So we played a little Zen game a few weeks ago and I want to capture it here before it completely dissolves through the sieve my brain is become.
So, I gave a little context. One of the thing that I have noticed, and that I like about meditation, is that we have created a little fraternity of suffering. No not of suffering, but of honesty about that suffering- all people suffer (I am too fat, too skinny, not assertive enough, my parents didn't support me enough, I am a crappy lawyer, my nick hurts, my back hurts, my mind is a mess etc etc etc).
Anyway, it seems like there are at least two things you can do about suffering. Focus on something else, or look into it. There are many practices for focusing on something else: Yoga, breath meditations, working long hours, drinking, visualization, running, etc. They have their place.
Then there are practices of looking into the suffering. Therapy is one, though I think it asks "What about this story? Where did it come from? Why do I feel that way". But then, I am not a therapist. Zen also looks at suffering. That is what we do at WiG, just welcome it in, and pay attention to it. We don't try ot solve it, resovle it, or calm it...except that of course people do. And that is interesting to notice also.
So the game.
We sat three times. The first time I simply asked people to sit, then to calm and still their minds, though whatever means they thought fitting. Watch your breath, imagine a cloudless sky, imagine an elevator. Whatever. Then the group was asked to raise one finger when a thought managed to enter in anyway. I think the first was about 5 seconds later. One person lasted 2 seconds.
So there you go. Thoughts are natural. I mean, its kind of a weird fantasy to want to be without them. The mind thinks, the heart beats, the lungs breath. No one is trying to stop their hearts from beating, why put so much emphasis on our thoughts?
So we sat again, again encouraged to suppress thoughts. This time, people were asked to notice what means the used and how they felt when a thought did arise.
Then we talked about that. I recall some people used breath counting, some, noticing their bodies, others letting go of thoughts, others imagining a stream. More interestingly, people reacted with guilt, shame, frustration, a sense of loss, failure, fear of missing something, a lost opportunity when the thoughts did arise and they noticed they had. Weird huh?
The last time we sat, everyone was told that we were going on a hunting expedition. We were going to look for this ^&% *&(* mind of ours. the one giving us all these problems. find it, locate it, pull it up by the roots.
People were invited to notice where the throughts were physically, in whose voice they were, what they wanted, what emotions were driving them, etc etc etc.
Now it got interesting. People noticed the past one one side, present on the other. That the closer they got to this mind, the more dissipated it was, dispersed, and ultimately empty. Some noticed how their mind bucked, and shut them out. Or went blank when they got near something painful.
Tricky little bastard that mind.
What fund. Don't you wish you were there?
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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