Re: Am I here for the right reasons?
Posted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:54 am
Screature wrote: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 the father of a 6 and 14 year old, I can relate. But in the particular flavor of Zazen we Practice, one sits amid and as disturbances ... kids, life pressures, noisy neighbors upstairs, earthquakes (I live in Japan, a lot of earthquakes during my sitting ). It is hard to explain, but we can sit Zazen with the kids jumping on us, with eyes open (and attentive to a child in the room to make sure they don't jump on the sofa), with the need to "interrupt" Zazen in the middle for a diaper change (which, in fact, can be tasted as a sacred ritual no different from all the bowing and work in a temple!)
In other words, we sit as the attitude that nothing is lacking, and there can be no "disturbance" except in the thoughts and judgments between our own ears. It takes two to tango with life's disturbances. If you allow and accept "what is", then what "disturbance" even as the child jumps off the sofa right on to your bad back? I often tell new folks that ordinarily we like sunny days for a picnic and get disappointed when it rains and "ruins our day." But if a farmer with crops in the field, we may welcome the rain and be afraid of too much sun. However, the attitude in Shikantaza is very different from both of those: As we sit (and as we bring this same attitude "off the cushion" into the rest of life), rain is just rain, sun is just sun. Each is "just what it is". Each is a "shining jewel" in its way, even when it may disappoint or worry us or bring tears to the eyes. Why is this important?
Well, generally in life we like to be young but not old, we like to be healthy but not sick, we like to win and not lose, we like quiet children but not noisy ones, we like quiet neighbors but not noisy ones, we like to be happy but not sad, we like birth but not death etc etc. The attitude of Zazen is very different: In Sitting, when young just be young, when old just be old ... when healthy just be healthy, when sick just be sick ... winning is just winning, losing just losing ... quiet is just quiet, noise is just noise ... happy times are perfectly happy, sad times are perfectly sad ... etc. Sick children are just sick and our worry about them is just our love and worry, a kind of "peace" even as we are simultaneously worried out of our wits! Life is just life while death is just death, and we can even see beyond "life vs. death" to a Wholeness which sweeps in all coming and going and loss or gain, even at we cry at our loved one's funeral. We can experience life from both ways at once, as one.
Getting up from the cushion, we bring such attitude into all of life. Furthermore, we learn another lesson: That we can experience life such way -AND- try to fix problems at the same time. So, for example, "sick is just sick" and we can allow and even embrace our illness fully, yet "on another channel" go see the doctor and take our medicine to try to get healthy ... we can "be one" with the noise, yet ask our neighbors to "please turn down the stereo for the 10th time or I will call the police" ... we can work hard at our job, yet have "no goal" all at once (as if a bus driver who, trying to get to the end of his route, simultaneously accepts each stop as sacred and complete unto itself, all the traffic and crazy drivers for just what they are, yet proceeds forward as timely and safely as possible to get to the terminal. We might even accept the "disturbing" drunk passengers even as we must deal with them and it is a real PAIN IN THE ASS!). We learn to encounter life both ways at once ... moving ahead, yet just here ... dealing with problems, yet "what problem"? PAIN IN THE ASS is just this PAIN IN THE ASS, sacred too in its own way.
Anyway, this is not a matter of time or place. Sitting for a minute several times a day on your sofa as if just resting so that nobody sees and the kids can be watched ... just fine if that is what you need to do. Just as valuable "Zazen" as sitting in some pretzel posture is when you "Zazen" when the driver cuts you off, the passenger yells at you, the kids are sick, the neighbors put on the stereo for the 11th time!
As was mentioned, breathing or "following the breath" can itself be a powerful Practice. In fact, when we sit, I recommend that folks "follow the breath" at the start for the first several months (although I ask them slowly to transition back and forth from that to "open awareness", where the object of focus is just the surrounding circumstances of the room without judgment). Breathing is not the issue. The problem (ha!) is that just sitting for a moment following the breath, without all the other "nothing to attain, no other place to go or thing to do, THIS IS IT YIPPEE! " attitude of "Just Sitting" as I describe above means it does not get to the real issue of "disturbance." It seems just like a minute's escape, after which right back to being in a mess.
I don't know how clear my explanation was, but that is why I recommend more to "Zazen" than just breathing meditation for a minute or many other types of meditation that are either very "goal oriented" or meant to just chill for a bit.