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Updated on October 29, 2008

Zazen: What Comes Up?

During meditation, it is amazing some of the things the mind comes up with. As a Zen practitioner, I practice zazen, which is a form of meditation where the mind is stilled and focused on one thing, (for instance the inhalation and exhalation as you breath) to the exclusion of all else.

This has a sort of paradoxical effect as the more one tries to still the mind, the more thoughts tend to flood into the mind. Some of these thoughts can be extremely mystical, and for many years I have kept a note of what arises during my zazen and blog about them. What follows is a just few of the thousand of thoughts I have had over the years...

Whilst I was sitting in my meditation back in the Spring of 2004, I began to feel what best could be described as a buzzing sensation that seemed to ripple through my body from head to foot. At first I resisted this feeling, but then I just surrendered to it and simple observed it, and this thought arose...

Energy is just a single entity. When you come to think of it energy is energy, it does not manifest itself in different compartments. It flows from one life-being to another, from one thing to another thing and to all things.

Energy is one. It cannot be defined only felt and experienced in its various forms. Yet it is still one energy.

Individual entities tap into and draw this energy, drawing enough for its needs. There doesn't seem to be greed when it comes to energy because there is an abundance of it. Energy serves all beings with its inexhaustible abundance. We never get to the bottom of the barrel. It is only ourselves (i.e. our beliefs, state of health etc) that bars energy from being absorbed by us.

Energy is not just existent within us, it is an existential, universal manifestation.

The following day as I sat in my zazen, a similar experience occurred but this time I felt the resistance to it getting stronger and it took quite a lot of willpower to stay with the experience. This is the thought that occurred on this occasion...

"To be uncertain is uncomfortable, but to be certain is ridiculous"

This is one of these old Chinese Zen sayings that I came across recently in one of my Zen books. It's not very encouraging because it seems to say that all the seeking for truth that I have been doing will lead to ridiculousness, if ever I experience certainty about it. But then again, in a true Zen fashion it's not to be taken literally!

I remember being up the top of a ladder as a school-kid whilst my friend was holding the ladder steady for me at the bottom. If I recall correctly, I was locked out of my house and trying to get in through an open window. Anyway, I digress...

My friend could probably feel my trembling through the ladder as I inched my way higher and higher and he said, "You can't fall, there's nothing to stop you!"

What the hell does that mean!? I've no idea, after all I don't want to become ridiculous!

The thoughts that come up during my meditation are often crazy and ridiculous to the intellectual mind that is constantly analysing and making sense. In Zen however, the task is to focus on the irrational and the weird in order to transcend the thinking mind and get an experience of the spiritual mind which can often be very profound. The spiritual mind doesn't do anything, it just is.


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