The very direct title of chapter Three of The Original Frontier identifies obstacles that await. As chapter one was a report on those who have ventured out, chapter two was selecting the vehicle for starting the journey. and chapter three is about what each person may expect in continuing the path.
We will use the Kindle version of the book as we explore the interplay of Hojo's Matsuoka-roshi and other thoughts of ancestors and more contemporary writers. In many ways two important point guide this offering don't give-up-work with each other and let your guide know how you are doing.
We will ask people in the service to give their first impression of the chapter and then move into reviewing specific excuses, and we end in open discussion forging takeaways. To aid us, here are my notes on what we will cover:
Chapter three The Original Frontier: Sangaku Dan Joslyn, July 2021, The Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha is reading and discussing the book
1. Much forethought…dokusan intimate…
2. “I.” ego prejudging, high gain short input/Not
3. Using 25 examples
4. Excuses followed by quotes from ancestors and contemporary teachers
5. Practical ways of defining excuses
6. Four Nobles Truths as scientific method
7. Attitude adjustment
9. Conclusion without investigation
“I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR MEDITATION.”Squeeze in time
“MEDITATION IS TOO PAINFUL FOR ME.” go into the pain, switch to heat stretch, slight movements ----------------------------
“MY LIFE IS TOO COMPLICATED FOR MEDITATION.” keep an eye on it just observe “MEDITATION IS WAY TOO COMPLICATED.” Regard zazen as a mini vacation, as one of my teachers suggests (Okumura).
“I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO JOIN A GROUP.” sit first join later, read, sit, visit zendo
“I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SELF-DISCIPLINE.” go against type\…When the urge strikes you out of the blue, just go and sit.
“I CAN NEVER STOP THINKING LONG ENOUGH TO MEDITATE.” reflection on our thoughts…:ocke and Dogen…non-thinking …what you are feeling is touching you back.
“MEDITATION BRINGS UP BAD MEMORIES AND WORRIES ABOUT THE FUTURE.” listening to a recording…
“I CAN MEDITATE IN THE MIDST OF EVERYDAY ACTIVITY, WITHOUT HAVING TO SIT STILL.” But because body and mind cannot separate, we cannot really practice zazen without fully engaging the body….take a break
“I GET ENOUGH OUT OF READING ABOUT ZEN WITHOUT MEDITATING.” But studying Zen by reading what others write about it is a bit like lapping up leftovers.
“THE PURPOSE OF MEDITATION IS TO CHANGE MY MIND.” keep a notebook… see the mind face the moment...
“YOU HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT TO REALLY DO MEDITATION.” Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, an outstanding pioneer in establishing American Zen, said this:39 In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
“I TRY TO MEDITATE, BUT IT JUST MAKES ME SLEEPY.” These fluid states are recognized as important to creativity and have been explored by artists, authors, and scientists…scientists. Utilizing these gray areas of awareness in creative problem-solving and innovation has been the subject of extensive research:40…pump chin up and down…breath more deeply….look-up straining eye and facial muscles…
“MEDITATION IS TOO LAID BACK TO COPE WITH THE CHALLENGES IN LIFE.” expand view… “I CAN’T STAND THE INNER DIALOGUE.” But longing for the end of thought is like longing for the end of breathing. Both are automatic, autonomic functions of a sentient being. The problem is our attitude, not the…breath keeping quick and fast exhale…
“I DON’T WANT TO, BUT I KNOW I HAVE TO MEDITATE.” I don’t like MUST statements…expand awareness to body… “MEDITATION CAN DO LITTLE TO HELP IN MY CASE.” Zazen provides a dependable sanctuary, a necessary redoubt for regrouping, on the original frontier. Like a freshwater well, to which we return frequently for refreshment, it never goes dry. But zazen is more than a sanctuary and is not to be pursued as an escape from the strife of life…sit with and limit time…back ro thinking it is a recording….
“MEDITATION IS SUPPOSED TO IMPROVE MY LIFE.” Just apply yourself to zazen, and not to worry—it will apply itself to your life, in a natural way…Dogen: Setting everything aside, think of neither good nor evil, right nor wrong. Thus, having stopped the various functions of your mind, give up even the idea of becoming a Buddha. This holds true not only for zazen but for all your daily actions…fall down 7 get up 8…
“MEDITATION SHOULD HELP ACHIEVE MY GOALS IN LIFE.” Failure reboots our definition of a particular goal. There is no success without failure…fall down 7 get up 8… now is life…
“MEDITATION SHOULD MAKE ME HAPPY.” just sit down and return to zazen…Thusness---
“WHEN I AM SITTING, I AM MEDITATING; WHEN NOT, I AM NOT.” imposed. If we sit for other, outside reasons, it taints the meaning and dilutes the effectiveness of the meditation….pre-sit…
“I MEDITATE BECAUSE I AM BUDDHIST.” Zen repeatedly points to the inadequacy of language and concepts. Anyone, of any faith, can practice meditation…how many labels am I?
“MEDITATION SHOULD HELP ME BE MORE COMPASSIONATE.” As a Ch’an poem promises:44 Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things. Be serene in the oneness of things, and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves…less than 2…
“MEDITATION SHOULD LEAD TO ENLIGHTENMENT.” No one can even make the case that it is necessary to do zazen in order to experience the original mind. There is no probable cause-effect relationship there. This point was made long ago by Bodhidharma himself:46 But Bodhidharma’s approach to Zen was unique. As he says in these sermons, “Seeing your nature is zen. . . . Not thinking about anything is zen. . . . Everything you do is zen.” While others viewed zen as purification of the mind or as a stage on the way to buddhahood, Bodhidharma equated zen with buddhahood—and buddhahood with mind, the everyday mind. In spite of the lack of causal connection, zazen seems entirely necessary for most people to fully appreciate Zen…in Zen we do not pursue…
“DO YOU BELIEVE IN MEDITATION (OR WORSHIP BUDDHA)?” we do not believe but we may experience… JUST SIT—BUT STILL ENOUGH, AND FOR LONG ENOUGH…Fully aware of our surroundings, intensely engaged with senses—sitting still enough, for long enough—our awareness shifts to sensation itself. And beyond sensation, to perception itself, then beyond perception. Rather than perceiving objects through the senses, we engage the senses directly. Sensory adaptation sets in as a prelude to total, trans sensory immersion. Entering a neutral, balanced state of pure (nondual) attention, sinking deep into zazen Samadhi. The chapter is an intervention. It says, okay it is zen is not what you think it will be and here are somethings you think now or may think later, which IT IS NOT. This ties in with deconstructing senses which occurs in this frontier (Chapter Four)
Next Week Myosho will cover the second part of Sandokai