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Am I here for the right reasons?

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Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Screature on Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:25 am

Hi all! This is my first post on this forum, and it will likely be the longest. I may waffle, I may digress, however I feel I must explain my situation and mindset before I can ask questions that can recieve informed answers. I thankyou in advance for taking the time to read and/or answer!

To begin, I'm a married 31yr old bus driver and father of three young kids, and we don't do gender roles; I do the washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, packed lunches and uniforms etc! She has her own responsibilities and we're happy with that! It means, however, I have very little time truly to myself while I'm not spending time with family. I have it under good authority (wife who works in a nursery and has completed many training courses and takes care of children with special educational needs, mother in law who works as a reception teacher and a family friend who has a son who is high on the autism spectrum) that I have aspergers. All I need is a specialist to nod their head in agreement and tick a box. It has only really come to light in the five years I've been married through lack of communication and emotional/social connection to my wife and children, and all the problems that can cause.

When I was a teenager and into mid twenties I was lonely, but I was happy, generous and had limitless patience. I met my wife in that happy state. Now due to all the difficulties of adulthood, aspergers and having a family, I've become selfish with my time and possessions, grumpy, irritable and impatient. I feel like I've lost who I was.
I'm a gnostic atheist, and I don't believe in anything superstitious, supernatural, luck, fate, karma etc, though I *don't judge* anyone who holds any beliefs of any kind. I'm very logical and mathematical, I deal in black and white socially and emotionally, which sometimes means I can be a bit blunt and don't realise I'm being rude, but I can usually detect sarcasm but don't do well with ambiguity.

I've come here because I've read some history on zen-buddhism.net, I've read Zen Beginners Mind, and I feel the mindset/lifestyle is compatible with my goals. My goals are simply to become more balanced in life, remember who I was, be who I was, be happier, more patient, exist in and enjoy the moment rather than dwelling on the past or being anxious about the future. I fully realize coming to Zen with goals is wrong, I've approached it with the western attitude of "I have a problem, here's a solution, teach me!", and I understand why that's wrong. I know practicing Zazen with a goal is impure practice, and I understand why it's impure. My questions are, knowing my physical and mental situation, is Zen right for me? What do I need to change about myself and my opinions/mindset before I can practice sitting Zazen purely and completely? I'm fully willing to put in any effort required. I'm fully willing to try and ignore goals if it means I am being faithful to correct practice, with my goals being fulfilled as a happy side-effect. I'm lost, does anyone have a light?
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Michaeljc on Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:48 am

Hi screature

I know practicing Zazen with a goal is impure practice


According to my observation there are very mature Zen practitioners (including teachers) who do practice with a goal and also some that don't

IMHO we need not get hung up on this. Zazen weaves its silent magic whatever we may perceive to be correct practice. Its fruits are never what we would expect (IME)

There is no black or white

Just start

m
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby macdougdoug on Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:49 am

My reasons are what they are for all sorts of reasons (causes and conditions). Wondering whether they should be otherwise is one thing, what they are is another.

We all suffer from wishing things were different, learning to be at ease with things as they are is the practise.

Do not ignore your goals, do not ignore your desires, observe them without fear : are they contributing to your wellbeing ? or are they creating a sense of frustration?

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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Screature on Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:01 am

Thankyou both! I guess I shouldn't say "I'm fully aware" unless I am actually fully aware. At the very least, I've come to the right place to learn from those with a better understanding :)

I believe my main hurdle in practicing zazen is time. My youngest child will be 2 soon, and he's awake early in the morning. I always wake up and start my day with him, that's just how I do things. That rules out zazen in the morning as he doesn't have the patience to wait for me. I know it's really silly to say this, but I couldn't do zazen with anyone in the house, even after the children have gone to bed. My wife would wonder what the heck I was doing and I fear even after explanation she would find the notion of me practicing zen/zazen to be ridiculous. I guess I need to get over that fear and explain what it is, what I'm doing and why. The fear of ridicule is what stops me. She wouldn't do it to be mean, she's not like that, she just wouldn't understand.

That leaves possibly once a week when I may have 20 mins to myself in an empty house. I believe I can predict your response but I'll ask anyway, is that enough? Enough to "feel the benefits" so to speak?
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Screature on Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:04 am

Sorry macdougdoug, to answer your question it's a source of frustration as my behaviour isn't exactly unchangeable, but the way my mind works causes issues I really don't intend, misunderstandings, moods etc. I'm hoping zazen will teach me to accept things as they are, not get frustrated so easily in life, not have to be right all the time in arguments etc.
I need to let go of my ego and selfishness, above all else.
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby anka on Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:10 am

Hi Screature,

It seems like your main sticking point is "I used to be this way, now I am this way. I liked the old me better". PUT THIS DOWN. Remember your mind creates this "I like" and " I don't like" this is a large source of suffering.

Please know that zen practice and meditation is not a cure all. You will not enter a never ending blissfull state after 1 month, 1 year, or 1 lifetime of practice.

Remember that everything changes and life will have its ups and downs. This can be said about Zen practice also. You may stand up from Zazen one day and say "wow that went by quick, I feel recharged and completely in the moment, this is wonderfull!". The next day zazen might feel like a lifetime as you struggle with monkey mind and stand up at the end feeling like time has been wasted.

Zazen is a way to confront and accept your own demons. A way to bring forth love and compassion that you can apply in your daily life. However, this process can take a lifetime or two.

If you do plan on following this path then search for a sangha in your area to join and a teacher to follow. Since you said time for yourself is limited perhaps an online sangha is all you have time for.

Treeleaf Sangha is completely online and free. They record practices so you can sit with them whenever you have time. They have a large library of dharma talks on youtube already and the teacher from there is a member of this forum as well, Jundo. They are Soto based.

Kwan Um School is starting up its online portion. It is a large Korean based school with centers around the world. They stream a live practice every Tuesday at 7am PST and will begin archiving them on youtube in the upcoming months. You can find plenty of dharma talks from their teachers on youtube already.
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Screature on Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:24 am

Thankyou anka. I do feel I'm going about this with a "medicine for the mind" point of view like it can cure any and all negative behaviour just by sitting. I'll make that effort to change my view on this.

Thankyou also for the pointers! I'll certainly look into dharma lessons and talks on YouTube, as I don't believe I'll have time for anything interactive. I can always find a few mins to tap on my phone here and there, so as I already feel welcome here I'll be looking to stay and discuss my journey :)
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby macdougdoug on Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:26 am

The real answers will come from yourself.

From here though it looks like you've put yourself up against the wall. From the complex conundrum you present us, I have one suggestion : full time buddhahood!

As this may sound near impossible, here are some recommendations : as you may know, mindfulness may be performed in any position (sitting, standing, walking, lying down etc) and the importance is not the duration of our awareness but more to do with how often we come back to the here and now. see below



Just come back to a few calm breaths as often as possible throughout the day - this coupled with 20 minutes of zazen whenever possible should do just the trick.
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Screature on Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:34 am

Brilliant! I feel I was maybe being a little difficult by pretty much explaining how I want to do zazen but can't do zazen because of X, Y and Z. That's why I felt I had to explain my situation fully, and ask for advice.

As I drive a bus there are many opportunities for being mindful, between bus stops or on long drives. I'll keep your advice with me, and I'll watch that video now!
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Avisitor on Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:27 pm

Is there a good reason for being here or doing what people do here?
I don't know. But, this place gives one the best chance to have a start.
Good luck.
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: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby macdougdoug on Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:28 pm

Seeing as driving is a dangerous activity, I would just like to point out that mindfulness is also not dependant on "one pointed" attention (eg. breath and/or posture). When engaged in an activity (like driving) it becomes even more important not to confuse awareness or mindfulness with concentration and effort.

Awareness here therefore justs means not being constantly getting caught up in our habitual thoughts; coming back to the here and now as often as possible. There is nothing more to do than to wake up, ie. realise the mind is wandering off again, and attend to whatever is at hand.

On the subject of goals. If you wish to practise from the standpoint of the mahayana buddhist, you could dedicate your daily practise to the benefit of the whole universe (or all sentient beings - including your family)

Good luck
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:51 pm

Sc.,

Welcome!

My root teacher (of Chan Buddhist practice; a monastic monk) taught that different people practice for different reasons, and he's taught all three main types:

    --those who practice to heal or cure specific physical ailments;
    --those who practice to sharpen their focus of mind (brain), for better effectiveness in their chosen work-profession;
    --those who practice for awakening, as the Buddha did.
The way to make a dependable start no matter what your motivation(s) would be to see a teacher and learn and begin the practices that are practiced with that teacher and in that teacher's inherited wisdom-lineage. This can't be done from a book, because it involves the human spirit, and the human spirit is available, well, "in-person", & not otherwise. ;)

Yes, you'll take the practices home, also, and practice at home, but learning and refining is done face-to-face with the teacher, and through some influence also from the sangha, the group of other practitioners like yourself who gather with the teacher for purposes of practice. Wonderful!

Best greetings. Wishing you and everyone strong practice,

--Joe
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby jundo on Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:11 pm

Hi screature,

Good to meet.

First, get treatment for the Aspergers, if that is what you have. I have other friends who are in that range of autism, and they have developed many helpful therapies that can help compensate for some of the issues that you might face. There is nothing about Zen Practice that substitutes for getting proper treatment, and I believe that the two can go hand in hand.

Next, find the right Zen teacher and flavor of Zen that feels helpful to you. There can be some that are harder styles, some more gentle with an emphasis on just sitting, accepting and balance. I do not want to say which is best for you, but you should know that Zen, and all Buddhism, is not just of one flavor. Like cooking soup, you need to find the chef best suited to your tongue.

When we say we "have no goals", that does not mean we "have no goals." It means that some goals, such as goals of being embracing and at once with the circumstances of life, can only be attained when we stop running after things and learn to rest in acceptance.

Good luck. Like the bus you drive, you will get where you need to go.

Gassho, Jundo
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:47 pm

Sc.,

Another thought vis-a-vis the info in your self-introduction here is a suggestion I'd offer not to rely upon self-"diagnoses" or assessments of yourself regarding mental profile or Aspie status or autism-spectrum placement, nor upon the words of other non-professionals (including myself). Just a suggestion!

Medical-students studying different conditions and illnesses often feel convinced that they themselves have the conditions they are reading about. It can happen all too readily. Well, I'd say, don't fall prey to thinking you have a "condition" just because it's popularly written about in the press these days, either.

For example, there may be many alternatives to what you or other amateurs suspect, or think: You may just need a Vitamin B-12 supplement; or Calcium; Magnesium; Vitamin D; or maybe you drink too much coffee! You may have stress from work, marriage, and parenting. You may need to take appropriate physical exercise, and diet. It would be great to have a properly thorough physical work-up done by your medical Doctor.

Suggestions, suggestions.

best,

--Joe

Disclaimer: The information provided is knowledge- and experienced-based
advice only and should not be construed as a medical diagnosis or be used in place
of a medical treatment or exam. Always consult a medical doctor regarding any
medical concerns or conditions.
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby macdougdoug on Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:06 pm

desert_woodworker wrote: You may have stress from work, marriage, and parenting.


More than very likely - how we survive this stuff is beyond me - adrenaline hormones probably :lol2: - in fact I don't think we do survive, its all downhill after procreation. Best just give up now and do your best anyway.

PS. Sleep is essentiel
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:35 pm

Doug,

macdougdoug wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote: You may have stress from work, marriage, and parenting.

More than very likely - how we survive this stuff is beyond me - adrenaline hormones probably :lol2: - in fact I don't think we do survive, its all downhill after procreation. Best just give up now and do your best anyway.

PS. Sleep is essentiel

Yes, Thanks! for adding sleep. So important. Sorry I left it out (I must not be getting enough of it). :tongueincheek:

:Namaste:,

--Joe
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby jundo on Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:15 pm

macdougdoug wrote:




I have to say that I really do not recommend this kind of meditation. Just sitting and following the breath for a minute promises to do not much more than maybe a little relaxation, if even that.

It fails to realize the most profound and existential peace, wholeness, allowance, one-beyond-oneness, flowing, transcendence and release of Zazen (of which I am most familiar with the Shikantaza way). Only by learning to sit in the fullness and completion of Zazen itself, putting aside all judgments, feeling of lack, need to be somewhere else or do something more in that moment, all the demands and comparisons and fears of the human heart ... only by such a practice will there be real fruit I believe. Just focusing on the breathing for a short period does not touch that. I sometimes say that we rediscover the Peace and Balance that holds all the broken pieces of life, ups and downs of life.

You do not need to sit that way so long either in my view, and even some minutes daily will have power, provided one truly sits in such way with the wholeness of Zazen felt in the bones. Do it in a chair, at your desk, so it does not have to look like you are doing anything but sitting and resting to others (if you truly fear what others will think. Still, someday soon, get over that fear). Also, we encourage to bring such mind and attitude out "off the cushion" into many life situations during the day.

One final note: If you suspect autism or some related condition, get a second (and then a third) opinion from true experts in the field, because these things are so easily misdiagnosed by ordinary physicians and even sometimes experts. Then, get and follow recommended treatments from reputable and expert medical sources. If I may, I would caution again many of home remedies, vitamin shots and such that folks toss as suggestions sometimes as probably misguided if you truly have autism or a related disability, and it would be a shame to not get real expert help if it is available.

Gassho, Jundo

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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Michaeljc on Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:18 pm

macdougdoug wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote: You may have stress from work, marriage, and parenting.


More than very likely - how we survive this stuff is beyond me - adrenaline hormones probably :lol2: - in fact I don't think we do survive, its all downhill after procreation. Best just give up now and do your best anyway.

PS. Sleep is essentiel


This occurred to me too on reading the OP

That time when our kids are little is a special and especially demanding phase in our life. Little children need and demand as much attention as we can muster and more. We can end up exhausted and still feeling guilty for 'not providing enough' -or- for taking time out for a brief moment to pursue purely personal activities that we all need. It can be rather like an intensive retreat where self gets battered down. Balancing career with parenthood perfectly is mission impossible.

So often we will hear from parents looking back at this phase in their lives say things like ''I wish I had tried harder and did better'. I came to a conclusion many years ago that parenthood was the most difficult profession on earth.

Sound practice based around zazen can help immeasurably . There is ALWAYS time to sit. An hour spent on the cushion means we need one (or more) hour less sleep. As far as my own practice is concerned this is FACT not fallacy.

IMO breath practice can be as effective as any other when taken to its full potential. People get put off by it through its apparent simplicity.

As I see it right now

m
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby Screature on Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:38 pm

My 2yr old is a horror (but a loveable horror) and he's the biggest drain, physically and mentally, on both of us! Simply having an hour to myself to sit seems like heaven! I'm going to talk to my wife about it, it's the only way I'm going to find time to myself in the evening without judgment.

As for the potential autism, I agree completely that self diagnosis is never to be relied upon, isn't necessarily correct, and assumptions can often cause their own problems. I've been wanting to see a specialist for a while but never get round to it. I think I should do that soon, if only to be sure either way, yes or no, and take it from there!

I appreciate, jundo, that practicing zazen fully and completely in a longer session in the proper position would be the best way to meditate (is that the right word? I'm not taking the Beginners Mind book as gospel but it avoided using "meditation" as that implies all mind no body, and a change in state of mind), however I can also appreciate, macdougdoug, the advice with the posted video. As a parent I do often forget to take a minute to myself to calm down, breath and tackle the situation even the littlest bit clearer. I appreciate both your advice (and that of others) as two halves of one whole :)
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Re: Am I here for the right reasons?

Postby lobster on Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:45 am

Screature wrote:... is Zen right for me? ...


I often ask if I am right for Zen.
The answer is always no.

Really because apart from a daily practice and perhaps a bit of half hearted attention, I like the idea or imagined benefits more than the actual requirements, which are as usual, a complete turn around ...

However more realistically there are things I can bring:

- An empty hat, without me to support it.
- A goat, to fulfil the Sufi Bodhi saying, 'if you have no troubles, get a goat.'
- A monkey mind, untameable but willing to gibber at the drop of a hat.

So I really appreciate your question because it makes me very aware of what I need and it is certainly not-zen.

:<.<:
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