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09 April 2010 @ 10:49 pm
my trip to the Cambridge Zen center and toughts on desire  
I attened the Dharma talk at the Cambridge Zen Center to go check the place out. I will say I think Zen Buddhism is not for me.

They had me don a robe. I over heard someone say, jokingly, "Ah guest robes, you have to guess-t who wore them last."

I will say I enjoyed the 5 minute meditation and I hope to incorporate that into my daily life. The talk afterwards proved to me that I didn't understand the word Karma at all. The jist I got is it was a combintion of destiny mixed with your own personal tendencies to do certain things, which I suppose could be called destiny, but it didn't seem to divorce from the idea of free will. There was then a question and answer period at the end. After reading some of the literature on the way home, however, I feel like asking a question was a bad thing.

Here's why I didn't much like it. The literature talk about the quieting of thinking. Asking questions is thinking. Answering them is thinking. Thinking about how to better practice Zen is thinking, but you should ask your teachers how to better practice, or how else do you get better? I'd just spend 30 minutes listening to talking, thinking about stories and hearing the zen master answer the questions. Now I beleive that this duality, these contradictions, these paradoxes are part of the core of being zen. Being able to accept them for what they are and their ability to exists at the same time. But at some point it just starts to feel like a game of mau. Here, I have a poem from the literature to demonstrate my point:


Buddha said all things have Buddha-nature.
Jo-ju said the dog has no Buddha-nature.
Which one is correct?
If you open your mouth, you fall into hell.
Why?
KATZ!!!
Clouds float up to the sky;
rain falls down to the ground.


I will give you another poem from a non-zen master, "Once upon a time, three, three, three, three, three, three, WHOP!"

I think I get as much wisdom from both.

I think I still want to check out some other flavors of Buddhism, because I can still get something out of it. I just feel the Zen part might have gone a little far.

But... on the way home I did some thinking. One of answer to the question was about determination. (and infact my follow up question was about it too.)

This got me thinking about taiko. If I really wanted to be an ensemble member, would the fact that at this point I have about 1% chance of that happening stop me? The man who runs over and over into a wall may not be smart, but he's proven he is committed to getting through that wall. Determination is an echo of desire. So if I really want this, then I can't let anything, including being told my chances are almost nil, stop me from continuing to fight for it. Situations may change which will change my chances and maybe, just maybe, if I try to fight for it I might learn what I really want and do not want. My whole life I've been taught that if you hit the wall with your fist and the fist bleeds, then it's time to look for a softer wall, but maybe this time, it's time to keep hitting.
 
 
 
Binkbinkbink on April 10th, 2010 04:34 am (UTC)
The 1% is rational. I don't think I could have any chance to succeed at professional tackle football or basketball, no matter how hard I tried--not even 1%. I would have better odds of becoming Queen of England (possible, in the style of King Ralph) or a billionaire. What we are born with and our early experiences combine to give an advantage we don't have much control over. For instance, I regret I didn't get to focus on acrobatics as a child, since my body is the right shape for it.
On the other hand, I am glad I didn't put the time and effort into it an Olympic try would need, then come up short.

But I couldn't be a drummer. My muscles have a kind of ADD. After a few bars of the same rhythm, they decide they want to do something different and no amount of knowing what they ~should~ do is going to keep them in line. But you have already shown you have some talent for it.

On the other hand, it might be prudent to examine ~why~ you want it. Ask yourself questions like: What will be the value that derives from it, aside for a greater commitment to practice. What will you want after that is accomplished? Where will your commitment lead you in 10 years or 20? What part of your life is being neglected because of the hours you apply to taiko?

The problem with having so many things one ~could~ do, is finding the one that is worth a lifetime of effort. The right questions to ask might be "Who am I?" "What am I?" "What made me smile?" and "What am I doing when I am happy?"

Great big huggles.
(Anonymous) on April 10th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Quieting thinking & Determination
Hey, it's jaz :-)

I had two thoughts about some of what you've written above.

About quieting thinking--this is just based on my reading/experience with meditating, but I'm not sure the goal is to quiet thinking, or questions and answers, investigation, etc. at all times, but for a little while. And it's not as if thinking could go away, but that one is giving a different part of the brain a chance to flex its muscles while the part we're using a lot takes a rest. I'm mostly picking this up from reading things like The Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson.

About determination--and using your illustration about hitting the wall--I don't think being told your chances are almost nil should stop you as one could say with almost completely certainty that not hitting the wall will yield no results, unless of course the universe rearranges itself at some moment such that the wall becomes permeable or something :-) But I think its important not to judge success or failure based on the one result of getting through the wall. Continuing to hit the wall could wind up toughening up your hand and increasing the strength of your arm which could lead to other beneficial results. Or you might break through the wall and find that what lies behind it is not what you expected. And more of the same kind of don't get too teleological metaphors.
(Anonymous) on April 10th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Quieting thinking & Determination
This is Kate...alternative wall strategies: peek over the top and see if it's truly as attractive as it sounds...slip around the side...wait for a magical gate...paint a cartoon door, like Bugs Bunny, and open it and go through...create a situation in which the desirable item on the other side of the wall comes around to your side...use a flood to sweep you over the top...get a bunch of people to help you burrow under the bottom. Bashing head into wall is not the only possible strategy, and is not very good for the head. Others with bumpy heads may be seeking a similar path.
(Anonymous) on April 10th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Quieting thinking & Determination
That gave me an image of walking up to Mark and taping a cartoon door to him.
(Anonymous) on April 10th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Quieting thinking & Determination
This is Kate...alternative wall strategies: peek over the top and see if it's truly as attractive as it sounds...slip around the side...wait for a magical gate...paint a cartoon door, like Bugs Bunny, and open it and go through...create a situation in which the desirable item on the other side of the wall comes around to your side...use a flood to sweep you over the top...get a bunch of people to help you burrow under the bottom. Bashing head into wall is not the only possible strategy, and is not very good for the head. Others with bumpy heads may be seeking a similar path.

Message followed by Charlie Baker ad. What is Zen opinion on this?
Jadiajadia on April 10th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
If you liked the meditation you may be interested in talking with jennifer about the 10-day meditation retreat she took in January.