Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2

Thread: Commentaries on Zen(ish) quotes

  1. #11
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    "To understand nothing takes time" is a traditional Zen saying. Like most of these simple sayings there are meanings within meanings, layers on layers. I like to think about the word 'nothing' when I read it, as it is a pretty central concept in Zen and easy to misunderstand. Critics love to stress the nihilistic aspects of this word being used, that Buddhism can be taken as pointing to there, ultimately, not being anything to existence.

    The interpretation I favour is no-thing, in the sense of there being no thing to hold on to. 'Nothing' is a 'thing', so is also something not to hold on to. So if there is no thing to hold on to, not even nothing, what is there? What do you get to when you let go of everything?

  2. #12
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    This one is pretty self-evident. "If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." Rene Descartes

  3. #13
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    "When worn out
    And seeking an inn:
    Wisteria flowers!" Basho

    My favorite poet when I feel the need for a koan, but I'm not in the mood to struggle for an answer. I read a poem like this and just stay with it a while.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    "When worn out
    And seeking an inn:
    Wisteria flowers!" Basho

    My favorite poet when I feel the need for a koan, but I'm not in the mood to struggle for an answer. I read a poem like this and just stay with it a while.

    I've always found Wisteria flowers an uplifting sight!



  5. #15
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    My garden at this time of year:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    My garden at this time of year:

    Very nice!

  7. #17
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    "What is this true meditation? It is to make everything: coughing, swallowing, waving the arms, motion, stillness, words, action, the evil and the good, prosperity and shame, gain and loss, right and wrong, into one single koan."
    Hakuin Ekaku

    I like Hakuin's butter meditation which is designed to bring the whole body to the meditation, to give balance between mind and body. The 'Soft butter method' can be found here: https://buddhismnow.com/2015/09/12/z...master-hakuin/ and is essentially a visualisation practice.

    I've not tried it myself. The nearest similar thing I have done is the 'Tear of the Buddha' meditation where you visualise a single tear from an enormous Buddha fall towards you. As it does so it gets larger, with no hope of evading it, even if you wanted to. This golden tear lands on your head and permeates throughout your body, making its way eventually to your toes and beyond, down into the earth. As it does so it energises your body while cleansing it of any bad stuff you want removed.

  8. #18
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    “You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.” Alan W. Watts

    I'm always interested in how people describe their relationship with the universe, especially if they have experienced the 'oneness' that sometimes comes with meditative states. An overwhelming feeling of belonging. Of course, such a feeling can be explained scientifically by meditation somehow acting on that part of the brain that generates the feeling (one that can be re-created using drugs or electro-magnetic stimulation), but it is also intellectually appealing when you study our relationship with the physical universe.

    When Alan used 'the whole universe' I was reminded of my interest in holograms when they were developed in the 60's. If you don't know them, holograms capture a 3d image which can then be projected by shining light through them. The great thing was that you didn't need any glasses to view the image, which was there in front of you a la Star Wars. As a student I messed about with them for a while and was intrigued to find that any shard of a hologram could project an image similar to that projected by the whole hologram.

    At the time the interesting question 'What if the whole universe was a hologram?' was posed. If it were, then any part had information to recreate the whole. Becoming 'one with the universe' took on a whole new meaning if we really did reflect the whole universe. Might it be possible to access the whole universe simply by sitting and meditating?

  9. #19
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    Refutation of Bishop Berkeley:
    "After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it -- 'I refute it thus.' "
    Boswell: Life of Johnson

    The argument revolves around the difference between a priori and a posteriori reasoning. Wiki gives us: 'A priori knowledge or justification is independent of experience, as with mathematics (3 + 2 = 5), tautologies ("All bachelors are unmarried"), and deduction from pure reason (e.g., ontological proofs).
    A posteriori knowledge or justification depends on experience or empirical evidence, as with most aspects of science and personal knowledge.'

    For me the Zen component comes from the tension between these two lines of reasoning and our own assumed understanding of things. Can we know anything different about the world from insight, for example, or do we dismiss it as a side effect of meditation? Do our insight experiences give us something which is independent of normal, everyday experience, or should we only trust them if they can proven empirically?

  10. #20
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    243
    "It is June. I am tired of being brave." Anne Sexton
    From the poem, 'The Truth the Dead know' https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/truth-dead-know it is an attempt to convey her feelings when both her parents die in a short space of time. The last to go, her father, was an alcoholic and by the time of the church service she had had enough of being 'brave' and drove to the coast after the service instead of to the graveside.

    I guess reading poems like this is similar to the Buddhist tradition of coming to terms with mortality by meditating in a charnel ground. Although seemingly rather morbid, the idea is that when we come to terms with our own mortality we can either become depressed or we can see that every moment we have is precious in a precarious life, so we had better make sure that we use every second of it usefully, rather than waste it on trivial stuff designed to detract us from everyday life. We think about death to bring energy to our practice.

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2
Los Angeles Mexico City London Colombo Kuala Lumpur Sydney
Wed, 1:47 AM Wed, 3:47 AM Wed, 9:47 AM Wed, 2:17 PM Wed, 4:47 PM Wed, 6:47 PM