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Queries on meditation

misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a HinduIndia Veteran
edited October 17 in Meditation

Hi All,
2 queries please:
1. Is the desire to know the greatest desire? I have read at few places that lust is the greatest desire - I agree to it, since I also feel it is a strong force, since I am a lustful person. But I am noticing that desire to know is also strong. When I try to just being in an informal meditation, just being in present moment, then I notice that my mind tries to notice things as to how they are proceeding like which sound just arose, which changes are occurring in visual field etc. So in a way, it is not just being, rather trying to know what I am experiencing in present moment. So what should I try to do? Any suggestions. Thanks.
2. The second query is related to the above that if I just try to relax in present moment, not specially noting what is going on, then is this a correct way to meditate? How long should I try to do it and where would it lead to, or, is it just passing of time? Your suggestions please. Thanks.

person

Comments

  • Augustine said something like "Lord, make me free of lust - but for Christ's sake NOT YET!" Like him I don't wish to be free of sexual desire. In that sense I do not follow Gotama all the way. But one can be more or less a slave to sexual desire. And one could work towards being less a slave - enjoying pleasure in the moment, but letting it go when it goes, and seeing it for what it is, partly based on an illusion. I find the Satipatthana body scan useful for this - be mindful of all the parts of the body, including especially the squelchy unsexy parts, in both oneself and others. Learn to see a body for what it is. Though not Gotama's intention, I thnik this could help people with feeling more calm about sex in themselves and others, and hence even improve one's sex life, and be less judgmental of others.
    Mindfulness involves curiosity, and that involves being interested in knowing. But as for sexual desire, one can ask how much of a slave to the desire to know are you? An obsession to know something, when you predicate your happiness on the result, is being a slave to it. Just being curious to what you can know in the moment is I think part of being mindful (at least one way).
    I have ceased to base my meditation on thinking it will lead to definite results of some sort. That sounds a bit corny, but actually true. I started because of the scientific research showing it was useful (or claiming to - much of it is hard to evaluate because it is not so rigorous). But now I meditate just because I am curious. I am curious that it seems there should be some things I can do and somethings I should know about myself just by looking in the moment - but I can't and I don't. Can I hold my attention on my breath or sensations on my feet? When I attend to my breath, and something else forms in my mind, am i attending simultaneously, or first one and then another? How fine is the interval of time I can attend to when attending to NOW? Can I feel a positive or negative feeling without reacting? If I had no urge to react would it still be a feeling? Why can't I just look at pain as a mere sensation? When I feel sensual desire, how much is an illusion? if I do what I said before and stop being a slave to it - do I have to eradicate it? And on and on. Somehow looking in seems to be a way of knowing, but I can't quite grasp it.

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    Hi All,
    What is the difference between knowing something and grasping that knowing? Please suggest. Thanks.

  • I can't quite grasp what it is I know. Probably I am looking at myself through the lens of a theory about myself and so it is not really that I can just know myself by looking: the theory that there is a self (so there must be a self there, but why can't I pin it down?); the theory that there is a point NOW that I can experience (I must know what I am experiencing NOW but I can't pin down NOW); mental states must start at a certain time (but I can't spot it exactly); I must know if I am flowing compassion to people (or am I just creating some images of a flow and a warm feeling in my stomach?). We think our mind reveals itself to us, if we just look; but the looking is through theories, and I think part of the purpose of meditation is train new habits in which false theories are discarded (for example, the theory that there is an unchanging self) and habits by which we learn to recognize what is there more accurately (e.g. when we are actually being compassionate).

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited October 18

    Hi All,
    In just sitting meditation, what is it that we are trying to do? Means do we need to observe what is going on within our body, or, do we need to observe what is going on in external surroundings? What is it that we are trying to achieve by doing just sitting meditation - in other words, what is the final objective of doing just sitting meditation - please clarify. Thanks.

  • I can tell you something I do anyway. I interpret the first four steps of breathing meditation (anapana sati: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html ) in the following way:
    1. I start by breathing deeply. I try to stay aware of my breath. I breathe deeply to have something easy to attend to. I am aware of breathing in deeply and out deeply.
    2. Within minutes, I let the breath take a natural rhythm. (Actually quite hard when you are attending to it.) I am aware of breathing in short (i.e. not deep) and out short. I check "Am I being mindful of the breath?" If I am distracted I bring my attention back to my breath.
    3. At some point my attention broadens and I attend to the whole body as it takes part in breathing. I go beyond the literal sutta instructions at this point and broaden my attention to the space around me as well (especially to sounds); and then to whatever happens in my mind. I let happen whatever happens, all the while attending to it as a part of my experience of breathing, a context to my experience of breathing, and letting go whatever arises. That is, I try to avoid getting lost in any thought; just see it as if from a distance so it can pass quickly. This is sometimes called Open Monitoring; I can't find it in the early Suttas. It appears in later Indian, Chan and Tibetan traditions, maybe 1000 years after the early suttas. (If anyone knows when it first seems to be appear, I would be fascinated to know.)
    4. Then I calm my breathing (and my body) and focus on the air at my nostrils. This is more a concentration style of meditating.

    Personally, I give myself 30 minutes to meditate every evening. The above may take me 30 minutes.
    Different people interpret anapana sati in different ways. I think a good first read for getting into mindfulness meditation is Kabat-Zinn's "Full Catastrophe Living."
    What is the objective? One is to cultivate mindfulness. You might get used to not getting sucked into thought trains but letting things go. In step 3 when you allow any mental state to come, you can discern whether it is useful for flourishing (e.g. if it is mindfulness, concentration, compassion, etc) or not useful (anger, etc). You might learn what the feel is of mental states conducive to flourishing; and hence acquire the motivation to cultivate them. And by the practice itself you might cultivate concentration. But give it time. Just let yourself explore what's there first.
    Does anyone have other thoughts on anapana sati?
    (I give anapana sati because it is probably a good place to start.)

    lobster
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    Thanks. But I am more into Zen specially Dogen's Zen.I was talking about what is done in zazen, which is just sitting meditation. I try to sit in zazen, but with only one difference from Fukanzazengi's instructions, which is related to hand mudra. I was finding that maintaining the oval shape with thumbs touching was more difficult for me, as my attention was frequently going to the maintenance of proper hand mudra. So instead of keeping this hand mudra, I keep my hand's palms flat on top of each other with my right hand below and left hand on top, since I am a right-handed person.I don't know if this is a major violation of zazen instructions - so is it a major violation of zazen instructions if hand mudra is not oval with thumbs touching, but rather flat?
    Also what is the final objective of doing zazen meditation? What is it that we are trying to know by doing it and how doing it will lead to that final objective?
    Also I have been studying Chan teachers' teachings like Mazu, Shitou etc.

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited October 20

    @Vimalajāti said:

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Hi All,
    In just sitting meditation, what is it that we are trying to do? Means do we need to observe what is going on within our body, or, do we need to observe what is going on in external surroundings? What is it that we are trying to achieve by doing just sitting meditation - in other words, what is the final objective of doing just sitting meditation - please clarify. Thanks.

    By "just sitting meditation" do you mean shikantaza 只管打坐?

    Yes, shikantaza or zazen or just sitting meditation.

    As per my understanding, the final objective of zazen is to know our true self - is this correct? So how does just sitting and not doing anything else, leads to knowing of our true self? Thanks.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited October 20

    True self discourses in Zen, to me at least, are something of a mixed bag. That's just how I stand in regards to it. It's a profound dharma-path for many people.

    The best way I've heard the "True Self" discourse in Zen contextualized is through a delightful contrived platitude:

    There is no self. In light of this, "true self" is merely "truth".

    What are you "truly" doing in that moment? You are, truly, "just sitting".

    paulyso
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    =) wow it canbe fun food for thought about no self and true self.but no.vim.'s comments makes sense. just sit in the "middle"and be.the cognitive reference will be in the here and now.

  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    this remindes me of an old lady.that day i decided to go for a walk at a park trail. i was walking with full of thoughts as usual.i kept on walking.eventually saw a park bench facing the view of the lake.there was an old lady just sitting. i sat down.my instinct was she is zen.

    i said nice view,to that effect.she said yes.the following minutes afterwards,i just sat with.if i recall ,just sat and looked.looking back now,she gave me a lesson in zen...in just sitting and being present.might be hope yet in this zen want to be.

    Vimalajātikando
  • I have had no experience of zazen practice. It seems to me that one could focus on just sitting in a number of different ways. One could focus on the proprioceptive and other sensations of sitting and try to exclude anything else (concentration). Or one could let happen whatever happens in one's mind so long as one saw it as the context in which one sits (open monitoring) Are either or both of those following instructions?

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    Thanks @lobster for the above informative thread URL link.

  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    @paulyso said:
    this remindes me of an old lady.that day i decided to go for a walk at a park trail. i was walking with full of thoughts as usual.i kept on walking.eventually saw a park bench facing the view of the lake.there was an old lady just sitting. i sat down.my instinct was she is zen.

    i said nice view,to that effect.she said yes.the following minutes afterwards,i just sat with.if i recall ,just sat and looked.looking back now,she gave me a lesson in zen...in just sitting and being present.might be hope yet in this zen want to be.

    Just wanted to thank you for this @paulyso, one of the most insightful posts ever. I have come across naturally zen people too, in my wanderings, it's a wonderful experience :)

    paulyso
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited October 25

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Thanks. But I am more into Zen specially Dogen's Zen.I was talking about what is done in zazen, which is just sitting meditation. I try to sit in zazen, but with only one difference from Fukanzazengi's instructions, which is related to hand mudra. I was finding that maintaining the oval shape with thumbs touching was more difficult for me, as my attention was frequently going to the maintenance of proper hand mudra. So instead of keeping this hand mudra, I keep my hand's palms flat on top of each other with my right hand below and left hand on top, since I am a right-handed person.I don't know if this is a major violation of zazen instructions - so is it a major violation of zazen instructions if hand mudra is not oval with thumbs touching, but rather flat?

    If the hand palms are not in oval shape with thumbs touching, rather the hand palms are flat one on top of other - can this be called zazen or shikantaza or will it be considered as not zazen or not shikantaza? Any inputs here please. Thanks.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @misecmisc1 said:

    @misecmisc1 said:
    Thanks. But I am more into Zen specially Dogen's Zen.I was talking about what is done in zazen, which is just sitting meditation. I try to sit in zazen, but with only one difference from Fukanzazengi's instructions, which is related to hand mudra. I was finding that maintaining the oval shape with thumbs touching was more difficult for me, as my attention was frequently going to the maintenance of proper hand mudra. So instead of keeping this hand mudra, I keep my hand's palms flat on top of each other with my right hand below and left hand on top, since I am a right-handed person.I don't know if this is a major violation of zazen instructions - so is it a major violation of zazen instructions if hand mudra is not oval with thumbs touching, but rather flat?

    If the hand palms are not in oval shape with thumbs touching, rather the hand palms are flat one on top of other - can this be called zazen or shikantaza or will it be considered as not zazen or not shikantaza? Any inputs here please. Thanks.

    INTENTION is ALL.

    For example: If a Mexican priest who speaks very little English, recites the Lord's Prayer in English, no matter how incorrectly he pronounces the words, and no matter how odd he sounds - if his intention is Reverential and sincere, the prayer is just as worthy as his prayer recited in his Mother Tongue.

    Stop focusing on precise method, and pay attention to actual practice.

    You're not here to achieve perfection. Or at least, you won't, unless you let go of the theory, and start putting it all into practice.

    KeromeKundo
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I think @federica is right here. Doing your best is part of having pure intention.

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran

    @misecmisc1 said:
    If the hand palms are not in oval shape with thumbs touching, rather the hand palms are flat one on top of other - can this be called zazen or shikantaza or will it be considered as not zazen or not shikantaza? Any inputs here please. Thanks.

    Did someone teach you a (Zen) meditation wherein the mudra was exceptionally important?

  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited October 25

    Sometimes sects get sticklers for mudras. The cosmic mudra becomes the nexus into which this sticklerism is drawn in my experience.

    For instance, some practitioners think that the only appropriate Buddharūpa to have on one's shrine is the Buddha with hands in cosmic mudra.

    But in the end, it's a statue.

    http://www.fullpoweryoga.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Cosmic-Mudra-e1417060536503.png

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited October 25

    Here you go, @misecmisc1 , "knock yourself out" as they say...

    Hands & Arms Position
    The position of the hands during Zazen is the same for the full lotus, half lotus, seiza and chair positions. This hand position is called the Cosmic Mudra or Hokkaijoin in Japanese. First, put your left hand on the right one, and palms turned towards the sky. Now, make an oval by touching the tips of the thumbs together so that your thumbs touch each other and form a somewhat straight line. The tips of your thumbs should lightly touch each other. Both of your wrists should rest on your thighs; the edge of your hands should rest against your belly. Keep your shoulders relaxed.

    There are two reasons for this hand position. First, shape of the hands harmonises the condition of our minds. The meaning of the mudra is «beyond duality». Secondly, if your mind is somewhere else when you sit, naturally the shape of this oval becomes distorted. This can be a signal for yourself that something is wrong with your meditation and for your teacher so that he can correct you.

    From here.

    Personally I think we can become so anal that we place greater emphasis on appearing to do it right, rather than actually doing it right (ie, with the best of Intention). Frankly, it matters less to me that I adopt a certain position, and more that I actually adopt a position at all....

    Kundo
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran

    @federica said:
    Here you go, @misecmisc1 , "knock yourself out" as they say...

    Hands & Arms Position
    The position of the hands during Zazen is the same for the full lotus, half lotus, seiza and chair positions. This hand position is called the Cosmic Mudra or Hokkaijoin in Japanese. First, put your left hand on the right one, and palms turned towards the sky. Now, make an oval by touching the tips of the thumbs together so that your thumbs touch each other and form a somewhat straight line. The tips of your thumbs should lightly touch each other. Both of your wrists should rest on your thighs; the edge of your hands should rest against your belly. Keep your shoulders relaxed.

    There are two reasons for this hand position. First, shape of the hands harmonises the condition of our minds. The meaning of the mudra is «beyond duality». Secondly, if your mind is somewhere else when you sit, naturally the shape of this oval becomes distorted. This can be a signal for yourself that something is wrong with your meditation and for your teacher so that he can correct you.

    From here.

    The above second reason is what is not working for me - means my attention is on my hand mudra, specially my thumbs feel uncomfortable in maintaining that thumbs touching position. So instead of just being, my attention is on whether my thumbs are properly touching or not - means is it a gentle touch, or thumbs are pressing against each other - it should be gently touching, but in my case my thumbs are usually pressing against each other and if I relax my thumbs, then I think whether my thumbs are actually touching or not.
    To avoid the above problems, I sit with my left hand on top of right hand flat on top of each other with the shape of similar to equal to = sign.

    @Vimalajāti : I think that Taigu from treeleaf website said in a video that the posture of zazen should be kept exactly as Dogen taught in Fukanzazengi, so the query arose in me that if I am keeping my hands' palms flat and not touching thumbs mudra, then is this zazen or not? Thanks.

  • ... then is this zazen or not?

    1. Ask Taigu
    2. Personally I find very subtle changes in hand, tongue or thought positioning/arising can effect practice
    3. Zazen or not is still practice ...
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @misecmisc1 said: The above second reason is what is not working for me - means my attention is on my hand mudra, specially my thumbs feel uncomfortable in maintaining that thumbs touching position. So instead of just being, my attention is on whether my thumbs are properly touching or not - means is it a gentle touch, or thumbs are pressing against each other - it should be gently touching, but in my case my thumbs are usually pressing against each other and if I relax my thumbs, then I think whether my thumbs are actually touching or not.
    To avoid the above problems, I sit with my left hand on top of right hand flat on top of each other with the shape of similar to equal to = sign.

    As I said:

    I think we can become so anal that we place greater emphasis on appearing to do it right, rather than actually doing it right (ie, with the best of Intention). Frankly, it matters less to me that I adopt a certain position, and more that I actually adopt a position at all....

    I think you need to address your questions and ask yourself whether they are really about improving your practice or hindering it.

    Because the more you ask questions about the minutiae, the less focus you have on the bigger scheme of things.

    You're actually placing obstacles in your own path which are sabotaging your intention.

    All the while you wait for answers, you avoid practising. because you might be doing it 'wrong'.

    Right Concentration" is not so much about getting it 100% correct, physically.
    It entails Right Effort to actually do it at all, 'Mentally'.

    Your problems are all in your Mind, @misecmisc1.

    On so many levels.

    personlobsterKundo
  • VimalajātiVimalajāti Whitby, Ontario Veteran
    edited October 26

    @misecmisc1 said:
    @Vimalajāti : I think that Taigu from treeleaf website said in a video that the posture of zazen should be kept exactly as Dogen taught in Fukanzazengi, so the query arose in me that if I am keeping my hands' palms flat and not touching thumbs mudra, then is this zazen or not? Thanks.

    Why do you want to keep your hands' palms flat and not touch your thumbs together?

    Edit: I see here:

    @misecmisc1 said:
    I try to sit in zazen, but with only one difference from Fukanzazengi's instructions, which is related to hand mudra. I was finding that maintaining the oval shape with thumbs touching was more difficult for me, as my attention was frequently going to the maintenance of proper hand mudra. So instead of keeping this hand mudra, I keep my hand's palms flat on top of each other with my right hand below and left hand on top, since I am a right-handed person.I don't know if this is a major violation of zazen instructions - so is it a major violation of zazen instructions if hand mudra is not oval with thumbs touching, but rather flat?

    If Ven Taigu said to follow the directions on posture precisely, then I would say you need to train the muscles in your hand to maintain the proper dharmadhātumudra.

    https://web-japan.org/museum/others/zazen/zazen01/01img/Oa_D_c2_d.jpg

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    Proper meditation is so much more about what you are doing with your mind than what you are doing with your body. When you find yourself in meditation worrying about the position of your hands, label it in some way, like worrying about posture or something and return to your breath or physical sensations over and over again. Over time you will begin to see how your mind works and be able to let go of and release some of these mental patterns bringing you closer to truth and peace of mind.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited October 26

    @misecmisc1 stop being an intellectual Buddhist and just start being a Buddhist. You think too much and thwart understanding the teachings. Hence your other thread.....

    Edited to add or maybe Buddhism isn’t your path and being Hindu is. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can’t stick a square peg in a round hole 🙏🏻🙏🏻

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
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