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.

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

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.

Omotenashi おもてなし

Shared by Kaz

Omotenashi has been part of Japanese culture for a long time. Omote means front, nashi means nothing. Omotenashi means from the bottom of the heart, sincere. Omotenashi is an important concept from the tea ceremony which is closely related to zen. The host who is serving tea and the guest are treating each other sincerely.

There are a couple of zen phrases closely related to Omotenashi.

Ichigo ichie (一期一会)is a famous zen phrase, literary means “one time, one meeting”. Often this phrase is translated to “Once in a lifetime”. Each moment is unrepeatable and special in its own right. Appreciate this moment and focus on this special moment.

Mukudoku (無功徳)Don’t expect any returns or rewards for doing something.

We can prepare, sit and talk at our zendo with Omotenashi.

Deepak shared Atithi Devo Bhava, a similar concept in Indian Hindu-Buddhist philosophy.

Empathy

Oscar talked about empathy.

With the current state of the world and our country, I find myself feeling angry at myself and feeling useless and powerless for nothing being able to make any changes. Through meditation I found out that the difference I can do is to reduce hate in the world. But how do we do that? While meditating I told myself that through empathy I could achieve that. Meditation taught me that separation is the biggest illusion we tell ourselves as humans. Since we are raised and taught different cultures, religions, and politics, but we are all one species who are trying to strive through nature and the communities we build. Ultimately we all bleed red and we all share similar emotions.

Shujinko 主人公 : True Self

In zen teaching, shujinko means “true self.” So how can we find our “true self”?

無想 Muso:  Don’t think anything, get rid of all thoughts

無念 Munen: Let go of desires,  don’t get distracted by the stimulus from the outside world 

無住 Muju: Let go of your attachment to material things

What remains is the “true self.” Zazen is the practice to help remove these noises and find “true self.”