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The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby flutemaker on Wed May 03, 2017 5:23 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:FM, et al.,

flutemaker wrote:For beginner [and other] students, why is it so customary to anchor their attention onto the [physical] breath (the "string"), and not the heartbeat "pulsation" (the "beads")? Please advise!

I'd hazard that it's because the breath's physical functioning is traditionally associated with the mind and the will, and the heart's physical functioning is not.


Yes, as a photographer you can see that I'm holding the string with my hands while the beads, though related to the string are more or less free. But . I want to hear from Meido also.
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby Meido on Wed May 03, 2017 6:41 pm

flutemaker wrote:Speaking of the string and the beads (as discussed earlier elsewhere):

For beginner [and other] students, why is it so customary to anchor their attention onto the [physical] breath (the "string"), and not the heartbeat "pulsation" (the "beads")? Please advise!


FM, the quote about string and beads is just to point out how one should approach practice. That is, there is no need to try to sustain or suppress any condition or state over time ("trying to be the string"). Instead, we just wholeheartedly unify with the practice, the conditions, and activity ("become the beads"). Illuminated by awakening, that becomes the sustaining and continuation of the correct mind, shonen sozoku.

So there is no need to talk specifically about breath, heartbeat, etc. as string or beads.

If one asks "why in many practices is the breath focused upon, instead of other bodily activities" there are practical reasons for that of course.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby flutemaker on Wed May 03, 2017 7:18 pm

EDIT:

Meido, having reviewed my earlier post I must apologize for the misunderstanding, for indeed it reads like my stubborn unwillingness to understand the proper context of the string/beads similarity by Hakuin.

So, with all due credit to the proper usage of the string/beads similarity by Hakuin and the other lineage holders, I nonetheless believe there is no "copyright" on the usage of "string" and "beads" -- and if I see some similarity to "breath/pulse" -- I can also use the same imaginary.

Further, I also think that if we asked Hakuin himself about the "breath/pulse", and if the "string" and "beads" applied in this case, he would clarify this other usage for us, and this clarification could be very interesting

Why in many practices is the breath focused upon, instead of other bodily activities? In addition to Joe's version -- what are some of the other points?
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby Meido on Wed May 03, 2017 9:11 pm

flutemaker wrote:Why in many practices is the breath focused upon, instead of other bodily activities? In addition to Joe's version -- what are some of the other points?


Basically: breathing is an activity of the body that is impacted by, and impacts, mental activity/state, physical integration, and energetic movement. It connects and bridges these things. Samadhi of greater depth and refinement is thus made possible through use of the breath. Conveniently in this regard, the breath is something over which we have a degree of conscious control.

Along these lines, an interesting thing to note is that in humans (for whatever reason) concentration is stronger on exhalation than inhalation. This rhythm can be harnessed, much as the rhythm of a bellows drives a fire to burn hotter.

~ Meido

P.S. it was a nice photo you posted :) Have we ever had a "post your photo" introduction thread hereabouts?
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed May 03, 2017 11:33 pm

FM,

flutemaker wrote:Why in many practices is the breath focused upon, instead of other bodily activities? In addition to Joe's version -- what are some of the other points?

Oh, BTW Ani, ...Master Sheng Yen taught us other physical methods besides methods involving the breathing (counting; following).

One is "the method of the "tan t'ien". It is a "calming" method, one that does not heat a person up, a cooling method. Energy too warm, too "hot"? Then, he'd recommend the method of the tan tien for a while. I recall he mentioned that the tan tien is "located"...

    "two finger-widths below the navel, and one finger-width inside".

He cautioned the following:

    "DON'T put the tan-tien in your MIND; put your MIND in the tan-tien!"
(something to be taken exactly literally, I'd say).

Well, I evidence this as a method employing a concentration on a body focus, or locus. There are others.

Of course, certain Hindu meditation involves individual work with each of the major psychic or energetic centers, in turn ("chakras"?). I came to feel, however, that these methods are also results -- something I say, too (rightly or wrongly), about shikantaza -- as much as they are practices. One needs to be quite purified and open (to have sloughed off shackles and accumulations) to feel these centers clearly. And, then, well, the "practices" are not so much "practices" as they are simply sitting and naturally feeling. But it keeps a person focused, and we hope out of trouble.

There may be limits to what teachers may wish to say about these things, except to established students of theirs. There are limits to what I wish to say, too (I'd say... ), but also because I don't know much.

I'm talked-out for now, and am all-ears (well, just look at my Kindergarten picture),

:Namaste:,

--Joe
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby flutemaker on Thu May 04, 2017 1:24 am

<edited out by the author>
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby flutemaker on Thu May 04, 2017 1:31 am

desert_woodworker wrote:Of course, certain Hindu meditation involves individual work with each of the major psychic or energetic centers, in turn ("chakras"?). I came to feel, however, that these methods are also results --

Joe, the very "centers", so-called, are results, not the methods! There will be no "whirlpool" in the river -- without the meeting of opposing currents of water of a certain kind.

Off topic.

desert_woodworker wrote:One needs to be quite purified and open (to have sloughed off shackles and accumulations) to feel these centers clearly.

Not exactly so. This is just one of the [good number of] prerequisites.

Very off-topic.
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu May 04, 2017 2:15 am

flutemaker wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote:One needs to be quite purified and open (to have sloughed off shackles and accumulations) to feel these centers clearly.

Not exactly so. This is just one of the [good number of] prerequisites.

I'd say the purifications are key. Without them, one may just be feeling fantasy, and/or sensations in blockages, not sensations (and other activity) in actually freed centers. A deluded person is not a good judge of what's necessary and sufficient.

This is (yet... ) another reason why it's said that a practitioner needs a teacher. Said correctly, I'd say. It keeps you from being able to delude oneself deeper into a hole. This is serious!

--Joe
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu May 04, 2017 11:32 am

Meido wrote:Illuminated by awakening, that becomes the sustaining and continuation of the correct mind, shonen sozoku.

Thanks for these words of description, Meido.

That one line seems to me to be the groundwork of practice following awakening, which can (and must) continue the length of a practitioner's lifetime: "the sustaining and continuation of the correct mind".

I value the use of "correct mind" for no-mind, as it indicates that one can indeed fall into deluded states which are again clouded states, and no longer the "awake" condition. Aitken Roshi (and others before, and since) used to say, "Take good care of your realization". I'd say that this "taking care" is just what nourishes and constitutes and leads to "the sustaining and continuation of the correct mind". Or vice versa, let's say. Very useful. Very helpful to have that so clearly expressed. Thanks again.

Meido wrote:So there is no need to talk specifically about breath, heartbeat, etc. as string or beads.

Yes (I mean, no, there isn't).

Taking a small liberty here, Bodhidharma only said, "Vast emptiness". He wasn't teaching at that moment, though, he was describing, answering the Emperor's question. But sometimes describing is teaching, if we allow.

_/\_ ,

--Joe
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby Meido on Thu May 04, 2017 3:21 pm

Shonen sozoku is an important term. It has been translated a number of different ways. In the Zen Centre's translation of Torei's Shumon Mujintoron it is rendered "continuation of right mindfulness." I have seen that Harada Roshi renders it "maintaining true awareness." Terayama Tanchu (lay Zen teacher and calligrapher) renders it as the "free-flowing continuity" of "true thought." The kanji sho here can mean true, real, genuine, etc.

Basically, as you note, it denotes the post-kensho practice of embodying and integrating awakening, that is, illuminating all phenomenon with the seamless upwelling of that recognition. In Rinzai training, the three-year secret practice of Hokkyo Zanmai and Hen Sho Ego Zanmai which the student is exhorted to undertake after passing through the Go-I koans is just this; it is the practice by which awakening is "made one's own," to use the words of one of my teachers. In other words, for the first time one gains a firm foothold.

This is also the crux of what is called the untransmissable advanced practice. It is untransmissable because there is no way for someone to teach us how to do it. Having awakened and clarified that recognition, we arrive at the edge of this chasm where we are now required to completely embody it. If we are able, after many years of really exhaustive practice, we will be able to leap over to a new life. If we are not able, we will fail; as the saying goes, "the field is littered with skulls." If we do fail at this point, it will likely be entirely due to our own insufficient motivation.

I'm stressing this point a bit strongly here because just this is actually the real meat and heart of Zen practice. But popular books don't talk much about it, or how exhaustive it is. We may have come to Zen inspired after reading something like The Three Pillars of Zen, with its wonderful accounts of awakening. We perhaps think that with awakening, everything is then fine, all is settled.

Any of us Zen people who may have had an awakening (or many awakenings) and are confident in our own insight, but who are not yet able to seamlessly - meaning 24/7 - rest in that recognition, bringing all activities of body/speech/mind naturally into accord with it, have to ask ourselves: what is the path? Am I walking it? Am I one of those "one-time only kensho" people who have entered the gate but, even years later, haven't walked forward? How am I using my time...chasing phenomenon and puttering around in the shallows, or plunging wholeheartedly into the mainstream of practice? In the Hagakure there is mentioned a poem that ends with the line, "When your own heart asks..."

Torei's hammer: Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! These words point out the rationale behind the Rinzai course of training, and we could add: "Even after one has completed formal koan study, what a lot there is to do!" Passing through all the koans given by one's teacher is just the foundation.

All the above is touched upon in the book, in my usual tepid, overly-grandmother manner :)

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby flutemaker on Thu May 04, 2017 4:38 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
flutemaker wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote:One needs to be quite purified and open (to have sloughed off shackles and accumulations) to feel these centers clearly.

Not exactly so. This is just one of the [good number of] prerequisites.

I'd say the purifications are key. Without them, one may just be feeling fantasy, and/or sensations in blockages, not sensations (and other activity) in actually freed centers. A deluded person is not a good judge of what's necessary and sufficient.

If I start teaching you flute-playing by showing you just how to open and close the finger-holes, you will have a good number of fingering positions, but, you will never be able to produce even a basic sound, not to say perform music, without mastering the art of correct blowing. Exactly so, as I see it, some people teach "yoga", as they elect to call it, as just a set of postures and breath "exercises". Without knowing the fundamental, they position themselves as "guides". The awakening in Zen Buddhist sense is not required to master the subtleties of the "relative" realm, wherein work has to be done. (as in relative vs. absolute in Zen). But they are indeed subtle, and the depth there is unimaginable. And arriving at the ground, the fundamental (in yogic sense) is nonetheless required.

desert_woodworker wrote:This is (yet... ) another reason why it's said that a practitioner needs a teacher. Said correctly, I'd say. It keeps you from being able to delude oneself deeper into a hole. This is serious!

--Joe
Have you ever been to India? Have you worked closely with a yoga teacher (not a "teacher" in the generally accepted Western sense)? Just curious. As sometimes, written words can reveal way too much.

Sorry for yet another off-topic post. I just have to respond. No more off-topic from me here.
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu May 04, 2017 5:08 pm

Meido,

Meido wrote:Shonen sozoku is an important term. It has been translated a number of different ways. In the Zen Centre's translation of Torei's Shumon Mujintoron it is rendered "continuation of right mindfulness." I have seen that Harada Roshi renders it "maintaining true awareness." Terayama Tanchu (lay Zen teacher and calligrapher) renders it as the "free-flowing continuity" of "true thought." The kanji sho here can mean true, real, genuine, etc.

Meido, thank you! Thanks for those alternative words.

I think that different words for "something" (a thing; a phenomenon; a feeling; a fact; a condition; a status; a way of life) are like views from different angles, no one angle nor word giving, nor able to give, "a view-in-the-round". Or, it's like taking reports from the many proverbial blind-folded (let's say... ) people touching different parts of the elephant, when they say, "It's like this... " (etc.). We can put those many reports together and can have in mind something like a 3-D model, or rotatable hologram, almost palpable; or better. Even if still to be experienced ourselves (go to see an elephant in a Zoo; go to Africa; go to India; etc.), nonetheless, we have a fuller conception, and we appreciate that no single description is to be fixated upon (appreciating the fallibility or limitations of words).

Yet, I'd like to comment on one of the descriptions, or translations: that of the Zen Centre's translation of Torei's Shumon Mujintoron, which you quote as being rendered "continuation of right mindfulness." Yes, I'd say it has to be true. ;) But a lot of confusion exists around the word "mindfulness" nowadays and I think it has unfortunately, but maybe inevitably become a cliché. Right now, I'm liking instead, "mindedness". It's like "handedness". And it distinguishes itself from what's become the fuzz of the word "mindfulness" which, again, has unfortunately worsened, during common use and overuse and misuse, lately.

Thus, I'd hope for All that our continuing practice may continue to enable true Wisdom and true Compassion to arise in all practitioners, while we take care of our realization. And may we continue to be "like-minded" in keeping to the correct mind. I feel that when there's "like-mindedness" of correct mind in us, we're most intimate, and most likely to do no harm.

So, I want to trade "mindedness" for "mindfulness" (the words; as words).

Of course, as a plank in the Buddha's platform of the Eightfold Path, Right Mindfulness (as it is usually translated) can be a practice (with the other seven) that helps us hew to and maintain the correct mind, or to right-mindedness.

I don't use the word "mindfulness" much; actually, almost never. But I'll stop using it, and substitute "mindedness", and see if my friends notice. I hope they do! It could make for a good chat. Maybe Saturday, at the Zendo... .

_/\_ ,

--Joe

EDIT: My teacher, Ven. Sheng Yen, pretty often spoke of various "mentalities". That seems a useful usage to me, too. It harks to different "sets" of mind, probably most or all of which are not the awakened mind, not the no-mind of "true thought". But I'll use "mindedness" as a word around town here for a while, and see what comes of it (who complains; who steals it; etc.). ;-) I think I never heard my shifu use the word "mindfulness", BTW (nor through any translator). -J.

Thurs., 6:51 MST (UTC - 7h) , May 4, 2017.
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu May 04, 2017 5:17 pm

fm,

flutemaker wrote:Have you ever been to India? Have you worked closely with a yoga teacher (not a "teacher" in the generally accepted Western sense)? Just curious. As sometimes, written words can reveal way too much.

My teacher was Chinese. I worked closely with him in U.S.A.

--Joe
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby Avisitor on Fri May 05, 2017 2:56 am

desert_woodworker wrote:fm,

flutemaker wrote:Have you ever been to India? Have you worked closely with a yoga teacher (not a "teacher" in the generally accepted Western sense)? Just curious. As sometimes, written words can reveal way too much.

My teacher was Chinese. I worked closely with him in U.S.A.

--Joe

He has made many videos (all in Chinese).
My mother in law watches them.
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: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby Avisitor on Fri May 05, 2017 3:04 am

Meido wrote:Shonen sozoku is an important term. It has been translated a number of different ways. In the Zen Centre's translation of Torei's Shumon Mujintoron it is rendered "continuation of right mindfulness." I have seen that Harada Roshi renders it "maintaining true awareness." Terayama Tanchu (lay Zen teacher and calligrapher) renders it as the "free-flowing continuity" of "true thought." The kanji sho here can mean true, real, genuine, etc.

Basically, as you note, it denotes the post-kensho practice of embodying and integrating awakening, that is, illuminating all phenomenon with the seamless upwelling of that recognition. In Rinzai training, the three-year secret practice of Hokkyo Zanmai and Hen Sho Ego Zanmai which the student is exhorted to undertake after passing through the Go-I koans is just this; it is the practice by which awakening is "made one's own," to use the words of one of my teachers. In other words, for the first time one gains a firm foothold.

This is also the crux of what is called the untransmissable advanced practice. It is untransmissable because there is no way for someone to teach us how to do it. Having awakened and clarified that recognition, we arrive at the edge of this chasm where we are now required to completely embody it. If we are able, after many years of really exhaustive practice, we will be able to leap over to a new life. If we are not able, we will fail; as the saying goes, "the field is littered with skulls." If we do fail at this point, it will likely be entirely due to our own insufficient motivation.

I'm stressing this point a bit strongly here because just this is actually the real meat and heart of Zen practice. But popular books don't talk much about it, or how exhaustive it is. We may have come to Zen inspired after reading something like The Three Pillars of Zen, with its wonderful accounts of awakening. We perhaps think that with awakening, everything is then fine, all is settled.

Any of us Zen people who may have had an awakening (or many awakenings) and are confident in our own insight, but who are not yet able to seamlessly - meaning 24/7 - rest in that recognition, bringing all activities of body/speech/mind naturally into accord with it, have to ask ourselves: what is the path? Am I walking it? Am I one of those "one-time only kensho" people who have entered the gate but, even years later, haven't walked forward? How am I using my time...chasing phenomenon and puttering around in the shallows, or plunging wholeheartedly into the mainstream of practice? In the Hagakure there is mentioned a poem that ends with the line, "When your own heart asks..."

Torei's hammer: Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! These words point out the rationale behind the Rinzai course of training, and we could add: "Even after one has completed formal koan study, what a lot there is to do!" Passing through all the koans given by one's teacher is just the foundation.

All the above is touched upon in the book, in my usual tepid, overly-grandmother manner :)

~ Meido

From just reading what you have said here, ...
I am waiting eagerly for your book to come out and to be available in my area
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: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby partofit22 on Fri May 05, 2017 5:41 pm

Meido wrote:
flutemaker wrote:Why in many practices is the breath focused upon, instead of other bodily activities? In addition to Joe's version -- what are some of the other points?


Basically: breathing is an activity of the body that is impacted by, and impacts, mental activity/state, physical integration, and energetic movement. It connects and bridges these things. Samadhi of greater depth and refinement is thus made possible through use of the breath. Conveniently in this regard, the breath is something over which we have a degree of conscious control.

Along these lines, an interesting thing to note is that in humans (for whatever reason) concentration is stronger on exhalation than inhalation. This rhythm can be harnessed, much as the rhythm of a bellows drives a fire to burn hotter.

~ Meido

P.S. it was a nice photo you posted :) Have we ever had a "post your photo" introduction thread hereabouts?


I didn't know that was common- I had noticed it about myself, that my breath isn't necessarily rhythmic -- or balanced- My breath tends to be shallow, heart rate low and blood pressure also- But .. I've noticed what I want to call "congestion" of some sort to the north/northeast of the navel, which feels to me is the location where I'm holding onto my stress, which in turn impacts the rest especially posture and breathing because my body seems to want to surround and protect that spot instead of release it- Sounds crazy, I know- Just something I've noticed ..
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby Meido on Fri May 05, 2017 6:13 pm

partofit22 wrote:I've noticed what I want to call "congestion" of some sort to the north/northeast of the navel, which feels to me is the location where I'm holding onto my stress, which in turn impacts the rest especially posture and breathing because my body seems to want to surround and protect that spot instead of release it- Sounds crazy, I know- Just something I've noticed ..


Not sure about your particular situation from a distance, of course. But folks tend to hold psycho-physical tension in and around the solar plexus. Perhaps that is what you're experiencing?

If your breathing is habitually shallow and centered in the chest, you should practice diaphragmatic breathing (i.e. "belly breathing") a few minutes a day. This is not Zen breathing per se, but just normal, relaxed breathing that many of us nevertheless tend to lose as we leave childhood. If one does not at least breath naturally in this manner, zazen can not progress.

The book contains an exercise for this, as well as for more cultivated breathing used in Rinzai practice. But if you search for belly breathing on YouTube, you'll find dozens of videos teaching simple exercises for the basic belly breathing that you can do.

There are massage and other methods to release this congestion as well, but not something I could effectively give here. The general rule though is that the solar plexus should be soft, even concave. If you insert your fingers into that spot and feel discomfort or "armoring" present, then it would be helpful to go to a good massage person who can help you release it. This also will release tension in the mid-back.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby flutemaker on Fri May 05, 2017 6:22 pm

Avisitor wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote:fm,

flutemaker wrote:Have you ever been to India? Have you worked closely with a yoga teacher (not a "teacher" in the generally accepted Western sense)? Just curious. As sometimes, written words can reveal way too much.

My teacher was Chinese. I worked closely with him in U.S.A.

--Joe

He has made many videos (all in Chinese).
My mother in law watches them.

Av:

I am well aware of Ven. Master Sheng Yen, the Founder of Dharma Drum Mountain, as a teacher of Joe, and am familiar with a good number of his writings, discourses, and video recordings. My quoted question relates specifically to the yoga teacher of Joe, as he loves to emphasize the role of a teacher. This question was asked due to a number of statements made in this topic regarding "Hindu yoga", and "energetic centers", which I have reasons to believe were either not properly worded, or their author teaches "yoga" without sufficient basis for such position. (My doubts were based on years of close personal work with yoga teachers from India, prolong contacts with a number of adepts, and my own personal practical observations.) Or, the word "yoga" would have to not be mentioned as a part of discipline being taught by Joe, for example replaced by "mindful bodily exercises inspired by Zen Buddhist practices". I would be happy to transfer all the off-topic developments elsewhere on the forum if this is what works better.

Cordially,

FM
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby Meido on Fri May 05, 2017 6:40 pm

Back on topic.

Here's a decent video showing the most common sort of exercise to regain natural belly breathing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ua9bOsZTYg

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
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Re: The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Postby flutemaker on Fri May 05, 2017 6:50 pm

Meido wrote:Along these lines, an interesting thing to note is that in humans (for whatever reason) concentration is stronger on exhalation than inhalation. This rhythm can be harnessed, much as the rhythm of a bellows drives a fire to burn hotter.

Does that mean this rhythm thus dictates and coordinates the rhythmic nature of concentration, which follows the pattern -- with periods of "sharpening" and "releasing" -- following each other?
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