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Street Zen?

Discussion of Japanese Sōtō Zen / 曹洞宗

Street Zen?

Postby Monk Rob on Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:33 am

Hello all,

Recently started incorporating what I like to call 'Street Zen' into my practice. Basically, will go to public locations and sit zazen there. Anyone meditated in public? If so, anything worth sharing about your experience? Recently practiced at a popular park in Houston called Memorial Hermann Park. Found it to be an interesting change of scenery: listening to the sounds of the water fountains nearby, people walking, kids playing, train horn blowing, birds chirping, or the sun's warmth hugging me.

Here's a clip my wife was gracious enough to film (didn't realize at the time I was leaning slightly left in the cushion haha): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO1MKqMi6-Q


Thank you for sharing.


-Rob
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby Michaeljc on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:49 am

Thats cool Rob :rbow:
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby Avisitor on Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:51 am

Monk Rob wrote:Hello all,
My name is Rob. Practicing Zen for 6 years. This forum seemed like an interesting way to hear about other's practice and to share mine.
Thank you for sharing.


I see one has posted that one practices Zen for 6 years??
Please tell me exactly how does one practice Zen?? I have been at it for over 30 years and still don't know how to practice Zen.
This street Zen seems to be more of an ego boost rather than the actual practice of Zazen??
Is this street Zen something your teacher gave for you to do??

:heya: :peace:
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby Monk Rob on Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:16 am

Avisitor wrote:
Monk Rob wrote:Hello all,
My name is Rob. Practicing Zen for 6 years. This forum seemed like an interesting way to hear about other's practice and to share mine.
Thank you for sharing.


I see one has posted that one practices Zen for 6 years??
Please tell me exactly how does one practice Zen?? I have been at it for over 30 years and still don't know how to practice Zen.
This street Zen seems to be more of an ego boost rather than the actual practice of Zazen??
Is this street Zen something your teacher gave for you to do??

:heya: :peace:



Hello,

Zen Master Bon Soeng seems to capture the essence of Zen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnTdY7QPpe0

Basically: pay attention. As Ikkyu's famous koan goes. So, that's what I try to practice.

From what I've read, Buddha practiced outside in public, and I've seen other monks and zen master's practicing in public. So, figured I'd try it out.

Thank you for sharing.


-Rob
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby Chrisd on Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:46 am

Cool!

Strong practice :Namaste:
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby Avisitor on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:40 pm

Monk Rob wrote:Hello,

Zen Master Bon Soeng seems to capture the essence of Zen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnTdY7QPpe0
Basically: pay attention. As Ikkyu's famous koan goes. So, that's what I try to practice.
From what I've read, Buddha practiced outside in public, and I've seen other monks and zen master's practicing in public. So, figured I'd try it out.
Thank you for sharing.

-Rob


Wow??, .. redirect me to Youtube??
How disappointing .. was looking forward to a live personal response
If this were a forum about fixing cars then a video would be a tremendous help.

Is this a selective practice??
What was the reason for practicing Zazen outside in public??
Were your reasons the same as the Buddha's or other monks or Zen masters??
Do you practice daily outside and in the same place??
What benefits have you glean from such practice??

Zen or Zen Buddhism has always seemed like the finger pointing at the truth of original nature
And that trying to practice pointing at something is not a reason for practice

Basically: pay attention??
Is that like Ram Dass , "Be Here Now"??
Oooouuuu, goodie, we get to turn Zen into a sound bite??
Where the heck was my head for these past 30+ years???

:rbow: :peace:
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby cam101+ on Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:17 am

No, I have never meditated in public other than keeping mindfulness. I don't know how I could do such a thing w/o generating some sort of pride or something. I used to see Robert Baker sitting zazen near a public park in Hilo, Hi all the time when he was protesting the illegal US invasion of Iraq, and the thing that struck me most was not only how odd he looked doing that, but also how unapproachable. Very, very few people are going to go up to someone doing that in public and start a dialogue, whether or not they know anything about Buddhism or not. I never understood how his sitting zazen, without any signs or anything to point out WHY he was sitting mind you, was doing anything to help stop the war. Sometimes he would have a small hand lettered sign stating why he was there, but usually there was no sign to be seen.

You know, if black people in this country had sat zazen instead of standing up for their rights and actively protesting racism and discrimination, they would have gotten nowhere. There are times to sit in private in zazen, and there are times to become social active. The one exception I can think of is when the first Buddhist monk Thích Quang Duc set himself on fire in public while sitting zazen to protest the Vietnam war. That was a supreme act of compassion. Surely that image, along w/ the little nude girl running from the US bombers that were dropping napalm on her country's people, helped hasten the end of that conflict.
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Oct 08, 2016 4:27 pm

I never understood...

A good accomplishment.

--Joe
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby Caodemarte on Sat Oct 08, 2016 4:42 pm

Various Zen monks and priests do or have done public sitting for various reasons. I doubt that anyone here, without knowing you, will know if it is appropriate or helpful for you to do so.
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby [james] on Sat Oct 08, 2016 7:08 pm

From "bronxtojapan.wordpress.com", ch.21 (29 June 2015): "Songs of the Universe: Sodo Yokoyama, the Grass Flute Zen Master"

"The question for many is what does a man spending his days sitting in a corner of a public park meditating or playing tunes on leaf contribute to waking people up and making our world a better place in which to live? Another way of asking that question is where is the merit in this kind of life? The answer Bodhi Dharma is supposed to have given when the Chinese Emperor Wu told of all the good works he’d done and wanted to know what merit he had gained, was, “No merit at all.”

I will answer my question for Sodo-san. “It contributes nothing at all.” And yet that is not completely true. Because this man sat in the park maintaining a certain posture and expecting nothing, there was a fragrance that spread a thousand ri, a thousand ri meaning everywhere. Though not everyone can sniff it.

According to Joko, as Sodo-san neared the end of his life he found it difficult to walk to the park, so he would take a cab. The modern day yogi taking a cab to work . . . He knew on some level that the power of his ‘no merit’ zazen would spread the fragrance to places he’d never see. He breathed it and loved it. And as he was dying, it gave him the splice which allowed him to truly die in peace.

Three days before his death Sodo-san said, “I am grateful to have been able to study Buddhism, I am grateful to have been able to obtain great peace. I was saved by the sunset.

The sunset / unaware of the sunset / is still the sunset.

“If people come to visit me,” he said on his deathbed, “tell them I said ‘thank you." "

_______________________________

Sodo Yokoyama (1907-1980), practiced zazen in Kaikoen Park, Komoro City, Japan for the last twenty years of his life.
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby Caodemarte on Sat Oct 08, 2016 8:40 pm

May our practice be as beautiful as those words.

A Sri Lankan monk was asked what good it did society for him to practice in lonely seclusion. He said that practice was like a street light high above the sidewalk on a very foggy night. Pedestrians depend on that light to walk safely. They never look up or even see the lamp suspended by itself up in the fog. The light is still there and keeps us all safe.
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:26 pm

In my first years of Ch'an practice with Master Sheng Yen in New York City, I occasionally sat outdoors in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side, near Columbia University. This was for a "change", or for "some fresh air", and was not to substitute for my usual sits indoors (apartment).

My way of doing this however was not to make it conspicuous. For example, when I sat on the Columbia campus, I sat deep in a thick grove of Pine trees to one side of the front of Low Library, the imposing building at the center of campus, at 116th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. I think no one could see me in there. But, I could see a lot! After a few minutes of starting zazen, I would often see small field mice moving about, mice I had never seen anywhere else, on the mulched ground on which I sat in half-lotus, below the trees. It evidently took great stillness and quiet for the mice to be oblivious to me, and to go about their digging and rooting about, mere inches from my knees, in half-lotus.

Also, as practice continued, I took to sitting outdoors on occasion as a test of the stability of samadhi (once samadhi had developed, in practice, which was not long). Would the samadhi-state be "scared away" by activity and noises outdoors, in one of the world's most dynamic cities? Would I become agitated, and find that samadhi would devolve into just concentration? It was fine. But I never sat outside on street-corners! (only in beautiful places like the Columbia campus, and down in Riverside Park).

I'd also sit on the roof of my apartment building occasionally.

On benches along Riverside Drive, facing Riverside Park, I'd sit (not in half-lotus) in chair-pose, and joggers, strollers, and bicycles would pass by, really causing no disruption, either.

One place I sat on too few occasions was deep down in the stacks of the East Asian Library, in Kent Hall on the Columbia campus. The stacks continued downward below street level for four of five levels, and it was very, very quiet in the lowest level (well, in the others, too). The lowest level had some small "cubicles" for scholars to read in, and were provided with just a table and chair. I'd go there at times, go into a cubicle, and close the door most of the way. Then, I'd arrange a couple of fat books on the floor and cover them with a pad made of my folded hooded sweatshirt, as a cushion. The utter silence in this sanctum was a rare treat to enjoy, in the otherwise noisy city. It was easy to sit for an hour, or two, hearing only the sounds of the body and mind ***. Then, I might like to read a line or two from one of the books I was sitting on (likely something from the Buddhist Pali Canon).

I have never done "street retreats" like Bernie Glassman Roshi and others of his lineage through Maezumi, held. Nor have I done wilderness sesshin like Genpo Merzel Roshi holds.

--Joe

*** There's a very high-pitched sound -- or is it pink-noise? -- almost like air being released from a high-pressure compressor vessel. Most of its energy seems to lie in the highest frequencies, say, 15000 Hertz (just short of dog-whistle pitch). Breathing is pretty quiet and very nearly silent. And, there's the beating of one's own heart, clearly audible in such deep underground silence. The internal sounds undergo changes, but are not too much of a distraction, even if they are novelties (we don't often experience truly silent environments).

I think some practices exist (in other schools) in which the internal sounds are used as meditation objects (for concentration upon); I don't know the details, and have not learned those practices.
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:29 pm

This is the building on the Columbia campus where I sometimes sat outdoors under the Pines that were then planted at one side of the building.

--Joe

columbia_plate_1_closeup.jpg
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby partofit22 on Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:41 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:(we don't often experience truly silent environments)


I have tinnitus- So, yes, for me that's correct-
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Re: Street Zen?

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:08 pm

P., Teresa,

(This is surely O.T., but perhaps there's some general interest in this tangential subject regardless; will you indulge me?):

I have "heard" that it's possible for another person to hear the sounds that a person with tinnitus experiences. Is that true?

It may only be for certain cases with certain causes, but I recall hearing that if, say, your friend puts her ear to the ear of yours that is experiencing tinnitus, she will hear a faint sound coming from you, from your ear. Or, a microphone could pick up that sound, and it could be recorded (if the finesse of frequency-response were high enough to reproduce it, in the case of high frequency tinnitus).

Of course, this experiment would be best to do in a really dead-quiet place (a crypt, on Halloween).

--Joe

EDIT: note added, 2 hrs later: I found a reference that claims that a "clicking", intermittent, form of tinnitus, called "objective" tinnitus (versus subjective) can indeed be heard by physicians using a stethoscope over a patient's ear. The clicking is caused by some action in the jugular vein. A very brief video is given below, with some of the sounds noted reproduced. And the text maintains that other forms (subjective forms) of tinnitus cannot be heard by outside observers, and only by the "patient" (the sufferer):

http://phb.secondsensehearing.com/conte ... ard-others

And I find a page of a site of a medical academy devoted to details of tinnitus:

http://www.entnet.org/content/tinnitus
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