How students should prepare for zazen 坐禅心得 ( zazen kokoroe)

How students should prepare for zazen

Shared by Kaz

In 2012, Rev Ito shared with students how students should be prepared to come to our zendo for zazen. “Rinzai hakone zendo zazen kokoroe”. I added explanations.

  1. 礼儀作法 (reigi saho): Etiquette & be courteous. Students should respect the zendo and other students. Students can clean and set up our zendo where we meditate. To be courteous to others, students can avoid disturbing others by arrive early and try move less during zazen.
  2. 坐してかんがえよ (za shite kangae yo): Just sit. Do not think anything. Don’t think about what you are going to do later today or what happened to you earlier, just sit to be yourself.
  3. 坐をきめよ (za wo kime yo)(座相)zasou: Find your center and sit. Students can move bodies from side to side and front and back to find their center.
  4. 背筋 頭 丹田 (sesuji atama tanden): Let your body to sit. Straighten your spine and align your head. Focus on tanden, 2.5 inches below your navel. Your mind and everything sit in tanden.
  5. 気息を坐らせよ (kisoku wo suwaraseyo):  Control your breath. 1/3 should be inhaling, and 2/3 should be exhaling. Try longer exhaling.
  6. 丹田を落ち着かせここが己の住処なり (tanden wo ochitsukase kokoga onoreno sumika nari):  Focus on tanden. Breathe slowly and abdominally.

Here is recording of teisho by Rev Ito from 7/22/2012.

ACCEPTING AND MAKING PEACE WITH EMOTIONS

Shared by Oscar

Through meditation, I began to question how to accept negative emotions. Although wanting to be happy is a habit and being able to control what we are exposed to is the easy path. It is important to have an open mind that willingly accepts comfort and discomfort. Instead of having a mental diet and avoiding negative emotions and negativity in general, striving for acceptance of those feelings yields better understanding and peace when dealing with them. The goal is to ultimately achieve balance and acceptance to improve quality of life. At the same time, becoming less judgmental and connecting with others by feeling and understanding the same emotions we all go through. And to remember that as humans, we are allowed to feel all kinds of ways and don’t have to force ourselves to feel one specific way all the time. 

Happiness is a habit

Shared by Peter

In the book titled “The Art of Living”, it said “Happiness is a habit.  It’s training” The author was Thich That Hahn, a renowned Buddhist monk. 

Habit can be either an exceedingly good servant or a very bad master. 

So how do cultivate a good servant and stay away from a bad master?

  1. Let go of the past.   “It is mental slavery to cling to things that have stopped serving its purpose in your life.” — Chinonye J. Chidolue Equally important is, Letting go of strong attachment to things, such as wealth, power, fame, ego, and other possessions.
  1. Stop worrying about the future. We are always looking outside ourselves for something to make us feel satisfied and complete. But so long as we have the energy of craving in us, we’re never satisfied with what we have and with who we are right now, and true happiness is not possible.  The energy of craving sucks us into the future

The past does not exist, and the future is not here yet. Happiness can only possibly be found in the present moment.  As soon as we realize that in this very moment we already have enough, and we already are enough, true happiness becomes possible. 

With mindfulness, concentration, and insight, we can free ourselves from feelings of restlessness and craving, and realize that, right now, we already have more than enough conditions to be happy.  It’s training.   Practicing mindfulness (of the present moment)  during mediation can be good training for happiness is a habit. 

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass us again. Enjoy every moment of your life.” — quote from unknown

“We were born with our spiritual power, ki.”

Shared by Reni

Rev. Ito’s teisho: “We were born with our spiritual power, ki.”

   We were born with our life energy which is part of the invisible energy forces of the Universe. Ki is our spiritual self, life energy. Ki, the spirit lives in our seika tanden, in raw translation, it means “everlasting life”. Seika tanden locations differ by each individual, approximately 3-5 centimeters below the navel within the hara. In Zazen meditation the cosmic mudra hand gesture, the left hand gently embraces our right hand and forms a circle resting around the hara. While we are deep breathing air into our thiaframe we form an internal decision. The internal decision of refocusing from the muddled mind and finding clarity in tanden while we connect to our innate state of being. During meditation the body’s center line, seichusen, balances back towards alignment & strengthens our core energy. With each mindful moment we kindly remind ourselves that we’re one with the Universe. 

the 4 rules from the late Master Sheng Yen

By 玄史生 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21075958

Jia shared the 4 rules from the late Master Sheng Yen of the Dharma Drum Mountain:

四要:需要、想要、能要、該要。
When you wish for something, ask yourself these four
questions: Is it needed? Is it wanted? Is it obtainable?
Is it advisable?

四感:感恩、感謝、感化、感動。
The four attitudes to take towards others: grateful,
thankful, transforming, and inspiring.

四福:知福、惜福、培福、種福。
The four keys to good fortune: know what you are
blessed with, cherish it, help it grow, and plant seeds
for future blessings.

四它:面對它、接受它、處理它、放下它。
The four steps in dealing with any problem: face it,
accept it, deal with it, let it go.

Mindfulness provides incredible freedom

Shared by Jing

It provides the ability to question the accuracy of the perception provide the ability to respond to the feeling/emotion rather than react. It helps me to understand the truth, sometimes we display good qualities, sometimes bad. Sometimes the output looks like success, sometimes failure. But we are not defined by these qualities or behaviors.  

Mindfulness helped me to surface that wisdom to pull me out of the “dark valley” I thought of at that moment.  I hope to keep practicing to live as the oneness of mind and body.

What is “Mu”?

Shared by Ann.

Mu is a koan associated with Rinzai zen. In one story associated with this koan, a monk asks a teacher whether a dog has buddha nature, and the response is “Mu!” – (No). Later, the monks ask the teacher the same question and get the opposite answer – “Yes”! (Note: this article references a book focused on Mu.)

Mu is the concept of pure or profound awareness. One of Ann’s teachers recommended that she practice saying mu. She originally ventured into the woods but found the experience awkward, feeling like a lion cub that needed to learn to roar. She later followed her husband’s suggestion and used Levi’s stadium as her practice space – projecting Mu into the venue at times when the rest of the crowd was roaring with support of the 49ers.

Ann has a practice of ending her days by saying Mu. Doing so allows you to express your intent to strive for awareness. In the same way that her teacher encourages her, she encourages us to find opportunities to practice.