zen e-course // day 16 – circle of life

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: Today we shift our attention to a mandala, which means circle. We call this mandala the Circle of Life. Zen Center uses such a mandala organizationally and for personal practice. Each of you is a mandala, a Circle of Life. The Circle of Life is alive, a living membrane or web, without boundary, with all the forms of life interweaving. The Circle of Life is all. It is inclusive; nothing is or can be left out of Life. Every thing, every person, every form — thoughts, trees, mountains, garbage, the moon. When you do zazen, everything is included because nothing can ever be excluded from the Circle of Life. This is true regardless of whether you like something or not; whether you separate yourself from someone or not.

Practice for today: When you stabilize yourself in zazen, sit as the Circle of Life. Whatever arises, include. As you go about your day, expand to include everyone. See everything as the Circle of Life, as the living mandala that you are. Notice what you don’t include in the Circle of Life.


Circle of life

Going round
And round
In all directions

Turns the wheel
Like a water mill
Water taking
Water giving

The surfer’s legs – to a shark
A daughter’s life – to what?

One boy riding a dolphin
Another becoming a man

Beauty of children
Pain of children

Did I leave anything out?
Definitely not.
That is all, today.

Be patient.
Hold everyone.

In gassho

arno

zen e-course // day 15 – sticky

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: Just as you identified your beliefs about thoughts during zazen, you can examine your beliefs about emotions. It is useful and skillful to articulate what you believe about emotions: “It is wrong to feel this way.” “It is shameful to feel sad.” “I am a bad person because I feel angry.” Listen to what you tell yourself. All dharmas, in this case emotions, co-arise depending on conditions. You cannot control the conditions, but you can practice ”sky mind” — the mind that is open to emotional clouds, that experiences directly, stays present, and lets the feelings dissolve on their own. Remember: all dharmas come and go according to conditions. Impermanence is a gift that keeps on giving!

Practice for today: Continue to be aware of sensations and emotions. Practice feeling directly. Become aware of your thoughts about what you are feeling. Acknowledge your beliefs about emotions. If you experience an emotion that you have been “working with” for years, intensify it and see what happens. A good weekend to you!


Recently I have been dealing with the emotion of anxiety due to a life situation (a family member who seems lost and who experiences a lot of suffering). It is an emotion that when I ‘amplify’ it can become very strong!

A description of what happens when I receive alarming news or listen to the sufferer is the image of a strong humid wind blowing through my whole being and some of it sticks, drips and globs. It has effects on the body. Emotions, anxiety in particular, are more ‘goey’ than thoughts. They have a more physical presence than just thoughts,
sensations, sounds or images. Emotions are more heavy and in the case of anxiety it can become extremely heavy and sticky to handle.

I have occasionally received help from a psychotherapist and it provided tools to handle the situation and understand the workings of the psychology of the being I am entangled with and care for. However I find psychotherapy very ‘mechanistic’. Or I am mechanistic in this context!

At the end of the day my practice consists of letting the wind blow and acknowledge the stickiness of the anxiety, let it settle and not flush it away voluntarily. Like an acid spill on flesh it needs care. Deep breathing, awareness of ALL that is and also conduct bring a settling of the emotion. Just knowing (in my guts) that through the clouds, storm and lightning there’s a pure clear horizon is the path for me. A path to peace and responsible action.

The anxiety can be brought about at any time voluntarily or involuntarily. I find refuge in meditation and my practice in general. Sometimes I have to also examine the doubt that the refuge is nothing more than a fancy shelter built by my smarty-pants ego to protect itself. Sometimes I just know, sometimes I just don’t. I hope to find the opportunity to examine doubt in a deeper way at some point on this path.

In gassho

arno

zen e-course // day 14 – signals

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: When an emotion arises, you practice by becoming aware that an emotion has arisen, letting it be as it is, and experiencing its energy directly. Zazen gives you a unique and special gift: it activates your capacity to be vividly present in the midst of feelings and emotions without repressing or suppressing, without engaging or acting out. Emotions are dharmas, too. All dharmas come and go, are impermanent like clouds in the sky, and have no fixed substance. In surrendering to zazen, you develop the capacity to feel whatever is arising in the body. You practice a generous acceptance of the emotions that arise, no matter how uncomfortable. Invite them in.

Practice for today: As an emotion arises, be aware and present. Just feel! Are you moving towards suppressing? Are you moving towards engaging? Are you using thinking to escape the direct experience of emotion?


Signals

Emotions
– signals
Sensations
– signals
Cravings
– signals
Thoughts
– signals

Anger
– red coals (don’t touch)
Hunger
– food please
Joy
– good to see you
Painting
– later, my child…

The red light always turns green!
So much patience needed to just sit there.

Here’s a rainbow:

In gassho

arno

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