ZAZEN NOTES http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/rss_php6.php ZAZEN NOTES en-us Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:52:57 CDT Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:52:57 CDT http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss email@zenmudra.com email@zenmudra.comAbout the Anatomy in "Fuxi's Poem" http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=162my treatment of Fuxi's poem is generally positive, although many have questioned my inclusion of so many particulars of anatomy.

Mendocino Botanical GardensThe anatomy is an aid to me in relaxation. For me, the feeling is a lot like standing out where the waves break in at the beach, and sorting out the direction and strength of the flow of each wave in order to keep my feet.

In sitting, it's my own breath that is the tide in my toes, and understanding the anatomy helps me settle into the sand (as it were).

I have now added illustrations, and I hope that they will help in the visualization of the descriptions.

I'm aware that Fuxi's poem works on many levels, and I've had many discussions with friends about people like the modern-day Indian teacher Nisargadatta, who said:


"My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am' and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense 'I am', it may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked! Obedience is a powerful solvent of all desires and fears."

(that's from here)


The key in that short description for me would be the words "the sense 'I am'"; Nisargadatta is referring to a sense.

"It may look too simple, too crude": when I say I attend to the relaxed distinction of the senses, waking up or falling asleep, you might think it's a cup of tea- and you would be right. ]]>
Fuxi's Poem http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=161

The empty hand grasps the hoe handle
Walking along, I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still

(poem by Fuxi, trans. Andy Ferguson "Zen’s Chinese Heritage")


The phenomena that Fuxi described in his poem are all phenomena of trance; that is to say, they require the induction of a state in which volition in activity is surrendered, to a greater or lesser extent, before they can be observed."


That's the introduction to a new work entitled Fuxi's Poem on the site, and any comments or suggestions with regard to the work made here on Zazen Notes will be gratefully received.
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Aviation Terms:  A Conversationhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=160
I get out of balance sometimes because something's not quite comfortable in my posture and I've somehow become numb to it, and over the years I have formed a habit of checking where I left myself physically when things get weird.

That's why I wrote:

'My own practice in response to any "cutting off" of breath is to look to discern pitch, roll, and yaw wherever my awareness takes place ("bite through here"), as a critical aspect for me of letting go of action in favor of a spontaneous experience of sense.'

Indeed, it's doing something, but it is really only the recollection of the latest in a long trail of investigations that grew out of mindfulness. The question is, does anyone else benefit from hearing such a recollection. I think the answer is yes, but I only have one example of it with regard to my recollections.


mb:

"pitch, yaw and roll are aviation terms that apply to an aircraft flying through space. How does that apply to humans, who when not ensconced inside of transport vehicles, are always touching the ground and subject to gravity?"


mf:

mb, try something for me, please. If you are seated, after you read this close your eyes, and see if you can register where your awareness is in your body.

Ok, now see if you can add a sense of motion forward and backward at the location of awareness. What happened to the location of awareness?

For me this is effective, but I have a lot of training in connection with the induction of trance through relaxation in conjunction with inhalation and exhalation, so I don't know if you will experience what I experience.


mb:

Hmm... I tried your suggestion and it had some kind of tangible imaginative effect that's hard to describe. But now I get the sense you are applying these terms more to subtle (energy) body orientation than to physical?


mf:

mb, thanks for giving it a shot. I'm always interested to hear.

Right away you will probably come to a relationship between motion at the sacrum, regularly initiated by the psoas rocking the pelvis as it slides over the front corners, and the location of awareness. The action of the obturators to hammock the hips from the pelvis and allow a turning motion in the action of the sartorius, the gluts, the tensors, and the piriformis may cross your mind, the weight of the body "with no part left out" may focus from the lower front of the abdomen across the PC's to the tailbone (and up the spine to the head bones), the surface of the skin may come forward.

Or not.

On some level it's just where I am, and a distinction of the senses that comes of its own accord.


mb:

Well, it all seems a bit esoteric, even though I do recognize the muscle names you cite from having looked at several yoga anatomy books and I know their general locations within the body. What are the "PC's"? Are you actually able to recognize and distinguish the actions of these individually-named muscles from each other yourself? If so, that's quite a talent. As to "adding motion" to the "location of awareness", my experience yesterday in that little exercise was that the "location of awareness" kind of expanded in its internally-perceived "size". Beyond that, I'm not sure what you're onto-- I know it has much more meaning and specificity to you. I was just trying to get you to explain what the "pitch, roll and yaw" apply to since we aren't airplanes or boats. And you seem to be referring to those motions in relation to the muscles that come into play around the sacrum and how that affects the "location of awareness". All right, enough for now.


mf:

I can see that. What happens if you allow for movement in the sense of location?


mb:

Maybe that "sense of location" can be perceived as bobbing around those 3 axes of movement in a kind of quasi-physical sense, just as an airplane moves through air or a boat through water. That's my vague sense of it. I really don't know what your definition of "allow for movement" is. And I don't want to tie my mind in knots trying to come up with some kind of discombobulated intellectual understanding either, so I'll just let it percolate.


mf:

What you are describing is what I experience, as well.

Here is something from my notes of December, 2012 that I hope will make sense to you on the basis of your experience; this is "humbleone" from "The Tao Bums", talking about using the exercise to get back to sleep:

"I woke up at 4:30 AM, after a quick drink of water. returned to bed and tried your practice.
I hope I did it correctly, I was somewhat surprised that my mind moved around quite a bit. not fast, but in slow motion the awareness would shift, from left cheek to right side of torso etc. The end result was a light sleep state, but I was glued to the bed and then woke up exactly at 6AM, feeling refreshed like I had a complete 8 hours of sleep."

Clearly the context in that case was falling asleep, humbleone (his pseudo on Tao Bums) was having difficulty waking up and being unable to get back to sleep. He was actually able to get back to sleep consistently with this practice (allowing movement in the sense of location). I asked him to try it in the daytime (with his eyes open), and he discovered what he described as a sense of peace when he did.

What's the significance in zazen? The sense of location and the three motions there help me to discover the stretch I'm in at the moment, so I can relax particular activity. That helps. When I'm relaxed, I fall awake the way humbleone fell asleep, everything enters in with nothing left out and the place where I am sits.


mf:

mb, thank you for your feedback. I can use all the help I can get, as far as my communication.

'What are the "PC's"? Are you actually able to recognize and distinguish the actions of these individually-named muscles from each other yourself?'

That would be the pubococcygeus muscles.

A lama who lectured at Shambala Sonoma spoke of how his teacher would show him a card with a mandala on it, then turn the card over and ask him to recreate the mandala in his mind (the lama did not say how the exercise applied in his spiritual training, but the lama who was speaking clearly felt it was important).

That's what I have with regard to the activity of the muscles I mentioned: an image of my body that I have built up in my mind.

Yes I do sometimes isolate the action of what I believe are the muscle groups I named, and sometimes I might even contract a muscle slightly to recall how that action affects the stretch I'm in. So, for example, I'm contracting something between my leg and the upper wing of the pelvis that turns the pelvis ; I'm thinking "sartorius". Is it the sartorius-- "nyah, could be", as the bunny said.

Or under the pelvis to the hip bones in a side-to-side motion, activity pulling on the hips that seems to leverage me into the seat-- obturators? Got that one from "Anatomy in Movement". I tend to forget about psoas, rocking the pelvis as it slips across the pubic bones and stretching open the ilio-sacral joints, but if I relax I do believe it does. Ida Rolf was big on the psoas.

It's a trick, because the action of particular muscles described in the texts varies according to which part is held still, and they're not usually assuming you're sitting cross-legged or doing one of the poses of Tai-Chi. I have taken my best guess at the names but the places and actions have been fairly consistent.

The PC is interesting, because it's not about contraction per se for me (what, no Kegels?)-- it's about the sense of weight and no part of the body left out, and the alignment of the tailbone and spine, that's the way it seems.

I built up an image, maybe the names are right, maybe I feel the piriformis rotating the sacrum opposite the gluts and tensors, maybe I just feel more in general when I think I can feel the piriformis rotating the sacrum and so I assume I have the description right when in fact something else is going on.

I know I'm inspiring confidence (not).


mb:

"I tend to forget about psoas, rocking the pelvis as it slips across the pubic bones and stretching open the ilio-sacral joints, but if I relax I do believe it does. Ida Rolf was big on the psoas."

Yes, some anatomy-oriented yoga teachers also emphasize the psoas, so I know where that is (deep paired left right lowest abdominal muscles on the inside of the pelvis).

"The PC is interesting, because it's not about contraction per se for me (what, no Kegels?)-- it's about the sense of weight and no part of the body left out, and the alignment of the tailbone and spine, that's the way it seems."

In yoga, the PC is known as: mula bandha, the perineum. No kegels for guys, but everyone can contract this area. Just as Rolf emphasizes the psoas, Heller body workers emphasize the importance of learning to contract this area. It's strangely related to lower spine support.

And good for you for constructing an artistic approximation of the rest of them. There are probably crazy anatomy-philes out there who have actually learned the feeling and action of each of those other ones...


mf:

mb, couple of other things that I think are interesting, you can decide. First is that if you are alert to the three directions of motion where awareness takes place with the eyes open, there can be a sense of continuity; it's a little less of what humbleone described, and a lot more like tan-t'ien with no part left out (usually). I believe this is because of the tight connection between the vestibular organ and the eyes, the eyes can reset the way the vestibular sense is read (in effect).

"Chan Chou asked T'ou Tzu, 'How is it when a man who has died the great death returns to life?'

T'ou Tzu said, 'He must not go by night; he must get there in the daylight.'"

(Blue Cliff Record, case 41, trans. T. Cleary pg 297)

Other thing would be Raymond Richard's assertion in "Lesions of the Sacrum" that the ligaments and fascia that connect the sacrum to the pelvis, and the articulations of the sides of the sacrum and the edges of the pelvis, allow the sacrum to not only pivot forward and back, but on the diagonals and around the vertical plumb line. He further asserts that in the normal course of affairs the sacrum can move to a lower, more open pivot on the pelvis, and in one of my writings I mention that this is fundamental in a slight vertical stretch of the extensors so that action of the sacrum can be carried upward through the three sets of extensors to the head bones.

Is it so? Maybe. I don't really feel the sacrum moving to a different pivot, but if I am mindful of the action of the psoas loosening the fascial connections between the sacrum and pelvis then the weight of the body (in whatever part comes to mind, no part left out) does seem eventually to set me upright, like a dunking Chinese chicken toy.

My favorite quote, of late:

"When you arrive at last at towering up like a wall miles high, you will finally know that there aren't so many things."

(Yuanwu, "Zen Letters", translated by Thomas Cleary, pg 83) ]]>
The "Turning Phrase" of Zenhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=159

"For the neigong we do, brain activity approaches zero and yes, we can do that almost instantly and I have proven this in a sleep lab, but natural awareness increases."


Milton Erickson also described an increase of awareness in trance:


'I go into trances so that I will be more sensitive to the intonations and inflections of my patients' speech. And to enable me to hear better, see better.'"

(Wikipedia, "Milton Erickson")


Both statements assert that the senses are heightened with the induction of a trance.

One of Erickson's approaches to trance induction bears remarkable resemblance to one of the methods of teaching employed by the Zen masters. Erickson sometimes used a "confusion" technique to allow for the induction of trance:


'Confusion might be created by ambiguous words, complex or endless sentences, pattern interruption or a myriad of other techniques to incite transderivational searches."

(Ibid)


Transderivational searches are described on Wikipedia as:


"...search(es) for a possible meaning or possible match as part of communication, and without which an incoming communication cannot be made any sense of whatsoever."


The "turning phrase" of a Zen teacher is the result of a spontaneous pivot in the teacher's frame of reference, perhaps in response to a question or a situation; the phrase or word that expresses the pivot can invoke a transderivational search in the listener, and allow for the induction of trance.

Induction with the confusion technique is sudden, as with Milton Erickson's famous "handshake induction":


'Among Erickson's best-known innovations is the hypnotic handshake induction, which is a type of confusion technique. ...This induction works because shaking hands is one of the actions learned and operated as a single "chunk" of behavior; tying shoelaces is another classic example. If the behavior is diverted or frozen midway, the person literally has no mental space for this - he is stopped in the middle of unconsciously executing a behavior that hasn't got a "middle". The mind responds by suspending itself in trance until either something happens to give a new direction, or it "snaps out".'

(Wikipedia, "Milton Erickson")


With the "turning phrase", the Zen master leaves any listener "stopped in the middle", which allows the induction of trance and a heightened awareness of the function of the senses that provide the experience of self.

That the senses are involved in the experience of self is the conclusion of scientists Olaf Blanke and Christine Mohr. In their research, they have found that the tactil-proprioceptive-kinesthetic, visual, and vestibular senses are crucial: these senses appear to give rise not just to sensations connected with the physical body, but to an actual feeling of the existence of a self. Blanke and Moore made their conclusion through the study of a particular kind of out-of-body experience called heautoscopy (or HAS):


"It might thus be argued that, HAS is not only an experience characterized by the reduplification of one's body, but also by a reduplification of one's self. As strikingly reported by Brugger et al. the high risk of suicide during this terrifying experience cannot be overstated as some of these HAS-patients try by all means to reestablish their unitary self."

("Out-of-body experience, heautoscopy, and autoscopic hallucination of neurological origin: Implications for neurocognitive mechanisms of corporeal awareness and self consciousness", Brain Research Reviews 5 (2 5) 184-199)


The tactil-proprioceptive-kinesthetic and vestibular senses are closely involved with the perception of a person's physical location in space; the visual sense is tightly connected to both of these senses, and can reset the perception of location.

The sense of location is emphasized in many of the classic teachings of Zen:


"Be aware of where you really are 24 hours a day. You must be most attentive."

("Zen Letters: the Teachings of Yuanwu", trans. T. Cleary, pg 53)


"When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point."

("Genjo Koan" by Dogen, trans. by Aitken and Tanahashi)


A peculiar feeling with regard to posture is also emphasized in the classic Zen teachings, a feeling perhaps produced through the interplay of the tactil-proprioceptive-kinesthetic and vestibular senses with the sense of gravity:


"When you arrive at last at towering up like a wall miles high, you will finally know that there aren't so many things."

("Zen Letters: the Teachings of Yuanwu", trans. T. Cleary, pg 83)


Sometimes the reference to the influence of the tactil-proprioceptive-kinesthetic, vestibular, and visual senses in posture is unmistakable in the classics:


"To unfurl the red flag of victory over your head, whirl the twin swords behind your ears-- if not for a discriminating eye and a familiar hand, how could anyone be able to succeed?"

(Blue Cliff Record trans. T. Cleary, 37th case)


It is possible to train to recognize the function of the tactil-proprioceptive-kinesthetic sense, the vestibular sense, and the sense of gravity independent of the visual sense, and perhaps even necessary in order to take up the postures recommended for the practice of Zen meditation, yet allowance for the induction of trance opens a gateway to awareness in the particular senses that underlie the feeling of self in everyday life:

"Erickson maintained that trance is a common, everyday occurrence. For example, when waiting for buses and trains, reading or listening, or even being involved in strenuous physical exercise, it's quite normal to become immersed in the activity and go into a trance state, removed from any other irrelevant stimuli. These states are so common and familiar that most people do not consciously recognize them as hypnotic phenomena."

(Wikipedia, "Milton Erickson") ]]>
Not Knowing Isn't Necessarily Not Doing http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=158Gautama mentions extending the mind of compassion in the ten directions to infinity, and says the perfection of such an extension is the realm of infinite ether (the first arupa jhana, or immaterial trance).

Lately I'm on a lot about proprioception in equalibrioception-- "with no part of the body left out", a singularity in the sense of location and a freedom of the sense of location to move.

More correctly, though, it's got to be all of the senses including touch "with no part left out", where "with no part left out" is the extension of the mind of compassion in the ten directions to infinity. An openness to all parts informing a singularity in the location of awareness.


"Sitting shikantaza is the place itself, and things. ...When you sit, the cushion sits with you. If you wear glasses, the glasses sit with you. Clothing sits with you. House sits with you. People who are moving around outside all sit with you. They don't take the sitting posture! "

(Kobun Chino Otogawa)


And a relinquishment of volition in activity, self-surrender the object of thought, so that when the wind blows from the realm of infinite ether the limbs can move, so to speak.

Or not. I guess the relinquishment of volition is a matter of well-being, the well-being that draws us all as a source of non-material happiness, and whether or not the windy element moves the body is hardly significant. Except to me, because of the lack of doubt I experience in being drawn along.

It gets complicated when people like Sasaki claim that they did their misdeeds as a matter of ishinashini, that their hand was will-less. Belief is involved, so although a lot of folks see Zen as somehow beyond reason the fact is that reason doesn't go away and belief is involved, even when volition ceases.

More significant maybe is the way that the experience of people on the other side of the wall creating motion in the limbs gives me some faith that it's alright to return to not knowing, because not knowing isn't necessarily not doing.
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Study and Relaxation http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=157
Sometimes I'm aware of the obturators side to side hammocking hips from the pelvis, sometimes of piriformis and gluteous rotating sacrum and pelvis independently, sometimes of sides of the PC and rectus balancing a feeling of uprightness. Oftentimes the calves, sometimes the abdominals from the pelvis to where they connect two inches below the navel with before as behind, behind as before; sometimes the diaphragm and chest, sometimes the skin and hair. Where awareness takes place, open to awareness taking place where awareness takes place.

"Even so... does (a person) saturate, permeate, suffuse this very body with the rapture and joy that are born of aloofness; there is no part of (the) whole body that is not suffused with the rapture and joy born of aloofness."

As far as I can tell, freedom of awareness to take place where awareness takes place is synonymous with the "rapture and joy born of aloofness":

" ...as a skilled bath-attendant or (bath-attendant) apprentice, having sprinkled bath-powder into a bronze vessel, might knead it while repeatedly sprinkling it with water until the ball of lather had taken up moisture, was drenched with moisture, suffused with moisture inside and out but without any oozing. Even so... does (a person) saturate, permeate, suffuse this very body with the rapture and joy that are born of aloofness; there is no part of (the) whole body that is not suffused with the rapture and joy born of aloofness. While (such a person) is thus diligent, ardent, self-resolute, those memories and aspirations that are worldly are got rid of; by getting rid of them, the mind is inwardly settled, calmed, focused, concentrated."

(MN III 92-93, Pali Text Society translations pg 132-134)

I study, but it has taken me awhile to be relaxed with my study. The anxiety of not knowing has taken the longest time to find release in the freedom of awareness that lets me breath again.
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The Way the Chi Returns http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=156
Cranial-sacral theory is really near and dear to my heart. The premise there is that changes in the volume of fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and the brain cause flexion and extension of the entire body. The free movement of the sacrum on horizontal, diagonal, and vertical axes inherent in the structure of the joins with the pelvis is critical, as is the movement of the occiput, the sphenoid, the temporals and parietals. At the top of the head in the suture between the parietals is a set of nerves that control the changes in volume of the spinal fluid.

My understanding is that when awareness is allowed a freedom of location with the relaxed movement of breath, some of the phenomena described as the circulation and accumulation of chi may be felt in connection with the sense of location and the movement of breath.

Yuanwu said, "when you arrive at last at towering up like a mile-high wall, you will finally know that there aren't so many things" ¹; at such a moment, I believe there is a kind of communication from the sacrum to the parietals and the nerves that control the rhythm of the cranial-sacral fluid. It's like a pair of tin-cans with strings and washers, and the return is in the cranial-sacral rhythm and the way in which it eases the nerve exits along the spine, until the ability to feel is live throughout the body to the surface of the skin. That is why Yuanwu said:

"You should realize that on the crown of the heads of the buddhas and enlightened adepts there is a wondrous way of 'changing the bones' and transforming your existence." ²

That is why Cheng Man-Ching in Thirteen Chapters said:

"With this method of circulating ch'i, it overflows into the sinews, reaches the bone marrow, fills the diaphragm, and manifests in the skin and hair." ³

You could say that the chi returns from the head-top to the skin and hair all over the body, and the freedom of the sense of location to move is suddenly like the freedom in falling asleep. Chi "returns" as a clarity of the senses, including the sense of location, which may or may not be at the tan-tien as awareness takes place.



¹ "Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu", translated by Cleary & Cleary, 1st ed pg 83.
² Ibid pg 61.
³ "Master Cheng's Thirteen Chapters on T'ai-Chi Ch'uan", translated by Wile, 1st ed pg 17.
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Consciousness as the Result of Contact http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=155
In a stationary posture, proprioception takes place as the body is relaxed with the movement of breath. The T'ai-Ch'i master Chen Man-Ch'ing said that when the entire body is relaxed, including the chest, the ch'i can sink to the tan-t'ien and circulate; I would say that in Zen practice, the mind or the "heart-mind" sinks to the tan-t'ien and circulates. Here I am talking about proprioception and equalibrioception informing one another, a kind of movement and centering in the location of awareness that normally takes place with the eyes closed just before falling asleep, but in Zen practice takes place with the eyes open while waking up.

John Upledger speaks of how he learned to feel what he says is the rhythm of the cranial-sacral system with his hands, about how he can feel where the rhythm is moving well and add a pressure equivalent to 5 grams of weight to that movement to open the places in the body that are stuck. I often look for specific feelings of pitch, yaw, and roll in my awareness; as my sense of location registers the movements that are always present in my balance, proprioception and the sense of gravity enter into my sense of location and exert the kind of slight pressure where things are moving that Upledger used, allowing the sense of location to act to open and align the body.

Gautama's description of consciousness as the result of contact between sense organ and sense object resonates for me as a way to describe the consciousness that includes proprioception, equalibrioception, and the sense of gravity among the other senses, even though the tight connection between my eyes and my sense of location might sometimes make it seem otherwise.
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From the Starthttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=154
Speaking with friends, I thought of something I had read:  a mother's recollection of her daughter's birth, and of the eerie silence that continued for a full minute before her child drew a breath and began to cry. As I spoke to my friends, I realized that we are all remembering how to breathe as we never have before, from the very start.]]>
The Circle of the Way http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=153"Continuous practice is the circle of the way. This being so, continuous practice is unstained, not forced by you or others. The power of continuous practice confirms you as well as others. It means your practice affects the entire earth and the entire sky in the ten directions. Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so."

('The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master', edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt- Shobogenzo Gyoji)

I've been sitting a lot with the controlling faculties of the four initial meditative states, as described in the Pali Canon sermon volumes.

Let me clarify what I mean by "a meditative state". Here's a description I made in Letting Go of Action of how a meditative or "hypnogogic" state is induced:

"A hypnogogic state occurs naturally as the stretch and activity generated through the sense of location in the occurrence of awareness relaxes in the movement of breath."

This is an everyday occurrence, and I would agree with the view ascribed to the therapist Milton Erickson that "these states are so common and familiar that most people do not consciously recognize them as hypnotic phenomena" (Wikipedia for Milton Erickson).

Now, as to the controlling faculties, Gautama spoke of the cessation of a particular "controlling faculty" in each of the first four meditative states. In the first state, "the controlling faculty of discomfort, which has arisen, ceases without remainder." Similarly, in the second state, "the controlling faculty of unhappiness" ceases; in the third, "the controlling faculty of ease" ceases; and in the fourth, "the controlling faculty of happiness, which has arisen, ceases without remainder."

Gautama does say that there is a happiness in all the meditative states, and he even describes to his followers what they should say if adherents of other religious orders should question them on the matter:

"(The Tathagatha does) not lay down that it is only a pleasant feeling that belongs to happiness; for, your reverences, the Tathagatha lays down that whenever, wherever, whatever happiness is found it belongs to happiness."

(MN I 4 , Pali Text Society II pg 69)

To my mind, the controlling faculty of ease Gautama speaks of is the familiarity of ease in stretch; the cessation of the controlling faculty of ease is the familiarity of stretch past the point of ease (but without strain); the controlling faculty of happiness is the familiarity of happiness in the distinction of the senses, including the sense of mind; and the cessation of the controlling faculty of happiness is the familiarity of the distinction of the senses past the happiness that is "only a pleasant feeling".

I would have to say that elements of all the meditative states are present as "the stretch and activity generated through the sense of location... relaxes in the movement of breath"-- which relaxation happens all the time!

"Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so."
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The Eyes Are Open in Zazen (Reprise) http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=152'...I would suggest that the eyes are open in zazen for their influence in resetting the vestibular sense and providing a continuity in the sense of location, yet in zazen the proprioceptive sense must be allowed to influence the sense of location almost as though the eyes are closed. It's a trick, a lot like falling asleep with your eyes open.'

(Jan 9th)

I had success a few years back in describing the practice of falling asleep as a focus on the location of awareness in space, with special attention to the freedom of that location to move- I say success because someone on the East Coast who was having trouble falling asleep picked up on what I had to say and discovered he could use it to get back to sleep (when he woke up at 4am).

Thinking over what I wrote in "The Eyes Are Open in Zazen" (my post of Feb. 4th), I conclude that the freedom to move of the location of awareness in space is more readily experienced with the eyes closed. Checking Wikipedia under "proprioception", I find the following description:

'The proprioceptive sense can be sharpened through study of many disciplines. Examples are the Feldenkrais method and the Alexander Technique. ...Standing on a wobble board or balance board is often used to retrain or increase proprioception abilities, particularly as physical therapy for ankle or knee injuries. Slacklining is another method to increase proprioception. Standing on one leg (stork standing) and various other body-position challenges are also used in such disciplines as Yoga, Wing Chun and T'ai chi. Several studies have shown that the efficacy of these types of training is increased by closing the eyes, because the eyes give invaluable feedback to establishing the moment-to-moment information of balance.'

The gentleman who utilized what I described as "the practice of waking up and falling asleep" was also able to experience the same sense of the location of awareness in the daytime with his eyes open (after weeks of experiencing it falling asleep). He reported that the experience was accompanied by a feeling of great peace. ]]>
The Eyes Are Open in Zazen http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=151
Olaf Blanke wrote:

"In summary: A conflict between tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and visual information coupled with a conflict between visual and vestibular information can, in some cases, give rise to a feeling that the self is in two places simultaneously, which can result in suicidal tendencies in the individual as they attempt to re-establish a unitary self at all cost."

(From a paper by Olaf Blanke and Christine Mohr, here)

'Now I would suggest that the eyes are open in zazen for their influence in resetting the vestibular sense and providing a continuity in the sense of location, yet in zazen the proprioceptive sense must be allowed to influence the sense of location almost as though the eyes are closed. It's a trick, a lot like falling asleep with your eyes open.'

(Jan 9th)

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Remembering How to Breathe http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=150I've read that people who suffer from Alzheimer's disease die when they finally forget how to breathe.

It's taken me all of my adult life so far to experience action out of stretch and action out of the distinction of sense without the exercise of volition. As far as I can tell, it's all remembering how to breathe, as I never have before.
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Soto Zen and the Left Knee (Comment in Reply from Hardcorezen.info) http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=149
Right, I agree it's unnecessary. However, a posture that requires stretch is necessary. Sitting in a chair works, if you sit forward on the chair with the back unsupported so that part of the weight and balance is still in the feet. At least for me it does.

I'd like to note that it is the left knee for me as well that is particularly tricky. And that Dogen prescribed left leg on top, and I have read that in some zendos the teacher's permission is required to sit half-lotus with the right leg up instead of the left.

I'll tell you what is working for me; doesn't matter if you're in a chair, or walking around (or sitting lotus). There is a relationship between three senses: the sense of balance or equalibrioception (based in the vestibular organ), proprioception, and the sense of gravity (based in the otoliths and closely associated with the vestibular organ).

What the heck is that, you say. Nisargadatta just "attended to the sense 'I am'" (Wikipedia) and he arrived at the other shore, so to speak.

I would ask you, then, is "attending to the sense 'I am'" different from discerning the sense of self that is equalibrioception informed by proprioception and the sense of gravity? If you get up on a tightrope, is "attending to the sense 'I am'" still different from that discernment?

I've quoted Olaf Blanke's research here before; in particular:

"In summary: A conflict between tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and visual information coupled with a conflict between visual and vestibular information can, in some cases, give rise to a feeling that the self is in two places simultaneously, which can result in suicidal tendencies in the individual as they attempt to re-establish a unitary self at all cost."

Now the eyes are open in zazen, as opposed to many other seated meditation traditions; I would suggest that the eyes are open for their influence in resetting the vestibular sense and providing a continuity in the sense of location, yet in zazen the proprioceptive sense must be allowed to influence the sense of location almost as though the eyes are closed. It's a trick, a lot like falling asleep with your eyes open.

The other trick is that you have to free the mind to move, and then let the action of the posture follow from the location of mind; the mind moves when the exercise of volition ceases to influence the movement of inhalation and exhalation (check Waking up and Falling Asleep). You could say it's a matter of inhalation and exhalation, informed by all the senses, with relaxation and calm.

The senses are called to mind as necessary to the movement of breath in a given posture, and the senses Blanke describes are for me particularly called to mind in the movement of breath in the cross-legged posture.]]>
Research on the Sense of Selfhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=148article on his medical research into out-of-body experience (also known as autoscopic phenomena, or AP- variants include AH or autoscopic hallucination, HAS or heautoscopy, and OBE or out-of-body):

"Several authors have also highlighted the role of proprioception and kinesthesia in AP by noting that some patients report about shared movements between their physical and autoscopic body (autoscopic echopraxia). A further argument in favor of tactile and proprioceptive mechanisms in AP was given by Blanke et al. who reported that the body position of the patient prior to AH/HAS (upright) and OBE (supine) differs suggesting a differential influence of proprioceptive and tactile processing on AP.

...Another sensory system, which has been linked to AP, is the vestibular system that conveys sensations of the body's orientation in three-dimensional space to the brain.

...It might thus be argued that, HAS (heautoscopy- patient unable to distinguish location of self between physical and autoscopic bodies) is not only an experience characterized by the reduplification of one's body, but also by a reduplification of one's self. As strikingly reported by Brugger et al. the high risk of suicide during this terrifying experience cannot be overstated as some of these HAS-patients try by all means to reestablish their unitary self.

...Thus, Blanke et al. proposed that AP result from a disintegration in personal space (due to conflicting tactil, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, and visual information) and a second disintegration between personal and extrapersonal space (due to conflicting visual and vestibular information).

...In summary: A conflict between tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and visual information coupled with a conflict between visual and vestibular information can, in some cases, give rise to a feeling that the self is in two places simultaneously, which can result in suicidal tendencies in the individual as they attempt to re-establish a unitary self at all cost."

Blanke's research indicates that the sense of self depends on a coordination of tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and visual information coupled with a coordination of vestibular and visual information.

Gautama the Buddha taught that there is in reality no abiding self, and this accords well with Blanke's finding that the sense of self actually depends on the coordination of particular senses.

Gautama described the experience of the senses when the notion of an abiding self has been abandoned:

"(Anyone)- knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes- visual consciousness- impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye-neither to that is (such a one) attached...

(Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind)."

To the six senses that were known in Gautama's day, we can now add the tactil/proprioceptive/kinesthetic and vestibular senses. Very simply, they are found in the ability to feel the placement and movement of the parts of the body relative to the whole, and in the sense of balance and movement with respect to the three dimensions of space. Blanke's research points to a coordination of these two senses with the sense of vision in the establishment of a sense of self. Gautama's teaching asserts that the source of suffering is the ignorance of the experience of the senses as they are, due to a misconception about the abiding nature of self. ]]>
Mind, Having No Fixed Abode, Should Flow Forth http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=147
I'm told now that the passage was this:


"Mind, having no fixed abode, should flow forth." (Bassui)


Here's what I can say about that: if I lose pitch, yaw, and roll where my mind is, my toss misses the garbage can, my food ends up in my lap, and I clank the pots and pans as I wash them.

I can look for pitch, yaw, and roll where my mind is, but if I restrain where my mind is, I lose the pitch, yaw, and roll. So I have to allow where my mind is (location) to flow forth. Ah but it's really just being open to my mind flowing forth, for the most part, that keeps the dishes from clanking.

I remember Reb Anderson admonishing folks in the zendo not to clank their utensils and dishes as they cleaned them and put them away. He called for everyone to bring their presence of mind to the task at hand, but he left it for everyone to discover on their own how "mind, having no fixed abode, should flow forth" with regard to the dishes. ]]>
Hearing the Sutra: the Lankavatara http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=146
"Erickson maintained that it was not possible consciously to instruct the unconscious mind, and that authoritarian suggestions were likely to be met with resistance. The unconscious mind responds to openings, opportunities, metaphors, symbols, and contradictions. Effective hypnotic suggestion, then, should be 'artfully vague', leaving space for the subject to fill in the gaps with their own unconscious understandings - even if they do not consciously grasp what is happening. The skilled hypnotherapist constructs these gaps of meaning in a way most suited to the individual subject - in a way which is most likely to produce the desired change." (from Wikipedia, Milton_H._Erickson)

Sounds like Zen, doesn't it? There's a discussion in the article of using confusion or the interruption of a flow of actions normally executed as a chunk to induce a state of trance, actions like tying one's shoe lace or shaking hands. Erickson was famous for "handshake induction".

If metaphor and symbol combined with the induction of trance is the way Zen is traditionally taught, you may well ask why I am so concerned with particular senses these days; that's 'cause I can't breathe sometimes without calling them to mind. It seems I'm developmentally challenged in this regard. I'm know I'm not alone; here are two articles by David Brown about the vestibular sense and proprioception, and their importance in teaching the deaf and blind:

The Vestibular Sense

The Forgotten Sense: Proprioception

It's not just the deaf and blind; my take is that many people are developmentally challenged with regard to these senses, and that the exercise of these senses comes forward in the practice of zazen of a necessity in the relaxed movement of breath. Observing the role of these senses in zazen only requires a suspension of the exercise of will at the right moment, and that's where the induction of trance comes in.

Was it the portion of the Lankavatara Sutra the patriarch overheard in the market place, or was it a state of trance induced by hearing the sutra read in a marketplace that allowed the patriarch to experience his own nature intimately? That's the issue, to me.]]>
Belief is a Part of Practice http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=145
Klamath National Wildlife RefugeThe hard part is not getting on the mule, letting the sense of location and the activity develop out of necessity in the movement of breath. Or you could say that's the easy part, because it's just the exercise of the senses that comes naturally in the movement of breath.

To believe in an understanding of practice is not practice, and yet, the belief is a part of practice; the belief causes me to act and carries the process of understanding forward, as I experience the result of my belief in the absence of volition. ]]>
Shikantaza http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=144
"Shikan taza sounds very strong. Shikan is understood as identical to zaza. Shikan means "pure", "one", "only for it". Ta is a very strong word. It shows moving activity. When you hit, that movement is called ta, so "strike" is ta. Za is the same as in the word zazen, sitting. To express the whole character, shikan taza is actually quite enough, but not enough until you experience it. Shikan taza is sitting for itself. You may say pure sitting for itself, not for something else.

Shinjin datsu raku is the same as shikan taza. Shinjin is "body/mind". Body/mind is nothing but our whole life. This cannot be seen in two ways; body/mind is one thing. Datsu is "to refrain", and "to drop from". When you are dreaming some terrible dream, and the dream is cut off, that is called datsu. When you get rid of that dream, that also is called datsu. When you have a sword, the action of pulling a sword from its sheath is called datsu. So datsu has a very strong meaning of freeing from something. Another way to express it is : to have conquered something which hindered your existence, like attachments, delusions, or misunderstandings. Zazen itself is cutting off those conditions."

(that's from Jikoji's site, here)

If you find body/mind as one thing, you have only found where you are at this moment. When you find where you are at this moment, you will lose where you are at this moment unless you allow the sense of where you to shift and move, to have a freedom. This is how we fall asleep. This is how we wake up.

Any posture that is held for a period of time can allow for the observation of reciprocal activity related to pitch, yaw, and roll as a matter of necessity in the relaxed movement of breath. I find pitch, yaw, and roll is actually present in the experience of location itself, along with the necessity of a freedom of sense. When I realize the necessity of a freedom of sense, I lose the doer, yet it's the necessity and not the realization that acts. ]]>
No Latent Conceits http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=143
'Emptiness as a quality of dharmas, in the early canons, means simply that one cannot identify them as one's own self or having anything pertaining to one's own self... Emptiness as a mental state, in the early canons, means a mode of perception in which one neither adds anything to nor takes anything away from what is present, noting simply, "There is this." This mode is achieved through a process of intense concentration, coupled with the insight that notes more and more subtle levels of the presence and absence of disturbance' (wikipedia?)

I don't recall mention of emptiness in the first four sets of volumes of the Pali Canon sermons, the books which I think constitute the "early canons". The attribution of meaning to emptiness by Thanissaro appears to me to be entirely his own, as is his description of a method by which his notion of a goal might be achieved.

This is what I recall:

"Whatever... is material shape, past, future or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, mean or excellent, or whatever is far or near, (a person), thinking of all this material shape as 'This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self', sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. Whatever is feeling... perception... the habitual tendencies... whatever is consciousness, past, future, or present (that person), thinking of all this consciousness as 'This is not mine, this am I not, this is not my self', sees it thus as it really is by means of perfect wisdom. (For one) knowing thus, seeing thus, there are no latent conceits that 'I am the doer, mine is the doer' in regard to this consciousness-informed body."

(MN III 18-19, Pali Text Society III pg 68)

In my piece Letting Go in Action, I say this about "perfect wisdom":

'"By means of perfect wisdom" is an affirmation that seeing through the conceit "mine is the doer" depends on a knowledge inherent in human nature, a knowledge that escapes the use of reason.'

I say that because until a person experiences action of the body without the exercise of volition, they cannot find a way to believe it exists, even though they may have seen it in someone else during a performance of stage hypnosis or in the presence of someone like Kobun Chino Otogawa.

The practice of Gautama was the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths, both before and after his enlightenment. That his observation of cause and effect could have been so selfless is the reason his descriptions have endured (but he also made mistakes as a teacher, as when his "meditation on the unlovely" resulted in the suicide of scores of monks).

For me, "this is not mine, this am I not, this is not myself" is a a part of freeing the mind in an in-breath or an out-breath, and yet freeing the mind is preceded by composing the mind in an in-breath or out-breath: this is proprioception alongside of equalibrioception as a nececessity in the movement of breath, and the experience of detachment and the cessation of volition in an in-breath or out-breath can take place out of necessity in an in-breath or out-breath. Mindfulness of detachment and mindfulness of the cessation of volition constitute the fourteenth and fifteenth aspects of Gautama's practice, preceded by mindfulness of composing the mind, of freeing the mind, and of impermanence.

Deliverance from thought without grasping is non-thinking, but in this consciousness-informed body there can be no doer of non-thinking; it's a matter of relaxed necessity in the movement of breath. ]]>
Mind Like a Wall http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=142
Checking in with pitch, yaw, and roll wherever I feel my awareness to be can be useful, provided at the same time I am open to the possible movement of awareness (movement that can take place without any physical movement).

I find that a sense of movement forward and back, side to side, and around to the left and right is always present with my sense of location, and a little effort to distinguish the directions of movement from one another goes a long way toward the bottom dropping out of the bucket; the bottom can completely drop out of the bucket when the freedom of awareness to move is realized at the same time. There's a sense of free-fall, that continues through the interplay of location and freedom of location with gravity.

Oddly enough, the net result is falling upright into one's own skin:

"When you arrive at last at towering up like a wall miles high, you will finally know that there aren't so many things." (Yuanwu, "Zen Letters", translated by Thomas Cleary, pg 83)

The sense of location and the freedom of the sense of location to move are really a part of the movement of breath; if they are constricted, the breath is cut off. That is why Bodhidharma said, "have no coughing or sighing in the mind-- with your mind like a wall you can enter the way" (Denkoroku, translated by Thomas Cleary, 3 pg 111). Through his use of the words "coughing" and "sighing", Bodhidharma points to the intimate relationship between self-awareness, or mind, and continuity in the movement of breath; his direction only really makes sense when the exercise of equalibrioception and proprioception, the senses most identified with the physical awareness of self, is experienced as inherent in the movement of breath, as necessary to the continuity of breath.

Setting up a mindfulness of proprioception, or the freedom of awareness to move, in connection with equalibrioception, or the sense of balanced movement wherever my awareness is now, helps me to relax into my own experience, even if the only result is that I fall asleep.


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What I'm Saying http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=141
Question to me is, what am I saying with regard to proprioception and equalibrioception, and where am I going with it?

I am saying that it's possible to exercise the components of the sense of location, by experiencing the sense of motion forward and back, side-to-side, and around to the left and right at the current location of consciousness. If my awareness feels like it's located in my head, then I look to experience all three motions clearly at the location of my awareness in my head. If it's in the lower abdomen, ditto. Right away I discover that separating out these motions however briefly can cause my sense of the location of awareness to move, and yet I can experience all three motions at the location of my awareness at once sometimes.

Proprioception for me involves that shift in the sense of the location of awareness, and the ability to feel throughout my body. That is why there are hands and eyes all over the body; proprioception moves the location of awareness, so that equalibrioception continues to occur with the experience of the feeling of the part in the whole. A continuity with a sensation like the cessation of activity in falling asleep can ensue through relaxation in the activity of breath.

There is a freedom of movement in the sense of location when a cessation of activity like that of falling asleep occurs. The experience of such a freedom of movement in the sense of location is the difference between "hands and eyes all over the body" and "hands and eyes throughout the body".

Zazen involves stretch in the experience of the body, and stretch in the experience of the senses including equalibrioception and proprioception. Look Ma, no hands; it doesn't matter so much where I'm going, so long as I can let go and experience the peculiar happiness of the stretch. ]]>
Discrete as Opposed to Infinite Reality http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=140
What is relevant to the experience of suffering is that the continuity of consciousness and the consequent impression of self are illusory, that in fact consciousness exists only in connection with sense organ and sense object, and that close attendance on sense organ, sense object, consciousness, impact, and feeling can bring about conditions conducive to the cessation of ignorance and thereby suffering.

Oh, and the movement of breath is intimately connected with the continuity of consciousness, so much so that Bodhidharma advised Huike "inwardly have no coughing or sighing in the mind".

I can aim for a the continuity of mind that has no coughing or sighing, yet I will suffer without the realization that continuity is a state induced through attendance on what I really am, the pieces and parts that enter into my existence.

Bodhidharma said, "the seal of truth of the Buddhas is not gotten from another". Lineage holders reinforcing notions contrary to the statement of fact from Bodhidharma seem to be everywhere in "Buddhism"; in doing so, they generally avoid talking about discrete as opposed to infinite reality. ]]>
Walking with a Compass and a Map http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=139
I find a description of such a relationship in the teaching of Gautama, although the notion of "where" is only referenced as "single-pointedness of mind" and only clearly expanded on in his analogy for the first meditative state. Teachers like Yuanwu came right out with "Be aware of where you really are twenty-four hours a day. You must be most attentive." (Zen Letters, pg 53), but Gautama only talked about "single-pointedness of mind" in connection with "making self-surrender the object of thought". Nevetheless, the emphasis on the movement of breath and on what he perceived to be all of the senses (six) is there in the teachings of Gautama, and you can find references in my article "Letting Go in Action" (along with particulars of three additional senses).

For me, it helps to recognize that "single-pointedness of mind" is actually a hypnogogic phenomena that is connected with the relaxed movement of breath. That's why it's so difficult to talk about. ]]>
Self as a Function of the Senses http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=138article by Olaf Blanke and Christine Mohr about OBE (out-of-body), heautoscopic (seeing one's own body at a distance), and autoscopic (sees one's own body as though from outside of one's body phenomena. Here are some excerpts:


"The self is experienced as distinct from other human conspecifics and may be described as an enduring entity (i.e. the feeling that we are the same person across time) to which certain mental events and actions are ascribed (i.e. the feeling that we are the authors of our thoughts and actions) and which is distinct from the environment. The self has fascinated mankind from time immemorial and its many concepts have been influenced by theology, philosophy, psychology, but also by clinical observations from neurology and psychiatry. More recently, cognitive neuroscience has started elucidating some of the cognitive and neural mechanisms of isolated aspects of self processing such as agency, ownership, perspective taking, self-other distinction, and spatial unity between self and body."


More from the article, concerning the role of proprioception and equalibrioception (through the vestibular organs) in AP or autoscopic phenomena:


"These data point to the importance of non-visual, body related, mechanisms in AP, such as proprioceptive and or kinaesthetic processing as already argued by Sollier..."

"Another sensory system, which has been linked to AP, is the vestibular system that conveys sensations of the body's orientation in three-dimensional space to the brain."

"Thus, Blanke et al. proposed that AP result from a disintegration in personal space (due to conflicting tactil, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, and visual information) and a second disintegration between personal and extrapersonal space (due to conflicting visual and vestibular information)."


Most people take the consciousness that they think of as "self" to be something apart from the senses. Blanke's article is all about the fact that the consciousness that we think of as "self" is a function of the senses, although some senses apart from the usual five or even Gautama's six are involved, and that when those sense mechanisms go wrong the sense of self can be confusing and even disturbing to the individual.

My take would be that continuity in the sense of self is a function of the realization of a subtle hypnogogic state. That understanding is I think consistent with Gautama's assertion that consciousness only exists in connection with sense organ and sense object; the sense of a continuity of self is really an experience of the continuity of breath, disguised by a facility in the transition between senses that comes along with the continuity of breath.

Gautama explained the continuity in the sense of self with an analogy to a wildfire: the wildfire appears to jump between trees without fuel, but in reality it still burns only in connection with fuel. I might add that the illusion of the existence of fire without fuel is especially convincing when the air is moving, as it does in a large wildfire, so that the plasmas or particles that fuel the fire in the air appear distinct from the trees themselves.

To me, what matters is the experience of the relaxed activity of the movement of breath, and as a part of that experience the distinction of the senses. We all do this automatically, but it helps to assume a posture of stretch associated with calm occasionally, and to recognize that what we normally experience physically as a continuity of self is really a construct of what I would call the nine senses. ]]>
"Non-Thinking" (comment on Nyoho Zen) http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=137
The ancestors did the best they could with what they had to work with, in their description of practice. I think there is science in Guatama's description as related in the Canon, and there is poetry with stunning applicability in the descriptions of Yuanwu and some of the other Chinese teachers. I worked out what I'm describing above to let the lotus show me more of what the lotus has to show me, and unfortunately without that context my description is not likely to win me a McArthur; darn. ]]>
The State of Mind Where Here is Moving (Reply on Brad's Blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=136
Ok, I'm talking about the juxtaposition of the sense of equalibrium with the sense of proprioception and the sense of gravity. As in, here.

That's what I'm talking about, and you might have to lie in bed at four in the morning trying to get back to sleep before you can be relaxed enough and at the same time alert enough to follow where your awareness is in-between waking and sleeping. Can't be 'done'.

Can be open to here moving, the state of mind where here is moving; involves all the senses, and a rhythm in the necessity of breath.]]>
"Why Can't the Tail Pass Too?" http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=135
Case 38, A Buffalo Passes The Window

Goso said, 'A buffalo passes by the window. His head, horns, and four legs all go past. But why can't the tail pass too?'

Mumon's Comment

If you make a complete about-face, open your eye, and give a turning word on this point, you will be able to repay the four kinds of love that have favored you and help the sentient beings in the three realms who follow you.

If you are still unable to do this, return to this tail and reflect upon it, and then for the first time you will realize something.

Mumon's Verse

Passing by, it falls into a ditch;
Coming back, all the worse, it is lost.
This tiny little tail,
What a strange thing it is!"

(Katsuki Sekida, "Two Zen Classics")


I'll start with Fuxi's poem, which is about an ox (an ox can be a water-buffalo); here's the poem again, for reference:

"The empty hand grasps the hoe-handle
Walking along I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still"

('Zen's Chinese Heritage', Andy Ferguson, pg 2)"


The empty-hand of Fuxi's poem I describe as action generated through the stretch of ligaments. There are three sets of ligaments, roughly, that connect the sacrum to the pelvis; you can find that online, looks like links may be breaking the site today so I'll leave it off. These three sets of ligaments support motion in the sacrum that rocks, rolls, and twists, roughly, and generate activity in the muscles of the pelvis and in the legs.

The hand is the weight of the relaxed body in the movement of breath that stretches the ligaments at the sacrum and generates activity; the activity generated is actually in support of the alignment of the lower spine in the movement of inhalation and exhalation, and the ability to feel along the legs informs the alignment.

Why all the anatomy; doesn't that drop away at some point? Well, the rest of the ox passes, but the tail does not. The first four trance states, at least, belong to mindfulness of the body, and the relinquishment of volition in action that constitutes riding the ox depends on the reverberation of pitch, yaw, and roll throughout the body from under the hooves of the ox. So to speak. This is the source of shake, rattle and roll in sacred dance like that of the Bushmen, it's stretch at the sacrum with a rhythm in three directions.

If you need to see what's happening on the cushion to try to find feeling in your legs, as I do, then my descriptions of the relationship of dermatones and the stretch and activity that aligns the spine may be useful to you, as it is useful to me. Nothing happens without everything happening, in my experience, and so I outline the entirety of the first four meditative states; the freedom of mind and movement in the location of consciousness like falling asleep is the real beginning to me. That's a thing that can be hard to realize when your legs are twisted up in the knot handed down from India, at least for me, so I write to remind myself.

To me, the ox in Ferguson's translation (or the buffalo in the koan) is a metaphor for the activity generated through the stretch of ligaments, although to ride the ox requires a state between waking and sleeping so that the involuntary activity doesn't cause a "hypnic jerk" (I talk about that in Letting Go In Action) that ends the reciprocal stretch and activity. The bridge and the water represent a freedom in the location of awareness that precipitates action as though through hypnosis, and the cessation of voluntary activity in the body, respectively. Because it's a hynogogic thing, it's never quite the same twice, even if Fuxi's poem and Gautama's description of meditative states might make a person imagine it to be so... that's how it is in my experience, when I've had such experience, anyway. Having such experience more lately, and I feel better for it, I think. ]]>
Letting Go in Action: the Practice of Zazen http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=134Letting Go in Action: the Practice of Zazen. The draft never does explain why letting go in action should be considered the practice of zazen but does perhaps offer an explanation of what Gautama's four trance states have to do with mindfulness of the body. I would welcome any comments.

Here is an excerpt:


"In a poem from the fifth century C.E., the Buddhist monk Fuxi elaborated on how relaxed extension stretches the ligaments between the sacrum and the pelvis, and how gravity generates activity in the legs and in the pelvis that frees the experience of location and turns off volitive activity in the movement of breath:


The empty hand grasps the hoe-handle
Walking along I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still

('Zen's Chinese Heritage', Andy Ferguson, pg 2)


'The ox crosses the wooden bridge' describes an effect of the rhythm of stretch and activity as the weight of the entire body rests in the ligaments that connect the sacrum and pelvis: each step of an ox on a wooden bridge reverberates to the headtop and throughout the body of any rider, from the spine to the surface of the skin, and the same is true for the individual whose weight rests in three directions between the sacrum and pelvis.

The phrase 'the bridge is flowing' could be said to describe a moment before sleep when the location of awareness seems to shift in place in the body, while 'the water is still' could describe the cessation of volitive activity in the body at that same moment. For most people, the loss of volitive control in the activity of the body is associated with falling, and as a consequence many people experience a 'hypnic jerk' or sudden muscular contraction as they begin to fall asleep. Fuxi suggests that an awareness that shifts location freely in the body can come about as a matter of course, as the ability to feel informs the sense of location and the weight of the relaxed body generates stretch and activity in the movement of breath. He depicts a process of gradual stages whereby a muscular contraction is avoided, at the moment when a shift in the location of awareness with a cessation of volitive activity registers in the sub-consciousness.

Although Fuxi outlines the stages of a process, and the process may be said to be gradual, the transition from a waking state to a state between waking and sleeping must be said to be sudden, marked by a sense of location that can shift and a cessation of any voluntary activity in the body." ]]>
Skill and the Taking of Vows http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=133
(Thanissaro Bhikku, "Getting the Message", accesstoinsight.org)


The difficulty in this point of view is that skillful means is not something that is acquired through willful action, whether that action is for good or not. Keeping the precepts willfully, in the belief that one is taking the high road and acquiring skill, will result in ill- there's a passage in the Pali suttas where Gautama talks about "what we will, what we intend to do, or that wherewith we are occupied" and explicitly states that regardless of whether such action is for merit or demerit, ill will result. I would say that skill along the lines that Gautama spoke of is acquired through the experience of absorption in one's own nature, not otherwise, and that this experience begins with the freedom of the sense of place and the contribution of an ability to feel "with no part left out" to the movement of breath. The disciples of Gautama were described as like wild beasts, and the person making the description considered that a good thing.


"33 Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil."

(Matthew 5:33-37)


There are those who say the precepts are the gateway of Zen, and it's true that Gautama said "making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, one lays hold of single-pointedness of mind." Self-surrender as the object of thought is a kind of precept, and the word Zen is derived from the Sanskrit word "dhyana", which means concentration, so at least in this sense something like a precept may in fact be considered a gateway to concentration. Nevertheless, the induction of states characterized by "single-pointedness" of mind is like falling asleep- it's not done through the exercise of will- and the benefit of such states like the benefit of sleep is in well-being, out of which sound action arises. ]]>
The Measure of the Hall http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=132
The question is really, can they teach? At least, that's the question in my mind; my take is that Western Zen is a family affair, like Layman Pang and company, and a return to teaching both the esoteric and the exoteric without the closed fist of the teacher and in mixed company is the order of the day. Really the principal shortcoming of Western Zen teachers is their inability to vocalize the esoteric aspects of their own practice in a way that is meanful to others; "just sit zazen" may be good advice, but in the end I think it was the inner happiness that Gautama experienced as a child that gave us all a seated practice. Western Zen teachers don't mention that happiness much.

I think most Western Zen teachers haven't read the sermons of the Pali Canon; that's probably because the Japanese Zen heritage emphasizes a person-to-person transmission of some kind of experiential wisdom, and study can be a stumbling block to that kind of wisdom.

I won't argue, but to me the measure of the hall is in the instruction to the total novice, and most Western Zen teachers seem out of their depth in giving meaningful instruction about the practice to first-time sitters.

I have had to teach myself. This in large part because what I need to know is not being taught, and yet I feel it could be.
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"Good morning- where am I?"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=131
Chen Man-Ch'ing prescribed relaxation from the shoulders to the finger tips, from the groin to the soles of the feet, and from the sacrum to the crown of the head, followed by relaxation of the chest, as a means to sink the ch'i to the tan-t'ien. His advice implies a relaxed extension up the spine, both in inhalation and in exhalation. Particularly in exhalation, the alignment of relaxed extension becomes a function of the ability to feel right to the surface of the skin: here's a dermatone chart that shows the relationship between feeling in the legs and nerve exits at specific vertebrae that allow the ability to feel:

http://www.backpain-guide.com/Chapter_Fig_folders/Ch06_Path_Folder/4Radiculopathy.html

I'm fascinated to see that at the tan-t'ien, it's T-10 & 11 in front, and L1-3 in back, so Gautama's advice about "(conscious) behind as before, before as behind" would juxtapose feeling related to the alignment of the bottom-most chest vertebrae with feeling related to the alignment of the upper part of the lower spine.

"The ch'i can only sink to the tan-t'ien if the chest is relaxed", as Cheng Man-Ch'ing said, and yet this statement doesn't directly address the hypnogogic nature of the phenomena and how the necessity of breath is involved in that.

"The true man, breathing to his heels"- this is an old Chinese adage which concerns the ability to feel at the soles of the feet informing support at S1-L5 as a matter of necessity in the relaxed movement of breath.

The old man, Sasaki, knows all this intimately. Teaching it may distract people from their own sense of location, their own sense of gravity and proprioception, and so at Cobb Mountain last year he simply said: "Good morning- where am I?"
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"Something Other Than"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=130
If we have assumptions that produce no contradictions, then those assumptions will never describe all of mathematics; if our assumptions describe all that is known in mathematics, then there are contradictions that can be derived from our assumptions.

Gautama the Buddha was very careful about how far the logic he developed could be applied, and in some cases he said things like "(statement such-and-such) goes too far", meaning that what someone was asking could not be discussed within the logic he had developed to describe his experience.

It's possible to make very powerful statements about relationships that underlie much of the natural world with mathematics, but it's not possible to describe the whole of what we know without contradiction. If we can limit ourselves to assumptions that don't give rise to contradictions, maybe we like Gautama the Buddha can describe our experience in the practice of zazen in ways that communicate something of the relationships involved.

I'll start: calming of the activity of the mind in the movement of breath, like relaxation of the activity of the body in the movement of breath, is conducive to the induction of a hynogogic state that actually sharpens the wits.

I have to be careful in my assumptions: I can relax, and I can calm down, and I believe science has a lot to offer in this regard, but the attainment of a hypnogogic state will always be "something other than" what I think it to be (as Gautama put it).

That's why Shunryu Suzuki said that "only zazen can sit zazen".

I can drop body and mind, but I can't attain enlightenment. At a certain point, relaxing is the induction of a hypnogogic state; practice is enlightenment.

When scores of monks a day took the knife because of "the meditation on the unlovely" which Gautama had taught, Gautama gathered the monks and related his own practice before and after enlightenment, which was "the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths". This, he said, was a thing that was peaceful and conducive to happiness, in and of itself.

The only actions that are included in "the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths" are relaxing the activity of the body with the in-breath and out-breath, and calming and composing the activity of mind with the in-breath and out-breath. The practice begins with awareness of the in-breath and out-breath, and I would argue the rest follows naturally as the body is relaxed and the mind is calmed down.]]>
From the Temples in Egypthttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=129
Hapi and Dyed


"I would suggest that the reed that the god is holding on either side of the pillar represents the horizontal ilio-lumbar ligaments, that engage as the spine is relaxed upward from the sacrum in the movement of exhalation. The presence of the god is an indication that the tensile support of the ligament is realized not through the direction of any conscious activity, but solely through the experience of the location of awareness and the ability to feel in the necessity of breath.

The hieroglyphs on the top of the pillar are in praise of the king of Egypt, but they also depict an orb like the sun, which is perhaps the Egyptian "akh" or consciousness freed of any fixture to location.

The toes of the god rest against either side of something shaped like the sacrum of the body; close-ups show that not only is the footrest of the god the shape of the sacrum, but it is also segmented in five parts like the sacrum.

The nerves which exit between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae and the first vertebrae of the sacrum allow an ability to feel in the lower legs and along the soles of the feet, right to the surface of the skin. As feeling for the placement and orientation of the legs and feet is absorbed into the sense of location in the occurrence of awareness, the alignment of vertebrae may allow feeling for the placement and orientation of the sacrum to enter awareness, and likewise for the bottom-most part of the spine.

That the body can be held upright in zazen solely through the interplay between a sense of location, an ability to feel, and relaxation in the movement of breath is illustrated in another graphic from the walls of the temples of Egypt:


Isis and Nephthys



The goddesses Isis and Nephthys kneel on what may be a woven material, one knee of each goddess resting against what might be construed to be a representation of the first lumbar transverse processes. This is exactly the vertebrae supported by the horizontal ilio-lumbar ligaments, and here a connection between the placement and orientation of the legs at the knees and support for this vertebrae is suggested. The hands of the goddesses frame the lower spine, while the headdresses, the baboons on either side of the image, the hands of the baboons and the hands of the "ankh" (the cross with an oval) all emphasize an upward extension. There are two mounds outside of the benches on which the goddesses kneel, very much in the shape of the pelvic wings, while the dunes the baboons walk on form a space whose interior resembles the cavity of the chest. The large dark border along the top of the image strongly resembles the diaphragm. The "ankh" or looped cross is speculated by some to be a representation of the vertebrae of a cow, and in my mind it's entirely possible that this shape is used to represent the cranial-sacral fluid system as described in modern cranial-sacral osteopathy; regardless, the occurrence of consciousness freed of fixture to location is again depicted in the orb of the sun, here framed by hands extended upward from the ankh, and touching on the central cone of the diaphragm-like dark line.

The benches the goddesses kneel on I believe represent the ligaments that connect the sacrum to the pelvis, and the central point of the illustration would be the upward support provided as feeling opens for the orientation of the legs at the knees and the weight that rests on the ilio-sacral ligaments in the relaxed movement of breath."


The short rendition would be that feeling in the soles of the feet corresponds with feeling at the ilio-sacral joints, especially as a sense of roll is realized at the location of awareness and feeling throughout the body informs the sense of location. Roll has an aspect that is stretch and activity in the obturators, the muscles that hammock the hips away from the pelvis. Feeling for placement and motion in the knees corresponds with feeling at L5-L4-L3; I have an excellent dermatone chart from "Lower Back Pain" by Calliet that shows feeling on the surface of the skin on either side of the calf corresponds with L5-L4, and feeling above the knee with L3. This ability to feel is especially connected with yaw at the location of awareness, and the action of sartorius to swing the wings of the pelvis and engage gluteous and piriformis under the sitbones.

Even shorter rendition: the information coming from muscles, tendons, and joints informs the ability to feel necessary to relax the movement of breath, and contributes to the induction of a hypnogogic state with its accompanying singularity in the sense of location. ]]>
Walking on the Ground of Realityhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=128
Here's some of what I have so far:

(Quote)

I would like to think that zazen, like the practice of "standing" in Chinese martial arts, puts me in a position to realize activity out of the necessity of breath.

Sitting cross-legged is sitting with a stretch. The ability to relax and allow action generated by the stretch of ligaments or fascia is part of the necessity of breath in the posture, and informs the place of occurrence of consciousness and the ability to feel.

Most people don't realize that the ligaments and fascia of the body can generate nerve impulses that will contract muscles. Stretch in one of the seated postures of zazen (like the lotus) or in one of the standing postures of Tai-Chi (like the "single-whip" pose) can result in a subtle muscular activity that facilitates the lengthening of ligaments and can gradually include the entire body.

Stretch and activity in these postures is an involuntary reflex, as the location of awareness and the ability to feel respond to the necessity of breath at the moment.

Moshe Feldenkrais described three exercises that he said would facilitate getting up from a chair without holding the breath. These exercises consisted of swaying the upper body forward and back, then side to side, and finally in a circle around the base of the tailbone. Similar exercises are often recommended for settling into the posture of zazen, although instead of swaying in a circle, the zazen practitioner leans out diagonally over the knees.

These stretches highlight the ongoing activity of an upright posture, namely the action of the obturators that hammock the hips from the pelvis (side to side), the action of the sartorius muscles that shift the wings of the pelvis (toward the diagonals), and the action of the extensor and psoas muscles that balance the weight of the upper body on the sitbones of the pelvis (forward and back). The idea is to stretch ligaments and facilitate activity in all three directions, to allow the movement of breath to remain continuous even as the posture or carriage shifts.

In zazen, the sense of equilibrium associated with the current location of awareness in space brings forward the particulars of stretch necessary to the relaxed movement of breath. In particular, feeling for stretch side-to-side and action in the obturators comes by necessity with a sense of roll in the current location of awareness; feeling for stretch on the diagonals and action in the sartorius muscles comes by necessity with a sense of yaw in the current location of awareness; and feeling for stretch forward-and-back and action in the extensor and psoas muscles comes by necessity with a sense of pitch in the current location of awareness.

The sense of pitch, yaw, and roll that an aircraft pilot might utilize is very much at play in zazen; through the sense of equilibrium associated with the location of awareness in space, stretch and activity are initiated that align specific vertebrae and permit the ability to feel necessary to the current movement of breath.

In juggling, the juggler realizes the momentum and weight of each object as a contribution to the juggler's own sense of physical location, in order to relax the activity of throwing and catching; in practicing zazan, the sitter experiences the orientation and weight of any body part that crosses the mind as a contribution to the sense of physical location, and the pitch, yaw, and roll inherent in the experience of location informs the stretch and activity necessary to the relaxed movement of breath.

To be clear, the effort is to relax and calm down. Master Cheng Man-ching's instructions for the practice of Tai-Chi emphasized a thorough relaxation of the entire body, followed by a relaxation of the chest:


"(The practitioner) should relax. The relaxation should be overall, that is, throughout the entire body. And it should be thorough, that is, without the least strain anywhere. The aim is to throw every bone and muscle of the entire body wide open without hindrance or obstruction anywhere. When (one) has done this, (one) will be in a position to talk about ch'i. To start with, (one) should let (the) ch'i sink right down to the "tan t'ien". To do this (one) should first relax the chest, for the ch'i can only sink freely when the chest is relaxed. Gradually the ch'i will be felt to accumulate."

(Cheng Man-ch'ing, T'ai-chi Ch'uan, North Atlantic Books, 1981, pg 7, copyright Juliana T. Cheng- parantheticals paraphrase original)

(Close Quote)


And a little more:


(Quote)

The Chan teacher Yuanwu appears to have described the induction of a hypnogogic state, when he wrote:


"You must strive with all your might to bite through here and cut off conditioned habits of mind. Be like a person who has died the great death: after your breath is cut off, then you come back to life. Only then do you realize that it is as open as empty space. Only then do you reach the point where your feet are walking on the ground of reality."

(Zen Letters, translated by J.C. and Thomas Cleary, pg 84)


Yuanwu began by telling the reader to "bite through here", drawing to mind the placement and movement of the jaw relative to the current sense of location; attention to the placement and movement of the jaw engages the sense of proprioception, or "the awareness of movement derived from muscular, tendon, and articular sources" (credited by Wikipedia to Sherrington's "The Integrative Action of the Nervous System", 19 6), and Yuanwu instructs his reader to engage the proprioceptive sense with the sense of location ("bite through here"), just as the Gautamid did in his description of the first meditative state (the ability to feel that leaves out no part of the body and that informs the sense of the location in awareness).

Yuanwu made a connection between proprioception as a contributor to the singularity of location and the ability to "cut off conditioned habits of mind", where to "cut off conditioned habits of mind" meant to cease any voluntary activity of thought or direction of the body, just as though one were letting go of life itself. Yuanwu stated that as a matter of course, such a cessation of habitual activity results in a feeling that the activity of breath in the body has been cut off, and causes a person to come to their senses as though they have been returned to life from the dead. Returned to one's senses, the location of awareness is freed to shift in three-dimensional space without restriction, as in empty space; activity is engendered by virtue of the occurrence of a single-pointed awareness that is inclusive of the senses, proprioception and equalibrioception among them, rather than through conditioned habits of mind.

Although Yuanwu was not explicit that walking on the ground of reality requires an aware state of relaxation like that in which any subject of hypnosis rests, he was quite explicit that walking on the ground of reality is associated with an experience of necessity connected with the movement of breath, and he implied that such an experience is a gateway to an altered state of mind.

(Close Quote) ]]>
The Link Between the Waking and the Sleeping Stateshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=127
The really odd thing is that in the earliest records we have of the teachings of Gautama the Buddha, nine trance states are mentioned and described, and the records are consistent in the sermons found in Tibet, China, and Southeast Asia. Trance states, or meditative states. Or whatever Houdini did in that coffin.

I'll bet Houdini did attend rather closely to his breath. The records indicate that was also the practice of Gautama, both before and after his enlightenment- bringing to the fore mindfulness with respect to the in-breath and out-breath.

What I find is that if I attend to my sense of location as I am falling asleep, sometimes my awareness seems to shift around. I'm here in my body, then I'm there; sometimes in my head, sometimes in my chest or shoulder, sometimes in my leg. Here's a description a friend in New York City gave, when he looked for the same thing as he tried to return to sleep:

"I woke up at 4:30 AM, after a quick drink of water. returned to bed and tried your practice.

I hope I did it correctly, I was somewhat surprised that my mind moved around quite a bit. not fast, but in slow motion the awareness would shift, from left cheek to right side of torso etc. The end result was a light sleep state, but I was glued to the bed and then woke up exactly at 6AM, feeling refreshed like I had a complete 8 hours of sleep."

My friend wanted more details of how it worked than I could give him. This morning I rewrote a commentary on Yuanwu's teaching I made last night, and I think I included some of the details my friend wanted. Here's the commentary:

"You must strive with all your might to bite through here and cut off conditioned habits of mind. Be like a person who has died the great death: after your breath is cut off, then you come back to life. Only then do you realize that it is as open as empty space. Only then do you reach the point where your feet are walking on the ground of reality."

(Zen Letters, translated by J.C. and Thomas Cleary, pg 84)


Yuanwu opened his paragraph by telling the reader to "bite through here", drawing to mind the placement and movement of the jaw relative to the current sense of location; placement and movement of the jaw involves the sense of proprioception, or "the awareness of movement derived from muscular, tendon, and articular sources" (Sherrington, "The Integrative Action of the Nervous System", 1906). Yuanwu urged his reader to realize how their proprioceptive sense informed their sense of location, just as the Gautamid did in his description of the first meditative state (at: MN III 92-93- Pali Text Society pg 132-134).

Yuanwu pointed to proprioception together with the sense of location as a way to "cut off conditioned habits of mind", to cease any voluntary activity of thought or direction of the body, just as though one were letting go of life itself. Yuanwu stated that as a matter of course, such a cessation of habitual activity results in a feeling that the activity of breath has been cut off, and causes a person to come to their senses as though they have been returned to life from the dead. Returned to one's senses, the location of awareness is freed to shift in three-dimensional space without restriction, as though in empty space; single-pointedness of mind is experienced along with the ability to feel necessary to the relaxed movement of breath. With a sense of the location of mind informed by the feeling of proprioception, activity can take place through the stretch necessary to the relaxed movement of breath rather than through the conditioned habits of mind.

Although Yuanwu is not explicit that walking on the ground of reality requires a state of relaxation like that in hypnosis, he is quite explicit that walking on the ground of reality is associated with an experience of necessity connected with the movement of breath, and I believe it is here that the link between the waking and the sleeping states lies.
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Crossing the Linehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=126
After awhile I was able to get in the posture and experience some kind of ease and even absorption, and that kept me at it. The fact is, it's a stretch, and the appropriate stretch is an involuntary function of the location of awareness and the ability to feel in the necessity of breath. Zen teachers insist that sitting zazen will cause this to become evident, and they are right, but they don't tell you that your sense of where you are and what that sense allows you to feel will respond to the breath you need right now, and that you can start from where you are. And they don't mention that this sense of location is the same sense of the mind moving that we sometimes have right before falling asleep. It's not hard to find.

When it got up and walked around for me, I was sitting in a chair at a desk, resolved to be aware of my breath all day for a day; I crossed the room and I crossed the line between sleeping and waking. You ruin your life to do this, in a sense; at the same time, you can now move beyond doubt, even though what you believe in your heart will still lead you to do foolish things. ]]>
Does Practice Deepen In Retreat? (Comment on Brad Warner's Blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=125
In the cross-legged posture we put ourselves in a position where the sense of location and the ability to feel must respond to the necessity of breath (sooner or later). In fact, the sense of location and the ability to feel engendered through the necessity of breath can get up and walk around. Once that happens, who will sit back down to zazen? Who will walk out the door at the end of the retreat? And if the necessity is falling asleep, why would anyone drink a red bull to deepen an ease of posture in the cross-legged position when their necessity is otherwise, or pursue anything other than where they are right now and what they feel in the movement of breath?

"Good morning, where am I"- Sasaki at Cobb mountain last spring. ]]>
The Necessity Is Therehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=124
I hear you about coming in with goals and going out with goals and something happens in the middle, yet my fascination is with waking up or falling asleep to the sense of location I feel with the movement of breath. When the breath stops, the necessity is there, and I wake up or fall asleep right where I am feeling what I feel as the breath makes itself known.]]>
Proprioception, From Latin Proprius, Meaning "One's Own", "Individual"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=123
I'm talking about proprioception and the sense of location in space, and how that opens feeling that begins to reveal the necessity in the length of breath. I am cut off from feeling my own necessity until I can relax and let go; Chen Man-Ching the Tai-Chi master taught total relaxation followed by relaxing the chest as the way to start. The state like waking up and falling asleep doesn't depend on what I do, it depends on letting go of mind and body. I do see that a mind in the chest opens feeling in the lower abdomen and lower back, a mind in the lower abdomen and lower back opens feeling in the legs and feet, a mind in the legs and feet opens feeling in the sacrum and spine, a mind in the sacrum and spine opens feeling in the arms and head, and a mind in the arms and head opens feeling at the surface of the skin. Something like that, successive assimilation of proprioception through feeling connected with the sense of location, as a matter of necessity in the particular movement of breath.

As Gautama the Buddha put it in a description of the first meditative state:

"as a skilled bath-attendant or (bath-attendant) apprentice, having sprinkled bath-powder into a bronze vessel, might knead it while repeatedly sprinkling it with water until the ball of lather had taken up moisture, was drenched with moisture, suffused with moisture inside and out but without any oozing. Even so does (a person) saturate, permeate, suffuse this very body with the rapture and joy that are born of aloofness; there is no part of (the) whole body that is not suffused with the rapture and joy born of aloofness." (MN III 92-93, Pali Text Society pg 132-134) ]]>
Stretch at the Sacrumhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=122
There is a stretch at the hips in the lotus no doubt, but there is also stretch at the ilio-sacral "joints". Observing the stretch at the sacrum was my entry to sitting the lotus in zazen.

Nevertheless, the practice of zazen is to allow the present sense of location to open the feeling necessary to the movement of breath. I am writing now concerning the role of the senses of equilibrium, gravity and proprioception in the location of awareness, and I discover that for me equilibrium brings forward the hammocking of the hips through activity of the obturator muscles, the turning of the wings of the pelvis by the sartorious muscles, and the rocking of the pelvis on the sit bones by the extensor and psoas muscles. When the activity of the piriformis muscles and gluteous muscles in a counter-rotation to sartorius of the sacrum comes forward, the necessity of breath in the placement of awareness and the ability to feel can include "the infinity of ether" in the ten directions, so to speak.

For me, it's very important to my knees to realize that the activity from the soles of my feet to the crown of my head and from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet can turn the sacrum one way and the pelvis the other, and that this activity is engendered through the location of awareness and the ability to feel that arises in the necessity of the movement of breath at the moment. ]]>
The Heart of the Practicehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=121
Seems clear to me that unless I act from the place in which I find myself, and find satisfaction in the feeling and close experience of my own necessity, I'm part of the problem instead of the solution when it comes to global warming.

For Zen to flourish, my guess is that more will be required than jettisoning ceremony, chant, and superstition; I think they pretty much did that at Antaiji, following in the footsteps of Kodo Sawaki, and yet 50-minute sittings up to 14 times a day during sesshin hasn't caught on yet around the world.

I firmly believe that I can teach myself to sit the lotus without pain or numbness, and I think the key is in an openness to the vestibular sense of location and the feeling that goes along with it, and to the responsiveness of location and feeling to necessity and in particular to the necessity of this movement of breath. What do you know, when I get up and walk around, I begin to perceive that necessity at the close of my thoughts; it's a kind of relief, if I'm open to it.]]>
The Real Zen (Comment on Brad Warner's "Hardcore Zen" blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=120
Because he was adept at sitting cross-legged and adept at raising money, Shunryu Suzuki had no choice but to approve of his understanding, for the sake of the business of bringing Zen to America. That's how I feel. What did Suzuki say, something about how sorry he was to do that to Baker, I think?

Intention produces karma, good karma, bad karma, consequence. There are good things about SF Zen Center, and Tassajara. There are good things about the Sotoshu, and as Brad has pointed out a lot of complaints about corruption among the younger set in Japan, which point to the weakness of any ongoing institution (especially in a tough economic climate).

Will we find a way to describe the nature of just sitting in terms that everyone can understand (if not experience), or will we stone-wall communication in favor of the business of bringing Zen to America? 'Course, it's not as black and white as that, but I see it that way a lot.

Brad's good, and he would throw Zen over in a heart-beat for real, all-consuming love. I think that's what we need, because Zen is about being human to the max, and whatever ability to feel we have out of where we are now is necessary to love what we are.

Ok, so Brad said he would give up teaching Zen if it were a choice between that and the woman he loved; truth is, the part that he couldn't give up, that's the real Zen to me. ]]>
From My Own Experiencehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=119
I don't think his description was sufficient for me to practice. I think most folks who call themselves Buddhist would take it for granted that the Gautamid's description was sufficient, but I would say if that were true, then why isn't everybody practicing the way he described and experiencing "deliverance from thought, beyond grasping"?

I can only speak from my own experience, and that is that the place of occurrence of consciousness affects balance and posture, and the ability to feel is dynamic in response to the place of occurrence of consciousness and informs the spontaneous occurrence of consciousness. So there is a feedback, and as necessary the pitch, yaw and roll at the place of occurrence of consciousness can precipitate stretch and activity to open the ability to feel throughout the body. This is how I experience "setting mindfulness in front", which in the Gautamid's descriptions precedes his own practice of "the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths".

I see the practice he speaks of from time to time in my practice, and I realize cessations of habitual activity as he described them occasionally, but not through any effort to realize them. I see "this is suffering" in my life, and I see my shortcomings as a practitioner in his teaching, and yet I believe that the beautiful aspect of human nature he described can be taught in the language of science and is something quite apart from the moral and ethical judgments he assumed were inherent in it. And I believe it's a miracle that I can think this way and strive to experience and improve upon the communication of a beautiful aspect of human nature, and for that I am extremely grateful.

And I don't think I'm alone. I think that's the essence of Mahayana.
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Mind and Bones and Breathhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=118
I went back to bed, and when I got up again I sat the same way; then we took the dog for a final trip to the vet, and brought her body home and buried it.

When I look for the same practice in the daytime, I notice that it is a practice of necessity, especially in a cross-legged posture; it's not something that is second-nature to me yet, maybe it never will be, but something about the passing of my canine friend makes it feel more appropriate in the daytime at the moment. There's nothing special there, just the necessity of mind and bones and breath at the moment. ]]>
The Place the Zen Teacher's Action Comes Fromhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=117Shift or Flow?http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=116

A friend writes, "Its the shift part that in my understanding is more flow than what shift implies as a jolt or abrupt change."

My use of shift (as in jolt or abrupt change) is intentional, even though in my practice it's the absorption and ease I so often seek. Absorption and ease lends a feeling of continuity, but for me there's a moment where I have to experience the mind of zazen, in contrast to my mind sitting zazen, and the mind of zazen can shift around without continuity. At least for me.

If I relinquish volition in action of the body while conscious and upright, and I accept that without volition I am falling, then I experience action out of the location of consciousness (and consciousness as singular with respect to location). In order to accept the feeling of falling without taking action, my state of mind must be literally like that of waking up or falling asleep; there's a disconnect in those states between the occurrence of consciousness and physical action. If I attend to where consciousness is taking place, I can enter a state like that of waking up or falling asleep fairly readily.

A lot of folks have talked about the mind resting at the tan-t'ien, and they seem to be able to realize that mind pretty easily, so maybe a lot of folks skip the part I find so necessary. I don't know. Resting in location for me is not resting at all, and yet it is effortless. If I find continuity, it is because what I feel starts to feed back into the location of consciousness; that's what that sentence was about, but this is not really something I can do either.
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"Written on a Match Box, It Would Be?"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=115
Kobun's literal translation of the elements in the word shikantaza strings together as: "pure hit sit".

Here's one from "Zen Letters, Teachings of Yuanwu":


"If you want to pass through easily and directly right now, just let your body and mind become thoroughly empty, so it is vacant and silent yet aware and luminous. Inwardly, forget all your conceptions of self, and outwardly, cut off all sensory defilements. When inside and outside are clear all the way through, there is just one true reality. Then eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and conceptual mind, form, sound, smell, flavor, touch, and conceptualized phenomena--all of these are established based on that one reality." (trans. Thomas Cleary and J. C. Cleary, pg 86).



Similarly, here's one from the Pali Canon, attributed to Gautama the Buddha:


"...making self-surrender (one's) object of thought, (one) lays hold of concentration, lays hold of one-pointedness of mind." (SN V 200, Pali Text Society V 176)


What is "one-pointedness of mind"?- here's Yuanwu again:


"Once you have been directed by a teacher or else discovered on your own the originally inherently complete real mind, then no matter what situations or circumstances you encounter, you know for yourself where it's really at." (Zen Letters pg 48)


"...where it's really at", as in:


"Be aware of where you really are twenty-four hours a day. You must be most attentive." (Ibid, pg 53)


When the impact of consciousness opens the ability to feel, and what is felt enters into the place of occurrence of consciousness, then the mind remains waking up or falling asleep even as the place of occurrence of consciousness shifts. Single-pointedness of mind is just consciousness where it occurs, as it occurs.

On a matchbox, "Strike Anywhere".]]>
The Focus of Attention on Where I Am, Excluding Nothinghttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=114
I have this experience often when I sit (my breath is "cut off"), particularly in the transition from exhalation to inhalation, and the focus of attention on the movement of breath itself doesn't necessarily help. The focus of attention on where I am, excluding nothing, seems to help.

"Fundamentally, this great light is there with each and every person right where they stand-- empty clear through, spiritually aware, all-pervasive, it is called 'the scenery of the fundamental ground'." (Ibid, pg 85- italics added) ]]>
Exhalation to Inhalationhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=113
What I have found is that close attendance to my sense of location in space and allowing that location to shift sponteneously ("dropping body and mind"?) is conducive to waking up or falling asleep.

That's what I mean. ]]>
How Seeing Things as They Really Are is Zazen Sitting Zazenhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=112here)

Pyland points to what he felt in Shunryu Suzuki's presence, that being a keen awareness of action, of what is being done and how it's being done.

Blanche Hartman quotes Shunryu Suzuki as saying, "Don't ever think that you can sit zazen! That's a big mistake! Zazen sits zazen!" (in her interview, here). I myself heard Kobun say, "you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around." Is it any wonder that Shunryu Suzuki's presence inspired an awareness of action, of the what and how of action, when for Suzuki zazen sat zazen?

Herein lies the difficulty with teachings that have no practice:  there's no way to convey that being just as I am, where I am, acts (for such a teaching, see Advaita and Zen, by Steven Bodian). On the other hand, teachings that have a practice appear on the surface to advocate something in addition to being just as I am, where I am, and that, as Suzuki pointed out, is "a big mistake!".

My approach now is to look to waking up and falling asleep as I am where I am. What I find is that when I am just as I am where I am, I am in fact waking up or falling asleep in action. This is how seeing things as they really are is zazen sitting zazen, or zazen getting up and walking around. ]]>
Suffering and the Five Groupshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=111
When consciousness takes place spontaneously with regard to the six senses, that awareness from moment to moment is free, is not conditioned in the place of occurrence by ignorance, desire, or becoming. "That being, this is so", yet there is no doer, no sense of a do-er in control of that with respect to which consciousness takes place, no sense of a do-er in the placement of consciousness.

This is just the way I experience consciousness falling asleep, when I attend to my sense of location in space as I fall asleep. When I'm waking up, the breath in, the breath out has no length except in the free occurrence of mind.

Grasping after self, after a do-er in the five groups follows ignorance of the experience of consciousness taking place spontaneously, ignorance of the impact of consciousness, ignorance of the feeling that occurs as consciousness takes place. The sense of self connected with the do-er in the five groups knows old age, illness, and death as suffering, yet that sense of self is identically grasping in the five groups.]]>
Being Absorbed in Cleaning the Deskhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=110
I sit until a relationship between the ability to feel and the consciousness that takes place freely with regard to the six senses gets up. In the course of my experience with this kind of relationship, I have discovered that things that I'm not consciously aware of will sometimes get me up, things that are only on the edges of my awareness will sometimes get me up, and what I really believe will sometimes get me up out of a sitting. When it's the latter, there's no point in staying seated, even though my belief could change. If I truly believe I need to clean my desk, and I am set in motion behind it, I accept that being absorbed in cleaning the desk will follow. ]]>
Feeling to the Surface of the Skinhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=109
I don't know if my recap and experience helped humbleone to find the movement of mind or not, but I know it helps me.

Here's an interesting bit from Shunryu Suzuki's lecture on Whole Body Zazen, from cuke.com:

"You may say that your mind is practicing zazen and ignore your body, the practice of your body. Sometimes when you think that you are doing zazen with an imperturbable mind, you ignore the body, but it is also necessary to have the opposite understanding at the same time. Your body is practicing zazen in imperturbability while your mind is moving."

I think it's easiest to experience letting go of the place of occurrence of consciousness as a part of falling asleep, and if you've ever trained yourself to recall dreams, you will probably catch sight of the mind that moves in the same manner one of these early mornings. ]]>
Buddha Nature and Weird Conversations (comment on hardcorezen.info)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=108
My contention would be that the mind moves right before we fall asleep, if we are able to hold to consciousness long enough to observe it. That's a big "if"; I personally played with hypnosis a lot in high school, I starved myself as a vegan for awhile which I believe affects consciousness of the in-between state, and I slept sitting up for six months and worked the grave shift for years. Even so when I noticed that staying with the shifts in my consciousness led to waking up or falling asleep, I was surprised. So easy and something everybody has experienced.

I have written about this, and three other people have now succeeded in using something in my description to catch sight of their consciousness shifting around before sleep, and to likewise experience a connection between staying with the sense of location and falling asleep (one of the three was able to catch sight in the daytime as well, not sure about the others).

The technical description would be that consciousness takes place because of contact between a sense organ and a sense object, and that the continuity of consciousness is an illusion; that's the classical teaching of Gautama the Buddha. Gautama also taught that there is an impact associated with the occurrence of consciousness, and there is feeling. Here is his summation of staying with this kind of experience as it occurs:


'(Anyone)... knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes- visual consciousness- impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye- neither to that is (such a one) attached. ...(Such a one's) physical anxieties decrease, and mental anxieties decrease, and bodily torments... and mental torments... and bodily fevers decrease, and mental fevers decrease. (Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind).

Whatever is the view of what really is, that for (such a one) is right view; whatever is aspiration for what really is, that for (such a one) is right aspiration; whatever is endeavour for what really is, that is for (such a one) right endeavour; whatever is mindfulness of what really is, that is for (such a one) right mindfulness; whatever is concentration on what really is, that is for (such a one) right concentration. And (such a one's) past acts of body, acts of speech, and mode of livelihood have been well purified.'

(Majjhima-Nikaya III 287-288, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338, ©Pali Text Society)


I'm only saying that this is a description of something that most people experience as they are drifting off to sleep, except that it's more like shifting than drifting because there really is no continuity. The mind is now here, now there.

Oddly enough, this freedom of mind with the associated impact and feeling is sufficient to sit, and the knowledge I need from one moment to the next seems to be intimately associated with the free occurrence of consciousness. Attachment concludes a hypnogogic state, the place of mind of attachment induces a hynogogic state.

The bottom falls out of the bucket, god help us. ]]>
Consciousness Taking Place Without Motor Abilityhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=107
Because I know that I have to let go of any direction of mind in order to fall asleep, I tend to turn my attention to where my thoughts just took place, to where my awareness is in my body. That's when maybe I'll experience my consciousness taking place somewhere other than between my ears. This is not usually a continuous thing, but a now here, now there, in my side, in my leg, in my back thing. And then I'm out like a light.

I occasionally come to the same experience in the daytime, which is why I think it's about waking up as well as falling asleep. There's a sensation of my balance being dependent on where my consciousness is taking place, in an upright posture.

I read about hypnic jerk phenomena the other day, that's where the muscles in the arms or legs contract just as a person is dropping off to sleep, and they wake up. The article I read said about 70% of the people experience this regularly, and they hypothesized that the mind feels the loss of motor ability but doesn't recognize that it's connected with sleep, and so tries to regain motor ability with a signal to the muscles. I guess what I'm talking about is connected with that same shut-off of motor ability, and the trick is to perceive consciousness taking place without motor ability.
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Coming Back to Locationhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=106
The practice is indeed darn simple once a person witnesses the location of consciousness shifting, as just before sleep.

I think the same practice is at the heart of seated meditation. Here's Dogen, the founder of Soto Zen:

"...learn to take the backward step that
turns the light and shines it inward."
(from the Fukanzazengi, by Dogen, here)

Meditation is often associated with something a person does, but I think anyone who tries seated meditation will find that the ability to feel in the posture relies on things that happen as consciousness occurs, so that the spontaneous place of occurrence of consciousness in waking up and falling asleep is actually sufficient to sit. ]]>
A Turning Point For Mehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=105The lotus so far has taught me how a particular balance is struck:  the sartorius muscles rotate the pelvis; rotation in the pelvis extends the hips; extension of the hips generates activity in the piriformis muscles; activity in the piriformis muscles rotates the sacrum contrary to the pelvis and a balance is struck. I can find the sartorius muscles, I can relax at the hips, I can pick up the activity of the piriformis muscles and I can realize a balance.

Having said that, I would hasten to add that for me the central practice is the location of the mind in space:  this takes the form of "where is consciousness taking place, how does the occurrence of consciousness open the ability to feel?".

My study now is just about sitting 40 minutes in the morning in the lotus without pain or numbness. Folks that start in the posture early, like about 7 years old, seem to be able to do this pretty well, but I didn't start sitting at all until eighteen, and it took me 30 years from there to get to the lotus. Still, I don't have much pain now, and most mornings I get up with a minimum of numbness in the upper foot. The clear feeling for the activity of sartorious and for the sink with extension that catalyzes activity in piriformis seems to be a turning point for me, but it's not something I can take hold of:  I rely on the location of mind in the lotus to open an ability to feel these things.
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The Practice of Zazen in Wordshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=104I would say that nobody really teaches the practice that is the heart of the Soto school; mostly, they just stagger around mumbling "I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly" to the walls.

That is probably why the teachers who brought the teaching West had to be impressive. They had a mouthful of marbles, and could not express the true Tao in words because Lao Tzu clearly ruled that out. Of course, the cultures that embraced Lao Tzu, Ch'an, and Zen wound up stuck in a medieval world, until the materialists demonstrated that it actually is possible to describe some subtle relationships in words that can be communicated and as a consequence manufacture heavy arms, after which these cultures raced to embrace the description of relationships for the manufacture of heavy arms.

We in the West, not seeing any need for Eastern wisdom when in fact we could overcome many of the sources of suffering through the description in words of subtle relationships of nature and when in fact we could pillage the natural resources of the countries that embraced indigenous traditions or wisdom traditions to abet our material addiction, never applied our ability to describe in words the subtle relationships of nature to the relationships at the heart of the Eastern wisdom traditions.

Now I would say a description of the practice of zazen can be made in words. This was the first thing that Dogen tried to do when he got back to Japan, and to me the high point of the civilization of China that occurred just prior to Dogen's arrival there.

Right now my description is that the pulmonary and cranial-sacral respirations cause consciousness to take place where the feeling and impact that result "...(can cause) physical anxieties to decrease, and mental anxieties to decrease, and bodily torments... and mental torments... and bodily fevers to decrease, and mental fevers to decrease... (so that such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind."

Very similar to balanced ANS-PNS and very much the heart of the practice of zazen, to me. I'm impressed that Houdini knew how to be one with the unconscious processes of the body and mind, until his balance and his breathing could be one inside that coffin. Kids, don't try this at home, and here comes the stick if you try this at the zendo- whack! ]]>
The Working Ingredient of the Preceptshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=103
Some would say that the precepts have more to do with zazen than the revelation of metaphysical truths.

I would say that the truths that matter with regard to zazen have to do with the hypnogogic states and the way consciousness takes place. I think there are experiences that matter in learning to sit 30 or 40 minutes in the lotus (or half-lotus), for those of us for whom the posture did not come naturally, and these are crucial to the perception of impermanence and the relinquishment of self in Western society. And that would be the working ingredient of the precepts (the perception of impermanence and the relinquishment of self), both for yours truly, and for our materialist culture.

For example, as to how "the empty hand grasps the hoe handle" in Fuxi's poem, I would say the sartorious muscles naturally fall into a rhythm that turns the pelvis, and that turn opens and extends the hips, which generates reciprocal activity in the piriformis muscles to rotate the sacrum in the opposite direction. In particular, the activity in the piriformis muscles (you're partially sitting on them in the lotus) cannot be done, but relaxing into the action of sartorius and allowing sink at the hips is a part of waking up and falling asleep to the location of consciousness. The action of the piriformis is entirely without conscious effort, and that's why the hand that grasps the hoe handle (the sacrum) is empty. Like the flywheel of a watch (observe the clocking flywheel at :56), sartorius rotates the pelvis, and piriformis naturally rotates the sacrum into that movement to balance the body.

What's that got to do with the precepts! What does the spontaneous occurrence of mind have to do with anything! Why can't we just wake up, who decided we should ever have to sleep, for crying out loud! ]]>
The Basis of All Actionshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=102
"The basis of all actions is to follow through to the end. If your mind is absent even just for a moment, you're no different from a corpse." (Antaiji: Kodo Sawaki- To You, 34)

That might sound like there's something to be done apart from waking up and falling asleep; Sawaki goes on to say:

"It's all about finding the correct tension for your muscles and tendons. It's about becoming a person without gaps, about developing the proper tension and placement of muscles and tendons."

Since the action that arises out of the proper tension and placement of muscles and tendons can only be witnessed waking up and falling asleep, I would say that what Sawaki is advising is close attention to awareness taking place.]]>
Riding the Ox Homehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=101
I would say the meaning is that where we are is sufficient to act, if we can relax and accept the way our feelings inform consciousness. Our feelings do affect our sense of place, and our acceptance of what we feel allows the ability to feel to be spontaneous, and our consciousness to take place freely. Sometimes I look to falling asleep sitting up, where a little jerk wakes me up as I start to fall over, but I can realize the action without the jerk if I attend my sense of place. It's the same state of mind where I observe the dreams that happen sitting up, although those are very brief and the state of mind that catches sight of them need not be.

Why would I do that: because the sense of place from one moment to the next acts, and that is ox and rider without mounting. I can't be anywhere other than where I am, but to experience action out of being where I am requires a state between waking and sleeping. As I said, it's as simple as the sense of location as I fall asleep, which shifts from place to place; it's also as complicated as getting up and walking around with no idea of what I'm doing or why (and finding out later!).

So no special effort, and yet I practice sitting doing nothing in the mornings, as I'm waking up. I practice at night until I'm falling asleep, too, although that's usually a shorter sitting. That's my approach to riding the ox home. ]]>
Houdini Developed an Ability to Feelhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=100
So how's this for an instruction of zazen: let the length of the inhalation or exhalation engender the activity in the sartorious and gluteous muscles that rotates the pelvis and extends the hips, and through the extension of the hips let the inhalation or exhalation simultaneously cause the piriformis muscles to act to rotate the sacrum opposite to the pelvis.

Consciousness takes place; the cranial-sacral rhythm acts through the location of consciousness to open an ability to feel. Houdini developed an ability to feel things that most people don't feel, related to the movement of breath; that's how he managed to survive being sealed in a coffin for over an hour.]]>
The Cranial-Sacral Rhythm and the Location of Consciousness (comment on Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=99

"Miraculous power and marvelous activity
Drawing water and chopping wood."

(Pangyun, a lay Zen practitioner, eight century C.E.)


"Cleave a (piece of) wood, I am there;
lift up the stone and you will find Me there."

(The Gospel According to Thomas, pg 43 log. 77, ©1959 E. J. Brill)


Just lately, I find myself embracing the recollection that the cranial-sacral rhythm is present with the location of consciousness. John Upledger wrote that he was able to palpate a location in the body where the cranial-sacral rhythm was moving well, and add the pressure of 5 grams (the weight of a nickel) to the movement at that place in order to open the movement at other places in the body- places that were not moving so well, maybe even places that were stuck. When I recall that the cranial-sacral rhythm is present with the location of consciousness, I accept that the free occurrence of consciousness can by virtue of its location act like John Upledger's hands in adding movement to the cranial-sacral rhythm where the movement is good. I allow this to act to open places where I feel movement is needed, and the witness of activity and feeling born in this relationship reinforces my trust in the free occurrence of consciousness.

Koichi Tohei the Aikidoist taught four recollections: 1) keep one point; 2) weight underside; 3) relax; 4) extend ki. I never liked what I took to be the exercise of will implied in these recollections, but I now see that some of the time (at least) my consciousness cleaves to one place, I am aware of an underside like clearing the ground, I am looking to relax like waking up or falling asleep, and I recognize that the movement of the cranial-sacral rhythm where consciousness takes place opens movement appropriate to what is felt.

At least Tohei's approach has brevity! ]]>
What We Truly Believe (comment on "Hardcore Zen")http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=98
Even if we do not will, or intend to do, and yet are occupied with something, this too becomes an object for the persistance of consciousness... whence birth... takes place.

But if we neither will, nor intend to do, nor are occupied about something, there is no becoming of an object for the persistance of consciousness. The object being absent, there comes to be no station of consciousness. Consciousness not being stationed and growing, no rebirth of renewed existence takes place in the future, and herefrom birth, decay-and-death, grief, lamenting, suffering, sorrow and despair cease. Such is the ceasing of this entire mass of ill."

(SN II 65, Pali Text Society vol. 2 pg 45)

So how does one act in the absence of will, intention, and preoccupation? I would contend that what we truly believe causes us to act, like the hypnotist's subject responding to suggestion, and that such action can take place in the absence of will, intention, or preoccupation, just as a hypnotist's subject can be moved without the exercise of their will or intention.

If you grant that this is possible, then the collection of experiences and thoughts that make up what we believe cause our action. We think it's our exercise of will or intention that sets us in motion, physically and mentally, because we have never watched ourselves move without volition, but actually we have no more choice about it than the subject in a deep trance.

Those who think they can resist hypnosis are generally the easiest to hypnotize, that's my understanding. Those who think what they believe has no relationship to their actions, haven't realized what it is that they truly believe. ]]>
Necessity that Places the Mind Just Sohttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=97
When I describe something I do that comes to me out of a necessity of breath and posture, like the way I dance or the stretches involved in the way I sit, I have to add that the real thing happens waking up and falling asleep. If I grasp at the feeling I have, I am no longer waking up and falling asleep, and my ability to feel changes. If what I feel informs the place of occurrence of consciousness, then the ability to feel is my necessity of breath and posture, and I find myself waking up or falling asleep in the midst of my activity.

You could not have opened movement in your sacrum and pelvis without a necessity that placed your mind just so, in response to your ability to feel.]]>
"A Lamp Onto Oneself"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=96
My own experience teaches me that Dogen's "pivot of zazen" is the ease and absorption that attend the inclusion of the mind as the sixth sense in the experience of the "where" of consciousness, and that this is related to the Gautamid's "remembrance" of the long and short of the movement of breath.

To experience the long and short of inhalation and exhalation, I relinquish activity to the point of falling down and realize a hypnogogic detachment with regard to the place of occurrence of consciousness, in spite of the presence of postural behaviour associated with falling down triggered by the amygdala from childhood memories. I have described this as the practice of waking up and falling asleep (it's easiest to find lying down falling asleep). If I judge a breath long or short in inhalation or exhalation, the practice of waking up and falling asleep is over, and yet the length of the breath in or out can be comprehended without being grasped.

That's the nature of "mindfulness" and practice in general, it depends on "waking up and falling asleep" and is fundamentally ungraspable.
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Why the Lotushttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=95

'The Patriarch asked, "Where do you come from?" Nan-yueh answered, "From Mt. Sung". The Patriarch said, "What is it that comes like this?" Nan-yueh replied, "To say anything would be wrong". The Patriarch said, "Then is it contingent on practice and verification?" Nan-yueh said, "Practice and verification are not nonexistent, they are not to be defiled."'

("Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation", by Carl Bielefeldt, pg 138)


Practice is something I do out of necessity, in seated meditation out of the necessity of breath and posture. Verification is something that I don't do, something that happens without volition, that turns out to be the same as practice. That's the way I experience practice and verification.

In the lotus, I am forced to realize the necessity of the movement of inhalation and exhalation and the posture, and in particular the location of mind that includes contact in the senses before comprehension from one instant to the next. Verification comes in as the location of mind sits the posture in an inhalation or exhalation.

In the half-lotus, I am forced to realize the necessity as in the lotus, but guess what!- it's not as urgent.

Sitting in a chair, I am forced to realize the necessity, but usually without much urgency at all. Unless perhaps I have injuries that make such realization of necessity urgent in any posture.

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Practice and Verificationhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=94
This morning my practice consisted of activity in the sartorius and gluteus muscles that rotates the pelvis on the hips, and activity in the piriformis muscles that rotates the sacrum opposite to the pelvis. Sartorius from below the knee to the wings of the pelvis on each side, longest muscle in the body; gluteus from the ilio-tibial tract on the outside of the legs to the sacrum; piriformis from the upper leg bones under the notch of the pelvis to the front of the sacrum. This rotation/counter-rotation keeps the pressure out of my knees in the lotus.

Verification, helps to accept the stretches that approach painful and the stretches that approach pleasant in the place of occurrence of consciousness.

Good morning! ]]>
Meditation is a living process- Jinzang, on Hardcore Zen Bloghttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=93
I had the great pleasure of having a professor who was delighted with mathematics, Gerhard Ringel Sr., who has one of the important theorems in combinatorics named after him. What I got from him was that he was an appreciator of natural beauty, first and foremost, and mathematics to him was a way to come to know a particular aspect of the beauty of nature. I guess I've heard Monet described as a painter of light, a similar fascination with a particular aspect of the beauty of nature.

What I've read in the Pali Canon is not so different, to me. The man is describing a particular aspect of the beauty of nature, having to do with the human experience. He intended his descriptions to be repeated, examined, tested, and verified; he tells us so. He made mistakes, as when he taught the meditation on the unlovely to monks who then committed suicide.

Gautama said that whatever a person might think the meditative trance state was, it was something other. I would assume that's what you're driving at when you say "meditation is a living process". Yet I think we can say things in modern language that people can use to discover the natural beauty of the human experience for themselves.

That's a lot of what spiritual teachers do, they offer folks a glimpse of the natural beauty that they have come to see in the human experience, in each aspect of the human experience. Is it possible to describe how a person can do absolutely nothing, and yet they sit upright, or they stand and walk? I think if we can do that in way that people can understand, it's only a matter of time before people begin to experience what they already had, when they weren't thinking too much about it. ]]>
"The true person, breathing to their heels"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=92
"(Anyone) knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes, visual consciousness, impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye- neither to that is (such a one) attached. (Such a one's) physical anxieties decrease, and mental anxieties decrease, and bodily torments and mental torments and bodily fevers decrease, and mental fevers decrease. (Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind)."

(Majjhima-Nikaya 149, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338, ©Pali Text Society)

At first glance, not a lot like "Waking Up and Falling Asleep", but I believe they are the same.

I have this question: where does the impact that Gautama mentions (in connection with consciousness) take place, and how does that engender feeling? Does consciousness of contact between a sense organ and sense object take place in the sense organ, so that consciousness of contact between the eye and a visual object generates consciousness in the eye?

I think not. If so, what happens when there are multiple sense contacts- I myself experience consciousness as a unitary phenomena, not as multiple consciousnesses happening at the same time. My sense of place in connection with consciousness may shift with multiple contacts in my senses, but my experience of consciousness itself is that it happens at one place at a time, one place after another if you will.

Impact from consciousness in the body I believe is the source of the "hypnagogic myoclonic twitch", which is the involuntary jerk that many people experience as they are dropping off to sleep. This is hypothesized to be a result of the loss of motor control and the association (in the mind) of the loss of motor control with falling. When I sit, I am looking to let go of any action whatsoever, just like falling asleep; I experience subtle contractions in the paired muscles of posture that occur in connection with the sense of place associated with consciousness. This is a hypnic jerk phenomena, that contributes to the alignment of the spine and through the alignment of the spine, to the ability to feel connected with the sense organs.

Moshe Feldenkrais wrote about finding support for the lower spine so that the breath could be continued through shifts in posture. To that end, he recommended exercises to experience the basic motions of pitch, yaw, and roll while sitting on a chair. Hypnic phenomena connected with the place of occurrence of consciousness can initiate all three of these basic motions, as necessary for the support of the lower spine in the movement of breath- and do so solely as a result of the place of occurrence of consciousness from moment to moment.

Sometimes I recall a Chinese adage that describes the ability to feel that can develop, as the place of occurrence of consciousness responds to the necessity of breath in a given posture or carriage: "the true person, breathing to their heels".

I would say the trick is to relax and let go of action until the place of occurrence of consciousness comes forward; as the Gautamid said:

"... making self-surrender (one's) object of thought, (one) lays hold of concentration, lays hold of one-pointedness of mind." (SN V 2 , Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 175-176, ©Pali Text Society)



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Sitting in the Full Lotus (comment, "The Tao Bums")http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=91
The stretches at the sacrum are the limiting stretches. The sacrum moves forward and back, pivoting on the attachments to the pelvis; that's easy to feel. The sacrum also tilts left and right, and rotates counter to the pelvis; this morning I found it helpful to distinguish the vertical axis of the sacrum, meaning the motion of the sacrum around the centerline of the spine.

The place of mind, or the sense of location in the occurrence of consciousness- that's where waking up and falling asleep meets falling down:


"Do you ever wake up suddenly to a falling sensation and a strong muscle twitch just after you have fallen asleep?

This strange falling sensation and muscle twitch is known as a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch or 'Hypnic jerk'. If this has happened to you on more than one occasion, don't worry, you are not alone. Close to 70 percent of all people experience this phenomenon just after nodding off, according to a recent study at the Mayo Clinic.

Most experts agree that this is a natural part of the sleeping process, much like slower breathing and a reduced heartbeat. The occurance is well known and has been well documented. However, experts are still not completely sure why the body does this.

The general consensus among researchers is that, as your muscles begin to slack and go into a restful state just as you are falling asleep; your brain senses these relaxation signals and misinterprets them, thinking you are falling down. The brain then sends signals to the muscles in your arms and legs in an attempt to jerk you back upright. This misinterpretation that takes place in your brain may also be responsible for the 'falling' dreams that accompany the falling sensation. These 'dreams' are not really normal dreams, as they are not produced from R.E.M sleep, but rather more like a daydream or hallucination in response to the body's sensations."

(link to article here)

In my estimation you are looking for those signals that jerk you back upright to sit the lotus, while you wake and sleep with the place of occurrence of consciousness. Ok, maybe the signals are not quite as strong as that, but same principle, action generated autonomically because you are not holding anything, not doing anything in the face of falling down.

I would sit so that you can be half-way comfortable, and look for the sense of location as consciousness takes place. ]]>
The "Intellectual Practice" (comment on Warner's Hardcore Zen blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=90
"put aside
the intellectual practice
of investigating words
and chasing phrases,
and learn to take

the backward step
that turns the light
and shines it inward."

(Dogen's "Fukanzazengi")


Maybe Fred is here (on a blog, engaging in "the intellectual practice") because there is a potential for something like this:  I write words about waking up and falling asleep that someone in New York reads, and then they are able to get back to sleep when they wake up in the early morning and need more sleep. They apply what they have found to waking up, and they write as follows:

"I have taken it a bit further, experimenting with it during the day. Same practice, find the location of the consiousness.

It pulls me into the present. the feeling lasts 2-3 seconds, but it is something that I have never experienced before. Being really present, here and now. the mental projection into the future stops, the past stops. I am just here and now. no future plans or worries. no goals, no dreams that are waiting to be fullfilled. time stops. no where to go. I am just here and now."

If I describe my practice in words in a positive and substantive way, and someone else reads my words and discovers a practice for themselves, there's a proof of concept that it's possible to communicate experience in words if the need to have such an experience is tangible. Even when the experience concerns "turning the light around and shining it in", although that particular description I confess never spoke to answer my need. ]]>
Feedback from 'humbleone' in New Yorkhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=89
I have taken it a bit further, experimenting it during the day. same practice, find the location of the consiousness.

It pulls me into the present. the feeling last 2-3 seconds, but it is something that I have never experienced before. being really present, here and now. the mental projection into the future stops, the past stops. I am just here and now. no future plans or worries. no goals, no dreams that are waiting to be fullfilled. time stops. no where to go. I am just here and now.

I think you are on to something, with broad applications."

- 'humbleone'

my response
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Not the flag, not the wind- mind is moving (from Warner's Hardcore Zen blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=88How psychics receive their visionshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=87
Dualism just means the mind is here, and the object of mind there. What if the mind moves, and the object of mind has a part in the placement? And the things that enter the mind before words, before sense, have a part in the placement?

If I close my eyes, my mind doesn't seem to be in quite the same place as when my eyes are open. If I look to follow that sense of place from one instant to the next, I fall asleep or wake up as appropriate. This is also the practice of zazen, to me. Can it be taught this way?]]>
What is this Zen-Stuff for? (from the comments on "Hardcore Zen")http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=86
Hey guys,

I stumbled over this blog and have one simple question.

What is this Zen-Stuff for?


Mark said...

@Andy- "what is this Zen-stuff for?", it's for those moments when you have nothing to do.

How are you at doing nothing?

If you find yourself doing nothing, then you know what Zen is about.

My opinion.


Andy said...

@Mark Foote: Well actually I spend quite a lot of time hanging around doing nothin. So if that's Zen I know it quite well!


Mark said...

Yes, you already have practiced zazen, doing nothing.

When you sit, the thing that corrects your posture is your ability to feel referred sensation throughout your body, and the sense of place you have connected with that. That's why it's doing nothing; you don't get to correct your posture either.

And you've already done it, even to the point of absorption, when you're not doing nothing anymore. Am I right? Where is that, right before absorption?- nowhere doing nothing, and somehow everyone else is there. ]]>
'My Connection to Everything Around Me'http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=85
These are quite significant results Mark, I would urge you to get others to try out your practice and report back.

frankly speaking, the waking up part I don't have much of an issue with. however i did try the waking up portion of your practice and it seems to work fine for me.

The real challenge for me is to practice it during the day. As you mentioned there is something special about the early morning hours, the state of mind/body after a few hours of sleep that makes this practice very condusive to working.

'This practice is also useful when I want to feel my connection to everything around me, because my sense of place registers the contact of my awareness with each thing, as contact occurs' (from Waking Up and Falling Asleep)"

-humbleone

I think I mentioned that I sit in the mornings, and I practice along the lines of "Waking Up and Falling Asleep" when I can. This morning when I really came into my body, so that I felt like I was able to totally relax in my posture like falling asleep, then it occurred to me that everything was there with me. There is a sense of the surface of the body supporting weight; at least, that's what it feels like to me.

I'd like to take credit for finding the feeling that seemed to complete my ability to fall asleep in my posture, but I have to say that I think the inspiration came out of the location I found myself in at that moment. There's some kind of reciprocity between waking up and falling asleep that takes everything into account, to occur; I am sure you will find this is so, at the appropriate moment.]]>
"Could you explain a bit more", from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=84
I think humbleone quoted the most relevant part of "Waking Up and Falling Asleep":

"In my experience, the practice is the same, whether I am waking up or falling asleep: when I realize my physical sense of location in space, and realize it as it occurs from one moment to the next, then I wake up or fall asleep as appropriate."

This is probably easier at 3am or 4am in the dark than any other time of day, I don't know why. If you want, you can experiment with the practice I describe in "The Mudra of Zen" to help get the sense of location at first; that would be trying to feel pitch, yaw, and roll right where your awareness is located. So, if your awareness seems to be in your head, look for pitch, yaw and roll there; if it's in your hand, ditto. For me there's an interesting side-effect to setting up mindfulness of the three planes of motion at the location of awareness, and that is that my awareness often moves to accommodate a feeling for all three planes. As soon as it becomes a strain, I let go of that mindfulness, though.

Sometimes it takes a repeated effort, if you are having trouble falling asleep, to come back to the physical location of awareness, and follow that from one instant to the next.

In waking up, same practice. The second quote that humbleone found concerns the fact that there's an interplay between being able to follow the sense of location and being absorbed in a pattern of awareness or thought, and this becomes evident for me when I follow my sense of location in the daytime:

"Although the placement of consciousness must be spontaneous for the two involuntary respiratory systems to coordinate naturally, it may well be that a pattern will develop in the placement of consciousness for a period of time. Gautama the Buddha referred to the development of such a pattern as 'the sign of the concentration'.

Such a pattern unfolds of its own accord, and is never exactly the same twice. The key to accepting and relinquishing such a pattern is the feeling connected with its occurrence, and the knowledge that the pattern serves the cranial-sacral system's response to the necessity of breath."

Restating that last, the key to accepting my own thoughts when I sit meditation is, for me, accepting the role of the pleasant feeling of absorption. The feelings of stretch have a balance, in the feeling of absorption, and the thoughts and dreams come out of that- but the well-being connected with the sense of location in awareness is subtle:

"At some point, acknowledging what I feel as consciousness occurs becomes a part of the place of occurrence of consciousness. The acknowledgement of what I feel follows from the sense of well-being in the experience of the place of occurrence of consciousness. "

If I remember that my thoughts and dreams came out of absorption connected with place, I can return to where I am with feeling.

Maybe try the sense of location when you're falling asleep, if you aren't out like a light- I think that's the easiest way to pick it up, from moment to moment. ]]>
More on Waking Up and Falling Asleephttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=83
humbleone said:

'Curious as to what I was finding at 3AM in my left cheek, and then in the right shoulder, I did some research. Your practice steps appear straightforward, but the theory behind it is quite complex.

I found this 'Waking Up' writeup on your website.

http: www.zenmudra....-waking-up.html

"Although the placement of consciousness must be spontaneous for the two involuntary respiratory systems to coordinate naturally, it may well be that a pattern will develop in the placement of consciousness for a period of time. Gautama the Buddha referred to the development of such a pattern as "the sign of the concentration".

Such a pattern unfolds of its own accord, and is never exactly the same twice. The key to accepting and relinquishing such a pattern is the feeling connected with its occurrence, and the knowledge that the pattern serves the cranial-sacral system's response to the necessity of breath."

I am looking forward to experimenting with the waking up part, will report back in few days. all the best.'

Helen Putnam Regional Park 3humbleone, thanks for your interest; my site is a kind of personal practice journal, it's true, starting from the writing on The Mudra of Zen which is the homepage. I started writing, then I picked the title, then I tried to figure out what in the world I could say about the mudra I use when I sit zazen (which is the traditional mudra of Soto Zen). I still use the practice I describe there, pretty good for a shot in the dark. Nevertheless, I'm acutely aware that it's not everybody's cup of tea. Most of my friends have declared that they like me, but if I ever talk anatomy to them again they will not be responsible for their actions.

Some things I need to research a little more. I quote a description of reciprocal innervation I got from John Upledger's books, but online the other day I discovered that for most people reciprocal innervation means something different. I think it's true that stretch in the fascia and ligaments can generate muscular activity, and even reciprocal muscular activity, but I'm not sure that I can find support for it in the literature at large. Likewise, Upledger's research on the cranial-sacral rhythm has yet to find corroboration as far as I can tell, yet I'm convinced that the second respiration (as cranial-sacral folks refer to it) is real. The bit you quoted is from a letter I wrote to a friend, trying to explain my understanding. The piece on the translations of motion in the lotus was written for the same friend. Waking Up and Falling Asleep is a big step for me, as there is virtually no anatomy and no reference to the two respirations in it. For me, I am reminded that life and death are as close as waking up and falling asleep, and I need look no further.

Thanks so much for thinking to try out the waking up part, I look forward to hearing how that goes, when you find the time. yers, Mark ]]>
question on hypnogogic states during the dayhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=82
"humbleone" posts:

"so to give you an update.

I am able to make your "waking up and falling asleep" practice work for me. Three nights of success.

Last night was quite challenging, due a cold cough I woke up at 1:45AM, after a cold remedy, using your practice went back to sleep. Then woke up again around 3:45AM, not wanting to disturb my wife with coughing(read fear of getting kicked out of the bedroom ). I went to another room, again using your practice was able to fall asleep and wake up around 6AM.

So to take your practice a little further, the "waking up" part. Sorry I am not clear what you are saying there. I also looked up hypnogogic states which you mentioned in your original post ('what I call the practice of "Waking Up and Falling Asleep", which is concerned with the role of hypnogogic states in daily life').

The issue that i am trying to fix during the working day is information overload, processing large volume of data. So the goal, the desired 'state' is to remain unemotional, unattached during the day working day, while processing large volumes of data and making a dozen of so important decisions.

Qigong, meditation helps quite a bit, but not the sustained 'state' I am looking for, lasting hours at a time.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, I am intrigued by your comment about role of hypnogogic states during the day. All the best."

(from Tao Bums The Myth of the Eight-Hour Sleep thread).

I'll try to clarify what I meant by "the role of hypnogogic states in daily life".

At some point, acknowledging what I feel as consciousness occurs becomes a part of the place of occurrence of consciousness. The acknowledgement of what I feel follows from the sense of well-being in the experience of the place of occurrence of consciousness.

Equanimity in the acknowledgement of what I feel is the induction of the hypnogogic state (this just happens).

If the sense of location in awareness wakes you up and sets you about your activity, that is sudden, yet in daily life allowing for falling asleep as well as waking up is a gradual shift- that's what I believe. I would suggest you try the same practice in the morning (sitting down, most likely!). Might take you awhile to find the same movement of awareness that you feel lying down in the early hours, the main thing is to relax and let go so that the ability to feel opens.

My own strategy is to accept that I have many memories tagged with adrenalin by the amygdala, memories of falling down physically and mentally from before I had language (I'm indebted to Daniel Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence" on that one). I'm not that good at it either, dealing with the stress of modern living and work, and yet I've always had faith that whatever I needed would be given, if only I were open to receive.

Thanks for the question, very helpful to me, actually. ]]>
"I tried your practice last night"- humbleone, from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=81
I woke up at 4:30 AM, after a quick drink of water. returned to bed and tried your practice.

I hope I did it correctly, I was somewhat surprized that my mind moved around quite a bit. not fast, but in slow motion the awareness would shift, from left cheek to right side of torso etc. The end result was a light sleep state, but I was glued to the bed and then woke up exactly at 6AM, feeling refreshed like I had a complete 8 hours of sleep.

If I am able to gain control over my sleep that would be very significant step for me indeed. Could you please provide some feedback if I did it correctly?

All the best, humbleone


Hi, humbleone,

Great to hear that you had some success with what I'm describing as "waking up and falling asleep". Yes, that sounds like the practice; I'm grateful that you tried it at that hour of the morning, as in my experience that's a very good time to see the mind moving. In my experience, it's even possible to sleep when I'm in a lot of pain, by hanging with the mind that way- at least it was when they did my ablation, which is a heart procedure for arrhythmia done with catheters these days. My whole body felt pretty shot for a couple of days afterward, and at one point I felt sure I needed to sleep but everywhere was a difficulty as far as relaxing, yet by "following the mind" and being where I was I was able to get a few minutes- which was all I needed to turn the corner at that time.

If you do any seated or even standing meditation in the morning, you may see why I'm referring to the practice as "waking up and falling asleep". In waking up, I am looking to relinquish my activity, and allow the place of mind to generate activity out of the stretch I find myself in. I have a description of the translations of motion in the lotus which I have updated recently, yet in the end I am convinced that everything I need to know I learn by being where I am, as I am. I just have to be open to it. ]]>
"If You Can, Please Give an Example"- from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=80
could you please elaborate on what you mean by physical sense of location in space?
so you mean this literally, i mean objects in the room etc.

If you can please give an example.

so my issue, is waking up around 3AM on most nights, then trouble falling asleep.

"In my experience, the practice is the same, whether I am waking up or falling asleep: when I realize my physical sense of location in space, and realize it as it occurs from one moment to the next, then I wake up or fall asleep as appropriate." (from Waking up and Falling Asleep)'

("humbleone", on Tao Bums)

Hey, humbleone, thanks for asking!

Ok, it's a feeling, for sure- if I slip and start to fall but recover myself, the place my mind went is what I'm talking about.

Now a question I have is, is it necessary to practice something like sleeping sitting up or a martial art like judo before a person can recognize that their mind is connected with a physical sense of location? That is to say, maybe some people don't notice that their mind moves when they start to fall, that the location of awareness moves to where it needs to be to catch the fall- maybe they would say that their mind was between their ears the whole time!

I've been listening to a lecture by Todd Murphy on The Sacred Body, in which he proposes that the chakras are centers of referred brain activity. The brain itself apparently has no nerves for distinguishing pain or pleasure, so that a brain tumor can grow to enormous size without pain. Likewise the heart, so that the symptoms of a heart attack are pain in the left shoulder and arm, referred pain.

When I sit, I become aware of referred sensation from the nerve exits along the spine: my ability to feel my feet, my little fingers, and my jaw are involved in some way in the activity of my posture. Again, this is allowing my attention to drop where it will, and reminding myself to include my whole body as I inhale and exhale. To what extent does my physical sense of location in space depend on my relaxed experience of referred sensation from the spine and brain?- maybe I am oversimplifying to say "my physical sense of location in space from moment to moment", but in the end it comes down to the same thing, IMHO. ]]>
Referred Sensation (comment on <em><a target="_blank" href="http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/">Hardcore Zen</a></em>)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=79Is Arithmetic Consistent? points out that indeed arithmetic is consistent locally, that the difficulties of completeness that Godel demonstrated come in primarily with the axiom of induction and the extension of a proof to all members of an infinite set. At least, that's the way I understand what he's saying!

I think anytime we hear something like "the ground of being", we have made a leap from known finite instances of experience to some kind of proof on an infinite set. That doesn't mean it's not true in the localized cases, but with the extension to the infinite the logic will allow contradictions.

In the lecture Sacred Body, Todd Murphy notes that the brain and the heart have no nerves for pain or pleasure, so that brain tumors can become enormous with no pain and heart attacks are recognized by pain referred to the left arm and shoulder. Murphy speaks of the chakras as sites of referred brain activity- I hope I'm not misstating his position too badly!

Can I assume that the regulars on this thread all have a practice that involves the use of referred sensation, from the spinal nerve exits to the limbs, the jaw, and the surface of the skin, and from the brain to centers in the body connected with a personal relationship to the six senses? ]]>
A Morning Reflectionhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=78
Hapi and Djed

That's the Egyptian god Hapi on both sides, one foot on each side of what appears to be a representation of the sacrum, four reeds running from the feet through the center of the column and upward, two gripped like ropes by the gods, two supporting the platform on which are symbols that I believe belong to the king, or alternatively:

"This is why all their procedures and even the passages of the Pyramid texts themselves are called se-akhs- or akhifiers- they were designed to allow a person to achieve a new form of spiritualized existence called the akh. The word 'akh' as a verb means 'to be effective' and the 'akh' as an entity was seen as a shining being who could come and go as it pleased. This means that the akh was not impelled by the forces of the universe to follow a set path but had achieved a state of freedom and ability to act in any situation. The goal of becoming an akh may not seem very spiritual when compared to more modern traditions but the Egyptians (certainly in the Old Kingdom) did not concern themselves with sentiment or niceness, their goal was freedom and that was that."

(from the Pyramid Text of Unas commentary of Apech)

My study concerns the ilio-lumbar ligaments, which are in two sets, the first from either side of the pelvis to the fourth lumbar vertebrae running vertically, and the second from either side of the pelvis to the fifth lumbar vertebrae running horizontally. I find the ligaments to the fourth vertebrae tend to engage in inhalation, and the ligaments to the fifth lumbar vertebrae tend to engage in exhalation.

Now, when the movement of breath engages the ilio-lumbar ligaments, there's a feeling like the action on a swing in a playground connecting the leverage of the spine with the feeling for the legs and the seat of the pants. In sitting, the feeling in the legs is returned through the ilio-lumbar ligaments to the lower spine, and activity generated by stretches in the legs is balanced by activity generated by the stretches of the ligaments that connect the pelvis to the rib cage, through the abdomen. In particular, there's a point where the fascia and ligaments associated with the internal, external, and transversus abdominals meet in equal measure at the rectus, and that's just below the belly-button. The stretch in the fascia and ligaments of the abdominals can be felt in the shoulders and arms, and on exhalation I believe the weight and leverage of the arms helps the stretch of the ilio-lumbar ligaments to the fifth lumbar vertebrae- hence the gods holding the reed on either side of the Djed.

This morning I was feeling the role of the fascia and ligaments that connect the neck muscles to the skull, looking for a counter-rotation of the sacrum to the rotation of the pelvis, and I had a sense of height at the tan-tien over the sit-bones and of activity in the piriformis muscles under the pelvis. I looked for my sense of place like waking and sleeping, and was struck by a connection between the freedom of mind and the entire fascial envelope supporting the movement of breath.

"With this method of circulating the ch'i, it overflows into the sinews, reaches the bone marrow, fills the diaphragm, and manifests in the skin and hair."

("Master Cheng's Thirteen Chapters on T'ai-Chi Ch'uan", by Cheng Man-ching, translated by Douglas Wile, pg 17)

"When you arrive at last at towering up like a mile-high wall, you will finally know that there aren't so many things.

("Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu", translated by J.C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary, pg 83)
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The Left Kneehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=77
IsisNephthys

The pose of the goddess on the right interests me. I find a similar posture but with the left foot over the right thigh helpful when I am between sitting intervals in the lotus; it uncorks something, and after I watched a Tibetan lama deliver a lecture for an hour in the same pose, I have to believe it's also good for meditation. My assumption is that the djed pillar represents the relationship between the mechanisms of the cranial-sacral respiration and the hypnogogic occurrence of consciousness, and in particular the base of the djed represents the sacrum and the ligamentous attachments of the sacrum to the pelvis. The goddesses are the embodiment of the first line of Fuxi's poem, from 5th century China:


"An empty hand grasps the hoe handle
Walking along, I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still.

("Zen's Chinese Heritage", Andy Ferguson, pg 2, ©2000 Andrew Ferguson)


And here's the practice I describe in The Mudra of Zen:

"Given the rotation of the pelvis and the stretch of the paired (ilio-lumbar) ligaments in inhalation and exhalation, the placement of the little fingers against the lower abdomen in the posture of Zen provides a direct sense of the geometry of support for the lower spine initiated through reciprocal innervation.

In particular, the placement of the fingers on the centerline of the abdomen provides a sense of the ligaments of the vertical muscles from the pubic bones upward; if the little fingers leave the abdomen, awareness of the forward and backward motion wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can restore the little fingers to the abdomen.

Similarly, the placement of the little fingers provides a sense of the ligaments of horizontal muscles from the lower back around the sides of the abdomen; if the elbows lose their angle from the body, awareness of the side-to-side motion wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can restore the angle.

Likewise, the placement of the little fingers against the abdomen provides a sense of the ligaments of diagonal muscles up from the wings of the pelvis; if the shoulders lose their roundedness, awareness of the turn left and right wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can help restore the round to the shoulders."

swing
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When I wrote Translations of Motion in the Lotus, I noted that the reciprocal innervation between the extensors and the psoas muscles is engaged as the translations of motion culminate in the movement of the skull bones, affecting the cranial-sacral rhythm. I now conclude that the movement of the skull bones also affects the pineal gland and the production of melatonin, perhaps making the hypnogogic state more fluidly accessible with the attendant freedom of movement of the sense of location.

That sense of location opens feeling, and somebody with a lot of feeling drew those baboons ascending the hills with their palms in the air! ]]>
Comment on Gudo Nishijima Video (Carapeto)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=76
Now from my research into cranial-sacral osteopathic theory, the stretch he's referring to is not only from the extensors along the back of the spine and neck to the mandibular bones of the skull (behind the jaw), and thence to the temporal bones, parietals, and occiput, but also to the sphenoid from the same base as the occiput but running forward and upward in the center of the skull finishing as outer portions of the eye sockets. The occiput and the sphenoid flex and extend as the volume of fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord (down to the tailbone) changes, ten to fourteen times a minute. Now the key point is how a stretch from the tailbone to the top of the head (one of Chen Man-ch'ing's three preliminary relaxations, by the by) facilitates dropping body and mind.

I would say that this is connected to the fact that the pineal gland sits in the center of the sphenoid, and the pineal is the source of melatonin, affecting the rhythm of sleeping and waking. As John mentioned, there's a moment when we are falling asleep or when we are waking up when consciousness takes place freely with an equanimous response to sensation. Emphasis on place, there's a moment consciousness takes place.

The practice I came up with for balancing the two respirations is really a practice connected with the cranial-sacral rhythm, but it's not possible to realize a hypnogogic state without allowing consciousness to be placed by both respirations. My practice, necessitated by the cross-legged posture, is to set up mindfulness of pitch, roll, and yaw wherever consciousness takes place, allow the weight of the body to rest on the ligaments and fascia that connect the sacrum to the pelvis, and realize activity and feeling out of the place of occurrence of consciousness. The movement of breath comes in because there's a moment where the breath ceases unless consciousness is allowed place in conjunction with both respirations.

Comes a moment when I notice my state of mind, and I think I will explore "before and behind" with respect to the stretch and activity at the chin (and sphenoid) and at the occiput when the opportunity presents itself. Thanks, Roshi! ]]>
Visual Thinkinghttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=75
I myself am coming to the conclusion that the ability to sit zazen depends on the hypnogogic state (between waking and sleeping, as it were). My effort in "waking up and falling asleep", as I'm referring to the induction of the hypnogogic state, is simply to be where I am as I am where I am. In effect, there may be a reciprocity between the state of mind and the ability to feel, that opens the necessary ability to feel and the necessary state of mind to channel the future into a sense of location in three dimensions in the present, a sense of location from which action appropriate to the future can take place. Might be a sense of location in mind, or in the head anyway, some of the time.

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Sitting the lotus- from the full lotus thread on Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=74
"An empty hand grasps the hoe handle
Walking along, I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still."

("Zen's Chinese Heritage", Andy Ferguson, pg 2, copyright 2002 Andrew Ferguson)

"So he abides fully conscious of what is behind and what is in front.
As (he is conscious of what is) in front, so behind: as behind, so in front;
as below, so above: as above, so below:
as by day, so by night: as by night, so by day.
Thus with wits alert, with wits unhampered, he cultivates his mind to brilliancy."

(Sanyutta-Nikaya, text V 263, Pali Text Society volume 5 pg 235, copyright Pali Text Society)


In my understanding the hoe handle is the sacrum. The empty hand works as Gautama described it, "as in front, so behind: as behind, so in front"; if I am conscious of activity in the lower abdominals, I look for consciousness of activity at the sacrum. The Gautamid described the feeling of the first meditative state as like gathering soap powder that been sprinkled around the inside of a cauldron into a ball, until the ball doesn't ooze; if I look to the state of mind I have waking up or falling asleep, and I am conscious in front as behind, behind as in front, then I can allow consciousness to fall where it may and observe activity initiated by the stretch of ligaments. I have to be waking up or falling asleep to observe activity initiated by the stretch of ligaments without startling myself and interrupting the reciprocity and balance of the action, and I have to accept what I feel into my sense of location, but this is no big deal; the effort is being where I am as I am where I am, to wake up or fall asleep.

I usually stretch my legs, first one and then the other, before I sit. I grab my toes or as close as I can get, and wait until I have the feeling to touch my head to my knee or whatever feels satisfactory. This usually requires specifically waiting for feeling for motion at the sacrum; the sacrum in my experience is constantly rotating forward and backward, and on other pivots as well. Yet, as behind, so before. ]]>
"Wu Wei" and impeccability, from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=73
I would say that I have a compass, and that compass comes out when I feel like I'm starting to walk in circles, and I use that compass to sight the next landmark in the direction I want to go before I put it away. The compass is the cessation of volition, in speech, in inhalation and exhalation, and in perception and sensation, and the landmark is the combination of disparate elements at the instant of cessation. The landmark is always right where I am, every contact of sense including the sixth sense enters into where I am even before I know it, and the ability to feel that arises with each contact informs where I am. When I am waking up and falling asleep, I can witness the action that arises out of where I am as I am where I am. That action is wu wei.

The practice I have is really so many disparate elements, and it comes to me out of necessity, although sometimes I'm the very one that is driving me to that experience of necessity. My conclusion is that I can't help being attracted to the feeling that belongs to my own well-being, and likewise I can't help being averse to the feeling that belongs to my own illness. Some would say they have a choice, but my conclusion is that I do not. ]]>
Wu Weihttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=72
I think the best is to accept falling asleep with waking up, and waking up with falling asleep; too much emphasis on waking up, and we can't sleep. Too much emphasis on falling asleep, and we can't wake up.

"The empty hand grasps the hoe handle
Walking along I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still"
(Fuxi, around 5th century C.E.)


The place associated with the occurrence of consciousness flows waking up and falling asleep, the impact of place generates an ability to feel, the feeling informs the occurrence of consciousness; the habitual activity of perception and sensation ceases.

Really, there's nothing I can do to wake up or fall asleep, and that leaves me right where I am. ]]>
A bowl with a dusting of soap powder- comment on Brad Warner's "Hardcore Zen"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=71 ]]>How do we inspire ourselves to sit?- comment on Brad Warner's Hardcore Zenhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=70
On the other hand, if you can communicate very clearly, maybe nobody would listen unless you had the title and authority. But then, if you were really trying mostly to communicate to yourself, it probably wouldn't matter. ]]>
Storing Ch'i in the Tan-T'ien (Response to Drew Hempel, from The Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=69
I realize that there can be a feeling of absorption occasioned by impact when consciousness occurs in the vicinity of the tan-t'ien, and this is a pleasant thing, which informs my sense of location along with the feeling of near-pain occasioned by other impact of consciousness at stretches away from the tan-t'ien. I think I have a natural affinity for this feeling of absorption, and that affinity constitutes the storing of ch'i at the tan-t'ien in the parlance of Chinese martial arts. We'll see! ]]>
Autogenic training and Nishijima's SNS-PNS balancehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=68
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autogenic_training)

Some great history there. I didn't use the "warm" patter but I sure used the "arm is heavy", etc. bit, for self-hypnosis in high school!

Bloke, yer right, well-put, Nishijima doesn't elaborate on how his understanding can be applied. Then again, we know that it's not really possible to apply any understanding in practice; as the ancestor put it, it's not that there's no practice, it's that practice is undefiled, meaning to me there can be no intent.

Having said which, I wonder if the use of "warm" in autogenic training is intended to engage SNS- I read that SNS can constrict blood vessels, which would affect warm/cold- whereas the "arm is heavy" in autogenic training is to engage PNS (PNS is responsible for "rest and digest" activities)?

I have mentioned before that the mainstay of my practice, when such exists, is reciprocal innervation of agonist/antagonist muscle pairs through activity associated with the occurrence of consciousness. Consciousness occurs in connection with sense organ and sense object, that is the Gautamid's teaching (and the continuity of consciousness is illusory). There is impact associated with consciousness, and as a result of impact feeling, that's also the Gautamid's teaching. When the pleasant and painful enter back into the place of occurrence of consciousness, then the hypnogogic state becomes sufficient to sustain an awareness of reciprocal innervation- that's the best explanation I have.

I put it this way, with regard to Dogen's "One sage clarified True Mind (Reality) when he saw peach blossoms and another realized the Way when he heard the sound of tile hitting a bamboo"- is it not consciousness, impact, and feeling that breathes at the sight of blossoms?

That would be the two aspects of the autonomic nervous system attaining balance right there, impact and breath, through the place of occurrence of consciousness (with respect to the senses). ]]>
The Meaning of the Ankh (reply on Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=67

ankh purification

I still think the ankh represents the cranial-sacral rhythm. The "ankh purification" (second illustration) is a beautiful depiction of how the cranial-sacral rhythm is controlled by the nerves on the sagittal suture, and extends fluidly throughout the body. Thank you for that.

The Egyptians seem to have understood that connection between the cranial-sacral rhythm and the movement of breath:

ankh isis nefertari

and the relationship between ligaments of the sacrum (Isis Nephthys, first illustration), the cranial-sacral rhythm, and the free movement of consciousness. Also, as I understand from my friend John, the importance of the hypnogogic states. They had the most amazing depictions of the relationship between human kinesthesiology, the cranial-sacral rhythm, the pulmonary rhythm, and consciousness; most folks find it anathema to associate the spirit with the body, and look for some other explanation. I love that quote in Gospel of Thomas about being amazed at the riches in such poverty, to me that's what it means:

"(29) Jesus said: If the flesh came into existence because of the spirit, it is a marvel. But if the spirit (came into existence) because of the body, it is a marvel of marvels. But as for me, I wonder at this, how this great wealth made its home in this poverty."

Gospel of Thomas saying 29
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Storing chi at the tan-t'ien, from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=66
Anyway, the piriformis rotates the sacrum around the vertical axis, and I believe generates activity in the extensors up the back of the spine in three sets to the temporal bones and the parietals. The movement of the parietals affects the nerves that control the volume of cranial-sacral fluid in the skull and down the spine into the sacrum. The changes in the fluid volume cause flexion and extension of the sacrum, and of the sphenoid bone in the skull, in the middle of which sits the pineal gland.

But as to how consciousness or the heart-mind occurs naturally in the vicinity of the tan-tien, that is falling down while waking up or falling asleep, and never hitting the ground; the action of being upright is generated in the stretches engendered in falling down, directly. Does awareness at the tan-t'ien seem more natural and come more often to me now in the lotus? Yes, but storing this depends on the natural attractiveness of a state of absorption in the body, not on something I do. Has to be something I just can't help because it is my own wellness that I'm feeling, no? ]]>
response to "The Full Lotus", "sex energy", on Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=65
Fuxi's poem is a great guide for me:

"The empty hand grasps the hoe handle
walking along, I ride the ox
the ox crosses the wooden bridge
the bridge is flowing, the water is still"

The practice of "as before, so behind; as behind, so before" is I think connected with the first line. The second line would be about the stretches and activity from the stretch of the sacro-spinous ligaments, side-to-side. The third line would be similarly the stretches and activity from the sacro-tuberous ligaments, out of the motion of yaw at the sacrum (on the diagonals). Last line concerns action solely from the place of consciousness as it occurs and the cessation of action through the exercise of volition. All the steps are linear, and simultaneous, so I might as well just be where I am, and hope to "tower up like a mile-high wall and see that there aren't so many things".

Shunryu Suzuki said all a person can do about the practice is to be grateful. He also said, "only zazen can sit zazen". Kobun Chino Otogawa said, "you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around!"- this experience is still my only light. ]]>
How I sit the lotus (from "Tao Bums")http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=64
The left and right pivot of the pelvis on the hips puts the balance forward in the lower abdomen, and that slight stretch generates activity in the obturators that extends the hips slightly from the pelvis. This allows the activity of the legs from the soles of the feet to travel up the back of the spine to either side of the skull and the top of the head in inhalation; the return from the top of the head to the soles of the feet depends on the free movement of the mind , technically the free occurrence of consciousness, and the stretch and activity occasioned as consciousness takes place for the complete exhalation. That's because it's really about the generation of the cranial-sacral rhythm by nerves at the sagittal suture, so the real return is in the motions of the sacrum and the way the rhythm extends through the body.

In short, it's the sense of place, the one that moves in falling asleep (and in waking up, although that's harder to see). That's the source of the action. The more you see it, the more you can rest in it, and so you gain it.

That's how I sit in the lotus. Why it took so long to be where I am, I can't say! ]]>
On the full lotus, from "Tao Bums"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=63
I have taught myself to sit in the lotus. I sit 40 minutes in the morning, and maybe 20 at night. My understanding would be that the two autonomic respirations, pulmonary and cranial-sacral, use the sense of place in the occurrence of consciousness to effect reciprocal innervation in the fascia and muscles of posture. This just means that the stretch in the fascia on one side of the body generates nerve-impulses to contract muscles to relieve the stretch, which causes stretch in the fascia on the opposite side; so there's a back and forth of muscle activity that's not generated from the cerebral cortex, it's coming out of the reciprocal stretch of fascia and ligaments. The two respirations can place the occurrence of consciousness to effect activity out of balance, and that activity creates an alignment of the spine that opens feeling in real time.

That's my practice when I think of it. Lately I'm focused on the hypnogogic state in sitting, the place where feeling becomes continuous even in the face of involuntary muscular activity and stretch that always borders on painful in three directions. I had to learn to feel three pivots at the sacrum, I have to learn to feel the reciprocity between the extensors on two sides behind and the psoas on two sides in front around the tan-t'ien. Here's a great thing from Shunryu Suzuki someone posted on Warner's Hardcore Zen blog, about "have to learn"'s:

"That is the most important thing for me: to stand on my feet and to sit on my black cushion. I don't trust anything but [laughs] my feet or my black cushion. This is my friend, always. My feet is always my friend. When I am in bed, my bed is my friend. There is no Buddha, or no Buddhism, or no zazen. If, you know, you ask me, "What is zazen?" you know, my answer will be, "To sit on black cushion is zazen," or "To walk with my feet is my zazen." To stay at this moment on this place is my zazen. There is no other zazen."

That's from Chadwick's shunryusuzuki.com site, the lecture of July 6th 197 .

Here's the way I feel it, on a good day- ha ha!-

"Simply by being where we are, we can come to forget the self. The sense of place engenders an ability to feel, and each thing we feel enters into the sense of place- even before we know it. This being where we are with each thing, even before we know it, is shikantaza."

Can't sit two hours in the lotus, and mostly I don't know that I ever will, but this transmission is consciousness from sense organ and sense object, impact, and feeling as it really is, and it's right where my mind as in heart-mind is now. ]]>
Shunryu Suzuki, "Don't Spend Your Time in Vain"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=62
Hmm. Anyway, I am not seek [partial word]-I am not, you know, expecting anything in future or in term of monastery or Buddhism. But I don't want to, you know, live-I don't want to live in the air. I want to be right here. I want to stand on my feet, you know. The only way to stand on my feet is when I am Tassajara I should be at Tassajara [laughs]. That is the reason why, you know, I am here. I want to be here. That is the most important thing for me: to stand on my feet and to sit on my black cushion. I don't trust anything but [laughs] my feet or my black cushion. This is my friend, always. My feet is always my friend. When I am in bed, my bed is my friend. There is no Buddha, or no Buddhism, or no zazen. If, you know, you ask me, "What is zazen?" you know, my answer will be, "To sit on black cushion is zazen," or "To walk with my feet is my zazen." To stay at this moment on this place is my zazen. There is no other zazen.

When I am really standing on my feet I am, you know, not lost. So, for me, that is, you know, nirvana, for me. So there is no need to travel, to cross, you know, mountain or river, for me. I am right here on the dharma world. So I have no difficulty to cross mountain and river. That is how, you know, we do not waste our time. Moment after moment we should live on this moment, right here, without sacrificing this moment for the future."

Excerpt from David Chadwick's "Suzuki Roshi Transcripts", July 6th, 1970. ]]>
How continuity enters practice- (a letter to a friend, rethought)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=61 ]]>Why the cross-legged posture?http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=60Comment on Brad Warner's blog entry, "Sitting In Chairs Is Not Zazen"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=59I can say that for me, I feel lucky to have inadvertently allowed the place of mind to develop enough feeling to accept the activity of the lotus; it's more about the free movement of mind than the lotus, but I could never have found the relationship between the witness of aversion and attraction and the free occurrence of mind without the lotus, and in particular without feeling for activity out of pitch, yaw, and roll at the sacrum. ]]>The feeling of mindhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=58
Lately I am cognizant of the feeling of mind, of thought. I sit and I sometimes relax into the activity of the posture, and toward the end of the sitting especially there's a definite feel to the edge of the stretch I find myself in. Sometimes I notice there's a feel to the edge of the thoughts I find myself in, I'm not too good at calming myself down but maybe the visual thinking is like that (and the wild kingdom)? ]]>
Letter to a friend, about "Remembering Kobun"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=57
Kobun on Zazen

I'm still working on the lotus, and this writing for me is a part of that; not everybody's cup of tea, but I hope it interests you.
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from a letter to a friendhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=56
And a dollar eighty, gets a cup of coffee. ]]>
The difficulty of practice, a note to Apech- from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=55I understand what you are saying about the difficulty of an intentional practice. I was doing a set of shape-mind (xing-yi) exercises that I learned from a book for a long time, and then last fall I just stopped doing them.

I still rely on the sense of location in consciousness, and relaxation. I remind myself that if I stay with consciousness and let myself relax, feeling will open up. I remind myself about how aversion, attraction, or ignorance can condition the place of occurrence of consciousness, and I look for it, to calm myself.

If I discover I have cut off the breath, I look for the pitch, yaw, and roll that every thing is showing me. That's about it for my practice, now.
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email to Adam Tebbe, editor of Sweeping Zenhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=54I just read the interview with Scott Edelstein, which I enjoyed- interesting to hear the news, as it were.

I used to go hear Kobun speak at the Santa Cruz zendo in the 70's, when I was a student at UCSC. One thing I remember Kobun said was "take your time with the lotus". I have finally learned to sit the lotus, although my feet can be a little numb when I get up; hopefully I can find my way to sit without pain and numbness, as he did. Heard him acknowledge that at a sitting at Jikoji in the early part of this century: he never had pain or numbness in the lotus; seiza he said was difficult for him, but not the lotus.

I think another way to approach zen in this country is to focus on the lotus. In the end, we can wake up or fall asleep to the location of consciousness, and either way when we relax into the activity that's present, we open an ability to feel. In my case, I gradually developed feeling that enabled me to sit the lotus; not bad, for waking up or falling asleep!

As to how we teach this, the only trick is to notice that attraction, aversion, or ignorance of the particular of feeling can condition the subsequent place of occurrence of consciousness; such a witness frees the occurrence of consciousness.

I myself studied a lot of things, to discover waking up or falling asleep was all I was doing in the lotus, and that everyone and everything around me was doing it too.
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Defining Enlightenment, from "The Tao Bums" Discussionhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=53
"The word Prajnaparamita comes through in its Sanskrit form. This means "Perfection of insight", the highest, clearest, most straightforward or most important insight. This word insight does not just refer to an intellectual insight like the solving of a mathematical equation. It is not to do with words. This is explicit in Roshi Kennets version which says "Deepest wisdom of the heart which is beyond discriminative thought". In other contexts the word Prajna means no thought, something which is insight."

(lecture by Dr. John Crook, from the Western Chan Fellowship site)


I'd like to put forward a slightly different way of seeing this. I think what I have to say has to do with enlightenment, but so do all the things people have mentioned on this thread.

I wrote a description of zazen, and I'm going to quote it here because I can't think of a way to say it any better, and this is my starting point:

"Simply by being where we are, we can come to forget the self. The sense of place engenders an ability to feel, and each thing we feel enters into the sense of place- even before we know it."

Two things I'd like to point out about that description; the first is that the sense of place is associated with the occurrence of consciousness, and the second is that the sense of place engenders an ability to feel because our sense of location in space (our sense of place) is intimately connected with our sense of balance, and our sense of balance creates activity and alignment that generates an ability to feel.

Which came first, Gautama the Buddha's experience of being with each thing, even before he knew it, or what he taught as the four truths about suffering? Like all of you, I'm sure, I would say neither; somehow they are part and parcel of the same experience and for me, descriptions like "beyond discriminative thought" and "no thought" go too far.

We are talking about an absorption. Consciousness takes place with contact between a sense organ and a sense object, the impact of the place of consciousness on fascial stretch produces activity that generates an ability to feel, and the spontaneous ability to feel allows the free occurrence of consciousness. This is an everyday occurrence for everyone. The enlightenment part is the witness of how aversion, attraction, or ignorance of what is felt conditions the occurrence of consciousness; this witness is spontaneous, and frees the occurrence of consciousness. This is also an everyday occurrence for everyone.

The practice as I understand it consists of relaxation and calm in the experience of a sense of place, and in the experience of the impact and feeling associated with that sense of place. A witness of suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and a way leading to the cessation of suffering becomes part of the practice, which is of course just ordinary life, as each thing we feel enters into the sense of place.

Maybe my favorite quote from Yuanwu (12th century China) is:

"When you arrive at last at towering up like a wall miles high, you will finally know that there aren't so many things."

(Zen Letters, Teachings of Yuanwu; trans. by Cleary & Cleary, page 83, copyright 1994 by J. C. Cleary and Thomas Cleary)]]>
Certifying Zenhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=52
Sometimes I wonder at that sense of imperative I felt when Kobun spoke. I know others who feel the same way about being in the presence of Shunryu Suzuki.

If we are talking about a religion, then I guess we have teachers and temples, and certification. If we are talking about action that accords equally with the past, present, and future, I'd like to see somebody certify that.
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'Zazen', from <a href="http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen/">"The Mudra of Zen"</a>http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=51Dogen said: "To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self."

Simply by being where we are, we can come to forget the self. The sense of place engenders an ability to feel, and each thing we feel enters into the sense of place- even before we know it.

This being where we are with each thing, even before we know it, is shikantaza. ]]>
On the effectiveness of mudras (response on Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=50
So here it is. As consciousness occurs, we have a sense of our location in space. This sense is keyed to the three motions possible in space; these motions are pitch, yaw and roll, just like with an airplane:

airplane pitch (pitch)
airplane yaw (yaw)
airplane roll (roll)

'an empty-mind sits the lotus' by Clay Atchison, used by permission

As regards the mudra commonly employed in Soto Zen practice, here's what I wrote:

"If the little fingers leave the abdomen, awareness of the forward and backward motion wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can restore the little fingers to the abdomen.

If the elbows lose their angle from the body, awareness of the side-to-side motion wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can restore the angle.

If the shoulders lose their roundedness, awareness of the turn left and right wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness can help restore the round to the shoulders."
The Mudra of Zen

(from The Mudra of Zen)


So that's a bit different, it says that the correct mudra just depends on an awareness of pitch, yaw, and roll wherever consciousness takes place and relaxation of the activity of the body in awareness. The trick is the recognition that consciousness moves, and has place, and activity follows out of that sense of place even in the absence of volition, yet this is as simple as a feeling for pitch, yaw, and roll where I am right now. And I have that feeling without trying, but I think it's also possible to bring mindfulness of this feeling forward to good effect, especially in relationship to our form/posture/carriage at the moment.

("At the Zendo" by Clay Atchison, by permission)]]>
what we're debating herehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=49
People are writing and speaking about the wisdom traditions. The more I read what the real scholars have to say, the more I realize how much was borrowed, how much was improvised, how much missed the mark in what the masters had to say.

The Gautamid taught the meditation on the unlovely, and scores of monks a day "took the knife" while he was on retreat; does that sound like his teaching was on the mark from the day of his enlightenment? (Pali Text Society, "Samyutta Nikaya", Volume 5, Chapter on In-Breathing and Out-Breathing).

Dogen borrowed most of his meditation manual "Fukanzazenji" from a Chinese manual, and rewrote it something like 40 times; did he feel it was important, and imperfect? (thanks, Carl Bielefeldt, "Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation", from the Koroku Fukan zazen gi; pg 175, copyright 1988 Regents of the University of California)

Have the words evolved over the years? I would say; the writings of Yuanwu and Foyan in 12th century China are particular favorites of mine.

The master-disciple relationship that characterizes Eastern wisdom-tradition training has little to do with the forms that are taught, or the scriptures that are passed down, or the rituals associated with the tradition. The Eastern traditions generally teach the form as the embodiment of the tradition, and then they go on to claim that there is something outside the form that must be transmitted from master to disciple. For example, in the Soto tradition they teach the posture and form of zazen and commend everyone to shikantaza as the way (see "Shobogenzo-zuimonki", sayings recorded by Koun Ejo, translated by Shohaku Okumura, 2-26, pg 107-108, copyright 2004 Sotoshu Shumucho), and then they state that Zen Buddhism cannot be mastered without a master-disciple relationship with a lineage teacher.

The difficulty is in the description of shikantaza, in teaching the posture and form of zazen as the movement of mind, as Shunryu Suzuki alluded to when he said:

"Sometimes when you think that you are doing zazen with an imperturbable mind, you ignore the body, but it is also necessary to have the opposite understanding at the same time. Your body is practicing zazen in imperturbability while your mind is moving." (Tassajara, Sunday June 28 1970, from www.cuke.com "Whole-Body Zazen)

My contention is that we can teach the fundamentals of the movement of mind, it's the same as waking up and falling asleep, and that with a little help from the peculiarly American discipline of cranial-sacral osteopathy we can teach the meaning of "pure hit-sit" (literal translation of shikantaza). As Issho Fujita says, we sometimes assume particular poses and postures as a reflection of our state of mind; what, then, is the state of mind that is inherent in the lotus posture? Or any other posture we find ourselves in?

I don't know if I'm the only one in the U.S.A. who had to teach himself how to sit the lotus. Sometimes I think that; folks I know either could sit the posture, or gave up on it, but nobody actually learned it. It's not perfect, my lotus, but I like doing it for 30 or 40 minutes in the morning. I like doing it because I understand there's really nothing to do, as I said in "Waking Up and Falling Asleep" (see "The Mudra of Zen", bottom of page):

"There's really nothing I can do to practice waking up and falling asleep, other than to accept being where I find myself at the moment. The beautiful part of it is, that's exactly the practice of waking up and falling asleep."

Is waking up and falling asleep zazen? If so, do we need a lineage holder to teach us how to wake up and fall asleep? If not, then where will you find it (this zazen)? ]]>
Waking Up and Falling Asleephttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=48

As I listen to the lectures at the Zen Center, I keep thinking that I too want to offer something about a practice that we all share. I'm referring to a practice that everybody already knows intimately, even if they don't usually think of it as a practice: waking up and falling asleep.

For me, waking up and falling asleep is one practice, and that practice is about a sense of physical location. Odd as it might sound, when I realize my physical sense of location in space, and realize it as it occurs from one moment to the next, I wake up or fall asleep as appropriate.

This is useful, when I wake up in the middle of the night and need to go back to sleep, or when I want to feel more physically alive in the morning. This is also useful when I want to feel my connection to everything around me, because my sense of place registers the contact of my awareness with each thing, as it occurs.

Just before I fall asleep, my awareness can move very readily, and my sense of where I am tends to move with it. As I wake up, the same thing is true, although I sometimes overlook it; my sense of where I am tends to move as my awareness moves. At these times, I realize that my ability to feel a sense of place is made possible in part by the freedom of my awareness to move.

I sometimes overlook the movement of my awareness because I attach to the feelings that arise in a particular instance of awareness, or I am averse to the feelings, or I ignore them. The result is that I lose my ability to feel the movement of awareness. At such a moment, I have the opportunity to witness first-hand the connection between attraction, aversion, or ignorance and the loss of my ability to feel. As I experience such a witness, my ability to feel returns to me, and with it my sense of the movement of awareness.

To me, what we do at the Zen Center is all about regaining a sense of place in our lives, about living life from exactly where we are. When we live our lives from exactly where we are, we make space for others to live their lives from exactly where they are, and in the process we discover the real connection between us all; this is the connection that depends on our ability to feel rather than on appearances, and so permits us to act appropriately even in the midst of our changing circumstances.

There's really nothing I can do to practice waking up and falling asleep, other than to accept being where I find myself at the moment. The beautiful part of it is, that's exactly the practice of waking up and falling asleep.

copyright 2011 Mark A. Foote







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On the Egyptian 'akh'http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=47 ("Pyramid Texts of King Unas Part 1" copyright Apepch7, contributed article on The Tao Bums site)

I'm suggesting that the free movement of awareness that is experienced in waking up and falling asleep is the "akh". I'm also suggesting that we don't see this all the time because we are attached, averse, or ignorant of the sense of location associated with the movement of consciousness.

I would also say that action that is precipitated by the sense of location without the exercise of volition is action which occurs from a state of freedom (and is appropriate, regardless of situation); as Kobun Chino Otogawa said, "you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around."

When the sun is in the void, the sun is in its place (and moving?), even though it is unseen. I'll have to reread the text, about whether there is a death and rebirth involved- is a connection to the entirety of creation implied, during the passage thru the void? You'd think I'd remember these things.

Checking the text:

"By tuning in to, or joining the sun's journey through the Dwat the Egyptians
sought the same power of eternal rebirth that the sun had. They understood this to be the key to immortality albeit in the spiritualized form called the 'akh'." (Ibid)

That's exactly my experience, by tuning into the sense of location of awareness even as I am falling asleep, I realize that my awareness moves, and when I tune in to that movement waking up I discover that this is a source of action beyond volition. ]]>
from a letter to a friendhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=46
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2nd Life, The Online Sangha, and zazenhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=45
This opens the door to 2nd Life practice.

In my own experience, I have come to understand practice this way: we not only have a pulmonary respiration (the ins and outs of which formed the basis of the Gautamid's practice of setting up mindfulness), but also a cranial-sacral respiration (a change in the fluid volume of the cerebral-spinal fluid that causes flexion and extension throughout the body, especially in the bones of the skull and at the sacrum); the two respirations place the occurrence of consciousness to cause the balance of the body to impact the current stretch in our fascial envelope, and thereby generate activity that aligns the body and opens feeling. Attachment, aversion, or ignorance of the particulars of feeling skews the subsequent placement of consciousness, while the spontaneous witness of how attachment, aversion, or ignorance skews the placement of consciousness frees the subsequent placement of consciousness.

What has this to do with virtual reality, or with traditional zazen practice in the cross-legged posture? here it is in the words of Dogen:

"When we let go of our minds and cast aside our views and understandings the Way will be actualized. One sage clarified True Mind (Reality) when he saw peach blossoms and another realized the Way when he heard the sound of tile hitting a bamboo. They attained the way through their bodies. Therefore, when we completely cast aside our thoughts and views and practice shikantaza, we will become intimate with the way... This is why I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly."

("Shobogenzo-zuimonki", sayings recorded by Koun Ejo, translated by Shohaku Okumura, 2-26, pg 107-108, copyright 2004 Sotoshu Shumucho)

"They attained the way through their bodies"; I'm not saying it isn't important to think, that joy in thinking isn't a good thing, or that it's possible to communicate through a computer without some physical activity (even if it's just a movement of the eyes, as I guess it is in some cases). I am saying that there's confusion about this point even among some teachers, so it's important to encourage the exploration of the relationship between the two involuntary respirations necessary to life, consciousness, and the happiness of well-being itself. Can this be done in virtual reality, where the physical activity is so minimal? Yeah, sure; the usual medium is the upright physical posture, though, because it's much easier to see involuntary reciprocal activity out of stretch. ]]>
the cessation that the Gautamid describedhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=44
right there, in front of us the whole time? ]]>
Muho of Antaiji takes a swing at Brad of 'The Truth About Hardcore Zen'http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=43
Personally I have respect for the Gautamid as a teacher of zazen, but not as a teacher of social norms. The Cannon makes clear he was a bit of a misogynist, and of course the Order split after his death over the question of whether or not an arahant could have a wet dream. Masturbation meant you went to the bottom of the food line; having children as a monk was out of the question.

I think in the West we are obliged to speak to the happiness that the Gautamid associated with meditative states; if zazen is just hard reality training, or is described that way, then the dream that I and many others have of the lotus becoming a more common practice in the West will remain unrealized. Could be that no amount of insightful description will convey how the practice is associated with happiness, and I should read more of the gentleman's talks I suppose, but I'm guessing Brad is closer to such description than the Abbot at the moment. ]]>
'At some point within Buddhism do you lose the structure?'- manitou, on Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=42
The Gautamid started out teaching the four fields of mindfulness, the seven factors of enlightenment, the four truths, and the eight-fold path. In my estimation, something changed after the suicide of many of his monks due to the meditation on the unlovely, which he also taught (it's in Samyutta Nikaya volume 5 in the chapter on "the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths"). When he came out of retreat and realized the situation, he described his practice before and after enlightenment as "concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths", and he said this was a thing that was lovely in and of itself, and a pleasant way of life too. Notice that he no longer is directing his monks to the unlovely as a means for the recognition of impermanence, nor is he advocating striving for enlightenment in some other way. Of course, the concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths he described involves in part the experience of impermanence, detachment, cessation, or relinquishment in connection with the breath in or out, yet the emphasis is markedly changed.

He also describes the experience of sense organ, sense object, consciousness, impact, and feeling with respect to each of the senses as a way wherein fevers of the mind and body gradually diminish, and the eight fold way, the factors of enlightenment, and all the rest can develop and come to fruition (Majjhima-Nikaya, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338, copyright Pali Text Society). This too represents a different emphasis than that of the earlier teachings, at least it does to me.

When the Gautamid died, he said, "everything changes- work out your own salvation". He told the monks they didn't have to observe all the rules anymore, just the principal three, but nobody could say which three he meant with any certainty so they went on observing them all.

So at what point do I lose the structure? I think only out of a necessity at the moment, as that necessity is realized. As Shunryu Suzuki said, it's a mistake to think you can sit zazen- only zazen can sit zazen. I would say, it's a mistake for me to think that I can lose the structure. It helps me to know that the Gautamid's practice concerned mindfulness connected with in-breaths and out-breaths; it helps me to know that the anatomy behind that is the support for the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae provided by the ilio-lumbar ligaments, and to know that this support is crucial to the free movement of the sacrum in the cranial-sacral rhythm. It helps me to know that it's about consciousness that occurs because of contact between a sense organ and a sense object, it's about impact in the fascial structure as a result of consciousness, and it's about an ability to feel that follows out of activity generated by impact. Most of all, it helps me to know that aversion to the particular of feeling, attraction to the particular, or ignorance of it can condition the subsequent occurrence of consciousness; I can witness the conditional nature of consciousness for myself, and experience the cessation of volitive activity in perception and sensation as a result of such a witness. There's a certain happiness in this that draws me as a necessity, at any given moment.]]>
"to be actualized by the myriad things" (Dogen)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=41on dreaming- from the Castaneda thread, on Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=40
Just the occasional lucid dream. Sweet dreams! ]]>
"...where we are sits, stands, and moves beyond doubt."http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=39
We forget ourselves in our habitual activity, and we also forget ourselves in activity that is generated without any intent. As consciousness takes place, we realize an ability to feel. When our experience of our ability to feel acquires continuity, we can lose ourselves in "being where we are" (the famous Zen master Yuanwu advised a student in a letter, "just be where you are, 24/7").

In my experience, the continuity of the ability to feel is really only the fluidity of changes in the alignment of the body, in response to the occurrence of consciousness and the necessity of breath at the moment.

Gautama the Buddha described consciousness as a phenomena that only occurred out of contact between a sense organ and a sense object. The continuity of consciousness he described as an illusion, similar to the illusion of the existence of fire independent of fuel; when a forest fire leaps between the tops of trees, he said, an illusion of the existence of fire independent of fuel is created, yet the truth of the matter is that fire only burns when there is fuel. Similarly, he said, consciousness only exists because of contact between a sense organ and a sense object, and can be described as "eye consciousness", "ear consciousness", "nose consciousness", "tongue consciousness", "touch consciousness", or "thought consciousness". For one who observes sense organ, sense object, consciousness, impact, and feeling with regard to each of the senses, he said, the eight-fold path to the end of suffering and all the factors of enlightenment develop and go to fruition. In this instance, I believe the impact Gautama referred to is the impact of the occurrence of consciousness on the balance of the body and on the stretch associated with that balance; from impact comes activity that affects the alignment of the spine, and the ability to feel.

Dogen described his practice as "shikantaza"- literally "pure hit sit" or "just hit sit". The focus here is on the instance of feeling that results from the impact of the occurrence of consciousness on the stretch inherent in balance. In contrast, the Gautamid described his practice before and after enlightenment as "the development of mindfulness that is mindfulness of in-breaths and out-breaths". Each particular in his statement of this practice was framed in the context of mindfulness of inhalation, or mindfulness of exhalation. In my experience, the occurrence of consciousness, the impact of the occurrence of consciousness on fascial stretch, and the ability to feel realized through such impact only make possible a continuity of feeling out of a necessity of breath; therefore, as far as forgetting the self, to me the practice of Dogen and the practice of Gautama the Buddha are one and the same.

Simply by being where we are as we are, we can come to forget ourselves, as Dogen suggested. I would say this experience is a lot like hypnosis: when an awareness of the necessity of a particular movement of breath comes forward, the free occurrence of consciousness and the relaxation of activity can allow our posture (or even our gesture or carriage) to be realized in the continuity of feeling. We forget ourselves out of necessity, and where we are sits, stands, and moves beyond doubt.


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the breathing techniques..are they supposed to help you achieve a certain state of mindhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=38
Sounds like you are up against it with family, and friends aren't much help; I can sympathize with your desperation, sometimes the breathing is just there for me and the mind and the stretch I have come to learn follow. ]]>
response to 'why does it happen to me', from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=37
The Gautamid taught that intention gives rise to a station of consciousness, from which the graspings ultimately emerge (grasping after self with regard to body, feeling, mind, habitual activity, or consciousness). The existence of the graspings is synonymous with suffering; "my body, my feeling, my mind, my routine, my consciousness".

The practice the Gautamid said was his own, both before and after enlightenment, was the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths. At the same time, he described this practice as a thing satisfactory in and of itself, without regard to any attainment. His practice began, he said, with sitting down cross-legged, holding the body erect, setting mindfulness in front, and being mindful of inhalation, mindful of exhalation.

It comes down to this: there are physical practices of prayer, in the lotus, on the knees, doing the Sufi zikir or dancing, doing Tai-Chi, and these practices focus attention on action that arises from the stretch of ligaments without the exercise of volition. The extent of the movement of breath in and the extent of the movement of breath out guides the extent of the stretch and activity appropriate in the instant. The place of occurrence of consciousness is the embodiment of stretch and breath, and the impact of the occurrence of consciousness on the fascial stretch aligns the spine and allows feeling throughout the body and to the surface of the skin. When we witness how the place of occurrence of consciousness can be conditioned by attachment, aversion, or ignorance, the witness frees the occurrence of consciousness.

There's nobody there, the only real practice is the one that's necessary to breathe and stretch and feel at the moment, and somehow I need the lotus to find the intuition of my heart. ]]>
seeing true nature- from Ted Biringer's Flatbed Sutra bloghttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=36
Now I would say according to the Gautamid suffering is the five groups of grasping, and again per the Gautamid the origin of suffering is ignorance. The cessation of suffering is the cessation of ignorance, and the eight-fold path leads to the cessation of ignorance.

Ready to jump on me, buddy? I bet you are! -In the lecture on the six-fold sense field in Majjhima Nikaya (three), we discover that the experience of sense organ, sense object, consciousness, impact, and feeling with regard to each of the six senses completes the eight-fold path. In Samyutta Nikaya in the chapter on "intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths", we find that the Gautamid's practice before and after his enlightenment keyed on mindfulness of in-breaths and out-breaths, and included as the second part of the practice mindfulness of the length of the particular movement of breath (didn't Dogen's teacher contradict the wisdom of this instruction?).

In my practice, the length of the particular movement of breath informs the extent of physical stretch and reciprocal activity through the place of occurrence of consciousness, and there is feeling. It's sufficient to be where I am 24/7, and yet I agree with you: a witness of the placement of consciousness conditioned by ignorance, aversion, or attraction frees the place of occurrence of consciousness, and hence "seeing true nature" is a natural part of well-being that is to be expected in daily life.]]>
response to question by Idquest, from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=35
Thanks."


Focus on the occurrence of consciousness, the impact of the occurrence of consciousness on the fascial stretch in existence as consciousness occurs, and the ability to feel opened by activity generated by the fascial stretch. That sounds pretty heavy-handed, yet it's really a matter of being able to realize the inhalation or exhalation at the moment, as the autonomic nervous system intends the inhalation or exhalation to be.

Chen Man-Ch'ing in "Thirteen Chapters" (the Wile translation, page 17) says, "with this method of circulating the ch'i, it overflows into the sinews, reaches the bone marrow, fills the diaphragm, and manifests in the skin and hair." So I would say look to the reciprocal activity generated by the stretch of sinews (ligaments and fascia can generate nerve signals to cause muscular contraction to relieve their stretch), look to pitch, yaw, and roll where awareness takes place (informed by the structure of the body, no doubt), let the ability to feel allow the movement of breath to be realized, let the occurrence of consciousness and impact open the ability to feel throughout the body to the surface of the skin.

From the Pali Suttas, where Gautama describes the feeling of the fourth of the inital meditative states:

"... it is as if (a person) might be sitting down who had clothed (themselves) including (their) head with a white cloth; there would be no part of (their) whole body not covered by the white cloth. Even so, ... (a person), having suffused this very body with a mind that is utterly pure, utterly clean, comes to be sitting down; there is no part of the whole body that is not suffused by a mind that is utterly pure, utterly clean." (PTS Majjhima Nikaya III 134, parentheticals paraphrase original).

Now the rupa jhannas are marked by increasing equanimity of mind, and this is the purity that the Gautamid refers to. I remind myself to include each thing in the possibility of awareness, yet realize the activity out of the current sense of place in consciousness, and use that activity out of stretch to allow a natural breath. The equanimity follows with a witness of how attachment to the content of feeling, aversion to the content of feeling, or ignorance of the content of feeling can condition the subsequent place of occurrence of consciousness; the witness frees the occurrence of consciousness to take place anywhere in the body, on the skin, outside. Sort of like the mind just before falling asleep, when it moves freely- at least that's my experience of it. ]]>
Reverse breathinghttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=34
The autonomic respirations coordinate through the place of occurrence of consciousness (illustrated with a gyroscope) to cause action that opens the nerve channels between vertebrae; thus, the place that consciousness occurs has impact and opens feeling, through the body to the surface of the skin and in the senses.

We all know what it feels like to stretch, and how close stretch can be to pain; a lot of my practice is learning what is stretching at the moment, and how to relax and allow stretch and activity to reciprocate as consciousness takes place. The length of the movement of breath can be a guide to healthy stretch and the subsequent involuntary activity, both with the breath in and with the breath out.

With that in mind, the impact and feeling as consciousness takes place in inhalation tends to result in reciprocal activity that draws upward and inward, while the impact and feeling as consciousness takes place in exhalation tends to result in activity that sinks downward and forward. This is my experience, when the length of the movement of breath guides the stretch and activity as consciousness occurs, and I believe this is because the ilio-lumbar ligaments from the pelvis to the 4th lumbar vertebrae engage on the inhalation (they are vertical), and the ilio-lumbar ligaments from the pelvis to the 5th lumbar vertebrae engage on the exhalation (they are horizontal).

When the length of the movement of breath guides the stretch and activity as consciousness occurs, reverse breathing is already taking place, even though each breath is completely natural.]]>
Response to Chunyi Lin interview, on Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=33
Even though we are talking about "unproveable" realities, I believe we can find a Western vocabulary to describe relationships that demonstrate these realities exist. This is like physicists discovering the existence of habitable planets thousands of light years away by examining perturbations in the orbits of their stars; the planets themselves are unobservable, but their existence is demonstrated in the effect they have on the stars we can track.

I have no intention of practicing reverse breathing. That doesn't mean I don't do reverse breathing some of the time, especially in the lotus or on the dance floor, and maybe it's useful to some people to very deliberately start out to do reverse breathing some of the time.

I look to see how the place that my consciousness occurs has impact and opens feeling, in the instant. I recognize that there's a stretch in existence throughout the fascial structure of my body as consciousness takes place, and that the autonomic respirations coordinate through the place of occurrence of consciousness to cause action that opens the nerve channels between vertebrae; thus, the place that consciousness occurs has impact and opens feeling, through the body to the surface of the skin and in the senses.

We all know what it feels like to stretch, and how close stretch can be to pain; a lot of my practice now is learning what is stretching, and how to relax and allow stretch and activity to reciprocate as consciousness takes place. The length of the movement of breath can be a guide to healthy stretch and the subsequent involuntary activity, both with the breath in and with the breath out.

The recognition that aversion to pain, attachment to pleasure, or ignorance of neutral sensations can condition the subsequent place of occurrence of consciousness is vital to me, as this recognition precedes a witness that is itself the end of suffering at the moment. The natural mind, as it were, has within it the end of suffering; we are all healers, and I think it's important to let ourselves be healed rather than to set out toward any particular breathing.
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isolating the motion of the sacrumhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=32An Interview with Dr. John Upledger, D.O., O.M.M.).

Isolating the motion of the sacrum is important, because the fundamental postural activity is generated by the stretch of the ligaments that connect the sacrum to the pelvis. There are ligaments between the sacrum and the wings of the pelvis, ligaments between the sacrum and the sit-bones (the sacrospinous ligaments), and ligaments between the sacrum and the front underside of the pelvis on the left and on the right (the sacro-tuberous ligaments). Stretched ligaments can generate muscular activity to relieve their stretch, without any exercise of volition; when the ligaments are paired there's a phenomena called "reciprocal innervation" that arises as ligaments alternate stretch and activity from side to side.

The way to generate feeling for stretch and activity is to attend to the place of occurrence of consciousness, as necessary to realize the breath in or the breath out, and relax. ]]>
what I am as where I amhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=31
This is like juggling three balls, which I'll bet you've done, not like the mindfulness practice most Vipassana teachers in this country prescribe; at least, that's how it feels to me, when I discover that I have the need to feel what I am as where I am.

I strongly disagree with the notion that the description of a practice given to beginners is of no consequence, that a dumbed-down version can be given because a beginner cannot appreciate the real thing, or worse yet the assumption that no real description can be made. We have the record of the efforts of the ancestors to make such a description, over and over again. This is my quarrel with most of the teachers and practices I hear about, that they do not take seriously the need to make plain the practice in which they engage, and they do not feel a responsibility to make consistent the understanding they put forward with the experience of the beginner. It doesn't have to be simple, it just has to be verifiable, you know?
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response to Rainbow_Vein on Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=29
So your practice is very clear, as to the relationship of the movement of breath and the free movement of the sacrum. You are describing how it feels, and a big trick for me is that the sense of place as consciousness occurs can cause the stretch in existence to generate activity to align the spine and produce feeling. This is a big trick because if I put all my energy into feeling the breath or the movement of the sacrum, I will finally lose actual feeling for having directed the occurrence of consciousness to the particular place. So I think to rely instead on the movement of breath and the cranial-sacral rhythm to place consciousness, and I look to realize impact as consciousness occurs, impact and feeling. Is this natural? It is really just staying with what's happening, not a gaining practice.

My posture is pretty bent, usually, so I envy you the clarity of "up the spine". I guess the reason I mentioned learning to dance is because that's where I sometimes feel an uprightness in the spine both on the inhale and the exhale, yet the feeling is intimately tied to resting the weight of my body on the sacrospinous and sacrotuberous ligaments and allowing movement from that stretch. At least, that's the way I feel it. ]]>
asleep/awake, from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=28
My hope is that the more I recognize the stretch I am in as consciousness occurs, and the more I can accept the feeling associated with that stretch and relax into the activity, the more readily I wake up and fall asleep. There's a funny goal, isn't it?

The discontiguous moment of feeling is the continuity, in a very real sense; goals can obscure the discontiguous moment of feeling, yet the experience of well-being may sometimes return to us through luke-warm placemarks of understanding and feeling. Doesn't it seem so?
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response to question, from cat on Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=27
As to consciousness rooted in the body and the heart, I certainly have benefited from Goleman s "Emotional Intelligence", where he describes the way the amygdala charges memories with adrenalin and then can override our learned behaviour patterns when something comes up that matches the memory. In order to experience the place that consciousness occurs as moving, I have to deal with a fear of falling, and the thing I do with my consciousness and my body as a consequence of that fear conceals the movement of consciousness and the involuntary activity of the body that keeps me upright. I realize you are perhaps talking about responding more from emotion than intellect to your circumstance, but that's all I can say about it with regard to sense organ sense contact-consciousness-impact-feeling.

I don't think it has to do with a trigger (people collapsing next to me when I am practicing intensely). In both instances I described, I was looking to develop feeling for activity generated by weight on the sacro-spinous and sacro-tuberous ligaments. There is a balance in anything like this, between looking for feeling and experiencing the free occurrence of consciousness, and at some point the free occurrence of consciousness is the activity of the reciprocal muscle pairs and we step beyond volition. That is how a person develops what the masters refer to as tenacious strength, rather than muscular strength; the ligaments and fascia generate activity at a certain level of stretch, and the stretch and activity reciprocate between the paired ligaments and between paired ligaments around the body. I have years of experience letting go and allowing my body to walk on, so to speak.

Having said that, I have to add that to really let go is to experience a continuity, and the continuity for me is in the whole she-bang: sense organ/sense contact-consciousness-impact-feeling.
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consciousness conditioned by ignorance, attachment, or aversionhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=26
It's not necessary in my experience to look for consciousness to appear like an object under a strobe light; for me, it's more like my thought ends, or whatever I was occupied with ends, and very naturally I have a sense of my presence. Underlying this presence is a sense of pitch, yaw, and roll, just like a pilot flying a plane by the seat of their pants; all I have to do is try to follow the place my awareness occurs a little bit to realize the connection with balance, and location in space. If I can relax into this sense of place in awareness, it moves; if I get lucky, then I can notice that my aversion to pain, my attraction to pleasant sensations, and my ignorance of feeling can skew the place my awareness occurs. The witness is the release, that restores the spontaneous occurrence of awareness.

There's no doer in any of this, really.
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hypnosis + 'the most important thing'http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=25
The witness of the place of occurrence of consciousness conditioned by attachment, aversion, or ignorance surely frees the place of occurrence of consciousness, if living the life of purity to make an end of suffering is the most important thing.
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from Hardcore Zen commentshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=24
The transformation of culture depends on people having fun, and yet it also depends on people learning how to stretch into fun. The carrot here is people that can demonstrate fun consistently, like Brad Warner (and apparently Zero Defex?), like Nina Hartley, like Kobun's successor Vanja Palmers on the dance floor (ok, haven't seen it but I'm sure it's true), while also demonstrating a proclivity for stretch. That is contagious. Brad is writing to demonstrate the peculiar fun of experiencing a lack of self in a posture of prayer, sexual or otherwise. ]]>
Last time I saw Kobunhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=23
So it can be done, that's my take. The motion at the sacrum allows the weight of the body to trigger reciprocal innervation in the ligaments that connect the sacrum to the pelvis; that would be the sacro-iliac, sacro-spinous, and sacro-tuberous ligaments. Motion is generated at the sacrum, at the hips, down through the legs, back up the legs and the spine, forward and back between the extensors and the psoas, and in the movement of breath. In the end, the place of occurrence of consciousness sits the lotus, and it moves if you let it so that everything sits the lotus, without exception; attachment, aversion, and ignorance can be observed to condition the place of occurrence of consciousness, and the witness allows the end of a suffering. ]]>
comment, Warner's "Hardcore Zen"http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=22
I made comments on Gudo Nishijima's blog because I believe like him that there can be a fusion of Western and Eastern sciences. I got a very cordial response, even a request that I help Brad, and then what I felt was disinterest. Gudo didn't respond to the ideas I put forward, except to say that he didn't follow links to other sites. Can't blame him, I wish him well.

Gudo talks about balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic nervous systems, yet I have yet to find any elaboration of his meaning beyond a vague description of the two systems. I myself am convinced that the sense of place in consciousness as consciousness occurs serves the two autonomic respirations, the pulmonary and the primary (cranial-sacral osteopathy refers to the changes in fluid volume of the dural fluid as the primary respiration). This is actually very similar to Gudo's sympathetic and parasympathetic, in that the one is centered around the sacrum, lower abdomen, and skull, and the other around the chest. The balance for me is really just the place of mind when consciousness occurs spontaneously, and when the place consciousness occurs is conditioned by ignorance, attachment, or aversion, a witness of how the place of consciousness is conditioned serves to free the occurrence of consciousness.

As far as the physics, the sense of place leads the balance of the body, and generates reciprocal innervation in the fascia and ligaments that stretch when we sit or stand, or even just breathe. The sense of place is sufficient to the appropriate action of posture.

As far as the spiritual, there is a phenomena connected with the movement of breath that enables the contact of sense to extend beyond our physical limitations, seemingly.

I think it's possible to write the meditation manual that Dogen set out to write when he came back from China; he stole most of it (see Bielefeldt's "Dogen 's Meditation Manuals"), and he didn't have enough science. Neither do we, but thanks to John Upledger we are close!
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The End of Suffering, from Brad Warner's sitehttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=21
I know from Brad's comments in his posts in the past that he doesn't always read through the comments. He admonished himself once for this, as his teacher, Gudo Nishijima, always does. You could check Nishijima's blog, if you' re interested in Brad's lineage teacher.

I do think that everyone realizes the end of suffering all the time, and that the teachers who inspired me in the past were all keenly aware of this, and of their own inabilities. Like Brad, these were (and are) Soto Zen teachers, for whom the sitting practice is the teaching, in essence.

I think we have a vocabulary now to express the basics of that sitting practice in words, but it's not possible have an understanding substitute for a witness of experience. The end of suffering is the witness of the place of consciousness conditioned by attraction, aversion, or ignorance, and the experience of action out of the free occurrence of consciousness that follows. If I don't experience consciousness taking place, and the involuntary action connected with that experience, then I own my suffering until I do, and prayer in one posture or another is the only approach I know.

How about you?
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"attunement"- comment on double-binds, from Tao Bumshttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=20 ]]>zazen (animation)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=19

zazen- the respiration of breath and the respiration of the cranial-sacral system coordinate the place of occurrence of consciousness; the place of occurrence of consciousness impacts the fascial structure, the stretch of fascia generates muscular activity, and the reciprocity of stretch and activity opens the ability to feel. The Bridge That Flows, by Mark Foote (from www.zenmudra.com)
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Have you ever really practiced non-thinking?http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=18
The motion of the sacrum is how I sit the lotus; I don t put my mind in my left palm the way Suzuki advocated, yet I do find my mind where my little fingers touch the abdomen a lot. And the reciprocal of that, which is in the stretches around the sacrum. Those stretches do enter into the length of the breath in or out, now and then. That s all I know.
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The Lancet of Seated Meditation (Zazenshin)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=17
Chris the lecturer also spoke about Zhengjue's "The Lancet of Seated Meditation", which Chris said could be translated as "The Acupuncture Needle of Seated Meditation". Chris talked about the last lines:

The water is clear right through to the bottom;
A fish goes lazily along.
The sky is vast without horizon;
A bird flies far far away.

Chris mentioned that the acupuncture needle was a reference to mind, maybe because the title is "zazenshin". I don't know if his translation information is correct, but I like to think that makes the poem title "The acupuncture mind of seated meditation". This would be what I'm talking about, the cranial-sacral respiration and the pulmonary respiration use the place of occurrence of consciousness to effect stretch and open feeling, in a kind of healing acupuncture by mind.

Here's the whole poem as translated by Carl Bielefeldt, from the Stanford project (zazenshin):


LANCET OF SEATED MEDITATION
by Zhengjue
by imperial designation the Chan Master Spacious Wisdom

Essential function of buddha after buddha,
Functioning essence of ancestor after ancestor --
It knows without touching things;
It illumines without facing objects.
Knowing without touching things,
Its knowing is inherently subtle;
Illumining without facing objects,
Its illumining is inherently mysterious.
Its knowing inherently subtle,
It is ever without discriminatory thought;
Its illumining inherently mysterious,
It is ever without a hair's breadth of sign.
Ever without discriminatory thought,
Its knowing is rare without peer;
Ever without a hair's breadth of sign,
Its illumining comprehends without grasping.
The water is clear right through to the bottom;
A fish goes lazily along.
The sky is vast without horizon;
A bird flies far far away.

Nice poem, and the curious part of it is that Zhengjue is talking about two things through the whole poem, yet the title is about the mind/healing needle of zazen.

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in Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "make the inner like the outer" (Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=16
That our consciousness of the inner affects our awareness of the outer, and vice-versa, has to do with the station of consciousness, as the Gautamid described it. If we ignore stretch proximal to painful overextension, we lose the action generated involuntarily out of stretch; our fear of losing our balance, losing our control of our balance, is important to notice. My fear, my anxiety, important right now for me to notice. Calm helps me accept that the involuntary activity that my consciousness generates as it moves is the heart of the matter, as far as opening feeling, and I can't help moving toward more ability to feel. My breath will take me there, my spine will take me there, my consciousness is there without trying. We lose the stretch when we sleep, to some extent, can't be helped I suppose.

ruminations from cow pastures in northern california, on a beautiful spring night! ]]>
from a Tao Bums discussion of moving objects with the mindhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=15
"Sometimes zazen gets up and walks around", Kobun Chino Otogawa said; "The windy element" moves the body, Buddhaghosa wrote; "to one who knows thus, sees thus, there are no illusions that mine is the doer with respect to this consciousness-informed body", the Gautamid said.

"An empty hand grasps the hoe-handle
Walking along, I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still"- from Fuxi, 5th century C.E.

"the bridge is flowing, the water is still"- here is a wonderful explanation of this line from a Shunryu Suzuki lecture (edited by Bill Redican):

"You may say that your mind is practicing zazen and ignore your body, the practice of your body. Sometimes when you think that you are doing zazen with an imperturbable mind, you ignore the body, but it is also necessary to have the opposite understanding at the same time. Your body is practicing zazen in imperturbability while your mind is moving."

Suzuki also said, "only zazen can sit zazen". Now I would say, the body practicing zazen in imperturbability while the mind is moving is zazen that sits zazen, and at such time the action of the body apart from the movement of mind is still. As Kobun said, the action of the body with the movement of mind can sometimes get up and walk. If you want to see it for yourself, then I think you have to arrive at a necessity of breath that depends on the free occurrence of consciousness, on the impact of that consciousness in the stretch already in existence, and on the feeling that is opened through activity out of impact. To arrive at our own necessity, we must witness how aversion to pain, attraction to pleasure, or ignorance of the sensation which is neither can condition the occurrence of consciousness.

I am not saying to do anything.
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words from Shunryu Suzukihttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=14
hope your sitting is going well. I am still inspired by our conversation, and tonight I chance upon these words from Shunryu Suzuki:

"You may say that your mind is practicing zazen and ignore your body, the practice of your body. Sometimes when you think that you are doing zazen with an imperturbable mind, you ignore the body, but it is also necessary to have the opposite understanding at the same time. Your body is practicing zazen in imperturbability while your mind is moving."

Tassajara, Sunday, June 28, 197 (edited by Bill Redican)

(This of course is from a longer lecture, off David Chadwick's site at www.cuke.com)

If that's so, then the question might be, is the mind that is moving practicing zazen like the other parts of the body? Suzuki says "Check to see that each part of your body is doing zazen independently."

So the action comes out of the part in mind, and out of the mind as a part, that's how I see zazen.

all for now, hope it s a good night up there. ]]>
the long and the short of inhalation and exhalation (from Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=13
My experience has been this: at some point in my practice, the long and the short of inhalation and exhalation enters in. It's taken me a lot of years and a lot of luck to discover that the "cross-legged" posture is more about the cranial-sacral rhythm than the pulmonary rhythm, but having found that out I still discover that there is a moment where the apprehension of the character of the specific movement of breath enters in. To my mind, this is in fact the most difficult aspect of the Gautamid s practice to discover in my own experience (even though in the "intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths" he goes on to describe mindfulness of impermanence, detachment, cessation, and relinquishment).

I can't speak to the context of Dogen s remarks, or those of his teacher, but I can say that as in hypnosis, only the positive and substantive suggestion makes it for me on some level. The Gautamid was remarkable for saying positive, substantive things about the relationships that matter, and many Zen teachers who no doubt were (are) saints in their own right have been content to be the left hand to his right, and speak mostly in "no" and "not". I myself have found the vocabulary I needed to learn to sit the lotus in the literature of cranial-sacral therapy, in the facts of anatomy, and in the teachings in the sutta volumes of the Pali Canon.

In that vocabulary, the place of occurrence of consciousness is dictated largely by the needs of the pulmonary and cranial-sacral respirations. Gudo Nishijima speaks of SNS and PNS, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system; turns out one of these concerns the heart and lungs and chest area, and the other concerns the sacrum and cranium (and the guts). I wish Gudo were able to explain his theory more completely, but I can understand that he cannot (at least I haven't seen the explanation, if he has it). At any rate, the key for me is that the place of occurrence of consciousness can precipitate action in the body, the sense of place in the contact of the six senses has impact on the fascial stretch throughout the body as consciousness takes place, and the impact of the sense of place on the stretch can open feeling to the surface of the skin throughout the body.

The other difficulty in the Gautamid's teaching is his use of the word impact, as in the sermon on the six-fold sense field in majjhima nikaya. Kobun Chino said that the literal meaning of the components of the word shikantaza is something like "pure hit sit", and I believe this "hit" is the impact in the fascial stretch of the occurrence of consciousness(and activity is initiated by that stretch, without the exercise of volition), and this accords well with the Gautamid's teaching. ]]>
"... it takes a LONG TIME ..." (from Warner's Hardcore Zen blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=12 "it's just that, for almost all of us, it takes a LONG TIME, and doing "the basics" (zazen) a LOT, to fully ACCEPT that this is all there is!"

I'd like to point out that Shunryu Suzuki said, "only zazen can sit zazen", and Kobun Chino Otogawa said "you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around". Yes, the lotus will force a person to recognize the cranial-sacral rhythm at the sacrum, and involuntary action generated by the stretch of ligaments; yes, it's possible to recognize that the location of consciousness affects the posture, and through the posture the ability to feel; nevertheless, there's still nothing that can be done to move a person one iota closer to a witness of how attachment to the pleasant or aversion to the unpleasant conditions the occurrence of consciousness. Fortunately such a witness is an every day thing. ]]>
Has anyone come anywhere close to 'the end of all suffering' even after decades of practice?http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=11
I guess I could cite as evidence the fact that the Gautamid described his practice before and after enlightenment as "the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths" (samyutta nikaya vol 5). He didn't turn a corner and stop practicing, after his enlightenment; he didn't claim to have made an end of suffering at some point in his life. When he brought the five ascetics into the order, he said, "come, live the life of purity to make an end of suffering", so the question is really how you live the life of purity. The three poisons he could dispense with at will, yet he said that after he spoke to his disciples he returned to "that sign of concentration in which I ever abide"; that means he left his sign of concentration when he spoke, and any temporary extinction of suffering he might have attained through concentration. In paranibana sutta he describes his condition in his old age as like a cart, kept rolling through the assistance of rope ties and temporary fixes everywhere, due to its rickety nature.

In the sermon on the six-fold sense fields in majjhima nikaya, he states that anyone, knowing and seeing as it really is sense organ, sense object, consciousness out of contact between sense organ and sense object, impact due to consciousness, and feeling associated with impact has already purified action of body, speech, and livelihood, and in such a one the other elements of the eight-fold path and all the factors of enlightenment can be expected to develop and reach fruition. As I wrote somewhere below, everyone realizes consciousness, impact, and feeling with regard to sense as it really is in the course of a day; the significance of the realization is hidden, until an end of suffering is necessary.
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THE END OF SUFFERING IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU (from Brad Warner s Hardcore Zen blog)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=10
As you know, Dogen opens "Fukan zazen gi" by wondering why, if the whole being is far beyond defilement, anyone could believe in a method to polish it.

I think you've left that out of your discussion, and that's the hardest part of Buddhism to comprehend, which is why it was Dogen s question on the way to China and the first thing he sought to address when he got back. That is, if the end of suffering is accessible to all and a part of daily life, then why a practice like zazen?

I wrote toward this question in my "unauthorized and incomplete guide to zazen", and the answer I found was that our postural activity comes largely out of the stretch of fascia and ligaments, yet the activity out of stretch doesn't begin until the stretch is almost uncomfortable. So if we are averse to the painful (or attached to the pleasant, or ignorant), consciousness no longer takes place spontaneously, no longer occurs where it needs to occur in order for the activity of the body to balance naturally, and we experience a separation from ourselves and everyone else that is suffering. A key point being that everyone can and does witness activity out of the impact of consciousness on stretch, and everyone can and does experience the ability to feel generated by impact, but only those who seek an end to suffering realize the significance of the experience.

yers truly, Mark
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Connecting the upper thighs and the perineum (from Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=9
The top of the thighs and the perineum, myself I look for the stretch from the sacrum to the sit-bones to generate activity in the obturators, which rocks the pelvis side to side on the hip bones. The obturators run under the pelvis, and can lift the pelvis off the hips slightly as they contract. I look for stretch in the sacro-tuberous ligaments running diagonally from the sacrum to the lower front of the pelvis, and activity in the piriformis from the upper legs to the sacrum as a result. There is also activity in the PC as a result of this, and likewise as a result of the pivot of the sacrum on the wings of the pelvis. Fundamentally the place of occurrence of consciousness and the stretch occasioned by the place of occurrence develop feeling.

I confess my mind is not in the tan-tien that much. I do practice a lot with sensing the coordination of the motion of the sacrum in the muscles of the abdomen where my little fingers touch, doing the mudra of soto zen; side to side, diagonally from the thighs, and up from the pelvis, both little fingers on the lower abdomen.
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what I needed to learn myself was how to let it all fall together (from Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=8is enlightenment obtained with the body, or the mind- part 2 (from Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=7zazen shin), translating Dogen's words, and here Dogen continues the story about polishing a tile:

Daji said, "How can you produce a mirror by polishing a tile?"
Nanyue replied, "How can you make a buddha by sitting in meditation (zazen)?"
Daji asked, "Then, what is right?"
Nanyue replied, "When someone is driving a cart, if the cart doesn t go, should he beat the cart or beat the ox?"
Daji had no response.
Nanyue went on, "Are you studying seated meditation or are you studying seated buddha?"
"If you re studying seated meditation, meditation is not sitting or reclining."
"If you re studying seated buddha, buddha is no fixed mark."
"If you re studying seated buddha, this is killing buddha."
"If you grasp the mark of sitting, you re not reaching its principle."

In Dogen s Manuals of Zen Meditation, at least the first edition, Bielefeldt offered "if you re studying seated meditation, meditation is not sitting still", which I kind of prefer. I love Bielefeldt s book, because it makes clear that Dogen rewrote his zazen instructions many times, and borrowed much of his original content from a Chinese manuscript. Still amazing.

Of course Dogen got the famous bit about dropping mind and body from his teacher in China. Yet his description of shikantaza says "attained the way through their bodies". My understanding is that the necessity of breath and the necessity of the cranial-sacral respiration move consciousness to effect carriage and posture; to move the cart, is about the place of occurrence of consciousness. Place in the occurrence of consciousness creates an impact on the stretch already in existence in the body as consciousness takes place. The impact generates activity (not sitting still), and the activity generates ability to feel; the sound of water or the sight of blossoms is about an ability to feel, hence "attained the way through their bodies".
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is enlightenment obtained with the body, or the mind (from Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=6
When we let go of our minds and cast aside our views and understandings the Way will be actualized. One sage clarified True Mind (Reality) when he saw peach blossoms and another realized the Way when he heard the sound of tile hitting a bamboo. They attained the way through their bodies. Therefore, when we completely cast aside our thoughts and views and practice shikantaza, we will become intimate with the way. This is why I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly.

"Shobogenzo-zuimonki", sayings recorded by Koun Ejo, translated by Shohaku Okumura, 2-26, pg 1 7-1 8, copyright Sotoshu Shumucho)

Maybe we are talking two different things here, I don t know. I don t really know too much about enlightenment, but as far as shikantaza, I can feel that. Intimate with the way, that sounds good... the matter of life and death, how can that be resolved through the body, my friends would ask (and they do).

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How important is it to have one's back completely (as much as possible) straight during meditation? How important are these postures anyway? (from Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=5
Cranial-sacral theory provides an excellent explanation of the importance of the crossed-legged postures, as far as I'm concerned, and that would be: they isolate the motion of the cranial sacral system at the sacrum so that it's apparent. Activity in meditation is involuntary, but for me it's important to remember that the fascia and ligaments can generate muscular activity without conscious intention, as they stretch.

Allopathic and cranial-sacral medicine both use dermatones, the areas on the skin where the nerves from the spine end up, as a means for diagnosing spinal dysfunction; standard testing is to run a pin head down the leg or arm, and see where there's a lack of feeling, and there are charts that will show you between which vertebrae the nerves are pinched if you have a lack of feeling in a particular location. What this says to me is that if you have feeling to the surface of the skin all over the body, your head, neck, and spine are aligned pretty much correctly, regardless of how it looks.

At the same time, it's my belief that in the lotus, motion of the cranial-sacral system at the sacrum results in activity in the muscles of the legs and pelvis, as feeling is opened or extended throughout the lower body. That activity ultimately returns to the bones on either side of the skull through the extensors, which travel in three sets behind the spine to the temporal bones on each side of the skull behind the jaw. As the temporals move the parietals on either side of the crown of the head, and the nerves that determine the cranial-sacral fluid volume rhythm respond to pressure at the saggital suture, it's possible that a feedback develops in the cranial sacral rhythm. John Upledger talks about "still points", when the cranial-sacral rhythm appears to cease momentarily, and the fascial support for the body rearranges subtley; he found that maintaining a slight extension on the bones of the skull was conducive to still points, but the individual's own psychie and need were the real determining factors.

We all have anxiety around falling down, especially backwards. Look for motion side to side, around, and forward and back wherever consciousness occurs; that's a sense of a physical place, the "wherever consciousness occurs", which the zen masters aver we should attend to 24/7. Relax the activity in the three directions. Let it sink, if you feel good with it, remember that the stretch that generates activity doesn't necessarily feel pleasant, but it doesn't have to go all the way to painful if you can relax the associated activity and let the mind move.

Single-weighted postures have a built-in activity from the stretch involved as well. & blah blah blah as somebody so eloquently said!
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can someone recommend some stretching program to get closer to full lotus? (from Tao Bums)http://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=3 Thanks.
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straighten the clothes and sit precariouslyhttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=4
When I sit, I remind myself that the two respirations (pulmonary and cranial-sacral) utilize the occurrence of consciousness to coordinate the activity of posture, and that relaxation and calm can allow the sense of location in the occurrence of consciousness to open nerve-connections to the surface of the body.

The activity generated by the sense of location in the occurrence of consciousness is involuntary, and the more I relax and accept the activity, the more precarious my posture feels. This for me is the meaning of the saying.

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...about full lotushttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=2
This morning a second question has occurred to me, and that is: why do they sit 40-50 minutes in the lotus, when most hatha yoga postures are only assumed briefly?

My answer would be, because we work loose, first the sacrospinous ligaments, then the sacro-tuberous ligaments, and finally the sacro-ilial ligaments. We work loose by settling in and accepting the stretch that already exists as consciousness takes place, relaxing as we breath in and out. When we have feeling over the surface of the whole body, then the impact of consciousness and feeling sits, the hit in "just hit sit", or shikantaza.

Equanimity toward pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings is a part of this. Equanimity and relaxation in the face of the involuntary reciprocal innervation of muscle pairs around the pelvis and the sacrum and throughout the body takes a little time to come on, after the humdrum of our daily habit.

I would remind everybody of Cheng Man-Ching`s description of the fourth stage in the development of chi: chi penetrates to the skin and hair. Likewise, the Gautamid described the fourth of the initial jhanas as purified equanimity, the cessation of volition in in-breaths and out-breaths, and as feeling like "a strip of cloth wrapped around the head and the entire body".

For me, I walk on my feet sitting down, until I feel the exchange between my upper legs and my sacrum under the pelvis, kind of the forward angles of "the ox crosses the wooden bridge". With luck I can let go and ride the wind, as it were. The wind gets up, when it`s time; that`s how it goes for me, and I usually sit between 30 and 50 minutes. A little numb in the top foot when I get up.

Answering questions people don`t ask, for myself, of course! Thank you; Mark
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...about full lotushttp://www.zenmudra.com/zazen-notes/index.php?post_id=1
Hi, effilang (hey, bums),

Are you familiar with cranial-sacral osteopathy? Allopathic medicine has yet to acknowledge that there is a significant respiration in the changes of fluid-volume in the dural sac (around the brain and spinal cord and all the way to the tailbone), but I think Sutherland was onto something. Upledger convinced me, through his writings.

ok, cut to the chase, the volume of fluid changes in the tissue sack that surrounds the brain, according to Upledger about 14 times a minute. Pressure changes in a closed system are instantaneous throughout the system, per hydraulics. The spine flexes and extends with the changes in fluid, and the arms and legs rotate inward and outward. The sacrum pivots on the pelvis, forward and back, side to side on the diagonals, and even around the vertical axis of the spine. The sphenoid and occiput in the skull flex and extend. The nerves that control the changes in fluid volume are in the sagittal suture, at the top of the skull.

When you sit the lotus, you isolate the movement of the sacrum on the pelvis. You can observe the stretches in the ligaments between the sacrum and the sit-bones of the pelvis, between the sacrum and the tuberosities of the pelvis in front on either side, and between the sacrum and the pelvis. You can observe actions in the muscles of the legs and pelvis that occur involuntarily as a result of these stretches, and the reciprocity of actions between paired muscles. You can observe action initiated by the cranial-sacral rhythm through the stretch of ligaments between the sacrum and the pelvis.

"The empty hand grasps the hoe-handle
Walking along, I ride the ox
The ox crosses the wooden bridge
The bridge is flowing, the water is still." Fuxi, approx. 500 C.E.

Yes, consciousness is the bridge, yet the right amount of openness to feelings of pain and the right amount of detachment from the pleasant is necessary if we are to sink and realize our involuntary motion; I myself needed a way to say, yes, this is part of the stretch in existence as my consciousness occurred just now, so that I could relax and stay open. I can sit the lotus, usually 30-40 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. Sometimes my feet go to sleep, less so as I realize that I belong to these respirations and this consciousness, they do not belong to me. So to speak.

I think my explanation is more straightfoward at the website below my signature; thanks, all, have a good night-

yers Mark]]>