what I needed to learn myself was how to let it all fall together (from Tao Bums)

I have learned to be very cautious when anyone says to do something, and especially with regard to the breathing. My preference is instruction that describes reality and emphasizes self-surrender, not because an intentional approach is wrong (can’t get away from it, really), but just because what I needed to learn myself was how to let it all fall together. Relearn the way I hold myself upright, the way I set mindfulness in front, from the inside out.

I never was any good at intuitive mathmatics in school, only at strict axiomatic proof (which I realize has its limitations); I couldn’t find anybody who could actually teach me how to sit the lotus, although they were clearly masters themselves. Sigh. So I prefer an explanation of the essential relationships, in the terms I can experience, to allow nature to work its magic.

is enlightenment obtained with the body, or the mind- part 2 (from Tao Bums) (Jan 29 2010)

Here are some lines from the Stanford project, translating Dogen’s words, and here Dogen continues the story about polishing a tile:

Daji said, “How can you produce a mirror by polishing a tile?”
Nanyue replied, “How can you make a buddha by sitting in meditation (zazen)?”
Daji asked, “Then, what is right?”
Nanyue replied, “When someone is driving a cart, if the cart doesn t go, should he beat the cart or beat the ox?”
Daji had no response.
Nanyue went on, “Are you studying seated meditation or are you studying seated buddha?”
“If you re studying seated meditation, meditation is not sitting or reclining.”
“If you re studying seated buddha, buddha is no fixed mark.”
“If you re studying seated buddha, this is killing buddha.”
“If you grasp the mark of sitting, you re not reaching its principle.”read more

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 6, 2019

is enlightenment obtained with the body, or the mind (from Tao Bums) (Jan 29 2010)

well, here’s a quote from Dogen, just to stir things up:

When we let go of our minds and cast aside our views and understandings the Way will be actualized. One sage clarified True Mind (Reality) when he saw peach blossoms and another realized the Way when he heard the sound of tile hitting a bamboo. They attained the way through their bodies. Therefore, when we completely cast aside our thoughts and views and practice shikantaza, we will become intimate with the way. This is why I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly.read more

POSTED ONNOVEMBER 6, 2019

How important is it to have one’s back completely (as much as possible) straight during meditation? How important are these postures anyway? (from Tao Bums) (Jan 24 2010)

I had some excellent experience on jury duty, sitting in a chair. Two things are important to me, sitting in a chair: sit on the edge of the chair, as I believe you describe (a chair with four legs solid on the floor); then, one foot flat on the floor with the knee at about a 90 degree angle, and the ball of the other foot resting on the floor under your tailbone, approximately. I sit this way all day at the computer, and have done so for the last twenty years.

My back is not straight, especially the lower back, for the most part. Workman’s comp came out to review it at one place I worked (management requested it, they were nervous), and they said fine. I can find absorption in this posture, which to me is like talking to the one who made this shell and letting it take me wherever. So to speak.read morePOSTED ONNOVEMBER 5, 2019

can someone recommend some stretching program to get closer to full lotus? (from Tao Bums) (Jan 21 2010)

I thought my experience would translate into progress at the lotus, but after a lot of years, I decided I would have to figure it out, instead.

So here’s the story: as Carl Bielefeldt translated a master’s words in the first edition of Dogen’s Meditation Manuals, “seated meditation is not holding still”. The fascia and ligaments of the body can generate muscular activity, involuntarily, if they are stretched sufficiently. Since the muscles and fascia are basically in pairs, the action of posture is fundamentally the reciprocal innervation of muscular tissue as the stretch of fascia alternates from side to side.read morePOSTED ONNOVEMBER 5, 2019

straighten the clothes and sit precariously (Dec 30 2009)

The Tai-Chi teacher Cheng Man-Ching mentioned an ancient Chinese description of meditation in one of his books: straighten the clothes and sit precariously.

When I sit, I remind myself that the two respirations (pulmonary and cranial-sacral) utilize the occurrence of consciousness to coordinate the activity of posture, and that relaxation and calm can allow the sense of location in the occurrence of consciousness to open nerve-connections to the surface of the body.read morePOSTED ONNOVEMBER 5, 2019

…about full lotus (Dec 3 2009)

(Response to the thread “What is so special about full lotus?” posted by effilang, in the Discussion Forum on Tao Bums)

This morning a second question has occurred to me, and that is: why do they sit 40-50 minutes in the lotus, when most hatha yoga postures are only assumed briefly?read morePOSTED ONNOVEMBER 5, 2019

…about full lotus (Nov 29 2009)

(Response to the thread “What is so special about full lotus?” posted by effilang, in the Discussion Forum on Tao Bums)

Hi, effilang (hey, bums),read morePOSTED ONJUNE 27, 2016

The Mudra of Zen

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