Dogen on Zen Training and a Study by Kasamatsu and Hirai
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This information is from an article in Psychologia, and slightly amplified for clarifications. - TK
Zazen: Zen sitting is performed in two basic meditation forms: A full cross-legged sitting and a half cross-legged sitting. During the Zen sitting, the trainees' eyes must be open and look downward about one meter ahead and his hands generally join. In a quiet room the trainee sits on a round cushion and practises the meditation for about 30 minutes.
Sesshin: Sometimes the intensive Zen training is performed 8 to 10 times a day for about one week. This is called Sesshin in Zen Buddhism. During it, the trainees do not engage in daily activities, but live a much regulated life by following a strict schedule.
"By practising Zen meditation it is said that man can become emancipated from the dualistic bondage of subjectivity and objectivity, of mind and body and of birth and death. And he can be free from lust and self-consciousness, and be awakened to his pure, serene and true selfhood. This mental state (Satori or enlightenment) will often be misunderstood as trance or hypnosis. However, it is said that Satori is not an abnormal mental state but one's everyday mind in the Zen sens." [Zazc 205n]
Erich Fromm describes the satori state:
If we should try to express enlightenment in psychological terms, I would say that it is a state in which the person is completely tuned to the reality outside and inside of him, a state in which he is fully aware of it and fully grasps it. He is aware of it - that is, not his brain, nor any other part of his organism, but he, the whole man. He is aware of it; not as of an object over there which he grasps with his thought, but it, the flower, the dog, the man, in its or his full reality. He who awakes is open and responsive to the world, and he can be open and responsive because he as given up holding on to himself as a thing, and thus has become empty and ready to receive. To be enlightened means "the full awakening of the total personality to reality". [Paz, in Zazc 205-6n]
"If one asks what this state of mind is concerned in psychotherapy, it may be said that Zen meditation is the method through which we can communicate with the unconscious. In this context, however, the unconscious does not mean Freud's "unconsciousness". Rather, "the unconscious" in Zen is closely related tot he unconscious which is stated by Jung, C.G. (Suzuki), or Fromm, E. [Paz] In regard to this problem Dr. Daisetsu Suzuki states the meaning of it as "the Cosmic unconscious"." [Zazc 206n]
At any rate the Zen meditation influences not only the mind but also the body as a whole organism. Training of Zen produces changes not only in the mind but also in the body - electrographic changes of brain patterns are among them. [Zazc 205-6n]
By studying the electrical activities of the brain during Zazen, and comparing it to the general impressions that Zen teachers had of their own and their students's attainments in contemplation, it showed up that there was a good deal of correspondence between these impressions and significant brain wave patterns attained to during contemplation. Also, the amount of years of Zen training went into these estimates too. There was a neat correspondence between the general impressions, years of training, and the EEG measurement results. [See Zasc 213-14]
Specific changes of EEG patterns indicate corresponding changes of consciousness. [See Zasc 224]
The degrees of EEG [electroencephalographic] changes during Zen meditation are parallel with the trainee's proficiency in sitting Zen (ie zazen). [Zasc 214]
"Dogen teaches us that Buddhism is just to practice Zazen, and to practice Zazen is Buddhism." - Roshi Nishijima.
"Only people who have experienced, in the mountain still state, the Zazen that is different from thinking, are able to grasp it." [Dogen, in Shobogenzo, Vol 4, p 247]
ZAZEN is another word for Zen contemplation (ie meditation), Zazen is the training in sitting and contemplating as hinted at below - and it is a very basic exercise in Zen: "Zazen is Zen, and Zen is Zazen," said Zen roshi Dogen. And:
The Tathagatas [Arrivers] of the past, present, and future and the patriarchs in India and China have also attained enlightenment through zazen. [Dogen in the "Bendowa" chapter of the Shobogenzo]
More of Dogen
GIVE UP even the idea of becoming a Buddha.
There are innumerable ways of understanding Buddhism,
Having started from his outskirts he joins the way, but he has hardly begun -
You may use a sitting posture (zazen) - or a lying posture.
Just the sitting practice and that only
PERHAPS Soto Zen is thought of as a Japanese tradition, but it was imported from China by Dogen in the early 1200s. Furthermore, it is said to be essentially the same as the Mahamudra (Great Symbol) teachings of Northern Buddhism:
A useful and succinct formula of comparison for Chinese Zen and Tibetan Mahamudra is that Zen is esoteric Mahamudra and Mahamudra is exoteric Zen. - Professor Chen-chi Chang [Tiy xxxix - More on it]
By sitting calmly and comfortably, one is to go beyond thinking by observing serenely. Nothing is sought, not even enlightenment. Just the sitting practice is to be held on to.
For beginners: do it for at least ten to fifteen minutes (preferably 25) every day.
Zen serenity and furtive living stem from recognizing things for what they are - in tune with: "Don't ever let others condition you." [Zuigan]
Dogen wrote an essential guide for Zen training - it is included in the English Shobogenzo translation too. [Shz; Szd; Szi; Szm; Szp] ◊
Zazen gazing can melt away certain mind-forged distances.
From inside, from deep inside is the best
ONE HAD better do the sitting in a quiet room. One session is to last about 30-35 minutes, eventually.
Gladness from deep inside is called Giu-Zamhai in Zen. It is happiness from within that warms your heart. It is attuned to the real essence of our life. Buddha thought that Giu-Zamhai was to be reckoned with too. In fact, he taught Giu-Zamhai, gladness of being, a felicity which comes from inside of us. Thus, feel that you are alive and experience how bright the world can seem. ◊
Train yourself in watching the natural flow of breath too
TRAIN and exert yourself in breath-watching, and go on from there - investigate and probe well - and know yourself too.
Paz: Fromm, Erich: Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism. Unwin. London, 1986.
Dog: Masunaga, Reiho, tr. A Primer of Soto Zen. A Translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo Zuimonki. Honolulu: University Press, 1975.
Shz: Cleary, Thomas, tr. Shobogenzo: Zen Essays by Dogen. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986.
Sth: Nearman, Hubert, tr. Shobogenzo: The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching. Mount Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey Press, 2007. Online
Szd: Nishijima, Gudo Wafo and Cross, Chodo, trs. Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. Book 1. Woking, Surrey (UK): Windbell Publications, 1994.
Szi: Nishijima, Gudo Wafo and Cross, Chodo, trs. Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. Book 2. London: Windbell Publications, 1996.
Szm: Nishijima, Gudo Wafo and Cross, Chodo, trs. Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. Book 3. London: Windbell Publications, 1997.
Szp: Nishijima, Gudo Wafo and Cross, Chodo, trs. Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. Book 4. London: Windbell Publications, 1999.
Zazc: Kasamatsu, Akira and Hirai, Tomio. "An Electroencephalographic Study on the Zen Meditation." Psychologia, vol 12, 1969, p 205-25. Kyoto, Japan.
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