Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Thread: Commentaries on Zen(ish) quotes

  1. #1
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260

    Commentaries on Zen(ish) quotes

    I once spent a year reading 'The Warrior Koans' by Trevor Leggett, from start to finish one koan a day, and then back to the start, around three times each. The koans were for Samuri, who only had a short time to live (probably), so needed a quite way to gaining insight before they died. To be honest, they were pretty enigmatic to read when by yourself and needed, I think, a Zen master to help build up the mental tension to make breakthroughs.

    I mention this because the experience gave me a taste for Zen sayings, so when I was given a page a day diary this Christmas, with a saying for each day and also one of those large book-like page a day diaries I decided to combine the two and each morning at breakfast write a whole page on that day's saying. Not researched, but straight off the top of my head.

    The good news is that I won't inundate BWB with daily postings of sayings, but when one crops up of particular interest to me I'll post it on this thread with a short commentary. Feel free to post your own comments, or your own sayings.

    The first is from Aloka's post on Zazen meditation, taken from the link https://zmm.mro.org/teachings/meditation-instructions/:

    "It is also important to be patient and persistent, to not be constantly thinking of a goal, of how the sitting practice may help us. We just put ourselves into it and let go of our thoughts, opinions, positions—everything our minds hold onto. The human mind is basically free, not clinging. In zazen we learn to uncover that mind, to see who we really are."

    That last sentence is why I like Zen. The goal is not to have a goal, but let the process of sitting in zazen change your brain and mind. The brain rewires itself while you sit not clinging to ideas. The rewiring process creates new networks, new pathways and links within the brain, which allow us to see things in different ways, ways which become unique to each individual. The mind of the person walking away from the mat is not the same as the one who walked to it. You die on the mat, as the zen saying goes, because rising from it you are, in effect, a different person.

  2. #2
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    Today's Zen quote is from the Hindu teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj, "A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet." Which raises an interesting point: if it works, does it matter where the idea comes from?

    If we can sit with a quiet mind, rather than an empty or chaotic mind, is it the practice alone that counts, or is it the practice within a certain tradition, or what? Does it mean that there are a number of universal practices 'out there' that we can learn from and use within our own contexts? For me, we can use whatever works, including things which people in other cultures and other times have found useful.

  3. #3
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    This is a quote to do with extending mindfulness practice into our everyday lives. One aspect is in our interactions with others, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen ... Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal” Rachel Naomi Remen

    Not from any Buddhist text but from her book 'Kitchen Table Wisdom', it's another example of the universal nature of something like mindfulness, that it appears in most cultures, in most times and most locations. Once we bring a Buddhist perspective to other writings, then these things seem to crop up everywhere, often in more accessible language. We just have to be careful in dealing with other ideas associated with such texts.

  4. #4
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    From the Palestinian poet, Mahmood Darwish, "A moon will rise from my darkness". There is a lot in Zen about the moon, attributed to Dogen, about gaining enlightenment being similar to the moon being reflected in water
    .http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachin...oan_Aitken.htm.

    The question is whether we can use quotes from a different context in the same way. The whole quote is "And I tell myself, a moon will rise from my darkness", which changes it somewhat, but, of course can be said of any of us undergoing some kind of suffering. I like to think that it describes why I meditate, that the moon of enlightenment arises from the darkness of suffering through the practice of following the path.

  5. #5
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    A monk asked Chao-Chou, "What is the real significance of Bodhidharma's coming from the west?" The master's answer was, "The cypress tree in the courtyard." This is part of a famous Zen Koan which was, perhaps, the culmination of a series of meetings between teacher and pupil.

    My first post talks about Koans used for Samuri, but they were also used for monks too. In such cases it is possible to build up mental tension over a long period of time, where the pupil has to answer questions or ponder answers that make no logical sense. An impossible task aimed at bringing about a different kind of understanding, a different way of interpreting the world.

  6. #6
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    "Most people believe the mind to be a mirror, more or less accurately reflecting the world outside them, not realizing on the contrary that the mind is itself the principal element of creation." Rabindranath Tagore.

    One of the great things about following up these daily sayings (mainly by googling them) is finding new people. Never read anything about Tagore before. Glad I've found him now.

  7. #7
    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Hartfield Virginia
    Posts
    171
    Thanks for your daily quotes. I find them thoughtful.

  8. #8
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    "You either believe what you think or you question it. There's no other choice" Byron Katie. Never heard of her before reading today's Zen saying, but a quick google sent me to her website. It's an interesting read as she claims that a moment of insight she calls "a life-changing realization" or “waking up to reality.” She was bed-ridden from depression until she had a breakthrough one morning when she, "discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn't believe them, I didn't suffer, and that this is true for every human being."

    There's more on the website but it set me thinking about how useful others' insights are to us if we are following the path. We read about those from people within the tradition, but what if there are universal insights that anyone can attain at any time? Are they useful for anyone else other than the person who has gone through them? Certainly there are many similarities with mindfulness practice on her website, so you can see elements of Buddhist practice embedded there.

  9. #9
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    “Anytime you’re gonna grow, you’re gonna lose something. You’re losing what you’re hanging onto to keep safe. You’re losing habits that you’re comfortable with, you’re losing familiarity.” James Hillman
    Hillman founded the archetypal psychology movement which deals with our inner fantasies and myths. His interesting 'acorn theory' has it that we all have the potential for unique possibilities within ourselves, as an acorn has for developing into its own unique oak tree, but that we are held back by holding on to ideas and assumptions. Another definition of 'letting go' where we gain when we lose.

  10. #10
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    260
    "All truths wait in all things", Walt Whitman. From this side of the pond I find Walt Whitman hard to follow sometimes, being so embedded in the America of his day. I think it's still useful to read his stuff since he looked deeply into the nature of things and was able to communicate what he found when he did so.

    This particular quote raises an interesting issue for those of us looking to Zen and other Buddhist practices to discover if there any interesting 'truths' to be found using, say, insight practice. Can we change how we see the world to then be able to see the same things in a different way? Is the 'truth' we find there a kind of revealed truth, or is it that we see exactly the same things, but the changes in us allow us to see things that were always there, but we just couldn't see them?

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Los Angeles Mexico City London Colombo Kuala Lumpur Sydney
Fri, 8:53 AM Fri, 10:53 AM Fri, 4:53 PM Fri, 9:23 PM Fri, 11:53 PM Sat, 1:53 AM