Thursday, November 23, 2017

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind - Shunryu Suzuki

Suresh gifted me yet another precious book. The number of precious books he had gifted me have changed my approach to life radically. This is the latest in the line. Thank you Suresh.

The Zen Mind is the Beginner's Mind. It is empty, non-judgmental and sees things as they are. It is about doing things with no gaining idea, doing for the sake of doing with the whole of the body and the mind. We become the work and forget ourselves. That is the true quality of Zen. And after it is done, there is no gloating over the work done or no feeling bad about it; it is over. It is just done. The book approaches the Zen Mind in several ways.

As I read it I became calmer, more compassionate, and tried to be in that state of no mind, or empty mind, immersing myself into what I was doing with no gaining idea. For example, when I write now, I write, I become the writing, with no thought of any gaining idea.
Shambala Library, 179 p

Divided into three main parts - Right Practice, Right Attitude and Right Understanding - it has wisdom that influenced my outlook. To just be. As I do with such books, I can only pick the lines which impacted me, lines I wish to refer to again, so I will make a note of those lines.

First things first. ..we are beginners, not experts. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's, there are few. The practice of zen mind is the beginner's mind. 

The beginners mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate,  it is boundless.

Today we will practice compassion. Being true to ourselves,  in sympathy with all beings. In all that we do, say, feel and think.  Mindfully compassionate.

Zazen practice (the meditative discipline that is the primary practice of Zen Buddhism) is the direct expression of your true nature. For a human being,  there is no other practice; there is no other way of life than this way of life.

All self-centred thoughts limit our vast mind.

When the boss is sleeping,  everyone is sleeping.  When the boss does something right,  everyone will do everything right,  and at the right time.

Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind. The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is itself enlightenment. That is the secret of Buddhism.

Left foot on right thigh, right foot on left thigh. Spine straight, ears and shoulders in one line. Relax shoulders, push up with back of head. Pull chin in. Press diaphragm towards abdomen.
In this posture the is no need to talk about the right state of mind.  You already have it. This is the conclusion of Buddhism.

In the realm of pure religion there is no confusion of time and space,  or good or bad. We should live in the moment. We do something we should do.  There is no confusion. 

To be quite independent, but yet dependent - this is how we live and how we practice zazen. When we are truly ourselves, we are purely independent of and at the same time dependent upon everything. If you have this kind of existence,  you have absolute independence; you will not be bothered by anything. 

When you practice zazen, your mind should be concentrated on your breathing. This kind of activity is the fundamental activity of the universal being. Without this experience,  this practice, it is impossible to attain absolute freedom. 

When we become truly ourselves, we become the swinging door, independent yet dependent on everything. In zazen concentrate on breath control. Control your breathing, concentrate on inhaling and exhaling.

To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. 

To live in the realm of Buddha nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. 

When we lose our balance we die, but at the same time we also develop ourselves,  we grow. 

The reason everything looks beautiful is because it is out of balance,  but it's background is always in perfect harmony.

To control people, first let them do what they want and watch them. To ignore them is the worst policy. To try to control them is the second worst policy. The best way is to watch them without trying to control them. 

Mind waves
To calm your mind do not be bothered by the various images you find in your mind. Let them come Let them go.  Then they will be under control.

Nothing outside yourself can cause any trouble. You yourself make the waves in your mind. If you leave your mind as it is,  it will become calm. 

Mind weeds
You should rather be grateful for the weeds you have in your mind,  because eventually they will enrich your practice.

Sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse and the worst horse can be the best one.

The Marrow of Zen
In the zazen posture,  your mind and body have great power to accept things as they are,  whether agreeable or disagreeable. 

No dualism
If it really does not matter,  there is no need for you to even say so. 

Bowing is a very serious practice. You should be prepared to bow, even in your last moment. Even though it is impossible to get rid of our self-centred desires,  we have to do it. Our true nature wants us to.

Before you determine to do it, you have difficulty,  but once you start to do it, you have none. 

It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.

Nothing special
Before you attain it, it is something special,  but after you attain it, it is nothing special. 

When you give up, when you no longer want something, or when you do not try to do anything special,  then you do something.

Our way is not to sit to acquire something; it is to express or true nature. That is our practice.

If you lose the spirit of repetition, your practice will become quite difficult. 

If an artist becomes too idealistic,  he will commit suicide because between his ideal and his actual ability there is a great gap. But our way is not so idealistic. Actual practice is repeating over and over again until you find out how to become bread (using making of bread as a metaphor). There is no secret in our way.  Just to practice and put loaves into the oven is our way. 

In order to find out how dough becomes perfect bread, he made it over and over again, until he became quite successful.

While you are continuing this practice, week after week, year after year, your experience will become deeper and deeper, and your experience will cover everything you do in your everyday life. The most important thing is to forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas. In other words, just practice zazen in a certain posture. Do not think about anything. Just remain on your cushion without expecting anything. Then eventually you will resume your own true nature. That is to say, your own true nature resumes itself.

When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do

We must make effort but we must forget ourselves in the effort we make.

In this realm there is no subjectivity or objectivity. our mind is calm without any awareness. In this unawareness every effort and every idea and thought will vanish. So it is necessary for us to encourage ourselves and to make an effort till the last moment when all effort disappears.

To find your own way under some restriction is the way of practice.

For the beginner, practice without effort is not true practice. For the beginner the practice needs great effort. Especially for young people it is necessary to try very hard  to achieve something.

Our way is not to sit to acquire something; it is to express our true nature.

If you want to express yourself, your true nature, there should be some natural and appropriate way of expressing whatever you do, it should be an expression of the same.

When we express our true nature we are human beings even though you do not do anything. You are actually doing something. You are expressing yourself. You are expressing your true nature.

Forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas. Do not think about anything. Just remain on your cushion without expecting anything.

Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you. So when you try hard to make your own way, you will help others, and you will be helped by others.

The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything.

If you do something, you should be very observant and careful and alert.

Zen and Excitement
Zen is not some kind of excitement,  but concentration on our usual everyday routine. It is not gradual attainment, it is the sudden way, because when your practice is calm and ordinary, everyday life itself is enlightenment. 

Try to be always calm and joyful and keep yourself from excitement.

Right Effort
If your practice is good,  you may become proud of it.  What you do is good,  but something more is added to it. Right effort is to get rid of something extra.

Our effort in our practice should be directed from achievement to non- achievement. From achievement to non-achievement means to be rid of the unnecessary and bad results of effort.

Right effort in the right direction. Do something in the spirit of non-achievement - there is a good quality in it.

Even though you do not do anything, you have the quality of zazen always.

Try not to see something in particular. Try not to see achieve anything special.

Just to do something without any particular effort is enough. Get rid of excessive things.

By purity we just mean things as they are. When something is added that is impure.

When you think you will get something from practising zazen, already you are involved in impure practice.

Do not attach to the attainment. Just do it. The quality of zazen will express itself; then you will have it.

If your effort is in the right direction,  then there is no fear of losing anything.

It is the small mind which creates gaining ideas and leaves traces of itself.

In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind;  you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should burn yourself completely.

You become discouraged with your practice when your practice has been idealistic.  You have some gaining idea,  and it is not pure enough. It is when your practice is rather greedy that you become discouraged with it. Be grateful for the warning sign to show the weak point in your practice.
You must find some way up encourage yourself. That is why we have a teacher. With your teacher you will correct your practice.

The way to practice without having any goal is to limit your activity, or to be concentrated on what you are doing in this moment. If you limit your activity to what you can do just now, in this moment, then you can express fully your true nature, which is the universal Buddha nature. This is our way.
When you bow,  you should just bow; when you sit,  you should just sit;  when you eat,  you should just eat.

If you are attached to the teaching,  or to the teacher,  that is a big mistake.

You need a teacher so you can become independent.

You have a teacher for yourself, not for the teacher.

Strictly speaking there is no need to teach the student,  because the student himself is Buddha, even though he may not be aware of it.

Of the four ways of practice,  the perfect one is not to give a student any interpretation of himself,  nor to give him any encouragement.

To study ourselves is to forget ourselves. When we forget ourselves we actually are the true activity of the big existence,  or reality itself.

When you become you,  zen becomes zen. When you are you,  you see things as they are and you become one with your surroundings.

To solve the problem is to be part of it,  to be one with it.

When your life is always a part of your surroundings- in other words,  when you are called back to yourself,  in the present moment, then there is no problem.

When you are you,  you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings. There is your true self.

If you want to appreciate something fully, you should forget yourself.

Do not go seeking something outside of yourself.

Instead of gathering knowledge, clear your mind. If your mind is clear, true knowledge s already yours.

Accept knowledge as if you were hearing something you already knew. Sometimes we think it is impossible to understand something unfamiliar but actually nothing is unfamiliar to us.

Constancy- the unchanging ability to accept things as they are.

The natural expression of yourself, straightforward, true to your feelings and your mind, expressing yourself without any reservation.

If parents can manage to express themselves in various ways according to each situation, there will be no danger in the education of their children.

Without any intentional,  fancy way of adjusting yourself, to express yourself freely as you are is the most important thing to make yourself happy,  and to make others happy.

True communication depends upon our being straightforward with one another. But the best way to communicate may be just to sit without saying anything.

Big mind is something to express, not something to figure out. Big mind is something you have,  not something to seek for.

The best way is just to practice without saying anything.

When you do everything without thinking about whether it is good or bad,  and when you do something with your whole mind and body,  that is our way.

Practice without saying. When we talk positive, negative is missing. When we talk negative, positive is missing. Do everything without thinking about whether is it good or bad, with your whole body and mind.

Water drops, separated from the river, have difficulty to fall.

When you say something to someone,  he may not accept it, but do not try to make him understand it intellectually. Do not argue with him;  just listen to his objections until he himself finds something wrong with them.

Try not to win in the argument; just listen to it; but it is also wrong to behave as of you had lost.

Our life and death are the same thing.  When we realise this fact,  we have no fear of death anymore, nor actual difficulty in our life.

When we have no idea of ego, we have Buddha's view of life.

When we believe in our way firmly,  we have already attained enlightenment.

We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence.

Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer.  So the cause of our suffering is our non-acceptance of this truth.

Teaching which does not sound as if it is forcing something on you is not true teaching.

Everything changes. Find pleasure in suffering. To find pleasure in suffering is the only way to accept the truth of transiency.

When you do something,  if you fix your mind on the activity with some confidence,  the quality of your state of mind is the activity itself. When you are concentrated on the quality of your being, you are prepared for the activity.

In calmness there should be activity;  in activity there should be calmness.

A wonderful painting is the result of the feeling of your fingers. If you have the feeling of the thickness of the ink in your brush, the painting is already there before you paint. When you dip your brush into the ink you already know the result of your drawing, else you cannot paint. So before you do something,  "being " is there, the result is there.

Don't entangle with someone else. Be natural.

Empty all preconceived ideas. Emptiness is true existence.

You are not resting at all. All the activity is included within you.

Because you think you have a body or mind,  you have lonely feelings,  but when you realise that everything is just a flashing into the vast universe,  you become strong and your existence becomes very meaningful.

When what you do comes out of nothingness, you have quite a new feeling.

Even though you have some difficulty,  when you want to have it,  that is naturalness.

True comes out of nothingness,  moment after moment.

When you do something,  you should be completely involved in it. You should devote yourself to it completely.

You have nothing. Although you think you have something, you have nothing. But when all you do comes out of nothingness, then you have everything.

What appears from emptiness is true existence.

Each one of us must make his own true way,  and when we do, that way will express the universal way. This is the mystery.

The best way is to understand yourself and then you will understand everything.

It is not after we understand the truth that we attain enlightenment. To realise the truth is to live - to exist here and now.

When our thinking is soft,  it is called imperturbable thinking. This kind of thinking is always stable. It is called mindfulness.

Wisdom is something which will come out of your mindfulness.

Love and hate are one thing. We should not attach to love alone. We should accept hate.
Attachment, non-attachment. Happiness in difficulty, difficulty in happiness.

A flower falls even though we love it, a weed grows even though we do not love it.

Trying to do something in itself is enlightenment. When we are in difficulty or in distress, there we have enlightenment.

When we are in defilement,  there we should have composure.

Teaching is in each moment,  in every existence. That is the true teaching.

When you have something in your consciousness you do not have perfect composure. The best way towards perfect composure is to forget everything.

In order to go beyond our thinking faculty, it is necessary to have a firm conviction in the emptiness of your mind.

On one hand we should attain enlightenment - that is how things should be. On the other hand,  as long as we are physical beings,  in reality it is pretty hard to attain enlightenment - that is how things actually are in this moment.

In the emptiness of our original mind they are one, and there we find our perfect composure.
Just to sit that is enough.

You have to be careful in the rules and the way you establish. If it is too strict you will fail, if it is too loose, the rules will not work. Our way should be strict enough to have authority, an authority everyone should obey.  The rules should be possible to observe.

Our true nature is beyond consciousness. Don't force. Let things be.

We cannot force anything. But once the rules have been decided,  we should obey them completely until they are changed. You just do it without question. That way your mind is free.

That you can do it in this moment means you can always do it.

Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you.

Wonderful, wonderful book. Read. Reread. Imbibe. Be. I cannot say anything more. Thank you Suresh.

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