zen e-course // day 4 – sitting and shifting

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: When you sit on your cushion, chair, or bench and methodically settle yourself in zazen posture, a shift occurs. You are aligning yourself with the wholeness of life; the wholeness of life is mutually responding and shifting you. We may not see this reciprocity for a time. Nevertheless, in taking the zazen posture and settling yourself, you are committing to a larger reality than can be known from the conditioned, ego-centered point of view. A shift is happening. By settling and raising awareness, can you shift from moment to moment?

Practice for today: Reflect on the nature of shifting. What is it that you are shifting from? What are you shifting towards? Are you reluctant to shift to the present moment; do you find yourself carried away by ego-centered thoughts? Practice returning to your body-breath throughout the day.

Thank you Roshi. Recently I met Johanna Demetrakas who directed “Crazy Wisdom” and she was saying the same about Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. How fortunate to have had the experience and connection to such big mind phenomena. Here is the link to the site for her movie: http://crazywisdomthemovie.com
This raises the question of depth of practice when teachers aren’t very close physically. The same goes with sacred space.

For me zazen is sacred space (anywhere but always sacred). That’s the shift. A bow to the cushion and sitting and bow again. This creates a space where I shift around or where purity and unity of mind have a chance to occur on their own center stage. It’s dedicated space. Small shifts when it’s a small mind sitting, big shifts when it’s a bigger mind sitting. In a way it’s a mini portable temple, not separate but sacred.

The other day I had placed my cushion in the living room and was about to sit when Astro (my younger boy, he’s 5), came out of nowhere (he was supposed to still be in bed) and placed very carefully an inflatable bat in front of the cushion! Talk about a shift! I don’t know why but it lifted me quite a bit! I didn’t look into him for explanations, it was perfection as it was!



zen e-course // day 3 – wholeness

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: As you have seen, the practice of zazen reveals and affirms you yourself as the wholeness of life. When you do zazen, you may approach it as “I am doing zazen.” If you were to extend the meaning of zazen to this approach, you would be trying to make yourself into the wholeness of life. This kind of effort is extra: you are already whole. Zazen is zazening you. Every day, allow zazen to work on you. In this way, wholeness affirms itself as you.

Practice for today: Reflect on your approach to zazen, on your approach to practice. If your approach is to make yourself whole, raise the view of “already whole.” What is shifting for you?

Hello e-Sangha

Thank you again for your posts, what a treasure you all are. Thank you Roshi for bringing us together in a novel way.

My first immediate reaction to this morning’s topic was “I’m fine, what about you?” followed by an image of the zendo at ZCLA. This took my reflection on the following path: I’m miss sitting with others, the special energy that is present in sesshin or even a Sunday morning group practice, all in the same vessel, connected I don’t know how but it’s always palpable. I miss sitting with others. I miss chanting!

This led me to reflect that although I zazen alone most of the time it doesn’t happen in isolation. For me meditation is intertwined with morals (precepts), lovingkindness, compassion, art, dharma study, life practice. This wholesomeness we’ve been examining, this original ‘state of mind’ (state of mine?) is shared. Because the teachings are vast and multifaceted and experiental, whatever piece of dharma I come in contact with is meshed with the sitting practice and it goes around and around.

Through this wider approach and work my life is whole (not perfectly wholesome i tell you!). With the right effort, and other 8 fold path items, the fruits of meditation often grow here and there. Everything together brings positive transformation and it’s somehow contagious. Just like a big generous smile! (yawning too!) Happiness is the fruits of all this and translates in joy, increased generosity and applied compassion. I’m always amazed to see how we can make others happy by just being happy first. We sometimes mirror each other. If not feeling very happy I try the smile approach, it does work even if it involves smiling alone! It’s not been easy but that’s part of my journey!

My own 2 eurocents.

Bows to you all


PS: I was showing this piece to my students the other day and I realized it was relevant to this group (the song might be loud for some): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVZ_pA5dL9I

zen e-course // day 2 – wholeness

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Lesson: The zen of zazen has two Chinese characters. One means to show or to reveal and the other means one or single. From these meanings, we see that the essence of the word zen is to reveal yourself as the oneness of life. You show yourself as the unity of everything. You yourself are the wholeness of life. You are the mandala, the infinite circle. In zazen, you are not gaining something that you are lacking, nor are you losing anything in order to become whole. Rather, the reality of the wholeness of life is affirming itself as you.

Practice for today: Reflect upon the phrases “the wholeness of life” or “the unity of life.” What do you believe you need to gain in order to become whole? What do you believe you need to lose in order to know wholeness? What about starting as wholeness itself?

Hello e-Sangha!

First of all thank you all for your beautiful and insightful posts. It’s the best part of the course!

Life wholesomeness has always been there for me. I’ve always remembered it and known it was there. The impression the world left on me as a young child was always wholesome, the forest, the mountains, the oceans, music, pictures, EVERYTHING! It’s our natural state I feel. Then I got conditioned, educated, varnished, framed and the essence was diluted or the beautiful natural wood was painted. This practice has consisted of sanding the layers to get the grain back! It’s like going home.

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