Thread: Mental Zazen V. Physical Zazen

  1. #1

    Mental Zazen V. Physical Zazen

    Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner talks about mental Zazen versus physical Zazen. (approx 16 minutes).

    Any comments?

  2. #2
    Global Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    I'm into my third year of playing the piano, which was something I decided to do when the pandemic started, so I understand where Brad was coming from when he talks about his bass playing. Incidentally, I think he is making things much harder for himself by not reading music and understanding the theory behind the scales he should be practicing (and me, that last bit). I once spent some time with a piece of software I bought which analysed Beethoven's 5th symphony. It allowed me to understand the patterns in the music I hadn't heard before, but didn't mean I could play any of it. I can now play small bits of it, which gives me a different relationship with the music.

    His plea for a balance between reading about zazen and physically practicing it is one that is useful to anyone wanting to make progress in their Buddhist practice. If you have looked on the internet much you might have seen those groups who say that they can achieve insight through intellectual means, and perhaps they can. More often though, the actual practice has elements of meditation and mindfulness, as anyone who has studied seriously may tell you. The Rinzai school of zazen uses koans, so is said to be a more mental approach, but even there monks are told to go away and think about the koan more as a kind of meditation.

    Brad's comment about being able to tell the difference between those who have studied Buddhism but not practiced the physical aspects was interesting. You can have one without the other, but is maybe not what the Buddha taught.

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