Meditation

Ardy
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Ardy
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March 15th, 2016, 12:52 am #1

Interesting interaction between Ma-tsu Tao-i (Baso Doitsu) 709-788 and his master Huai-Jang. Ma-Tsu was one of the great Zen masters and created more Koans than any other master.


“In practising sitting-in-meditation, what does Your Reverence aspire to attain?”
“To attain Buddhahood!” was the answer.
Huai-jang then took up a piece of brick and began to grind it against a rock in front of Ma-tsu’s cell.
After some moments Ma-tsu became curious and asked, “What are you grinding it for?”
“I want to grind it into a mirror,” Huai-jang replied.
Greatly amused, Ma-tsu said, “How can you hope to grind a piece of brick into a mirror?”
Huai-jang fired back, “Since a piece of brick cannot be ground into a mirror, how then can you sit yourself into a Buddha?”
“What must I do then?” Matsu inquired.
Huai-jang replied, “Take the case of an ox-cart. If the cart does not move, do you whip the cart, or do you whip the ox?”
Ma-tsu remained silent.
“In learning sitting-in-meditation,” Hui-jang resumed, “do you aspire to learn the sitting Ch’an, or do you aspire to imitate the sitting Buddha? If the former, Ch’an does not consist in sitting or in lying down. If the latter, the Buddha has no fixed postures. The Dharma goes on forever, and never abides in anything. You must not therefore be attached to nor abandon, any particular phase of it. To sit yourself into Buddha is to kill the Buddha. To be attached to the sitting posture is to fail to comprehend the essential principle.”



Do not think tha Huai-Jang was saying meditation will not bring enlightenment.
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crow
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March 15th, 2016, 3:06 am #2

You are right. He is cautioning of the minefield that surrounds it, like a maze leading nowhere.
And my supper is ready...

Trout with honey sauce. Mmmmmmm...

Nobody knows how to meditate. Because the how is not the meditation.
In Zen archery, the blindfolded archer takes aim at a post he can not see.
He must begin by aiming at something. He hopes it is his target.
But at some point, between full draw, and the arrow's release, he must cease to aim.

Meditation takes aim. Successful meditation ceases to aim, and instead, becomes one with the target.

"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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Racer Poet
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March 15th, 2016, 3:18 am #3

I have yet to meditate, I'm not sure how to do it.

Or not do it?

Is it one of those things, like intuition?
Vroom!
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crow
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March 15th, 2016, 3:56 am #4

Yes. I'd say it probably is. if you try to grasp it, to control, you miss by a mile.
You can sit just so, breathe just so, chant just so, but until you are ready, not a lot will happen.
Being ready involves a state of no-control, and no-target.
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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Ardy
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March 15th, 2016, 5:02 am #5

Racer Poet wrote:I have yet to meditate, I'm not sure how to do it.

Or not do it?

Is it one of those things, like intuition?
Racer I wrote an introduction to meditation here it is:

Meditation Instructions


Introduction

Meditation is a serious pursuit and should be approached with a serious mind. Used to its fullest it will change your life and your personality which although attractive at first becomes more difficult and potentially, mentally painful as time goes by.

I think it is not too much to say that meditating twice a day over several years can be one of the most difficult things you will ever attempt and few succeed in breaking through to enlightenment by the death of your ego.

At its simplest, it can be used as a method of stress relief, or a means of throwing off lethargy and encouraging happiness. In this state you just use it as you need it and you need not make it a regular practice.

Dogen says "Thus the whole body of skin, flesh, bones and marrow hangs in empty space" therefore you have nothing to fear only your fear. Step forward into this world of meditation and embrace it as the surest way to see the reality of who you are and maybe some of you may become fully enlightened or enter the kingdom of heaven in this life - why not now?

Cross legged or Not

I personally believe that it makes little difference how you sit as long as you sit. If you are comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor then do that. Remember an upright back and a solid sit is essential to this method. Full lotus is for the very flexible and is described by many as the best method.

If you feel more comfortable on a chair then follow these instructions:

Find a chair that is as upright as possible. Sit with your back and head upright and your ears in line with your shoulders. Try to have your thighs at 90o to the floor and your feet planted firmly and comfortably on the ground.

Beginning

Find an area that is quiet where you will not be disturbed. There are many ways to meditate and plenty of argument about which is best. The two most used are counting breaths and using a mantra (pronounced muntra). Counting breaths is simply counting on the out breath starting at one , two three four five six seven eight nine ending at zero and then starting at one again. Using a mantra is surrounded by some religious dogma but I think I will not offend anyone by suggesting that you use OM! (Pronounced OHMMMM).

Get yourself into a calm state by feeling your breath go in and out and allowing your hearing to go out as far as possible to hear the furthest noises then feel the play of air on your skin. Slowly close your eyes (Note this is only in the beginning later you can meditate with your eyes partially open)

Begin by counting the breaths or repeating the mantra, making the breaths or the mantra slow and deep. This should be done for approximately ten minutes once a day to start and when you're comfortable with that, move up to ten minutes twice a day. There is no rush at this point and the idea that you have ‘nowhere to go and nothing to do’, prior to mediation is a good way to release any tension or resistance to doing meditation.

When you start it is natural for your head to droop. Don’t be discouraged, you will become more upright as time goes by. You may even fall asleep at the start this too will pass.

Dealing with Unwanted Thoughts

Initially your mind and senses will enjoy mediation as it is a new experience and your ego is fascinated by anything new. After a very short time the ego realises that this is a serious threat to it's control over you and it will start to fight back.

Early on lovely images may arise, pretty gardens with beautiful streams or wonderful colours, ignore all of this it will pass. The next thing that may appear are ugly images, these too will pass.

The battle you have to deal with are thoughts that speak inside your head and say something like "How can you sit here doing this, you promised you would phone so and so urgently" or "You must stop and check on the kids" Say back to the thoughts in your head "That’s important and I will do it as soon as I finish meditation". Other random thoughts are a bit like files that the senses are bringing to you and you can just file them away for another time. This battle gets to be very big as the ego knows you intimately and tries constantly to bring you down and out of meditation.

Note: Once you are proficient you may find it beneficial to half close the eyes and allow them to go out of focus.



Development of Meditation

As you progress over a few weeks you will find several things that are not immediately obvious.
There will on occasions be a great peace that enters into your meditation and at other times there will be a great battle.
Do not say "I like this type of meditation but not this". It is all natural, accept it all nothing is bad or good.
Secondly, although you may not be obvious, there will be a general feeling of well being or happiness, it is not on the surface but bubbles away beneath you.
After some time passes, you may wish to increase your time of sitting. Go first to fifteen minutes twice a day and when comfortable with that go to twenty minutes twice a day. Stay at this amount of time for a fair while until you are sitting upright and completely comfortable with your meditation process. This may be weeks for some people or months for others. There is no set time frame.

If you are facing a serious problem in your life just state the problem, as you would say a mantra and most times an answer will appear before you mostly after sleep.

I have heard meditation described as trying to put a dog outside that has lived in the house too long. It howls at the door. The howling during development of mediation is great.

Traps

These are many and varied as the ego/senses battle with you for control of yourself.

Any advantages you get from meditation are nothing to do with you and mainly to do with your place in the universe.

Do not get attached to the dogma surrounding spiritual meditation. It has nothing to do with religion, so just do it. There are many examples of Zen monks ignoring the rules and tenants of their religion, including a monk who burnt wooden images of Buddha on a cold night and others who have destroyed sacred writings to prove a point.

Summary


Meditation is very simple to start and very hard to keep going. I hope that it brings you whatever you are looking for. Strange that all you have to do is ask, as long as the question is not about material gain but is for you or others internal gain.

If you feel the need for a master then I warn you, there are many well meaning and sometimes not so well meaning charlatans out there. If you find a true master you are well on your way. The company of an enlightened master is the quickest route to take you through the gate-less gate to the great discovery of who you are. The search for one can be the work of a lifetime.

These instructions are meant only to get you started, once you are on your way you will naturally search out literature that suits you and assists you in your spiritual search. Each person is different in some way and the way becomes clearer only after you have started on it.

This road has been walked by many including Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed. Walk on it yourself and discover that the hard narrow road is far better.

Remember, if you search for it, it is not there. If you don’t look for it you will never find it. Everything is fundamentally empty.

The whole Universe
Shatters into a hundred pieces
In the great death
There is no heaven or earth

Once body and mind have turned over
There is only this to say

Past mind cannot be grasped
Present mind cannot be grasped
Future mind cannot be grasped

Dogen 5th Month, 3rd year, Kangen Era




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Bear311
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August 5th, 2016, 12:03 am #6

Racer Poet wrote:I have yet to meditate, I'm not sure how to do it.

Or not do it?

Is it one of those things, like intuition?
Is it possible that you already do it Racer Poet ...(meditate), just not aware of it? We do mundane tasks that don't involve thinking. For example, a skillful gardener can be doing some of his/her tasks so automatically that it allows thinking to stop. This can also happen while concentrating on tai chi or a move in karate, where you hold a certain position (even a standing one) where you stare into the distance, without actually focusing on nearby objects. Anything that stops the daily chatter your mind is currently doing is a step forward. Small steps lead to bigger steps.

Intuition, I think, is another matter entirely. It is that small little voice that says, "that guy gives me the wrong vibes". ...or...a very strong urgent feeling to do something. It has been my experience that a more intelligent part of you pick up all kinds of nonverbal information that goes unnoticed daily to the busy self. If there is an actual danger involved, your own intuition will do its best to communicate that danger to you. How many times we said: "o- no- that is not likely to happen" Then, when it does, you say: shoot, I so knew that...just did not trust my intuition.
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crow
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August 8th, 2016, 12:15 am #7

We use the term 'intuition' here, in a way you are unaware of. Any teenager would define intuition as you have defined it.
Because they don't know what it is, and certainly don't know its unfathomable depths.
Clearly, you are not even in the same ballpark as most of our existing members, let alone adepts.
Please resist the urge to 'teach'.
Try learning, instead.
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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Water
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September 28th, 2016, 3:04 am #8

A friend suggested that rather than focusing on the sensation of breathing in the nose, to focus on the sensation at the back of the throat. This seemed to help a lot, focusing on the nose made my breathing shakier, to feel the breath in the throat seems to result in a more natural inhalation/exhalation.

I asked my younger brother how he deals with his mind wandering when meditating; how to stay on course. He said whenever he meditates he spends the first ten or fifteen minutes relaxing his body before focusing on the breath, and that this allowed him to get into the groove of things easier.
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Ardy
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September 28th, 2016, 4:01 am #9

Hi Water, I was taught, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I have never noticed the back of the throat that your friend mentioned, I think I can understand what they are saying.

Unwanted thoughts are like files that the ego drags out to take your attention elsewhere than where you want it to go.

Most of these can be ignored but if an important one comes up say to the mind "Yes! that is important and I will deal with it when I have finished meditating". So treating it like an unwanted assistant is one of the ways I use to shut it down. If you bale out it wins.

I found that the more I was attacked by the ego during meditation, the deeper into Samadhi I got when I did get there. Nothing is good or bad, right or wrong. I found just doing it is more than enough to start with.
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crow
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April 6th, 2017, 3:26 pm #10

Something seems to be missing here...

In preparing to meditate, it is necessary to perform a comprehensive scan of the whole body, and all its parts in turn, to check for tension. Every joint, every muscle. Release it, one spot at a time. This can be easier said than done, at first, but with a little practice, all kinds of hidden stress can be released.

I lived for many years without any awareness of an observable tension, that only became noticeable to me when somebody commented on it.
"Why are your hands always clenched into fists?" she asked. I was stunned. Sure enough, they were, without any reason for them to be. Thereafter, for months, every time I remembered to check, there they were again, making fists for no reason.

Finally, I managed to eliminate this habitual stress, and my hands hung by my sides, relaxed and easy.
It was a big lesson.
How many other body parts are in a state of unconscious lockup? I made a point of finding out and remedying it.
Do you wear your shoulders up around your ears? Let them drop!

When all is as relaxed as it's going to get, serious meditation may begin.
But without this easily overlooked step, you'll be whistling Dixie.

"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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