Aspects of Sitting Meditation

Doubt, and Problems

Doubt arises in this. What is it? Is this all right? Are you ok? Your mind is in a different place than sitting. I wish you would sit alone sometimes for several days. If you sit alone, although there are many dangerous situations to fall into, you feel you can clarify your right intention, your strict attitude about taking care of yourself. If we sit together like this you think "Because other people sit, this might be alright! This must be the way." If something more important than your concern about yourself occurs, of course you quit sitting and plunge into taking care of that. Actually, for each of us the opportunity of sitting is the same as sitting alone.

Student: It seems like my best sitting is when I am having a lot of difficulty.

Kobun: That is right, because lots of problems wake you up.

Student: So is it good to have problems, then?

Kobun: If there are no problems, people begin to sleep in zazen, and that state is a little bit funny. Energy goes to the opposite direction when you are always peaceful, there is no way to wake up. By seeing into the broad distance, by stretching your mind to a very far place to understand what is actually going on, there is no way to sleep in zazen. But personal exhaustion is another subject. Some people only choose an exhausted time to sit, and then they fall asleep. That isn't so good.

Continuously I suggest to you that you have good posture. That is because posture is a sort of proof of your mind situation, a reflection of the invisible part of your life which penetrates your body, your physical condition. It helps to start with good posture, and let your mind ride on good breath, on smooth, deep, even breath coming in and going out, which keeps you from slipping from the present moment. As soon as you forget your breath, mind-phenomena color your breath, and all sorts of movies go on in that breath, and your body continuously reflects whatever goes on in those personal movies. We like to just let these movies go and forget them, or maybe finish them, but I don't want to say just forget them. The one who keeps watching, who keeps letting the whole thing happen is a very important part of yourself. It is not necessarily the judgmental part of yourself, but just the observing part.

Student: I've been feeling I have a zillion problems and that if I work I'll just explode. It's hard to sit if you really have something to work through. Then I'm afraid of sitting.

Kobun: Where are you going, doing so many things? There must be a reason to choose many things to do. Are you going somewhere? Then you can start sitting first, then do things one by one afterwards. If you want to go somewhere and have so many things to do, sitting is foolish. You should go and do them. Sitting is the rediscovery of your basic strength and your clarity. When you begin to do things, actually there are not so many choices. What you really want to do is always one or two things.

Student: I think I know that if we have the right attitude and good effort, that our practice extends to everything we do. Nevertheless, I still find myself feeling guilty at times when I don't sit when sitting is scheduled, because the children want to do something else, or I don't feel good. The guilt doesn't seem natural. What attitude is right not to feel this distinction between our all-pervasive practice and our sitting practice?

Kobun: Guilt isn't actually what is involved here. If you are sorry to you, that is all. If a sitting opportunity comes, but you have lots of obligations which you wish to be involved with, if you do them, you have to miss the sitting. This struggle goes on always, actually. In other words, most of the day we feel sorry about missing sitting. We feel like little mice running around and around. If you didn't do that, you could do the real thing that you want to do. So there is very deep suffering.

The right attitude is to develop your faith in the contents of zazen. You cannot get out of this zazen, even if you jump on a jet plane to fly away from zazen. Alas, in the jet plane jumped Buddha. Zazen mind is an enormously big thing. Getting up and taking care of things is in that big mind.

You cannot attach to zazen while you are not doing it. Do you understand? It seems that if you cannot do zazen it is alright. Don't do it. To enjoy what you are doing is the most important thing. Instead of looking a zazen with mournful eyes while washing the diapers, you enjoy what you are doing, and when the chance comes, you sit.

Often while we are sitting a call will come from someone asking for us to relate to them. When important things call you, this opportunity to sit is almost impossible to have. So you are deeply involved with others, and most of the time you don't regret not doing zazen because you are doing something else. Zazen doesn't draw you from what you are supposed to be doing; simply, you miss the opportunity to sit because there is so much emphasis on the importance of communication.

You often feel guilty when you take off from your daily activities to join sitting. You feel you are doing a personal thing, and at the same time you doubt if there is time to do it. The best way to live is to consider the people who relate with you in your day to day life and emphasize how they feel about your absence. Their tremendous kindness makes you able to join this sitting practice. Usually you don't think about your situation this deeply, since you have such an urgency to discover your true nature. On that level the people you are concerned with, the people who are, concerned about you, let you go to come waste time here. And they literally say, "wasted time," when you come back with a shabby face!


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