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Zazen & Metacognition: Beginner's thoughts

When sitting, you just sit. It sounds so simple, but the exercise becomes quite considerable particularly when you try longer sittings.

From what I've learnt, you sit and allow all sense gates to enter a state of calm awareness without letting any become intensively overloaded, especially if this sense is the Mind, the great pilot of this human skeleton.

While meditation practice should not be orientated towards Enlightenment nor self-improvement, there is certain aspect in self-improvement which helps to get rid of the self. Though my question is, when is this dangerous as in "creating or feeding the ideal of illusory self" which will then just prolongue suffering? Maybe this is just the way it should be. A positive well-round self-concept will more likely engage in constructive thoughts which will lead to mindful acts in real life. Then, someday, just like from what I understood the Bodhissatva Path "project" consists of: when we are all "freed" or aware of this freedom, we can drop and renunciate and reach the other Shore completely.. but, to then re-start this cycle again?

If it is infinite, then why to completely renounce, why not simply continue on the path accepting certain attachments which are intrinsic to human nature, while accepting the Four Noble Truths?

This is why I sometimes like to understand zazen in terms of metacognition.

"Metacognition is, put simply, thinking about one’s thinking. More precisely, it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) oneself as a thinker and learner."

This aspect has definitively helped to be able to continue following precepts and wholesomeness.




  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2022


    My own mind routinely designs credible pathways to give credence to the dream of it's own fiefdom.
    An average mind's lifetime of dream design speaks a lot for just how much innate momentum has been established that never offers a path where "waking up" from it could actually be a likely possibility. It is no accident that all of the mental solutions to the dream that the mind has offered, turn out to be another run through a maze, and while occupying, ends up being without its promised exit.

    To challenge your own mentality on its home turf is a losing proposition because that action in itself simply gives more credence to the validity of its dream.....

    when not much more needs to be done, in any moment, than to offer all of the other sense gates (what we see, hear, smell; taste & feel) a fully equal share of that throne.

    Here, all that is needed is to return a usurping mental monarchy and the dream it created to defend its position, back to an unmolested & collegially shared sense gate experience of all arising and passing phenomena that is no longer edited and ordered according to the limiting conceptions of a self verses other.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    Hmm. When sitting, I just try to sit :p

    By the time I’m witnessing my thoughts as metacognition while sitting, its already far too late, the mind has started up an argument of some sort and we are in the grip of thoughts. For me, the path leads to just observing thoughts, being the witness. Anything more complex than that means I get involved. Whenever you find yourself following a train of thoughts, just remind yourself, that is a thought.

    Even outside of zazen, metacognitive thought beyond the standard lore, that the mind should be a servant and not the master, seems somewhat counterproductive. You can’t think the mind into submission, or manage its thoughts somehow by thinking. But once you have reached the other shore, the relationship changes, so we are told.

  • From Dreamers and their Shadows:

    "Don't move, Just die. Over and over.
    Don't anticipate. Nothing can save you now,
    because you have only this moment.
    Not even enlightenment will help you now,
    because there are no other moments.
    With no future, be true to yourself and express yourself fully.
    Don't move. Just die. Over and over."

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    What did Buddha do when he figured out that the individual sense of self is illusory? Did he toss it aside or use it as a tool to liberate others?

    Metacognition is an interesting term I don't think I've heard before but it certainly sounds like it leads to the practice of skillful means.

  • Just sit and watch all the thought creatures and feeling creatures come around. Hello creatures. Goodbye creatures. I wish you the best as you do what you do. I'm too busy sitting to play with you.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    @Jeroen said:
    or manage its thoughts somehow by thinking.

    I may have to come back on that… the process of “noting thoughts as thoughts” itself also uses thoughts, so this can be helpful sometimes. Which is a bit of metacognition. The reminder to “let go” can be another helpful thought.

  • very insightful post from @how

    Some of us may not be able to just sit still

    so sit and relax the tights, the eyeballing, the sniffing, the tension body, the memorising, the planning, the feeling

    Karma yourself right down to bare minimum changing focus, attentive hearing etc

  • Welcome back @lobster :3

  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Sentient Being Oceania Veteran

    Zazen & Metacognition: Beginner's thoughts

    I like Krishnamuti's insight on thought....

    How does one go to the very source of thought?

    "There is nothing sacred in what thought has created ...It is the mind that is beyond thought, beyond time that knows what it is to be sacred"

    The observer is the observed

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited December 2022

    Consciousness is everything you experience. It is the tune stuck in your head, the sweetness of chocolate mousse, the throbbing pain of a toothache, the fierce love for your child and the bitter knowledge that eventually all feelings will end.

    And yes, the observer too, is the experience. The dreamer is part of the dream.
    Not two.

    "Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible.

    "When that exists, this comes to be; on the arising of that, this arises. When that does not exist, this does not come to be; on the cessation of that, this ceases"

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