Zazen Instructions, Part 1

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fully as it's been good afternoon everyone drank for coming we're going to have as as and refresher which is something that such an always did during practice period and it's important for us to do it on a regular basis some really give some instruction and bill
discussions and questions and would like to point you
to the website on the berkeley center website ah there is a about forty five minute sauce and instruction by sojourn roshi that he did in september of two thousand and twenty and it it's really good
and it covers all the points that ah and more than i will doubtless cover here today
it's grounded in his ah more than fifty years of sauce in practice
when he structured his practice
he relied on the teaching that he received from his teacher suzuki roshi
and suzuki roshi it turn relied on the instruction that
was passed down to him from dog century
and we're studying we studied last week and also we'll continue tomorrow to be study
dogan centuries for cancer is mg which is is his instructions for zazen so fundamental distinction of suzuki roshi is zazen is that it is the manifestation of practice enlightenment
practice enlightenment means that we practice not to attain enlightenment which is the usual way that
people have thought about buddhist practice we practice to become buddhas and opener speak about that for tomorrow rather practice enlightenment means we practice because we are buddhists already and the pratt
optus of are sitting cross legged or however it is that we sit is
to express
are already enlightened nature
it's to practice not towards our enlightenment the from our enlightenment and sharing it with all beings
in a few contact sandy
dogan says the way is basically perfect and all pervading yet if there's a hair's breadth deviation
this is like a gap between heaven dirceu if the least like or dislike arises the mind is lost in confusion therefore put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words in chasing phrases
and learn to take the backward step
that turns the light and shines it inward
if you want to realize just this
get to work
i'm just this right now
so this backward step
we step away from me entered the xander or we enter our own
meditation place in this pandemic world
we're taking this backward step that shines a light inward at the same time we're not excluding
the world that comes to our senses were not excluding what we see what we hear
we're even what we think it's just that we're not stuck on that
we're free in that space
the basis for this serves as him
and the three elements of laws him
are essentially
her body her breath in our mind
nasser will talk about how to how to establish them how to had a settle in them during our and practice
i wanna say in a right now
you may have gathered i'm actually sitting in the zendo
i just feels wonderful
it's quiet
it's peaceful
and i really look forward to the time went together we can practice in here again as we've done for so many years
we just so well during the pandemic in maintaining our jaws and practice and and in maintaining the the principles that we're going to elucidate today
and there's something wonderful about been right here in his room
looking around
at this really well used room that is imbued with the energies of hundreds of thousands of hours of zaza
we don't necessarily need to have a place like this but we have a place like this and we treasure it
so as i said
the basis of zazen his body speech and mind
so we begin by establishing our body
we find a place
and put a sabaton a thick mat down and put our off who or bench or a chair on top of it and we sit facing the world facing the wall bracing ourselves
and the way we said
first we establish our posture
and so
your number of postures that you can
and if your body is not ready for them
it's good to try them anyway
and let your body relax into these postures and see if they work for you
rather than immediately going to
the next easier posture
so if you can sit for lotus
that's great
ah my son at a sojourn always said that ah full lotus was the most comfortable way to sit and he's sad that way for much of his life and of lazy ah our son alex
who is at a zen monastery in japan has been sitting for lotus and he says the same thing it's the most comfortable
i wish that i could i try to do it
and it doesn't work for me
but if you can do it if you're young and flexible please try to do it
don't force your body into any of these postures
but many of us can sit in half lotus
so in half lotus
you rest the base of your spine on the front of your zaful
and you sit with your left foot resting on your right thigh
it's also fine if the way your body works is to place your right foot on your left thigh
and when you cross your legs
you've created a triangle
between the knees and the base of the spine
and the triangle as we know is one of the most stable geometric forms
and i've sat like this for many years it took me some years to be able to
allow my hips and my niece to open to be able to sit half lotus but once they did i found it a very
relaxed and comfortable way to sick
right now
in my seventies
on the mri eyes say that i have no cartilage left in my niece
and so there's some pain in my left knee
in what we call burmese buster
burmese posture is
to sit with one leg your left leg in front of your right or your right leg in front of your left
and they those are both resting on his overtime
that's also very stable posture it also creates a triangle
another posture to do on a cushion is to sick
in caesar a japanese the japanese way of of sitting
or some variant of it sitting says that means
resting on your ankles and knees but upright
in japan he would sit say sir
without a cushion
and if you like you can sit caesar by supporting
you're supporting your behind either with a cushion underneath your seat so raising you a little bit to take some of the stress off of the ankles
or using says a bench
have varying heights where com does one have you have a seat bench than sitting on
if you can hold it up and weekends spotlighted i should have had one for not i'm not see was economists
there we go if you've spotlight ellen
can you see alan webb down there or cricket does or says or benches and they are thank you they're very convenient ways to ah take some of the strain off of your off of your pop ankles
and that's another effective so effectively that's also creating a triangle but it's true that your center of gravity's a little higher so is perhaps a little less vertically
stable then sitting cross-legged but it's fine
and if you can't do that has some of us may not be able to as we age ha
sit in a chair
and when you sit in a chair
you want to sit again upright you want your feet to be touching the ground news good straight armless chair
sit upright not leaning back
and you can use a support cushion behind behind the base of your back to to support you and if you want a cushion under your feet
so that your feet can actually rest flat on the floor
so that's the first the first way of establishing your posture
the second thing we do to establish our posture is
we sway
so you sit down
put our hands on our knees
and sway from the left to the rider the right to left
and gradually decrease the arcs so that you come to a place that is centered
this is not preparation for zaza
this actually is awesome itself
so we swayed the upper half the body of few times
and you can also if you like go forward and backward to to find your your center in that access
and finally you reach an upright posture
the menu up when you find this upright posture you move your hands into what's called the cosmic mudra and let's see if i can show that yeah
the cosmic madrid is like this your left hand is backwards ah your left hand is resting in your right palm
and here's some tips are just touching very lightly as if you could
slip a sheet of paper between your songs
and you're creating sort of half circle
it's as if you're copping something precious in your hand this is called the cosmic mujer
you rest is you can read this in your lap or against your body
and there's some space underneath your arms so your answer a little open
the term usual metaphor descriptor that's used his ah it's as if you're holding ah a raw egg underneath your arm
so be careful
you know if you're to loose diego drop and i'll make a mess and if you're too tight diego crack and it'll make a mess
so we find a stable upright posture and then we at then we align ourselves
you can think of
your posture as rising
from the base as a tree would rise from the earth or as a blade of grass
those growing things are flexible
an upright
they are rooted in the ground
and they're reaching towards the sky so the crown of your head
is reaching straight up which as if there's a string
from here hop into the heavens that's holding you up
and this lift is coming from the base of your spine
it's not been hung from your shoulders
so can talked about this again and again he talked about to lift coming from the base of this binary chakra extending your upper body we're extending your your midriff and i understood it
and for years i couldn't do it
ah because i came to size and
in my late thirties i already had a lot of bad physical habits so instead of lifting from the middle i was kind of collapsed
try to lift yourself
to your posture
is open open chest open belly open to the world
vulnerable and strong
you can think of that posture as
if you've ever seen a baby when it learned to walk you kind of walks with its belly forward
or the other image i like is ah if you are familiar with samurai movies
what to think of to share or funny
walking through the world striding you know belly first so we lead with a with an open exposed front of our body
i'd really like the expression and it's it's not rigid i like the expression expression that i learned from roshi joan halifax said you pyre ah where she says
zazen posture is
strong back soft front
strong back soft front
so we establish this posture and this is the basis and in the course of
a period of practice
come back and check these points of of of pastor is to think about your nose in line with your navel
and think about your ears in line with your shoulders
your head is tilted down slightly her eyes are slightly open
her mouth is closed
the tongue resting against the back of your keys
can you just naturally breathing in and out
so having established the posture
can we establish the brash
i would like to suggest something that
i've absorbed over the years that wasn't in the first sauce and instruction that i had but it's actually have

it's actually in him
the thought of this year but definitely not ah
yes curious
from the charm me which is this a zingy that
ah dogan borrowed extensively from when he wrote to concerts mg ah by master zhang lu xun zhou
he says the bodhisattva who studies prajna should first aroused the thought of great compassion
make the extensive vows and then carefully cultivated samadi
vowing to save sentient beings one should not seek liberation for oneself a month
so what i would like to suggest to you is that when you sit down you raise your intention
the boat you raise bodhicitta
the attention the intention to be awake
for the sake of all beaks
and what i do having established my posture
i say silently to myself
may i be awake and others may awaken
this is just my expression you can choose anything you want
or you can move directly to your breathing
but i really
like doing this i i say it silently three times as if i'm dropping a stone into a pond
pretty lightly
not with a lot of effort not a lot of energy but just to let that thought of enlightenment
flow through this period of zaza
to set an intention for my sutton
so as i said i do their three times and then
you can take a few breaths to really establish your breath breathe in deeply through your nose
and breathe out
a long and slow manner try that

just as long and exhale as you can do
as if you're spinning out a stream
a thread of grace

and when we reach the end of that just breathing again naturally
get for five breaths like this
as you're breathing out that stream what you find this in order to freeze like that you actually have to have some control of your diaphragm
and as you take a mindful control of your diaphragm as you do this law mindful breathing
you may find yourself changing gears from whatever activity
you had previously been in during the day
that's the point of to really establish yourself in your body
and once you've done that
just allow your breath to be natural
see if you can allow it to reach down to your horror
to your belly
and you can feel the horror as you inhale you can feel it expand
and as you exhale you can feel it contract
but it's no special breath it's not long
it's not deep
it's not shallow
it's just a natural open receptive breathing
and if you like to put your attention on your breath
you can count each exhalation
give each exhalation account go from one to can
and start again
very often we get to two or three or four
and then we're thinking about dinner or work or something someone said
when you notice that
just set those thoughts aside start again at one
without any judgment or evaluation of success or failure
this is just natural our minds which were about to get to are constantly sick greeting but
so you can count your breaths
you can just simply follow them by putting a attention on the rise and fall if your abdomen
practice that i've been doing for some years is
breathing in on the word this
i've tried reading in on the word just and breathing out on the word this
i find those rest really naturally and easily on my brand
so we moved from breast mind
and often
we think of the mind as the problem
but it's not a problem the mind is just being the mind
we're thinking beings
we exude thoughts
yeah schon said
advised think not thinking
this is infrequent sap that he was asked how do you think not thinking
he said nah i'm thinking
to what is not thinking
non thinking
complete receptivity
it is if one was
one were sitting by the stream of life
and watching the river flow
that river his thoughts memories sensations all those things
we recognize it is flowing as we sit by a stream we may try to keep her mind on a particular point in that stream where
we're say a small
rivulet of the stream
cascades over a small outfall of rock
have you can see that nets it's cycle were right the are really in that and then there's a bubble that comes by user or a branch or sticked as flowing by and it catches our attention and it draws
your mind just naturally down the stream
and that's the way our minds work it's so easy for us to get
shall i say caught by these thoughts for these perceptions but there's nothing wrong with that
the challenge he is just as when your destroyed your breath is distracted
if you notice it just returned to one the same thing is that applies that's actually activity of mind that
oh and then you come back to
that place in the stream
henry continuously
pulled away pulled down stream
and continuously returning
what i was told years and years ago
was that the essential act of zazen
was the act of return
and it's really important for us to know i'd i was not told this when i started practicing night i wished i don't understood in earlier
this is not
a practice of concentration this is what dawkins has in for concerts empty when he says the zazen i'm speaking of is not learning meditation
it simply the dorm of key of a repose in bliss so meditation means often means concentration intense focus a kind of blotting out of everything that ha is extremely as to the single point
agnus of ones concentration that's not what we're doing
what we're doing is
maybe a contradictory
way of expressing it is we're concentrating on everything
so if it's as if the top of your head were lifted off and you were open to all sensations and all perceptions not just external for also from within your body

so as we establish all these things
something may interfere with their sauce and a sound a thought bodily sensation
please don't think of that please think of that as an opportunity to return
to come back to the beginning to give yourself very quickly to scan your body in your mind and give yourself the and instruction that ah is something like what we just did
and begin again
when when i asked certain roshi what what he did in zazen he said i can myself the as an instruction
so he went through all these points the points of body points of breath the points of mind to align himself
and he might fall asleep and he would wake up and he would realign himself this is our task this is actually a practice and the practice is one of complete receptivity
of including everything in our is awesome
every been of our own mind
so i'm not going to speak of other forms today i think i'll stop there and and leave about with that five minutes or one leave little time for questions ah so thank you for listening i hope this was useful
let's see what questions you have pleased you can raise your hands digitally if you like core
or actually entered raising digitally or maybe mere lori can look at them because i can't quite see everyone

if if you would be great if people could use the raising hands function because i i can actually fit all the participants in the participant window on my screen but i'm
i'd have to keep scrolling through the top bar to see all dreams so
a minute if somehow you can't find the raise hands and you get frustrating it is just an mutants and talk to us was only there's a small amount here some still not seeing any hands
all got this right

you can also just have a comment
i'm speechless
i it was so clear and so helpful i don't really have a question many others are feeling that way to who is it that species i could put you on i was that was hannah
make you wiser money
oh i don't know
it's true
this helen i i i i think it was yesterday he include as you said a two syllable phrase and chinese and i don't remember with the phrase was or what it meant but
i think it will say yeah yeah it was arm
gree you
it was the way i guess it was chinese for take refuge ah that's right okay i was trying to think i might use a two-word phrase for justice but that meaning doesn't work like me
they will just stick with justice
just this is om
i find that very useful just it sits on my breath so easily and then i don't have to count
yeah joe yeah thanks
maybe this does better in person but i figure i'd asked do anything to say about kind of what to do with live your lower back is a coming up straight from your a bottom you know or the kind of curve in i've heard different things your your lower back is coming up straight from the base ah
of your spine
often the question that for the experiment that's useful is to find how high your sabaton should be a from a high what support you need under the base of your spine years offer and your exact mean years
of yeah
loss was it was astonishing i mean surgeon sarah is completely mushy
cushion and that was as you know that we find that were totally for him ah i said for years i've been sitting on one one visa inflatable cushions
that you know i have found just the right inflation but sometimes you need you know and somebody meaning to support cushion it depends this is an it's all a matter of angle angles and torque you know so you have to find what's comfortable for your honor
for your skeletal alignment
does good to experiment
supreme is just look for that comfort right like look for look for the place you know what i will say again for myself i think i said ah
i think it took me ten years a capturing the instruction to lift from the base in my spine and i kept trying to do it and kept collapsing
ah and in one day
again it was in zazen instruction in surgeon said it and i get it and it was like being clicked in and i was able to do that so it's a lot of what we do with our posture depends on all the work that we have done for a long time
with sitting resetting load full lotus or half lotus so give yourself that space don't push too hard but keep trying to move towards a stable upright posture karen and i want to echo what hannah said i appreciated how clear this was felt that
a helpful and one question i have is i'm recently experienced a lot more of be a tendency towards falling asleep where i find myself my eyes are getting heavy am rocking over forward both in the morning into the afternoon and i'm wondering if you have any particular advice for when that happens wake up
that's what i tell myself that feels like the war that i say that the more my eyes are like we're going to close partner now the harder you try i have this device that someone gave me the uses and in japanese in the chinese monasteries tourists
it would drop the they prompted sheriff hundred sabaton an inflation
and so you couldn't not out
although that i wonder if i'd wake up i think what weeks me off is the like function for her but all of us have had this experience and you know every now and then ah in the zendo you'll hear some ago against the wall
it's is just you know it's sleepy zazen
if there's something you can do to keep yourself awake fine but if what's happening is this period is a period of sleep this is just one of the just just a stage it may be a moment that you're going through might be stage at you're going through ah but
don't rejected as not zazen
okay don't judge it
thank you that's helpful thank you one more than we have to and suit
yeah thank you are one thing that was very helpful years ago you could i think the key as to against the base you know where i was sitting on the sasuke and i could sit up and put my hit the back of my head against the top because i'm sure didn't step up
broomstick fatale people and it has helped with a long as lot
lifting the cause you're not losing your lumbar curve but the that you're on the i don't know there was an alignment thing that really helped well thing i learned that from surgeon and from read and from ah from other teachers it's a very common technique
it to use on my can reach the kiyosaki or to use it just move it against the base of somebody's spine up their back and then they can they can move back against it and find the right alignment ha
just to say to people who review we we haven't carried a cure saku as to strike people with it for many for years now and i i regret that but i don't think it's coming back but we can use it for adjusting postures
and ah to that when we come back we come back to the zendo i'd like to be adjusting pastures or i'll try to do that more during periods his eyes and and their people there are other people who are trained to are really good attack