benos

What is it?

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I had a recommendation to start a Zen forum, so here it is. Post your favorite sayings, stories, or whatever...

Just what is "Zen"? I don't know.

The word Zen translates as meditation. So I asked Bohdidharma, and this is what he said:

"Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call AWARE, MIRACULOUSLY AWARE. Responding, perceiving, arching your brows, blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, it's all your miraculously aware nature. And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the Buddha. And the Buddha is the path. And the path is Zen. But the word Zen is one that remains a puzzle to both mortals and sages. Seeing your [original, essential] nature is Zen."

be

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I'm told that we all have it at birth.  As we lie in the cradle we see, notice, react  and exist as our feelings dictate.  Of course I wasn't told this by an infant, so I can't confirm that it's correct.

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BE,

Please excuse my ignorance. Who is Bohdidharma?

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SS,

Bodhidharma was the legendary 28th patriarch of Zen Buddhism (in the lineage of the Buddha). He is credited with bringing and firmly establishing Zen practice to China. (From India.) He arrived in China in approx 475 - it only took him 3 years to get there by boat!

be

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Brian,

it took Bodhidharma 3 years to get to china?

Maybe his bananaboat was eqipped with an engine from Lee. He had not enough money for a Dillon.

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Oh wow...a Zen thread. Kewl beans doods. Test your Zen knowledge.

Q: How many Madhyamika philosophers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Four. One to change it and one not to. One to change it AND not change it, and one to NEITHER change it NOR not change it. (GROAN)

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BE,

If he arrived in China in 475 then how did you ask him a question? Even better, how did he answer? I'm not trying to be a smarta**, just ignorant and curious.

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SS,

Timeless transmission is carried out through the ages.

Sailing on the ancient ocean,

Looking around,

There it is!

:)

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;)

You know more than you let on.

When you don't know, you're on the Path.

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Singlestack:

Here's a little quote from a Zen Web site that might help you to understand:

"One of the central points of Zen is intuitive understanding. As a result, words and sentences have no fixed meaning, and logic is often irrelevant. Words have meaning only in relation to who is using them, who they are talking to, and what situation they are used in."

As such, much of what is written by folks who susbscribe to Zen appears to be nonsense because the true meaning is hidden between the lines or the meaning is only relevant to a particular situation at a given point in time. Does that help?

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It has been said that Zen exists in the moment where inhale changes to exhale.  Think of life as an infinite series of immediate moments.

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One of my favorite quotes from the "Hagakure - The book of the Samurai" (portrayed in the movie Ghost Dog) has to due with the present moment.

"There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and no nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment."

"Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it as though he thought it were somewhere else. No one seems to have noticed this fact. But grasping this firmly, one must pile experience upon experience. And once one has come to this understanding he will be a different person from that point on, though he may not always bear it in mind."

be

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My head hurts......

I think I'm too literal to get this. I'm trying though.

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SS,

I understand, I have a literal streak myself. Unfortunately, words can sometimes lead us away from truth.

The word Zen translates as meditation; meditation means to reflect upon, or ponder. When we are trying to understand, learn more, or gather more information on a particular subject, such as Zen, if we learn with a  literal (thinking) bias as opposed to an imaginative (speculative) bias, it becomes impossible to grasp what it means to "realize," which is precisely what Zen is getting at.

The aim of Zen is to know your mind as it really is. The method used (to reach this state) is inquiry. Zen uses inquiry to return us to the our natural state of inquiry, or wonder, as opposed to our daily state of functioning from conclusions. Often the form of inquiry will be a topic we fear, like death. Or sometimes Zen challenges simple everyday conclusions we take  for granted, with questions like -"Who are you"? All this is just to get us  to return to wondering; only then will we know with certainty.

Our world, as we typically know it, is based on a description we learn from our conditioned experiences. We have names for everything. Without depending on the names we have learned, what are all these "things," really? Or, like Monty Python – What’s all this then? Zen uses questions to shatter our individual, objectified way of viewing and functioning in the world. Of course, many don’t prefer this; it’s much easier to remain concluded.

We really know very little, we learn descriptions (of things) and then attach to these descriptions (by believing). Belief stops inquiry. As adults, we are trapped by our conditioned, stored view of why things are as they are. When we care to inquire, we see our views and opinions are actually nothing but attachments functioning as beliefs.

"The Selling"

Illusion is attachment

To sensory perceptions.

Confusion is attachment

To illusion.

Suffering is attachment

To confusion.

Unfortunately, the power of conditioning is strong. That’s why humanity is the way it is. There’s little we can do - until the moment we realize that everything we know we have been taught. Then, we can begin to wonder, again.

If you want to have direct understanding – Look around!, without seeing anything. Without depending on the names we know so well, just what is going on? Remain in a state of wondering without concluding - that’s Zen.

The reality of realization exists within perception, but it’s subtle and hard to see. To witness your mind as it really is, turn your attention inward and observe the fact of perception. Become sensitive to how you actually perceive the world around you. The moment of realization is brief, lasting only as long as it takes to actually perceive, or recognize that red is red, for example. Instantly our mind captures and stores perceptions. We call this memory.

The nature of thought is conclusion - concluding functions as "stopping." When we understand stopping, we comprehend the nature of mistakes. It’s not possible for the body to function or act impeccably when we are thinking.

Stop and misunderstand,

Wonder and know.

Act without hesitation.

be

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Singlestack, look at it this way.  Have you ever been in the Zen-present moment while shooting a stage?  It would be one where you almost forgot that you were shooting.  It didn't necessarily seem fast or slow, and you almost don't remember the individual action of pulling the trigger and engaging each target... but it turned out to be your best stage ever.  

Its close to Zen when you forget about the previous stage and you also are not thinking about the upcoming stages.  When you are only shooting a single stage with single focus its close.  But when you are in the "ZONE" and seem to forget each individual action of shooting...that is the essence of Zen that you are trying to fall into.  You can't "make" it happen, but perhaps you can practice and train to "let" it happen.

The Zen stories you hear seem open-ended and incomplete, but in fact that missing ending is intentional to lead you to a greater understanding.    There is an old Zen story about a sword fighting monkey that might apply to shooting. (I'll give you the short westernized Reader's Digest version)

Long ago a man taught a monkey to fight with a sword.  He taught the monkey every skill and technique.  Eventually, the monkey became well known as a top swordsman.  Some other great swordsman heard about the monkey and challenged the monkey to fight-to-the-death to prove who was the greatest swordfighter of all.  Well - the monkey and the man fought, and for every move the man used the monkey had the correct counter.  The man tried everything he knew and STILL could not defeat the monkey.  At that time the man realized than in this fight to the death he could not overcome the sword skill of the monkey.  When he accepted that he would die, he defeated the monkey.

Do you see how this can help your shooting?

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SS,

I didn't get to completely finish my post as I was on a deadline (to leave). I'll edit or add some more later. The real value is how we personally apply awareness to free up our mind, at each moment we choose. So we don't have to study Zen, or even know anything about Zen in order to benefit from consciously returning to a state of inquiry.

be

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Be,

Remember my "white room" post? I think I use some of the things about which you speak. I do have the ability to turn everything off and function in a state of "awareness" but I have trouble with being "abstract" about it. I need something I can relate to to go there. The "white room" was concieved out of neccessity. I had to calm down to be "aware" or have a real bad day.

I can use a lot of what I learned becoming an expert WW kayaker in shooting. I would study a rapid to determine how I wanted to run it then while running it be "in the moment" or "aware". I just never thought about it as Zen or meditation.

I can do this at will if I start out in my "white room". I think (I know, thats what messes me up) that my untrained mind (in Zen) needs something to grasp or visualize in order to understand (I know, thats another problem).

I am scared at this time to mess with "what works". If somebody came along and painted my "room" I don't know if I could find it again.

Does any of this make sense?

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hmmm, and I thought *Zen* was *Ten* (10) in German?

--Detlef

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SS,

Yes, I remember enjoying your white room post.

Any method used to become AWARE is not different from Zen. Zen is simply a method for returning to awareness. The word Zen translates into English as meditation, which means to reflect upon, or ponder. Thoughts attempt to conclude, so neither thoughts themselves, nor the conclusions they attempt to reach are Zen. There is no inquiry when the mind has concluded; again, no Zen. Since Zen can’t be spoken about - what is it then? At the instant your mind opens to wonder, you become aware. That’s Zen. (Did you see it?)

So, once you SEE the meaning behind words, you should forget words, or words will confuse you. Especially Zen.

be

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Hey Detlev,

you are one of the 3 Germans here (like me)?

I tried to translate this whole zen-conversation and I can say that my dictionary is worn-out now ....

Hard work but I learn every day ...

How about you? How good is your "american" english?

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Brian,

Is there a good primer on Zen philosophy (and is philosophy even the correct term?) written by a western author?  I find the subject very intriguing but get lost when the teachings deal with lessons outside of my frame of reference.  I mean no disrespect to anyone, but when Zen is presented in terms like "sword fighting monkeys" it becomes difficult to relate to.  The IPSC analogies however strike a cord due to our common point of reference.  I am very interested if such a book exists, and if not, have you thought of writing one?

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Slik40,

My problemo exactly.

I'm too literal, too filtered, too confined...............

can't relate

Need reference.

Words confuse me if they don't mean what they mean.

How do I "forget" the meaning of the words?

How do I ponder or reflect without thoughts? What is reflection without thoughts?

If I have no thoughts, what am I pondering?

I guess I did not see it  :)

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slik,

That's a tough one. I've sorted through quite a few over the years - the ones I'm stuck on now are fairly confusing. Nevertheless, the first book that came to mind was - "Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind - by Shunryu Suzuki." He was not a "westerner," but he did live in the west in San Francisco. He was originally from Japan. He came to the west to spread the word. His book is an all time favorite because it is written with a very simple and straightforward heart. You might check it out until I can come up with something else. Also, a good method, one I've use, is to go to a good bookstore that has a good metaphysical selection, like Borders, and just hang out in the Zen section. Maybe find a dozen or so books that warrant more investigation, get a cup of coffee and sit there and speed skim them until you find one that is talking to you.

I probably have 5 times the notes on Zen that I had when I wrote Practical Shooting. So, I'd love to do something, but first I want to get the current project finished....

Ss,

I know this one's a loser, but as Dogen said - Just think of what does not think.

As meditation in action, try this: Listen to the sounds things make as you pick them up and put them down as you go about your day - Listen!

When you're loading ammo, feel every bullet you pick up in your fingers. Listen to every sound the machine makes. Disappear (in the activity).

As you reach for every doorknob - be aware - wonder, what is on the other side.

be

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A great book on the subject of Zen is called "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" by Paul Reps.  Another one is called "Only Don't Know" written by a Zen Master named Seung Sahn.

The first book exposes the reader to many of the Zen "Koans" (the story-lessons that seem like riddles).  Think of them as breadcrumbs that you eat as you follow their trail out of the forest.  When you are out of the forest you no longer need them because you have arrived at your destination... and you have had a nice snack.  HA!  Read through the book more than once.  Nothing this significant and life-changing is easy.

The story of the sword fighting monkey is important to the IPSC shooter, and to any other competitor.  In the fight to the death, the man was sword fighting and trying to stay alive.  The monkey was not "thinking" about living or dying... but was only sword fighting, and that is why he was winning.  When the man recognized defeat and understood he would die, he was no longer thinking about staying alive and was back to single focus on the task at hand.  Sword fighting.  Thus his final victory.

If you shoot a match and think about winning you will do anything but.  If you think about grip, stance, and trigger pull you will be doing as much "thinking" as "doing".  You need to "be" shooting without the distraction of conscious effort of each individual action or the end result.  Easier said than done, of course, but that is the objective.

Think of the way a baby looks at the world, seeing everything for the first time without any preconceived notions or expectations.  Look at a wise old Zen master and see the similarities.

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