meditating. My legs just aren't up to it, and I get concerned about circulation. Anyone else find that?
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: why zen
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2016, 10:13:00 am »
My only concern is with the Zen practice of sitting in a particular position for hour on end when meditating. My legs just aren't up to it, and I get concerned about circulation. Anyone else find that?

Yes, they can be a bit anally retentive when it comes to posture.  Personally I think it's mostly cultural baggage, there is no really need to do yogic contortions or suffer pain.  IMO using a stool or chair is fine, you can also meditate lying down.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline NoEssentialNature

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Re: why zen
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 08:04:57 am »
My only concern is with the Zen practice of sitting in a particular position for hour on end when meditating. My legs just aren't up to it, and I get concerned about circulation. Anyone else find that?

My experience is that this is mainly a problem from residual tension. Really relax, and the knees in particular get better circulation. I find my hands tense when my mind drifts towards thinking about doing things, and my calf muscles tense when I think about going places. Relaxing fully requires working on the residual impulses and habits. Meditation is not just a mental experience, but for the whole body.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: why zen
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 05:57:39 pm »
My only concern is with the Zen practice of sitting in a particular position for hour on end when meditating. My legs just aren't up to it, and I get concerned about circulation. Anyone else find that?

My experience is that this is mainly a problem from residual tension. Really relax, and the knees in particular get better circulation. I find my hands tense when my mind drifts towards thinking about doing things, and my calf muscles tense when I think about going places. Relaxing fully requires working on the residual impulses and habits. Meditation is not just a mental experience, but for the whole body.

Some folks can't sit on a cushion for extended perioids.  I can't.  I can sit fo an hour on a zafu or gomden but after that I take a chair.  I fought with that for years. 

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: why zen
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 10:27:21 pm »
My butt parts go numb... All of them...   :lmfao:

I sit in a chair, I meditate often, and I tried cushions eventually I had enough ... And yeah numbness, starting at the parts on the cushion and eventually ending at my feet... Empty space alright I was a floating torso and the feeling of everything waking oh man... Pins and needles... In places... Not good.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: why zen
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 03:08:45 am »
A nice comfy chair is best.   :teehee:
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: why zen
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 07:05:03 am »
A nice comfy chair is best.   :teehee:

Not.... the comfy chair!
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline BlackLooter

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Re: why zen
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2018, 02:41:35 am »
Zen is one of the most perfect religions in existence..

Take this koan with you..

Zen is everything,
Everything is Zen,
But how could that be?
Freedom reigns over everything!

Offline Lone Cypress

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Re: why zen
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2018, 07:59:53 pm »
I'm with Anemephistus: "I sit in a chair, I meditate often..." That works well for me. I certainly hope that the whole posture thing doesn't close people's minds to Zen - nor the many books that have misrepresented Zen beliefs and practice.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: why zen
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2018, 10:37:17 pm »
Why zen? I’d say, that if you’re interested in meditation the zen school is the meditation school. They have been refining meditation practices for close to two thousand years and their approach is very pure and straightforward.

Anyone who has only read about zen and goes to sit in a typical zen center will likely be surprised (even shocked) by how rigorous and strict the practice is (unlike the romantic iconoclasm of zen literature) but they will come away with their practice much stronger than it would be otherwise. I know of one major zen center that even requires a doctor's note in order to avoid sitting on the floor.

Some time ago I wrote down the basics of meditation on the website I'd set up for my writing. I had a nephew in mind who showed some interest in zen meditation -- but alas, like so many, his was just a passing interest. My instructions are based on a lifetime of meditation practice and my training in all three of the major Japanese zen schools to have transplanted to the West. Below are some excerpts on posture.

I often hear people say that meditation posture is not important, that they meditate lying down in bed or on the couch. All I can say is that I meditate in bed and on the couch too, but I also meditate in the prescribed posture and it simply works better. It’s actually easier in the long run.

Neuroscientists are discovering what yogis have known all along — that what is done with the body can have the same effect on us as thoughts and emotions. For instance, what we do with our facial muscles, such as smiling, triggers positive responses in our body chemistry, even if we’re not actually happy about something. When we are calm we breath slowly and deeply, and if we’re upset, breathing slowly and deeply has a calming effect. Likewise sitting upright, rather than slumped or lying down, stimulates physiological responses that produce vigor and awareness.

When aiming for the correct meditation posture, the most important point is for the spine to be straight. This is accomplished by emphasizing the natural forward and backward curves of the upright spine, without leaning to either side. If you rock forward and back again, pushing the butt out slightly, you can feel the natural curve of the lower back. Then, pulling the chin in, you’ll notice the chest expand, the lungs open up and the breath (always through the nose) slow down and deepen. The crown of the head rises up towards the ceiling as if pulled by an invisible rope. When the shoulders and arms are relaxed downwards and the elbows are pulled slightly forward, the arms make a large flat circle around the torso with the hands resting lightly on the lap or upper foot.

The posture doesn’t need to be exaggerated. It should be relaxed and comfortable. It can be checked occasionally during the meditation, especially the chin, which tends to drift upward when lost in thought, or downward when sleepy.

For most of us, to be able to sit comfortably in the full-lotus, with both legs crossed over the tops of the thighs, takes concerted effort over a considerable period of time. For many it is impossible. Fortunately, the basic ingredients of the full lotus are attainable in several other meditation poses. But whatever pose is taken, the spine should be straight, in its natural, upright position, so that the weight of the body doesn’t pull on muscles and ligaments, but instead rests lightly, directly downwards. Rocking forward and from side to side when first assuming the posture, balances and centers the body on the spine.

(I describe the basic postures, kneeling (Jp. seiza), half and quarter lotus, and chair sitting)

I’ve had considerable experience sitting in chairs when my knees were injured (from other activities). Except for some pain in the knees, sitting in the half or full lotus is actually easier and physically more pleasurable (once the body gets used to it) but the same results (mentally) can be obtained sitting in a chair.

A firm, straight-backed chair is best. A small pillow can be used to support the lower back in the correct position — or even better, sit with the back not resting against anything. I use an old plastic milk crate turned upside down, with a zafu (meditation cushion) on top so the thighs are parallel to the floor. The zafu can be placed conveniently inside the crate for portability.

Sitting in a chair, the posture can still be stable and upright, with the chin in, the spine naturally balanced, and the shoulders relaxed downward. Instead of the knees, both feet should rest firmly on the floor.

Sitting upright on a chair, with the hands resting downwards on the thighs is the ancient Egyptian posture for meditation.

And so on – http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/

« Last Edit: August 25, 2018, 11:03:54 pm by zafrogzen »
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: why zen
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2018, 02:14:22 am »
I was pretty upset when I could no longer sit on the mat to meditate, but the legs finally gave out and I had to use a chair. The experience is slightly different, particularly in the positioning of the hands. I either had to raise my feet on something so my hands would rest easily on my lap, or have a small cushion on my lap, or a blanket, or some combination of these. Zafrogzen is right about the position of the spine, and a position where I don't rest against the back of the chair is best.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: why zen
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2018, 05:42:23 am »
I was pretty upset when I could no longer sit on the mat to meditate...

I know the feeling. When I first hurt one of my knees doing tree work I couldn’t sit on the mat for almost a year. I was relieved to find I could get to where I wanted sitting in a chair just as well. I also realized how much ego I’d invested in sitting in the lotus and a little more humility was nice to experience.
 
Since I do a lot of hard physical labor my knees are often hurting, especially as I approach my eighties, so I have to sit in a chair sometimes, but I miss the physical pleasure I get sitting in the half or full lotus.

I do get restless and antsy more often sitting in a chair but there’s not as much pain, except in the shoulders. No matter what position I’m sitting in, I always put a small blanket over my legs with the end rolled up under my hands to support them so my arms don’t pull down on my shoulders.
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Lone Cypress

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Re: why zen
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2018, 10:38:19 am »
In my case, it's a back issue that prevents me from "sitting." I have found though, that an upright posture, proper breathing, and correct hand postion, can all be achieved in a chair.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: why zen
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2018, 07:32:55 am »
Someone asked Suzuki Roshi if there was any difference between sitting in the full lotus and sitting on a chair.

"Yes there is," he said, "In the full lotus the legs are crossed."
My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

 


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