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What are your experiences with Samatha (Theravada) and Zen (Soto) ?

Hi all,

I’ve started my journey to find a Sangha and have tried Triratna (not right for me), Samatha (great, slightly complex breath counting / following, but felt effective and a very relaxed, supportive Sangha) and Sōtō Zen (lovely people, silent meditation and sitting, not much guidance, but felt very relaxed afterwards - wasn’t really sure whether I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and sort of ended up doing my Samatha and then just sitting still and observing).

I’m just wondering what your experiences are of these traditions / styles please ?

With Metta
Alex ?

adamcrossley

Comments

  • 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 March 20

    I'll be brutally frank: it doesn't matter.
    What matters is how things sit with you, and where your gut tells you to go.

    My way of meditating melds maybe two - even three - systems of way of Meditating together. I have a timer which rings at certain intervals; I watch the breath; I recite a mantra.
    I have no issue doing one, two, three methods, but then, I'm not looking at ordination, or an intense and/or dedicated lifestyle, so I suppose for you, it's more important to find your Way.

    I'm a 'Theravada-but-it's-ok-to-mix-it-up-a-little' practitioner. I'll confess, I'm not as well-read as some. A simple 'soul', I just follow what feels right, at the time.
    Relax.
    The only one beating you up to find a particular Path - is you. Take it easy. Enjoy the ride, and savour the journey.
    There's no going back, for any of us.

    Alexlobsteradamcrossley
  • AlexAlex Explorer
    edited March 20

    Thanks @Federica, that’s very helpful and I’m sure you’re right - I probably need to relax about which tradition I follow and for now, just enjoy the best of the various options open to me, find my own way of meditating (I seem to have quite a good method going) and feel my way forward ??

  • 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

    By all means, investigate, research - do your 'homework' as it were... But take your time, practice at your leisure, and digest what you learn, before going onto the next course... It's important that what you find, fits you like a glove. Don't change yourself to fit a mould. Change you for you. Something at one point, will feel just right.

    Alex
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica said:

    There's no going back, for any of us.

    Indeed......

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sotāpanna

    Alex
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Ah the perfect Sangha for the flawed student, don't exist ... for obvious reasons. Good enough is good enough. <3

    I learned walking meditation with Theravada and Tantric Sangha. Zen and Shingon with Buddhist cults, regularly attended, sometimes several times a week varied groups. Went on retreats ... etc.

    I also attended Sufi meetings, virtual communities and virtual sanghas such as in Second Life. Found a teacher and so on ...

    Learn, sit, read, observe, practice, listen. Unfold, relax, focus, chant, walk, be mindful. Improve.

    The flaw is perfectly OK ...


    Perfect Sangha

    Alex
  • AlexAlex Explorer

    @lobster ah, so it turns out that I’m not the first to walk this path....??

    What’s happened is that I’ve found 2 Sangha’s from differing traditions (and possibly a 3rd Sangha from one of those traditions also) and can’t decide which path to pursue. So I’ve decided that both will form part of my path until one (or more) of them doesn’t.

    Thank you ?

    lobsterKundo
  • satcittanandasatcittananda UK Veteran
    edited March 22

    Alex,

    Once you decide to walk a path, you will have to walk it, unless you get turned away by the thorns, mosquitos and other retched flaura and fauna. Enjoy the view of the landscape over which you might tread, even if it appears like a heap of trash.

    Don't commit to thinking that you will ever see the world the same way again if you decide to follow a particular ideology, because ideas change. When you allow yourself to drift with changing ideas, then you might not want to cling to a particular idea over another. Lobsters got it right in my view.

    Good luck on your journey starting in the Parsley! If the mint distracts you and the Rosemary and Thyme make you hungry, there's alway a McDonalds not very far away!

    Alex
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 25

    ... and sort of ended up doing my Samatha and then just sitting still and observing ...

    Stillness is a quality. Awareness is a state. By developing their unfolding and recognizing their being, we can extend that softness into other observing and understanding ...

    Meditation is a discipline. Technique refinement and settling gradually sits into us ...

    Dudjom Rinpoché's Heart Advice,
    “This fresh present knowing,
    Unbound by the intellect that clings to meditation,
    Is naked unobstructed non-meditation.
    Relax at ease
    And settle in the state of naturalness.
    This is the meaning of realization of meditation.
    When thoughts move, let them.
    Movement arises and is liberated without a trace.
    When there is no movement, don't search for it.
    This is empty luminosity, naked empty awareness.
    Tantric practice without suppression or
    cultivation of thoughts
    Brings the accomplishment of the destruction
    of hope and fear.
    There is nothing more to add to this.
    Madman Dudjom said this:
    Let it remain like this in your heart.”

    ~ “Wisdom Nectar” Dudjom Rinpoché's Heart Advice, translated and introduced by Ron Garry, published by Snow Lion Publications

    AlexJeffrey
  • herbieherbie Veteran
    edited April 15

    @Alex said:
    Hi all,

    I’ve started my journey to find a Sangha and have tried Triratna (not right for me), Samatha (great, slightly complex breath counting / following, but felt effective and a very relaxed, supportive Sangha) and Sōtō Zen (lovely people, silent meditation and sitting, not much guidance, but felt very relaxed afterwards - wasn’t really sure whether I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and sort of ended up doing my Samatha and then just sitting still and observing).

    I’m just wondering what your experiences are of these traditions / styles please ?

    With Metta
    Alex ?

    Dear Dharma friend Alex

    years ago when I lived in a region with many sanghas I visited a Theravadin sangha led by a monk, forest tradition, and a Soto Zen sangha and both practiced just sitting. So actually no difference except that the Zen folks are a bit obsessed with 'correct' sitting which I find funny.
    Another Theravadin sangha led by a male lay student of a Theravadin nun really put me off since the guy was babbling all the time. Obviously a kind of 'guided' meditation.

    I think that even within one major tradition you can find very different ways of meditation practice.

    Alex
  • AlexAlex Explorer

    Ah thanks @herbie the approach between Soto Zen and Theravada near me is similar, but the latter has a slightly more ‘technical’ approach re breath counting etc., and like yours, the guy babbles. So, on the whole, I’m preferring the Soto Zen, so that’s what I’m pursuing the moment. I find I’m having some interesting visions, once my mind is quiet and calm....!

  • herbieherbie Veteran

    @Alex said:
    Ah thanks @herbie the approach between Soto Zen and Theravada near me is similar, but the latter has a slightly more ‘technical’ approach re breath counting etc., and like yours, the guy babbles. So, on the whole, I’m preferring the Soto Zen, so that’s what I’m pursuing the moment. I find I’m having some interesting visions, once my mind is quiet and calm....!

    yes, if one doesn't miss elaborate dharma talks which usually are either absent or very terse in Soto then the Soto sitting is certainly very good. They also have a wonderful walking meditation, Kinhin, which they often do in between two sittings. <3

    Alex
  • AlexAlex Explorer

    @herbie yes, that’s precisely how my Sangha operates, same structure. In fact I attend 2 x Soto Zen meetings, some crossover of folks between the two. I find some of the elaboration a little overwhelming to be honest, so I have a choice....I can obsess over every tiny detail of some esoteric ancient text that may or may not be overlaid with masses of regional culture which is away from the key teachings..... or.....I can stick to the eightfold path, be kind, be ethical and keep things simple. Guess which I choose ?

    I had a Boss once who used to say this a lot...”the main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing” ?

    lobster
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