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Losing my religion, and shikantaza

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Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 4:17 am

Hello friends :)

I left this post elsewhere, but thought I could throw it open to you good people too :heya:

I was raised in a secular family, went to CofE church a little as a young child, but only to support my mum. Actually I'm way more drawn to Nietzsche now than Christianity, though I cannot see any answers in his work.

I visited Thailand as a teenager, took a few meditation classes, and would say I had a sort of conversion experience upon reading more about Buddhism, in general. But don't feel like there's any reason to keep my faith; it hasn't I think helped my mental health or my life, only got me to where I am today. Almost spiritually exhausted.

In effect, I feel like I have nothing to look forward to and nothing to look back at. I am scared of dying, but not to the extent that I would assume a religion to cheer myself up.

For a long time I believed that I won't be annihilated when I die, but the more I think abuot it, and I have done so alot, the more it seems that this is an irrelevance, something that tells me about my life now not the future.

But, I can sometimes feel good in the present moment, and wondered whether shikantaza might help me feel better about that. I can't find an exact phrase to describe that, but maybe Soto zen might help me to be how I am or want to be, in life and death, even though I am so tired with everything but this fluctuating enjoyment of now. Which incidentally, does not seem very Nietzschean: I don't place much value on happiness as a way of life hedonism etc.

I have visited a local Soto group, without meeting a teacher there, and enjoyed doing so. The people seemed cool etc., too. But I wanted to ask if Soto meditation has the answers to the rest of my post, or what the answers were. Even what I am asking.

Thank you for any encouragement or for any insight.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Herbie on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:04 am

When people tell about themselves and how they feel about life and this or that I tend not to believe them. Not that I think that they would be deliberately lying, no, but I think that there is a common mechanism in minds that undermines honesty, the honesty that would be necessary to be authentic.
Having said that I do not expect people to regard me as psychoanalyst or psychotherapist when they talk about themselves so it does not matter if what they say is authentic or not. It is just that if i would give an advice I would not be authentic. I can say that some people are religious, some are not, some change religion again and again, some stay with their religion. And some prefer a doctor and that may be more appropriate than religion or meditation in certain cases.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Dan74 on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:10 am

Hi kiqv,

Many years ago I came across this story (which I haven't been able to trace to Zen or Buddhism):

A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above.Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!


Sometimes in life we feel like the man with a tiger above and a tiger below. It seems foolish to even pay attention to the strawberry of this very moment, to enjoy it as it is.

And yet when we do, the tigers may prove to be no tigers at all, or maybe they are just looking for one another and have no business with you! In other words what appears to be present and real problems are neither present nor real. Attending to what presents itself to our life right here and now, simply sitting, simply chopping the veggies, simply tidying up my room, may seem foolish when big problems, unanswered questions are besetting us, and yet it may be the wisest thing of all, since this is what life presents us right now.

There is another story that comes to mind. I can't find it online but it goes like this:

Two brothers walking through the forest find a huge gold nugget. Overjoyed, they break the nugget in two and the elder brother says to the other: "let us go our separate ways now. Take good care of this gold, brother, don't squander it. So the younger brother went away, having wrapped his gold in clothes and rags. He wandered the countryside, working for a few pennies here and some food there, always worrying that someone might steal his gold, often sick and in bad spirits. After many years, he came across a mighty mansion where he sought some jobs to do, when he saw the master and recognised his own brother! Frightened, he turned to run, for he thought the brother must surely be a villain now to have amassed such fortune. But the elder brother embraced his and told his the story of how he became a trader, worked hard and became successful, while the other fretted away his good fortune and never used the gold.


This story tells me how we should plunge into life and do all we can with our treasures, instead of worrying and fretting. It is easier said than done and habits run deep, while the worries seems more real than anything. And yet, if we don't leap over them, but remain stuck in them, then all we get is a life of disppointments and suffering. So while the habits pull us back into habitual patterns, just tasting the strawberry, just reading with a mind wide open, just breathing, just this is the Soto way, the way I see it. Just doing all that's needed, bit by bit dropping all that is not.

Hope it makes sense, kiqv, and I'm sorry if I inadvertently cause any offense or waste your time.

_/|\_
D
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:17 am

OK I sense that the answer is no, whatever the question is.

Thanks anyway.

And Herbie, I have no idea what medicine you think you are providing, but I didn't ask for it. May I ask if you think I fabricated having gone to church, or feeling exhausted with ideas like yours? It's nice that you thought I might read your reply, but your actual reply is both really insensitive and missed the point by some way.
Last edited by klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Avisitor on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:20 am

klqv wrote:In effect, I feel like I have nothing to look forward to and nothing to look back at. I am scared of dying, but not to the extent that I would assume a religion to cheer myself up.

For a long time I believed that I won't be annihilated when I die, but the more I think abuot it, and I have done so alot, the more it seems that this is an irrelevance, something that tells me about my life now not the future.

Thank you for any encouragement or for any insight.

Sorry no encouragement nor insights here to give to you
I have had the same thoughts and am guessing that others may have also had such thoughts
If misery loves company then you are not alone ... haha
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
Sorry, got a message that I was not being PC.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:22 am

Avisitor wrote:
klqv wrote:In effect, I feel like I have nothing to look forward to and nothing to look back at. I am scared of dying, but not to the extent that I would assume a religion to cheer myself up.

For a long time I believed that I won't be annihilated when I die, but the more I think abuot it, and I have done so alot, the more it seems that this is an irrelevance, something that tells me about my life now not the future.

Thank you for any encouragement or for any insight.

Sorry no encouragement nor insights here to give to you
I have had the same thoughts and am guessing that others may have also had such thoughts
If misery loves company then you are not alone ... haha

hey, misery loves NOTHING :heya: :heya:
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Linda Anderson on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:52 am

klqv wrote:Hello friends :)

I left this post elsewhere, but thought I could throw it open to you good people too :heya:

I was raised in a secular family, went to CofE church a little as a young child, but only to support my mum. Actually I'm way more drawn to Nietzsche now than Christianity, though I cannot see any answers in his work.

I visited Thailand as a teenager, took a few meditation classes, and would say I had a sort of conversion experience upon reading more about Buddhism, in general. But don't feel like there's any reason to keep my faith; it hasn't I think helped my mental health or my life, only got me to where I am today. Almost spiritually exhausted.

In effect, I feel like I have nothing to look forward to and nothing to look back at. I am scared of dying, but not to the extent that I would assume a religion to cheer myself up.

For a long time I believed that I won't be annihilated when I die, but the more I think abuot it, and I have done so alot, the more it seems that this is an irrelevance, something that tells me about my life now not the future.

But,I can sometimes feel good in the present moment, and wondered whether shikantaza might help me feel better about that. I can't find an exact phrase to describe that, but maybe Soto zen might help me to be how I am or want to be, in life and death, even though I am so tired with everything but this fluctuating enjoyment of now. Which incidentally, does not seem very Nietzschean: I don't place much value on happiness as a way of life hedonism etc.

I have visited a local Soto group, without meeting a teacher there, and enjoyed doing so. The people seemed cool etc., too. But I wanted to ask if Soto meditation has the answers to the rest of my post, or what the answers were. Even what I am asking.

Thank you for any encouragement or for any insight.


Luke,

Let's clear the deck first. I have no idea if Shikantaza will "help you feel better". Only you can know that. However, as far as I know, Shikantaza makes no promises .... yet you may choose to see for yourself, if you are drawn to that, then explore and/or practice. Shikantaza is a worthy path for some. I sincerely hope that you find out for yourself. Treasure your observations... and be open to explore. Sounds like you like the group... then check it out more. FWIW, whatever happens, I trust that your comments underlined above will guide you.

I can offer encouragement, but I'll try to stay with what I see. I do not want to offer hollow words. Your observations deserve more. Seems like you've been working with your thoughts for a while from what I've seen over time. I think many ppl can relate, I can. My teacher used to say "look for the statement behind the question" when ppl asked questions... so, I have highlighted your statements which may tell you more. Ofc, I don't know for sure, but they moved me and seem like guideposts for you ... they are thoughtful and worth examining. I imagine that things have not been easy. Whatever path we are on, it's always variable. It's useful to see that everything changes as we do... and that practice and maturity can have an effect. I see the wisdom in your observations, how they reveal your deeper questions about your "life now". As to the method, that depends on what calls you... I'm not saying.

You are not alone, some of us have experienced spiritual exhaustion. It's a good thing if you allow yourself to drop what does not nourish you on the path, and be free of words, letters and expectations. Then, Shikantaza or not, is entirely up to you.

all the best
linda
Last edited by Linda Anderson on Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Linda Anderson on Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:53 am

Dan74 wrote:Hi kiqv,

Many years ago I came across this story (which I haven't been able to trace to Zen or Buddhism):

A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above.Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!



I've heard this called a "predicament koan" (as far as I know it is a zen story) ... indeed, what do we do in such a circumstance? These are the questions we ask... do we go for the strawberry, do we know in the end we will fail? whatever comes up is for us.... the facts: a man, a branch, tigers and a strawberry. that's it... until a script is written... until we respond.
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:05 am

I have visited a local Soto group, without meeting a teacher there, and enjoyed doing so. The people seemed cool etc., too. But I wanted to ask if Soto meditation has the answers to the rest of my post, or what the answers were. Even what I am asking


I would say go back. Ask to see the teacher, give her/him a thorough briefing then tread carefully forward. There is no such thing as 'Soto Meditation' or 'Shikantaza'. This is just branding to satisfy functions in our brain. There is only your meditation at any one mementless moment in time. We don't need religion on the cushion, or anywhere else for that matter.

All the best

m
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Chrisd on Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:36 am

Seems like a decent post to me. I've personally found mindfulness and meditation much more rewarding than philosophy. I'd like to encourage you to explore it. Answers to life/death are not found by opening a book, even if it's Nietzsche :lol2:

On living life, having nothing to look forward to and spiritual exhaustion. What I've found useful in these periods was keeping a journal, I use Penzu Online. I simply put everyday: How do I feel today? what can I do today? Focusing on the next moves and allowing the thoughts that are there to be as they are, like shikantaza. Sometimes I also put: when do I expect to feel better again?

Hope that was somewhat useful.

Best wishes,
Chris
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:43 am

Michaeljc wrote:
I have visited a local Soto group, without meeting a teacher there, and enjoyed doing so. The people seemed cool etc., too. But I wanted to ask if Soto meditation has the answers to the rest of my post, or what the answers were. Even what I am asking


I would say go back. Ask to see the teacher, give her/him a thorough briefing then tread carefully forward. There is no such thing as 'Soto Meditation' or 'Shikantaza'. This is just branding to satisfy functions in our brain. There is only your meditation at any one mementless moment in time. We don't need religion on the cushion, or anywhere else for that matter.

All the best

m

hey, i do appreciate the answer but think you misunderstood the question.
i am asking if there is a philosophy behind applying myself to attending this group, which happens to be a soto one.
when i say philosophy i mean specifically: can you explain TO MY SATISFACTION that doing so would or could satisfyingly resolve my dismay.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:58 am

I know nothing about philosophy :blush:
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:00 am

ok :blush: :blush:
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby macdougdoug on Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:27 am

klqv wrote:i am asking if there is a philosophy behind applying myself to attending this group, which happens to be a soto one.
when i say philosophy i mean specifically: can you explain TO MY SATISFACTION that doing so would or could satisfyingly resolve my dismay.


Despite our dismay, or pride, or whatever (depending on the causes and conditions); we continue to be satisfied with the continuing storyline developed in our heads - because if we saw all that blah blah for what it was, it would be gone.

Sorry klqv, not attacking you personally - just babbling about us humans in general.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby Anders on Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:40 am

klqv wrote:hey, i do appreciate the answer but think you misunderstood the question.
i am asking if there is a philosophy behind applying myself to attending this group, which happens to be a soto one.
when i say philosophy i mean specifically: can you explain TO MY SATISFACTION that doing so would or could satisfyingly resolve my dismay.


I may be misunderstanding you, but it seems to be like asking the waiter to convince you how a meal on the menu tastes that you've never tried.

It could be attempted, but I don't see how you could be satisfied with the answer short of having a taste.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 11:59 am

OK, there's no answer, that's fine.

your food example is fine, but just an analogy.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:03 pm

macdougdoug wrote:
klqv wrote:i am asking if there is a philosophy behind applying myself to attending this group, which happens to be a soto one.
when i say philosophy i mean specifically: can you explain TO MY SATISFACTION that doing so would or could satisfyingly resolve my dismay.


Despite our dismay, or pride, or whatever (depending on the causes and conditions); we continue to be satisfied with the continuing storyline developed in our heads - because if we saw all that blah blah for what it was, it would be gone.

Sorry klqv, not attacking you personally - just babbling about us humans in general.

i'm not asking for a story line, you may have understood. i DID give the story behind getting here, but am not asking for a buddhist narrative, which would be answered easily: the buddhist path can free you from suffering.

i'm asking if meditation has the answers to my problem.

you can say: why not try it and then decide. but in answer to that: there may be advantages to not doing sol and there may be something to be said for verbalizing the answer at some stage.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby TTT on Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:36 pm

But I wanted to ask if Soto meditation has the answers to the rest of my post, or what the answers were. Even what I am asking.


Yeah definitly. Buddhism as a religion has all thet ansers. Shikantaza and kenso is importent but itsn not soo importent. Its the practis thet makes the religion.

In your shoes, i am not you but enyway, i whuld consult a king or a bodhisattva or a terapist or what you may call it! Good ide? Guanying, or Kuan Ying, is allways good for thet?


Her elegant sashes flutter as she passes,
her white silk robe radiant as holy light,
her golden belts blessing the air.
A perfected mind and a golden body:
pearls and jade fringe her face
and dark hair coiled like a dragon;
brows like new moons, eyes like stars
and a flash of red from her joyous lips.
She holds a vase full of willow branches
from which she casts redeeming water.
Her orchid heart loves green bamboo
which grows on her sacred mountain,
in the cave of tidal sound.

----Chinese hymn to Kuan-Yin from Patricia Monaghan’s book, “The Goddess Companion.”

A simple way to welcome Kuan Yin into your life or space is to chant, “Om Mani Padme Hum” . To invoke Kuan Yin’s compassion, chant “Namo, Guan, Shih Yin Pusa” (which is essentially a greeting/homage).

This is nice: sounds comming and going.

Image from the net you can find.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby macdougdoug on Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:08 pm

meditation is seeing (and thus being free) that the storyline (that we all have constantly) in our heads (who I am and thus what I must do next) is just current blah blah based on past blah blah.
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Re: Losing my religion, and shikantaza

Postby klqv on Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:09 pm

macdougdoug wrote:meditation is seeing (and thus being free) that the storyline (that we all have constantly) in our heads (who I am and thus what I must do next) is just current blah blah based on past blah blah.

not sure if you're answering my question, or refusing to read how i framed it tho haha :)
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