Discussions of Zen Buddhism in all shapes and sizes.
It seems to me that imagination is a useful faculty of humans, and is responsible for enrichment of many aspects or features in culture.
In Zen Buddhist practice, we are encouraged to see things aright, not to imagine. We are encouraged to come to see our true nature, our original nature, our original face, and to see the nature of all and then to live in accord with the reality of that nature and our nature.
Perhaps after we see nature aright, we may return to use the imagination again, in our work, our art, our life, where it may be indicated, or when and where it naturally arises, and, especially, would cause no harm.
Or, perhaps imagination is a function or feature only of a still-deluded mind, and not the awakened one?
But it seems clear that imagination is not a useful faculty of operation of mind to invoke in Zen Buddhist practice. It would be something "extra". I think too that some who practice -- even some of those who practice with a teacher and sangha -- perhaps invoke it too often. Anyway, I think that imagination is something to be very careful about. One is probably safer to keep it in check -- or at least to distrust it in some areas of application -- while one goes about the Zen Buddhist work.
A certain sobriety comes about as a result of Zen Buddhist practice, and seems also to be an asset to the practice itself.
"Feet on the ground", as Sparkle writes. Yes.
Thus far in my experience of formal practice with a variety of teachers and sanghas, and in my reading of the literature, I think I have encountered a discussion or appreciation of Imagination exactly zero times. I think this is a remarkable -- but quite natural -- fact, and so I began this thread in order to open the topic for discussion. Maybe it's not everyone's experience. And maybe it is.
Just as there is no "visualizing" (so far as I am aware) in Zen Buddhist zazen, there seems also to be no reliance upon Imagination in this or Zen Buddhism's various other practices.
Hi Joe, good topic I remember a few months ago speaking about this too.
I agree with your observations, but imagination is something that may arise from time to time due to conditions,
it's only important to see it for what it is and don't mistake it for something 'real' then it's allright, it helps with creativity and problem solving in many areas.
Mijn Oude Vriend uit de woestijn begrijpt geen Nederlands. <3
Thanks!, Fuki. I think what you say is well taken.
I make no suggestions about what to do with imagination, nor with imaginings (except, as I have written -- and Sparkle emphasizes, too -- to be cautious about them, and their possible upshot).
What interests me here, as you see in the OP, etc., and what I find to be remarkable, is that there is no mention in my experience among teachers, sanghas, and teachings, about Imagination in Zen Buddhist practice.
As I also say, I feel this is natural, and not surprising, but still remarkable, due to the remarkable nature of Buddhadharma. Again, it points to Zen Buddhism's -- like all of Buddhadharma's -- compassionate teachings aimed toward waking-up, not toward imagining another life, but toward realizing our true life.
It's a tall order, perhaps, this program. And so, we take solidarity with fellow practitioners and friends along the Ancient Way, in establishing and maturing true practice, together.
It's MAD though that things can "happen" that are completely out with your experience up to now, all similar in nature and only since beginning buggering about with this meditation malarkey!
I will be honest and say that yesterday I had my first EVER thought of giving up. Throwing the towel in. I've been at this a while and if it's the nonsense of my imagination that's been fooling me all these years into keeping going... I thought. Well... what's the bloody point in that.
I will go back to whoring and gambling and... OH hang on! I didn't do those things before!
Naaah. Suppose I better just SHUT UP and get on with it properly.
I remember reading about a Zen monk/master living alone in the mountains. He saw the nearby stream and ended up digging a narrow trough for a small part of the stream to come to his hut and provide water for himself and the plants there. What was involved in that process? Started with an idea, a visualization, imagining the process and physics at work. It seems that to make such a distinction between types thought processes is a self-imposed hurdle and that it's the identification that's the "problem." It's in the suffering that's created with imaging false scenarios and generating fear and anger, etc. with errant thoughts.
"Some people think they are enlightened, some people think they are not enlightened." -- Denko
Wisdom. Natural, true Wisdom. Spontaneously arising, in seamless and instantaneous response to circumstances.
I doubt it was a "process".
At least in Tibetan Vajrayana, Wisdom is pictured as a lightning flash. It's that quick, and preceded by, ...well, we can't say. A natural necessity.
I think that when true Wisdom arises, one acts or does not act.
I don't know what making an "identification" means, but in the case of true Wisdom arising, there's no time between the arising and the action (response). If there's time intervening, I don't suppose true Wisdom was ever the impetus.
This is all off-topic, though. I still have not seen Imagination called-out as a factor in any Zen Buddhist practice or teaching. Nor have I ever expected it to be. It's this that I remark on, and have come to call natural.
I had thought about how imagination had been involved in my beginning to practice... Starting on the wanting side. Getting some idea of some final goal. Visualising that and that aspect of imagination providing the motivation(at least initially) to keep me sitting staring at a wall.
I think this is an aspect of imagination that is beneficial to Zen practice. Without it I would still be drunk.
I think that what motivates people to become serious about practice is bodhicitta. Some say an arising of bodhicitta.
It's a sense of certainty, I think, that one is Buddha, a buddha, and that what one can and must do is just awaken fully to this fact (reality). This (bodhicitta) instills a faith that practice can be effective, and a faith that the Ancestors, our teachers, and the writers, preservers, and propagators (and translators) of the scriptures have not been lying to us.
If you call this "imagination" -- even though I may not -- I can begin to see what you mean, and simply must celebrate it with you.
But I don't call it imagination.
I'd say bodhicitta is more of an inner realization, an experience (albeit a very early one in a practice-career) that there is a True Nature that we can come to fully realize and inhabit, through practice. And, that there is a Path.
We are indeed fortunate to stumble across the dharma (in some cases) and then feel this immediate affinity for it.
I was going to say I had done myself a disservice in my above post, but I neither have nor haven't.
My journey towards practice started long before it became a recognised as such. In fact I had been searching as far back as I can remember. But the few years before I finally came to Buddhism, things were changing within me that prepared me for this.
So yes, while in a conventional sense there may have been an occasion of imagining - it was neither here nor there... as the seed had long since taken root.
Here you go, Joe-
Good deal! Thanks. I'll try to give it a listen.
I've met him here and heard his teisho. Also heard his informal travelogue one year about his visitations in the Holy Land. We also sold copies of a book of his poetry here at a zendo in town.
What in the hour and six minute recording stands out for you? Anything particular about Imagination, or "the" Imagination? (I may not get to listen this week during these busy Convention days, limiting exposure to recorded or "screen" presentations).
Yes I agree, but I don't see the tall order, the tall order would be wasting one's day/life in constant imagination 24/7, and it is how most beings live. From imaginating a seperate self, a creator, daily imaginations about how others feel, think and do.
Imagining one's past and future and always living in a loophole of hope and fear, it sounds extremely tiresome and unnatural.
That in contrast to appreciating a single breath and becoming aware of what it is that's actually Alive.
Mijn Oude Vriend uit de woestijn begrijpt geen Nederlands. <3
You're welcome, Joe- Both conventions now over, I'll give it a listen-
Norm Fischer (Roshi) is not the first poet in the Zen Buddhist tradition -- not by a long shot. But he is the first (in my experience) to talk about Imagination.
I've still yet to see what more in detail he has to say about it. I bogged-down the first time. I'll give it another spin.
You? What sticks to the ribs (or the kitchen ceiling) for you about the talk? tnx,
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