Sunday, February 1, 2009

S.O.S. -- Suspending Blog

I am suspending further posts until some compassionate, wise, and patient person (that is certainly not me) kindly explains to Raymond, in the comments section of the last post but one (17.45), the relation between:

(1) trying
(2) sitting with the mind

Thank you.


Mike H said...


Trying is not sitting.

Trying to do anything in Zazen is interfering. To try to cease movement is to create movement.

The washing machine is not the wailing of Mara's demons it's just a washing machine. The planes flying overhead have not been sent to piss you off.

Instead, you grab hold of the washing machine or the plane and become annoyed that your stillness is disturbed.

To bring focus back onto the body is also bringing focus back onto the mind. Where is this body that you can focus on it? Who is it that creates mind and body and chooses to ignore one and not the other? What is being ignored by focussing on one or the other?

Mike, can you stop your sulking and return to doing this translation work that many are finding informative.

Mike Cross said...

Good morning to you too, Mike H.

As opposed to Zen posing, I have found myself on my blogs, more and more, endeavoring to clarify what is very difficult to clarify.

Has it been at all worth it, I wonder? Has anybody really been listening to a single word I have said, in relation, for example, to sitting with body, sitting with mind, and sitting as body and mind dropping off?

For today's post I have written quite long comments, touching on reflex inhibition and Alexander's discovery of the right thing doing itself.

Have I just been writing this kind of stuff for my own benefit? Is it all a kind of exercise in vain self-indulgence. Or has anybody else benefitted, even in the slightest, from my effort to clarify this kind of thing?

If anybody has, I would like them to demonstrate it, by responding to Raymond's comment, on the post to 17.45.

Plato said...

This morning during sitting I decided to give up trying to arrange my body to any specific way. I was just thinking "allow the neck to be free to allow the head to go forward and up to allow the back to lengthen and widen, to allow the front part of the body to lengthen and widen, to allow the knees to release out of the pelvis, to allow the legs to release out of the knees, to allow the feet to release out of the legs etc". Many- many times my habitual self tried to act on the above or to instructions like "chin in" "strtch the back" etc. Knowing that what I asked for could never be the result of this kind of effort, I recognised the futility of this kind of self-arrangment and somehow it stopped. After 25 minutes of this kind of work the body felt light, and some how it uprighted itself. A few minutes later my wife brought me our baby daughter and asked me to change her nappy!
This is how I practice and understand "mentally sit", probably miles away from the right thing, hopefully on the right direction. I find it quite hard. Hard to abandon any single personal effort to "put things right" and to allow the real thing to happen.
But for an unknown reason I continue to practice like this!
I hope this is of some help

Mike Cross said...

Hi Plato,

In a world of Zen practitioners who are expert at going directly from A to C, I also don't know why you seem to be struggling in the shallow waters of B.

Jordan said...

Trying it striving, or you could even put it as energy. Whereas sitting with the mind is means whereby.

I am being called to the table for breakfast so that is my best for the moment.

iikagen nishite is what my whole family is calling out to me as I type out these words.

one more thing: does

Mike Cross said...

With apologies to you and yours for the disruption to breakfast, I have gone ahead and published today's verse.

The responses received were not the ones I hoped for, but maybe they will be turning words for Raymond.

What I could see from the feedback is that there are people reading this blog, as part of a daily routine, who are not only vessels for dialectic philosophy but who also change nappies and join in family breakfasts.

Perhaps I should see about making my comments on each verse shorter and more to the point. But that would require me to go against habit, which is never an easy thing!

All the best,


Harry said...

"the relation between:

(1) trying
(2) sitting with the mind"


What springs to mind from this interesting question for me is that, when we are "trying" to sit, when we are effectively making some idea/ideal of sitting the object of our "sitting" and the goal of our sitting, we are 'sitting with the mind' in the hopeless pursuit of a wisp of smoke (a gaining thought of 'perfect sitting' or whatever). This is *thinking*, and it is, for most if not all I think, a necessary stage in the practice.

Such thinking is the grist for the mill of sitting, the thing to be dropped, the thought to be non-thought. Likewise all thought of "body/posture/the-oneness-of-body&mind/becoming Buddha/the price of fish etc etc etc..." is similarly non-thinking fodder.

What Master Dogen points to, I believe, involves letting all such things drop away thus realising us.

I'm not an AT person BTW, that's just me jamming in my own off-key way.



Mike Cross said...

Hi Harry,

As you know, Master Dogen exhorted us to

(A)sit with body
(B)sit with mind
(C) sit as body and mind dropping away

What you are describing, for me, is
(A) sitting as a reaction to an idea, i.e. end-gaining, i.e., blind physical practice
(C) sitting as the dropping away of thoughts and feelings
(Z) the wandering of the mind, which is something other than sitting.

All the best,


Harry said...

Hi, Mike et al.

Fair enough. I didn't intend to indirectly quote the Good Master though.

There is, I think, another sort of trying (but it seems even "trying"/gaining sitting is realising its portion of really sitting even if we aren't gratified by it like happy little Buddhists or whatever).

Dogen referred to Zazen as a 'Dharma gate of joyful ease':

It seems to me that, via non-thinking body/mind sitting, we can express what might be described as a sort of unobstructed effort- another sort of effort which comes forth- I believe this is what Master Dogen may have been talking about with ease-ful terms of things 'roundly rolling along' etc.

This 'ascendant' dropping-off-sitting seems, to me, to be the actualisation in our body/mind of a natural rhythm, a universal effort, flowing, unobstructed natural effort of the sort that I have occassional experienced while playing music.



Mike Cross said...

Hi again Harry,

Now it sounds to me like you are groping around more in the area of the upward slope from B to C, whose existence you may somehow have begun to suspect because of the power of Master Dogen's words -- which is what happened to me also.

At the same time I think you would be much more clear if you had some experience of Alexander work, which Alexander himself called "the most mental thing there is."

In order to be clear about what Master Dogen meant by sitting with the mind, for me, there is nothing to compare, here at the beginning of the 21st century, with some lessons from a good, experienced teacher of the FM Alexander Technique.

If you try it, you may find it, as I did, to be a true revelation.

All the best,


Raymond said...


I laughed...and, I feel humbly honored. I am a poor zen student. I think my own zealousness is a blessing and a curse. Thank you for continuing your efforts, however dimwitted I may be.