Lesson: Zazen enables you to see that all thoughts that arise in your mind, without exception and regardless of content, are like clouds in the sky. All thoughts are empty comings and goings without any real or fixed substance and disappear momentarily. Thoughts are a natural function of the brain. Sawaki Roshi loved to say that thoughts are farts of the brain. Just as your heart beats, or your lungs breathe, so your brain produces thoughts. Thoughts are forms of Dharma, regardless of their content. They are natural phenomena.
Practice for today: Notice what beliefs you may be holding regarding thoughts. Identify one or two beliefs you have towards your thoughts. For example, do you believe that thoughts should not arise during zazen and you are, therefore, trying to suppress them? Are you unconsciously seeking thought-free zazen?
Thank you again for the teachings and the practice booster!
From this cushion, thoughts are as diverse as the universe itself and the same as well.
Not grasping the thoughts and turning them into projects, discourse, slicing or dicing or rumination allow for a better awareness of the thoughts themselves. I like thoughts.
I joke to myself sometimes that I give them ratings (well not so literally), there’s a filtration system at work although I’m not quite sure what it is. I know for sure that thoughts can also pass in the light of the precepts sometimes which can show their true colors and bring wisdom. Some of those I blow away because I don’t want them around too much… Creative thoughts (images, ideas, etc) are always treasured and contemplated (not engaged with until later if I remember and I usually don’t), held there for I don’t know how long. Zazen-time puzzles me.
Sitting is a safe place to hold thoughts and be with them. it’s hard concentration work or hard non-concentration at work.
There’s no thought-free anything! The world is all thought. At least what we get of it is all thought and then there’s the essence. The essence isn’t thought because it has no form (thought has form for me, only thought has form, the essence or what is non-thought has no form for me). The essence between the thoughts.
Also the longer the sitting the sparser the thoughts. Leaving more essence or just essence. Occasionally this ‘essence’ has been a lapse of ‘immensity’. Immensity is not even the word, I don’t have a word because ‘immensity’ is usually external this seems to have briefly included me. It has come and gone. It happened while running long distance too. It generated a type of vertigo or small panic then I was back on the breath and the ‘routine’. What is it? Should I really know? Really not-know?
Time. When thoughts become sparser is it really in time that it happens? I don’t know. Why does zazen go by so fast? The bell always too early, plugging the whole experience out of this waking non-dream (essence of dream without the form and happenings and internal logic of dreams).
Fear. That this becomes a spectacle of thought. Fortunately this practice is not just zazen.
Didn’t the Daila Lama say one day “Why go to the movies? you have the mind!” ?
And that brings a picture of an installation I saw at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam:
(1974 – Nam June Paik)