Zen Life Contemplation

Zen_Mind_Self_Knowledge

Zen Life: Contemplating Mind and Life

Right now, I am aware that my mind has been questioning this life. I say ‘has been’ because I can only know of things of the past, not of the present. 

The here-now...   is non-existent for my mind. 
I must be existent because I am living existence. 

But my thinking is always about what was and not what is. 

One of life’s mysteries. Well... all of life’s mysteries when contemplating life itself!   

Life is a mystery is that it is constant and permanent, but not in thought, for the ego-mind believes it knows life.  But really…..  

I do not know how life comes to be. 


But does life really come to be? All I can know is an expression of life through my experiencing.

I would say that life always was, is and will be, as it is in everyone and everything both the sentient and the non-sentient – no beginning, no end. 

Life is not created by or of the mind because it cannot be. Before my mind there was life. After my mind there will be life. Sometimes in Zen, life is referred as Mind, with a capital ‘M’, or ultimate enlightenment.

Life is... always or immortal. Knowing life is mortal and ends.


My thinking mind developed, and I began to know and remember life. Before that, there was no knowledge, just me without an ability to think, without an ability to know, but I was in life.  I can only know what was, and at best my knowledge is faint of being fascinated with I know not what..

Zen can be a word for life and to many it is life.  Zen/life indicates life when it reduces everything to the Great Void and allows us a glimpse of it.. Then for that moment, Zen is no more.. No-thing!

The Great Void.. 


Timelessness, everywhere in space, yet no place that can be separated and indicated 'the space of the void'.

The void is All of space.  Beyond the capabilities of thinking. 

It is there beyond my grasp, yet something that I am – something that everything and everybody is. 
The mind is just an addition…

A created duality. 

Hara: A Personal Experience.

More on Hara Focusing


In the hara, there is an almost supernatural force.  If one was to watch a Japanese Sumo wrestling contest for instance, it would be observed that the contender with the strongest centre in the hara, would displace his opponent from the ring with hardly any effort at all.  This is ki (Chinese, chi) that is flowing from the hara  and is mysterious and once fully developed,  will eliminate the need for great body strength. 

My Personal Story of Hara


I remember myself attending a weekend dojo in ki-aikido, a martial art that values the spiritual and utilises full use of the hara, called by ki-aikido practitioners, the 'One Point in the Lower Abdomen'.  

A grand ki-aikido master was visiting from Japan, and asked for 3 or 4 of our senseis (teachers) to join him for a demonstration.  Once on the mat, our teachers were instructed to attack the master however they wished.  They all descended on him at once and with a few flicks of his hands and some small steps, they were all laid out flat on their backs, on the mat.  This he demonstrated 2 or 3 times, and it seemed to me that even our senseis were confused as to how this small man could lay them out on the mat so easily.  

I must have been looking suspicious of some sort of trick because the master seemed to look right into me and in his broken English said, “Ah! You don’t believe this. Please come here for a moment.”

I was instructed to sit on the floor in seiza position (see illustration above) in front of him,  a strong sitting position where one sits on one’s lower legs which are bent at the knees and where one is quite anchored to the ground. The next thing I realised was that I was flat on my back, and I had not felt a thing!  He then said he would repeat the move and that I was to pay more attention. He moved towards me and extended his little (pinky) finger and  gently touched me on my shoulder.  I felt nothing but an extremely subtle but irresistible force and again I found myself laying on my back this time with my legs still folded underneath me.  It seemed so very relaxing and yet so powerful.  I was now convinced of the power of the hara, the One Point in the lower abdomen, and the power of ki.  The master roared with laughter, and I couldn't help but laugh with him.  This is something that happens so much in Zen. 

I then returned and sat seiza with the rest of the students and  senseis, and the master talked about ki and reminded us all to practice keeping One Point...  resting the mind in the hara...  practising keeping the mind focused in hara during our day-to-day activities in life.  It wasn’t to be regarded as something we would learn and forget about, but a way of life from which one will learn experientially of the magic and power of ki.  

I have adhered to this process ever since, and whilst I may not be conscious of hara 100% of the time, often when walking or waiting in line for instance, I notice that my mind is focused on my breathing into the hara automatically.  With this 'automatic' awareness, I become aware of how centred I'm feeling and choose to focus more consciously.  But then knowing that my mind will drift again, I am certain that whether I realise it or not, I am now keeping One Point. 

Zen: The Happening

The Happening


The mind functions on reason. Reasonableness is the function of duality – opposites which attract, such as this-not this, good-bad, right-wrong, desirable-undesirable and so on.  The human  mind does not cause this to happen.  It is created from the essence, life, universal energy or could be called God  or any  number of many names.  And the way we know that we are reasoning is that have moved from a moment of non-reasonableness into reason.  But exactly how that has happened is not possible to know, for that would be more reasoning which will be the effect of asking the question of how we are reasoning.  Explain it we cannot – but we would possible believe that we could explain! ButZen is not philosophy.

In my posts here I often talk of zazen (Zen meditation) as being a way to have the answer to these questions resolved.  The paradox is that true zazen is not an action, but a state of being.  Zazen is a happening. It comes to us when we are passive, not in activity. Therefore it could be said that zazen is not considered meditation, it is just sitting.  There is nothing to 'do".

This can be fully realised by sitters who recognise that zazen itself, which is just sitting, is different with each sitting - imperceptibly perhaps, but over time it changes and we neither cause the changes neither can we stop the changes from happening It is just sitting contacting life as it is in the here-now. Being with whatever is so.  Life is alive and forever moving on – forever evolving. Zazen is part of that happening.

Don't have aims in zazen, be zazen itself, totally in the here-now, not seeking, not-doing, not following another's instructions, even these written here! There is no wrong or right way to meditate in this way. It is an occurrence – a happening. And there are no goals in meditation, and if it is seen clearly that meditation is absolute being(ness), that there are no goals, then this in itself leads to enlightenment – or perhaps it is enlightenment... most Zen masters and enlightened beings tell all of us that we are already enlightened!

It has been recorded by others so who have trodden the path to enlightenment that enlightenment can and often does happen when no formal meditation is happening. Indeed, enlightenment also happens during meditation. It is unpredictable and it is unknown and cannot be known, explained or predicted by the mind, but it is realised when it is so.

However, the moment we say,  "I think I became enlightened". That is not so. It has nothing to do with thinking, and thinking is a happening within the mind.  Enlightenment is a happening within the here-now, a place that the mind cannot enter, but it will remember that something happened perhaps, but it’s not happening here-now in the mind, it's remembered!

This all may sound so contradictory and paradoxical. Life is that way. North meets South, but where? No north, no south for each is the other, but appear as separate. What is north of north? And what happens to the first north? Has it really become south? South of what?

Duality does not really make for peace, it troubles the mind when the mind cannot know. Such is the way of Zen.

Absolute Waiting Zen

What is Absolute Waiting?


absolute waiting, waiting room
When we are in anticipation we are not in a state of waiting. Our mind is on a past events projecting those stored memories into the future as ‘what ifs’ whether they be negative or positive.  When we are not in a state of waiting we are up using our moments of life in illusory hopes and what ifs.

We are not having our full awareness of living life.  Losing moments of living awareness and consciousness in dreams.  The paradox is that we are not really losing anything at all, whether or not we are aware!

This short post invites you to bring what happens regarding waiting to your awareness. That is to support a higher state of awareness, not to prove that this query is right or wrong, or good or bad,  for that is a judgement, which is an illusion of the mind.

Since humankind developed language that enabled the process of thinking, we have judged and assessed what is ‘best’, but has humankind ever found what is best? How is any human being going to assess  the best without thinking about and referring to what’s worse?

Is it not so that whilst nature nurtures, she does not care?  The sun will provide warmth to that which is better AND  that which is worse.   What’s in between? Just waiting?

Would not absolute waiting be comfortable with the absence of all other things?  No judgements, or expectations.  Just absolute waiting…  And the mind would have no answer even after and in-depth analysis of what waiting is. Even with all the analysis in the world, the mind cannot know what absolute waiting is, as it would just turn out to be another explanation and not absolute waiting itself.

Some contemplation on Absolute Waiting.

Contemplate waiting. When truly waiting, the here-and-now will happen in awareness. Notice if you get a thought come to you that you just cannot wait.  Just notice it, for the thought is not waiting or not waiting… The thought is more or less confirming a belief in being unable to wait.

Notice if you are waiting. What action is involved in waiting?   How can you show waiting to anyone?

Few or no people absolutely wait as the empty chairs in the picture above represents. Where’s the absolute waiting? Where and what is the activity of waiting? There is knowledge of having waited, but knowledge is just more thinking of thoughts that are stored in memory. it cannot be waiting itself, can it?

Contemplate the question…  What is absolute waiting? Throw all answers from the mind away – for they are concepts and beliefs and not absolute waiting. They would be thoughts about waiting that occur AFTER the event of waiting!  So keep the question, ‘what is absolute waiting?’ and wait. Notice if absolute waiting happens to you.

A Question of Trust

trust
Photo by Elvis Ma on Unsplash

Trust: A Consequence of Acceptance

Whilst we are encouraged to trust in life, by many spiritual teachers, there must be confusion as to how to trust. How do we trust?

The truth seems to be that we can’t ‘do’ anything at all. Trust happens as a consequence of acceptance

When there is no acceptance, it is because of the belief that we can change things by doing something about it, but what is there to do?  Acceptance is not a ‘doing’ thing, it is a state of being!  And the more we try to ‘be’ a certain way, the more we can fail. We may well imagine that we have ‘achieved’ a new way of being. But it that really so? Are we not just the same underneath it all? 

This is because the more we try to change things the more we are in non-acceptance, which will manifest as resistance and intolerance of what is so and that means the more we are in distrust of what is so.  And the more we will stay the same. Possibly more intensely the same than before we tried top change!

If things feel good, because of our duality they are going to be bad again, for it is only through such relativity, we ‘know’ anything, and in this particular instance – we know good is the absence of bad and vice-versa. 

But where does the bad come from? Where does the good come from?  Good may come from those circumstances that we believe we have controlled, bad may come from those circumstances we believe we have not controlled. But if we really have control of our thoughts and feelings of good and bad,  why have we not worked out how to stop the bad times and only ever have good times?  

Acceptance… going with the flow… will help us transcend such opposites of good and bad that really are not opposites at all, but actually just different sides of the same coin. 

The mind is duality moving from one thing to its opposite and back again. It is how its knowledge is being processed and accumulated. 

Reality, Life, God or whatever you wish to call it, is omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite, unpredictable as it is constantly moving from the here-now into the here-now.  Total acceptance of what is, brings us to the here-now. All that is needed is for our attention to be focused… in this here-and-now. 

A Master of Enlightenment

Anything could be a master of enlightenment..

A Master of Enlightenment
A Zen master exists everywhere and anywhere life. Within all situations, whether they be trials and tribulations or great moments of joy.  The master is not a punishment nor a reward.  Not just a person but anything at all. Bird, a flower, a stone – rock or statue.  Even something small like a fly, or insignificant like another misty day, or degree of lightness from the brilliant to the depth of darkness.  Or like a paradox like, one must have light to see.. and one can see darkness in the midst of light, and light in the midst of darkness, each enhancing and cancelling each other out in a universal play.

All and any these things and anything at all can suddenly and spontaneously be seen as a master and can reveal to us the dream-like state of the world around us that is created in the mind. And in doing so, all these things can indicate strongly that there is only here-now. We just simply need to be open to realising  it.

Be mindful of what is around, what objects, people, circumstances, sane of crazy – that could be a master of enlightenment

How to Meditate on Chakras.

   


the seven chakras and their colors.
The Seven Chakras
and Their Colours

Learn how to Meditate on Chakras


This is my way  of doing meditation on chakras – there will no doubt, be other methods, but I invite you drop all preconceptions about chakra development, and especially not to blindly believe in what I am saying here, but to go through this exercise and experience for yourself, anything that comes to you from the actual practice of this meditation. Personally, I have found that diligent practice of this method produces results.

Before you start, contemplate the chakras and their colours colours in the image (left) and familiarise yourself with them and the position of each chakra.  Get an idea of their location and colour they each resonate with.

It is best to sit upright with arms and legs uncrossed. (A chair will be fine, or  if you are already a mediator, you may have a preferred method of meditating). Close your eyes go through the following seven chakras...





The Seven Chakras

1. Base Chakra Focus:  (Red)

Take your mind to the Base Chakra the bottom of the torso – usually considered to be in the perineum. Breathe slowly and completely inward and imagine a Red light glowing from this base chakra point and expanding outwardly into the universe like a vortex of energy.  Hold the in-breath for a while – it is difficult to think of anything in this gap between the two breaths, as thoughts tend to move only when the breath is flowing. This is ‘no-breath’ (in or out) – therefore it is said that ‘no-thoughts’ can occur which is the state ‘no-mind’ in Zen – there is value in experiencing this.

Next, allow the breath to slowly and gently move out of the body whilst enhancing the image of the chakra as a glowing and expanding light. Hold the breath out for a while before moving on to the next chakra as you begin the next in-breath slowly.

2.  Sacral Chakra Focus:  (Orange)

Take your mind to the Sacral Chakra located in the lower abdomen also known as the hara. Again, as you breathe slowly in,  imagine an Orange light glowing and expanding outwardly into the universe like a vortex of energy from this point. And hold the full in-breath for a while and repeat the same process as with the previous (base) chakra – don’t forget to hold the out-breath also for a while afterwards before moving on to the next chakra as you begin the next in-breath slowly.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra: (Yellow)

Take your mind to the Solar Plexus Chakra or a point in the upper-mid part of abdomen. Again,  breathe slowly inward and imagine this as a Yellow light glowing and expanding outwardly into the universe like a vortex of energy. And again hold the in-breath for a while and repeat the same process as with the previous chakra  – don’t forget to hold the out-breath for a while afterwards before moving on to the next chakra as you begin the next in-breath slowly.

4. Heart Chakra: (Green)

 Take your mind to the Heart Chakra in a point in the region of the heart. Again,  breathe slowly inward and imagine this as a Green light glowing and expanding outwardly into the universe like a vortex of energy. Hold the in-breath for a while and repeat the same process as with the previous chakra – don’t forget to hold the out-breath for a while afterwards before moving on to the next chakra as you begin the next in-breath slowly.

5.Throat Chakra:  (Blue)

Take your mind to the Throat Chakra or a point in the region of the throat/neck.  Breathe slowly inward and imagine this as a Blue light glowing and expanding outwardly into the universe like a vortex of energy. Hold the in-breath for a while and repeat the same process as with the previous chakra – don’t forget to hold the out-breath for a while afterwards before moving on to the next chakra as you begin the next in-breath slowly.

6. Brow (Third Eye) Chakra: (Violet)

Take your mind to the Brow (third eye) Chakra  or on a point in the region between the eyebrows/centre of the forehead. Again,  breathe slowly inward and imagine this as a Violet light glowing and expanding outwardly into the universe like a vortex of energy. And hold the in-breath for a while and repeating the same process as with the previous chakra – don’t forget to hold the out-breath for a while afterwards before moving on to the next chakra as you begin the next in-breath slowly.

7. Crown Chakra:  (Violet)

Take your mind to the Crown Chakra or a point in the region just at the top the head and perhaps a little above it.  Again,  breathe slowly inward and imagine this as an Indigo light glowing and expanding outwardly into the universe like a vortex of energy. And hold the in-breath for a while and repeating the same process as with the previous chakra  – don’t forget to hold the out-breath for a while afterwards before moving on to the next chakra as you begin the next in-breath slowly.  This time when you are ready, just allow the breath to slowly exhale from the body and return to breathing in a natural rhythm, following the breaths for a while down into the body before opening your eyes and returning to normal daily activity.

And that’s the work on the seven chakras.

(My) Zen Notes on Chakra Meditation.  


First of all Zen does not foster beliefs.  Beliefs are something that may or may not be true. The objective of practising Zen is experiencing.  Experiencing in the here-now.

Beliefs are thoughts of the past based on opinion and judgement from past learning and conditioning.  Experiencing is existence, here-and-now with or without thinking.  Zen is not a way for believers, but for those who are willing to experiment with focus and experiencing mindfulness in order to transcend (ego)mind and experience emptiness or no-mind.

As there are no beliefs in Zen practice,  there are no guarantees. It's aim is the development of awareness that grows as mindfulness and focus develops more and more.

The past is thought.The mind is the storage of thoughts of past images, sounds and sensations.  The present is experiencing,  but when analysed experiences become thoughts after the manifestation of the experiencing analysis is based on past knowledge.  So the mind cannot exist as a present moment, for the present moment is not static but moves. The present moment has already gone and is now (possibly) being thought about. It is in this way that we are not experiencing experiencing.

So chakra meditation is the visualisation of each chakra, its colour and its light.  We need to drop all stored ‘knowledge’  that has been learned about chakras even what is written here and be here now with our focus. Just experiencing. Notice how thoughts come and go. Allow the to come; allow them to go.

Zen is always exposing paradox and paradox when realised, enhances the experience of the mysterious. Life is a mystery and not a thing that can be analysed as to what it is.  It is everywhere and everything.

The best I can do here is to write about how chakras are a mystery. There are some that claim to be able to see the chakras and auras around others, but personally I have not experienced that form of seeing. But what I have experienced are the various sensations that come about in my own body, as a result of what I am naming here as Chakra Meditation... Focusing on the energies as light and colour that are moving through each chakra in the body, as they have been outlined in various explanations and images in many documents throughout history.

The more I have practised chakra meditation over the years, the more vividly the imagery has become, and the more the accompanying experiences have been enhanced.  One may ask what this has to do with Zen practice.  To which I would answer that Zen can be applied to anything even a belief-system! But then Zen is not a belief system itself but the experiencing of the moment of now.
Beliefs are considered to be illusory but it doesn’t mean that we don’t hold them, they are part of our experience of the dualism of the mind.

Zen embraces all and makes no comment.  Duality exists within the context of the Whole and is the 'play' created in about our life – some would refer to this as 'the game of life'.

Words can be forever produced, but it is all just thinking, and not Zen itself.