Author Topic: why zen  (Read 2805 times)

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: why zen
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2018, 02:49:11 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.

Absolutely.  IMO sitting on cushions or doing yogic contortions is basically cultural baggage, and entirely unnecessary. 
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Online IdleChater

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Re: why zen
« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2018, 10:49:33 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.

Absolutely.  IMO sitting on cushions or doing yogic contortions is basically cultural baggage, and entirely unnecessary.

One could also say that resistance to sitting on cushions or doing yogic contortions  is also cultural baggage and entirely ethnocentric.

Just sayin  :hug:

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: why zen
« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2018, 01:33:14 pm »
The full lotus posture is much more ancient than what we refer to as "yoga" here in the West -- which is hatha yoga and just one branch of yoga. I think hatha yoga was developed by meditators who used the exercises to get comfortable in the full lotus, as well as being spontaneous postures that were inspired during meditation in the full loltus. In Hindu and Tibetan Tantra, and Taoism, energy channels, gates or "winds" are cultivated which are best done in the full lotus because it stimulates "shakti" or psycho/sexual energy which is said to harness (yoke) subtle states of consciousness and bliss otherwise unattainable. The position is also useful when one's consciousness leaves the physical body so that it is left secure and unable to easily move around.
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 Suiseki

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Re: why zen
« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2018, 02:05:45 pm »
I can only speak from my own meager experiences with"cultural baggage".

The eventual rather neurotic and awkward perspective realized of myself while wearing the koromo, (robe) that I obtained as a young Zen monk living alone in my small temple-apartment, eventually led to my burning it. (the koromo not the apartment!  :eek:)

However now, many years later- I miss that koromo along with my long departed Korean (baggage?) friend and teacher.

I reflect upon them both with often sad but fond memories.

  :headbow:

Upon reflection, I feel as though my dear friends here deserve at minimum a humble explanation.

Suiseki: (Water and Stone), is a "True man of no rank" Zen and literati name (gago). It was presented to me in 1981 by my Zen and Shodo (calligraphy) teacher, the late Reiun Sensei.

I am humbled and profoundly fortunate to have had several superlative teachers, guides and true spiritual friends. "Swami-ji", the late His Holiness Shankaracharya of Kashmir Gaddi Swami Swanandashram, graced my personal presence here in America for 17 years.

Swami-ji guided me in the Yoga tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), specifically non-dual (Advaita Vedanta) philosophy. He named me Madan Mohan, although I prefer to remain religion-free to this day.

May we share here collectively in our individual spiritual plight with humility, respect, compassion and sincerity. :)

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: why zen
« Reply #19 on: September 10, 2018, 04:15:01 pm »
...My butt parts go numb...all of them...I...just cant even describe the waking up part. Truly I tried, I tried and tried, I have a serious need to be capable of detecting my butt while meditating..not so much directly as an absence is noted to the core of my minds eye I swear. Breath in...Butt is numb...Breath out....butt is numb...your legs are getting sleepy...

My chair is not fancy and I had some shame when I decided that it was going to be a chair or nothing but the body i inherited is what it is and yoga, weights, stretching, attempting acclimation, and warm water...yes warm water...still my butt went numb completely.     

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: why zen
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2018, 09:32:09 am »
...my butt went numb completely.     

I assume you tried sitting on the mat in easier poses such as the half lotus, Burmese, seiza, etc, and that you persevered long enough to see that the body, ever adaptable, wasn't going to adapt. I've always thought that anyone who can get into the full lotus for a minute or two should be able to eventually sit the half lotus comfortably with alternating legs on top. But every body is slightly different.

My legs go to sleep after about 15 minutes in the full lotus, but they did pretty good in the half lotus until recently when my weaker knee started hurting after a few sittings and not recovering. But I'm 75 and my entire body is gradually coming apart.

Last night I woke up after about 4 hours sleep to pee and realized my mind was too active to go back to sleep again so, as I often do, I decided to do zazen. I'm trying to rest my bad knee, so I sat on a chair (padded) for 25 minute sits and 5 minutes of walking meditation. Guess what! My butt went numb and I also experienced some sciatica, which doesn't happen for me in the half lotus. It wasn't bad enough to stop so I sat for five 25 minute sittings with some yoga and walking in between and then went back to bed with my butt on a heating pad. My mind never did quiet down much until I'd lay down for a few minutes and then, wham!, everything stopped and opened up and I went into a wonderful enlightening samadhi before I finally removed the heating pad and fell asleep. Once again I was relieved to find that I can get off just as well sitting in a chair.

I think I'm going to try seiza (kneeling with a zafu between the legs) and see how that goes. http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/
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

Online IdleChater

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Re: why zen
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2018, 12:27:13 pm »
my lower legs go numb after about 10 minutes.  Getting up from the floor is very difficult

the only way I can sit for any amount of time is to use a chair or any seat 15" or higher.

I use a POÄNG ottoman I got at IKEA. 

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S89244660/

It has a good incline and is about the right height.  I add a crescent cushion half-filled with buckwheat hulls and it's pretty close to perfect.

Gone are the days of sitting cross-legged on the floor
 :bigtears:

Offline Anemephistus

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Re: why zen
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2018, 08:10:18 pm »
...my butt went numb completely.     

I assume you tried sitting on the mat in easier poses such as the half lotus, Burmese, seiza, etc, and that you persevered long enough to see that the body, ever adaptable, wasn't going to adapt. I've always thought that anyone who can get into the full lotus for a minute or two should be able to eventually sit the half lotus comfortably with alternating legs on top. But every body is slightly different.

My legs go to sleep after about 15 minutes in the full lotus, but they did pretty good in the half lotus until recently when my weaker knee started hurting after a few sittings and not recovering. But I'm 75 and my entire body is gradually coming apart.

Last night I woke up after about 4 hours sleep to pee and realized my mind was too active to go back to sleep again so, as I often do, I decided to do zazen. I'm trying to rest my bad knee, so I sat on a chair (padded) for 25 minute sits and 5 minutes of walking meditation. Guess what! My butt went numb and I also experienced some sciatica, which doesn't happen for me in the half lotus. It wasn't bad enough to stop so I sat for five 25 minute sittings with some yoga and walking in between and then went back to bed with my butt on a heating pad. My mind never did quiet down much until I'd lay down for a few minutes and then, wham!, everything stopped and opened up and I went into a wonderful enlightening samadhi before I finally removed the heating pad and fell asleep. Once again I was relieved to find that I can get off just as well sitting in a chair.

I think I'm going to try seiza (kneeling with a zafu between the legs) and see how that goes. http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/


I tried a variety of things over the years, I also sometimes have a good meditation in bed. In bed is usually not entirely intentional, I lay down and have resolved to sleep but my mind monkeys swing from window to window and soon I decide it's time to calm my state of mind and body and take an evaluation of their behavior and discover why it is arising.  Work likes to replay in my minds eye and share with me the danger I put myself in, but these days I am finding a lot more peace. As long as I can feel my butt :)

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: why zen
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2018, 04:51:12 am »
The full lotus posture is much more ancient than what we refer to as "yoga" here in the West -- which is hatha yoga and just one branch of yoga. I think hatha yoga was developed by meditators who used the exercises to get comfortable in the full lotus, as well as being spontaneous postures that were inspired during meditation in the full loltus. In Hindu and Tibetan Tantra, and Taoism, energy channels, gates or "winds" are cultivated which are best done in the full lotus because it stimulates "shakti" or psycho/sexual energy which is said to harness (yoke) subtle states of consciousness and bliss otherwise unattainable. The position is also useful when one's consciousness leaves the physical body so that it is left secure and unable to easily move around.

Is there any evidence in contemporary Buddhism that sitting on the floor leads to better meditation than sitting on a chair?   My personal experience doesn't support this idea, having progressed over the years from cushions to stools to chairs.   

And are you suggesting that people should continue to sit on the floor, even when it is causing them physical problems?  ( I hope not )
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream"

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: why zen
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2018, 07:21:52 pm »
The full lotus posture is much more ancient than what we refer to as "yoga" here in the West -- which is hatha yoga and just one branch of yoga. I think hatha yoga was developed by meditators who used the exercises to get comfortable in the full lotus, as well as being spontaneous postures that were inspired during meditation in the full loltus. In Hindu and Tibetan Tantra, and Taoism, energy channels, gates or "winds" are cultivated which are best done in the full lotus because it stimulates "shakti" or psycho/sexual energy which is said to harness (yoke) subtle states of consciousness and bliss otherwise unattainable. The position is also useful when one's consciousness leaves the physical body so that it is left secure and unable to easily move around.

Is there any evidence in contemporary Buddhism that sitting on the floor leads to better meditation than sitting on a chair?   My personal experience doesn't support this idea, having progressed over the years from cushions to stools to chairs.   

And are you suggesting that people should continue to sit on the floor, even when it is causing them physical problems?  ( I hope not )

No, as I said earlier the mental results are as good on a chair and I think it's fine to sit in a chair. There's not enough difference to warrant someone giving up or suffering too much pain. But I've never personally in all my years of zen practice with groups come across anyone who was permanently harmed sitting on the floor. I guess it could happen, especially if one did not proceed gradually or was really macho when it comes to pain.

Sitting in the full lotus or half lotus is physically energizing and in my experience is somewhat more conducive to concentration and samadhi, but that's only if it is not too difficult or painful. I don't think most people who meditate do so to the degree that serious zen practitioners do or are even aware of what is possible. Anyone who has done a seven day sesshin in a traditional zendo is likely to come away with the ability to sit comfortably on the floor in the half lotus, or sometimes in the Burmese or seiza pose -- but they usually work up to it with some one-day sittings. The pain does finally get manageable and even disappears sometimes, normally on the third 10-12 hour day of sesshin zazen and it stays away if one continues to practice at a serious level. Very, very few zen practitioners sit in chairs and than it is only because they are old (like me) or have a physical handicap. It's pretty easy to tell by observing someone sitting on the floor how experienced they are.

I much prefer sitting in the full or half lotus, but it's not absolutely necessary. Personally I don't think sitting in a chair is much easier, except on the knees. No matter how one sits, it takes effort and perseverance.


« Last Edit: September 12, 2018, 07:56:40 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 zafrogzen

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Re: why zen
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2018, 04:16:54 pm »
The hatha yoga pose that is especially good for getting comfortably into the half or full lotus is the "head-to-knee pose." The legs are gradually relaxed and stretched until they are in the proper position.

 https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/head-to-knee-forward-bend

Putting the foot on top of the thigh while doing this asana, is a further step. Stretch the hands forward with an inbreath and lower the head and torso on the outbreath -- keeping the low back as straight as possible.
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 #26 on: September 19, 2018, 02:30:30 am »
It also depends on who you meditate with, or whether you do this alone. We used to have a guy who would keep an eye on our posture during meditation and then have a quiet word if it looked like we were unbalanced or had slipped into a slouch which may cause problems in the future.

How you sit does effect the meditation, so its best to have a go at a number of body positions. Not only that but subtle differences in position of the hands, arms, back, legs, and so on can have different effects. Are the hands open or closed? Are you making a statement with the hands? That sort of thing. Slight adjustments can make big differences.
“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

 


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