Sekida - Ll(dyiw‘oiat minim/9 My Orientations IN nus mnonucroav cunrrra I want to review briefly some of the main topics that are to be dealt

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Unformatted text preview: Ll (dyiw‘oiat, minim) (/9 My Orientations IN nus mnonucroav cunrrra I want to review briefly some of the. main topics that are to be dealt with In this book. A summary at the. outset may help the reader to find hIs way about the rest of the book more easily, and to understand how dIITerent ideas and concepts relate to one another. In studying Zen we start with practice. Now, It Is true that Zen Is concemed with the problem of the nature of mind, so it necessarily includes an element of philosophical speculation. However, while the philosopher relies mainly on speculation and reasoning, In Zen ave. are. never separated from our personal practice, which we carry out with our body and mind. Edmund Husseri, the founder of phenomenology, may seem to come close to Zen In his Ideas when he advocates a technique called "phenomenological reduction." He says that he. ignores "the ego as a person arranged on objective time," and arrives at the "pure phenomenon." However, like. other philosophers, he does not seem to go beyond a purely mental exercise. In Zen training we also seel: to extinguish the self-centered, individual ego, but we do not try to do this merely by thinking about It. It is with our own body and mind that we actually experience what we call "pure existence." The basic kind of Zen practice Is called zazen (sitting Zen). and In zazen we attain samadhi. In this state the activity of consciousness Is stopped and we cease to be aware of time, space, and causation. The mode of existence which thus makes Its appearance may at first sight 29 981 2 E N T R A I N l N G seem to be nothing more than mere being, or existence. However, if you really attain this state you will find it to be a remarkable thing. At the extremity of having denied all and having nothing left to deny, we reach a state in which absolute silence and stillness reign. bathed in a pure, serene light. Buddhists of former times called this state an- nihilation, or Nirvana. But it is not a vacuum or mere nothingness. it is utterly dilferent, too, from the unconscious state of the patient under anesthesia upon the operating table. There is a definite wake- fulness in It. it is a condition of existence that recalls the impressive silence and stillness that we experience in the heart of the mountains. in ordinary daily life our consciousness works ceaselessly to protect and maintain our interests. it has acquired the habit of utilitarian thinking, looking upon the things In the world as so many tools—in Heidegger's phrase, it treats them "In the context of equipment." It looks at objects in the light of how they can be made use of. We call this attitude the hahitual way of consciousness. This way of looking. at things is the origin of man's distorted view of the world. And he comes to look upon himself, too, In the context of equipment, and fails to see Into his own true nature. This way of treating oneself and the world leads to a mechanical way of thinking, which is the cause of so much of the suifering of modern man, and which can, under some conditions, lead to the development of mental Illnesses. Zen aims at overthrowing this distorted view of the world, and, uzen Is the means of doing it. ' 0n coming out of samadhi it can happen that one becomes fully aware ofonc's being in its pure form; that Is, one experiences pure existence. This experience of the pure existence of one's being, as- sociated with the recovery of pure consciousness In samadhi, leads us to the recognition of pure existence in the external world too. Discussion oi' these topics inevitably leads us into epistemological tangles, but let us proceed for the moment, granting that such rec- ognition of pure existence is possible. To look at oneself and the objects of the external world in the context of pure existence is ken- shs. or realization. And this has been achieved, since Buddha himself did so, by men and women of every generation, who bear witness to its feasibility. JO ORIFNTATIONS This experience, as we have stressed, is attained hy the training of hotly and mind. Reason comes later and illuminates the experience, and thus the two wheels of the cart of cognition are completed. If one goes climhing in the Alps, one is prohably led to do so in the first instance by the beauty of the mountains. When one starts to climh, however, one finds it is a matter of working sine's way along patiently, step hy step, progressing with great care and caution. Soun- knowlerlge ofclimhing technique will he essential. it is the same with Zen. We take it up in search of the meaning of life, or in hope of solving the problem of our existence, hut once we actually start, we fiml we have to look down at our feet. and we are faced with praca tice followed by more practice, trainingfollowed hy more training. It must he done patiently and seriously. Much of this book is concerned with the technique of razen. Our aim in practicing saun is to enter the. state of samadlri, in which, as we have said, the normal activity of our consciousness Is stopped. This is not something that comes easily to us. The hegioner in Zen will usually be told to start by practicing counting his hreaths —that is, to count each exhalation up to ten. and then start again (see chapter 5). The reader (assuming he is inexperienced in Zen) shrmld try this for himself. Quite prohahly you will look on this task with some contempt, thinking that you can do it without any diiiicully, but when you start you will soon find that wandering thoughts come into your head, perhaps when you have reached about "five" or "six." and the thread of counting is broken. The next moment you come to yourself and cannot recollect where you left all. You have to start again, saying "one" and so on. How can we prevent our thoughts from wandering? How can we learn to focus our attention on one thing? The answer is that we cannot do it with our hrain alone; the hrain cannot control its thoughts hy itself. The power to control the activity of our mind comes from the body, and it tls'pcmls criti- cally (as we shall show in later chapters, in detail) on pnsiurt' and hreathlng. ‘ With regard to posture, we need only say at this stage that still- ness of body engenders stillness of mind. immobility is a first essential. Traditionally, and for good reasons. we sit down to practice, hecause 1i [E N T R Al N l N 0 (among other reasons) it is in this position that we can keep our body still but our minds wakeful. Chapter 2 is devoted entirely to a discus- sion of the posture we should adopt while sitting. immobility results ina diminution of the stimuli reaching the brain, until eventually there are almost none. This will give rise, in due course, to a condition in which you cease to be aware of the position of your body. It is not a state of numbness, for you can move your limbs and body if you want. But if you keep your body still, it is not felt. This condition I call "off-sensation." in this state the activity of the cortex of the brain becomes steadily less and less, and we can regard this condition as a preliminary to entering samadhi. We continue to breathe, of course, as we sit, and it will be shown later that our ability to concentrate our attentionI to remain wakeful, and ultimately to enter samath depends on our method of breathing. Even those who have not practiced zazen know that it is possible to control the mind by manipulating the breathing. Quiet breathing brings about a quiet state of mind. If, when you feel like shouting with rage, you keep your breath bated and make yourself quiet, you will find you can control your anger. Particular forms of breathing automatically appear in connection with various forms of activity, as we shall describe later. In uzen, we breathe almost entirely by means of our abdominal muscles and diaphragm. The muscles of the thorax are scarcely used. If the lower abdomen is allowed to fill out, the diadi'ragmblowered, the thoracic cavity is enlarged, and air is tak- en into the lungs. When the abdominal muscles contract, the contents of the abdomen are pushed up, which in turn forces the diaphragm up, reducing the volume of the thoracic cavity and expelling air' from the lungs. The slow, sustained exhalation that we adopt in uaen is produced by keeping the diaphragm contracted so that it opposes the action of the abdominal musclesI which are trying to push air out of the lungs. This opposition generates a state of tension in the ab- dominal muscles, and the maintenance ofthls state of tension is of the utmost importance in the practice of uzen. All other parts of the body are motionless, and their muscles are either relaxed or in a state of constant, moderate tension. Only the abdominal muscles are active. In ways that we shall explain later (see especially chapters 3 31 ORIENTATlUNS 3"" 7i. this activity is a vital part of the mechanism by \"lilt h concen- tration and wakefulness of the brain are maintained. Traditionally, in the East, the lower part ofthe abdomen (called the “fluff”. has been regarded as the seat of hutnan spiritual power. Correct ran-n postnre ensures that the weight of the body is concentrated there, producing a strong tensionI aml the method of breathing that is adopted rein- forces that tension. in chapter J we develop a hypothesis in physio- logical terms about the way in which stimuli from the. tamlen help to maintain wakefulness, and in chapter 7 and elsewhere we deal in some. detail with the importance of the tanden in both zazen and other ae- tivitles. The essential point we want to make at present is that it is the. cor. rect manipulation of the lower abdomen, as we sit and breathe. that enables us to control the activity of our mind. l‘osture aml lo‘eflhing are the key to concentration, to stilling the activity ol' the mind, and to entering samadhi. Stated so hrieily, our conclusion may seem far- fetched. The reader will find our reasons for this conclusion set out in more detail later, and we hope that they will seem convim ing. \nd if they do not seem convincing on the page, the reader shoohl m, erl- ment for himself along the lines we shall indicate. Zen is above all a matter of personal experience. The. student is asked to accept nothing the truth of which he cannot demonstrate for himself, with his own mind and body. We have already referred to the state of oil-sensation, in which we lose the sense of the whereabouts of our body. Subsequently, by stilling the activity of our mind, a state is reached in which time, space, and causation, which constitute the franteworlt of conscious‘ ness, drop away. We call this condition "body and mlan fallen oil." In ordinary mental activity the cerebral cortex takes the major role, but in this state, apparentlyI It is hardly active at all. "iiody and mind fallen oil" may seem to be nothing but a condition of mere being, but this mere being is accompanied by a remarkable mental power, \tltir h we may characterize as a condition of extreme \Vahcfttlness. To those who have not experienced it, this description may seem strange, yet the condition really does occur in samadhi. At the time, however, we are not aware of it, because, as we shall explain in t hap- J] 881 ZEN TRAINING ‘ ter I0, there is no rellecting activity of consciousness, and it is thus hard to describe. However, if we were to try to describe it, it would be as an extraordinary mental stillness. In this stillness, or emptiness, the source of all kinds of activity Is latent. It is this state that we call pure existence. This, perhaps, is the most simplified form of human existence. if you catch hold of this state of pure existence, and then come back into the actual world of conscious activity, you will find that Being itsell' appears transformed. Because of the possibility of this transfor- mation, Being is said to be "veiled in darkness' ' to the eyes of those who have not experienced pure existence. When mature in the practice of usen, Being is seen with one's own eyes. Or, as it is said in the sutras, "The Tathagata sees Buddha Nature with his naked eyes." However, lust as energy can be used for many dill'erent purposes. so can pure existence be experienced In relation to any phase of life- anger, hatred, or iealousy, as well as love and beauty. Now, every human action must be carried on through the ego, which plays a role analogous to that of a pipe or channel through which energy ls con- ducted for diil'erent uses. It may he asked what this ego is. We usually think of the ego as a kind of constant, unchanging entity. in fact, bOwever, it is simply a succession of physical and mental events or pressures, which appear momentarily and as quickly pass away. liotverer, so long as our mind operates subiectively, there must be a subject that functions as the ego. As there is normally no'cessation of subjective activity, there can normally be no state in which we are devoid of an ego. However, the nature of this ego can change. Every time we succeed in banishing a mean or restricted ego—a petty ego—- another ego with a broader outlook appears in its place, and eventu- ally what we may call an "egoless ego" will make its appearance. And when you have acquired an egoless ego, there is no hatred, no jealousy, no fear; you experience a state in which you see everything in its true aspect. It is a state in which you cling to or adhere to nothing. it is not that you are without desires, but that while desiring and adher- ing to things you are at the same time unattached to them. The Dia- mond Sutra says, "Abiding nowhere, let the mind work." This means, "Do not let your mind be bound by your desire, and let your 34 ORIENTATIONS desire occur in your mind." True freedom is freedom from your own desires. I _ When the Zen student has once experienced pure existence, he undergoes a complete about-lace in his view of the world. But unl'nr- tunately, as long as he is a human being. he cannot escape from the inevitability ol' living as an individual. ilc cannot leave the world of diilerentiation. And he is thus placed in a new dilemma, which he. did not encounter hei'ore. lnevitably, this entails a certain internal conflict, which may cause much distress. To tleal with this, further training oi the mind has to be undertaken In order to learn how, while living in the world of difl'erentiation, we can avoid discrimination. We have to learn how to exercise the mind of nonattachment while working in attachment. This Is called training after the attainment of ' realization, or cultivation ol' Holy Iiuddhahood, which constitutes an essential part oi Zen (see chapter l7). There is a Zen saying, "liqual- ity without diil’erentiation is bad equality; diil'erentiation without equality is bad dillerentiatlon." This is a very commonplace saying, but the level of understanding to which it refers is not common, since it can be attained only in a mature state of Zen practice. Zen training continues endlessly. The mean or petty ego, which was thought to have been disposed of, is found once again to be sc- cretly creeping hack into one's mind. The long, chronic habit of t'mt- sciousness has implanted evil impulses so firmly in man's mind that they haunt us perpetually, and it is impossible for us to inhibit them bclot‘t'. they appear. However, the longer we train ourselves, the more. we are liberated from the petty ego. When the petty ego appears, do not be concerned with it. Simply ignore it. When an evil thought strikes you, acknowledge it honestly, saying, “Such and such an evil thought has occurred in me," and then drop it. The Zen saying goes, “The occurrence of an evil thought is a malady; not to continue it is the remedy." Zen talks about "emptiness." What is meant by this? Perhaps a story will help. The guardian deity wanted to have a look at Town Osbo, but found he could not, and so be devised a trick. lle took some rice and wheat from the kitchen of the monastery and scattered it in the yard. In the monastery, things are taken good (are oi', simply 35 ........_W,mmanmw m... ZEN TRAINING because they exist. (This Idea Is conspicuously dIil'erent from that Inherent In modern economic thought.) Toran found the rice and wheat strewn on the ground and said to himself, "Whoever could ‘have been so thoughtless as to do this ?" And at that moment the de- Ity was able to have a look at Tozan. Usually Toun did not abide any- where. That Is why the deity could not have a look at him. Toaan allowed his mind to work when he saw the grain strewn on the ground. A cloud appeared In the empty sky; It soon vanished, but at that moment the deity could have a glimpse oi" hIm. A student of Christianity, hearing that Zen talks of emptiness, oll'ered for comparison a definition of holiness. Holiness, he said, means completeness, with nothing to be added to It. The word holl- ness ls found In Buddhism, too. A Buddha Is holy. But in Buddhism, when a man has become a Buddha, he Is supposed to forget he Is a Buddha. While you are conscious of being a Buddha, you are not tmly a Buddha, because you are ensnared by the idea. You are not empty. Every time that you think you are achieving something—be- coming a Buddha, attaining holiness, even emptiness—you must cast It away. Emptiness is s conditlon in which Internal mental pressure is to- tally dissolved. When a thong“ appears in your mind, it is necessarily accompanied by Internal pressure. Even when you think, "it's fine today," a certain Internal pressure Is generated in your miml, aml you feel you want to speak to someone else and say, "It's fine today, isn't it?" By doing this you discharge the pressure. These matters are dIs- cussed In detail In chapter l0. ln Zen texts the word murhin occurs. Literally, thIs means ''no mind" (mu, no; shin. mind), which means "no ego." It means the mind Is In a state of equilibrium. We think every moment, and an Internal pressure is generated, and we lose equilibrium. And in Zen we train ourselves to recover equilibrium every moment. The ego Is built up from a succession of Internal pressures. When the pressures are dissolved, the ego vanishes, and there is true emptiness. There is a Zen topic, or Man, that asks, "What Is the meaning of Bodhldharma's coming to China?" And the answer given is "No meaning." This means "no purpose." Bodhldharma spent three 36 ORIENTATIONS years traveling to China. 'Ihe hardships ol‘ the louruey are sr-arrelv conceivable to us todav, yet he is said to have had no |nrrpoo-._ The point is that "no purpose" means enrptiness. When lhnllrhllrarma arrived In China, the first distinguished person who met hiur “as lunpernr Wu ol l.iang. Emperor Wu was called "l-'rnperor Wu ol linddha Mind." lie was a devout believer in Buddhism. lie lurilt nranv temples, supported monks, and set scholars to translate tlte'sutr'as into Chinese. lle himself was deeply versed In Buddhist scriptures and put on a sacred golden rohe to give lectures on the sutras. it is said that on that occasion llowers rained down from heaven and changed the earth to gold. It was thought that this was a reward lor great merit. llowever, Il' Wu had had true. understanding ol llnddhist errrpti'uess, and II that emptiness had been realized in himself, the llowers would - not have rained down and the earth would not have been changed into gold. Emperor Wu said to lIothdharma, "l have. erected temples and supported monks; what virtue will come out of it ?" lle esper-ted liodhldharma to reply, "Great vlrtuel" Bodhidharma's answer, however, was "No virtue." Emperor Wu perhaps realized his failure and made another attempt. He asked, "What is the Iirst principle ol' the holy teachings ol the Buddha ?" ilodhidharma said, "Emptiness, not holiness." in a famous Zen episode, joshu asked his teacher Nansen, "What is the way ?" "Ordinary mind is the way" was Nansen's answer. lhrt how can we attain this ordinary mind? We might .say, empty your mlml, and there Is ordinary mind. lint this Is to resort to eshorta- tion, or to a merely verhal explanation of what Zen aims at. The Zen student must realize it for himself, aml we. mrrst now start to explain in'detail how he can come to do this. Only alter we have dealt with the practical aspects of Zen training, in the. first part oi this hook, do we go on to consider its theoretical aml philosophical aspects. 37 TSI CHAPTER TWO Zazen Posture Wnen oomo uzsn one normally sits on the floor, facing the wall, on a cushion or a folded blanket about three feet square. Another cush- ion or pad, smaller and thicker, is placed under the buttocks (Fig. 5). It is important that this pad be thick enough, since otherwise it will be difficult to take up a correct, stable posture as described below. The pad should be placed under the buttocks alone and should not reach under the thighs. A number of different postures can be used in sasen, and the student should experiment to discover which suits him best. Some are easier than others, and can be used in the early stages of practice. Provided the student can maintain a stable, motionless position without dis- comfort for twenty to thirty minutes, it does not matter much what posture is adopted. If it is found impossible to sit comfortably on the floor, one may try sitting on a chair or stool, adopting the essential features ofthe postures described below as far as possible. One should wear loose clothes that do not constrict any part of the body. Much patient practice and experiment may be necessary in order to learn how to sit well. Figure I shows leilofuza, the so-called "full-lotus" position. it is symmetrical, with the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. The reverse position can also be adopted. in this, as in all other positions, both knees rest firmly on the cushion. The hands rest in the lap, usually with the right hand under the left and the palms turned upward. The thumbs may touch at their tips, forming a 38 (“"12 ZAZFN POSTURF. circle, or they may rest parallel to the other fingers. An alternative hand position is to grasp the thumb of one. hand in the palm of the other (Fig. 2). Kekka fun is a rather difficult position for most people when they start their practice. llowevcr, it is a completely liaiam ed, self-contained position and one that is most conducive to good prac- tice. A less difficult posture is hanl-afuza, the “half-lotus" position (Hg. 2). Here the right foot is under the left thigh and the. left foot is on the right thigh. (Again, the reverse position is also possible.) The hands are held as in the full-lotus position. Ilanka fun is an asymmet- rical posture and tends to pull the spine out ofline, one of the shoul- ders being raised in compensation. It is possible to correct this with the aid of a mirror or another person, but it should be recognized that this position sometimes results in other defects in posture, no- tahly certain slight distortions of the upper body. We cannot recom- mend this position very much. You might as well place the edge of one foot on the shin of the other leg. Then the style approaches that shown in Figure 3 and can be recommended. Figure 3 shows a modified Burmese style, with bothfeet flat on the cushion. Take care not to fall into the cross-legged posture of a tai- lor, in which the waist is lowered backward. The waist should always be pushed forward in the way that will be described below. This position is completely symmetrical and conducive to the relaxation of the upper body. A quite different posture is shown in Figure 4, in which the student straddles his pad, resting his weight on it and on his knees. This style is very effective, especially for beginners wishing to learn how to stress the lower abdomen correctly. If you adopt this position and push the waist forward, the stress will naturally be thrown into the bottom of the abdomen as we shall descrin below. In all these positions the stable base for the body is a triangle formed by the buttOcks and the two knees. Hence it is important to iind a posture in which the knees rest firmly on the cushion and hear the weight of the body. The pelvis is held firmly fixed, and the trunlt is placed squarely on it, not leaning in any direction. The trunk is held upright by the action of the waist muscles. These 39 v..mmmm~.w_w..,mmflw_ ZFN TRAINING I. The full-lotus position (hell: fun). 1. The half-lotus position (hanlza fun). J. A modified Burmese posture. 4. A posture In which the legs dre directed horhword and placed on either side of the pod. Fig. 4 S. The configuration the spinal cord In a «mat posture. Note that the spine It not held In a straight line. 6. Thit figure Illustrates the method of relnsin, and lowering the shouldert by I placing the httth on the legs and eshaling deeply. In a correct posture is vertical H line can he drna-n through the center of the fireheod, note. chin. throat, and navel. (‘0 7. In a mum nun postme the huttoeh and Inmfom a triangle that am as (\J a hon-for the holy. l'hetreI‘ht J the body In eonsmtrcted In the lower abdomen, with the center n] mm In the tanden ( T). The trnnl Ir perfme vertical. ZAZEN POSTURF muscles are of great Importance In hodily posture. They spread out widely. some penetrating deeply in the hody, and their upper portions reach high into the upper regions of the haclt. In all postures it is these muscles that hold the trunl: up straight, and It Is these mttsrlt'! alone that are particularly contracted. It is Important that, as lar as possible, the hody he Itept perfectly upright when viewed from the front. It should he possible to draw a vertical line that tales In the center of the forehead, nose, chin, throat, and navel, and ttlilmalrly extends down to the cot:ch (Fig. 6). Any deviation ofthese landmarlu from the vertica should he carefully corrected, not only in rare» hut In one's ordinary carriage. Having talten up any of the ahove postures, the next step Is to make sure that the waist and lower abdomen are correctly positional. The essential movement here Is to push the waist forward. This will in turn push the lower ahdomen forward and at the. same time throw the huttoclzs hacltward. This movement will he elfectlvely performed if you try to tilt the top of the pelvis forward. The importance of push- ing out the belly In razen has long heen advocated. When you hold your trunls up straight the weight of the host will necessarily be con- centrated In the lower abdomen, and the region a few inches helow the navel will he the center of the stress. 1his region Is called the tanden (Fig. 7; note that Ina more general sense this term Is applied to the whole of the lower ahdomen). We shall have much in say about the tanden later (see especially chapter 7). llere we may simply ohserve that when the welght of the host Is concentrated in the tan- den, the most stable posture and the quietest mental condition are achieved. In aaaen the lower ahdomen should fill out naturally hy the conihined action of the forward movement ofthe waist and the funnel‘ Ing of the weight of the body Into this region. Viewed from the side, the spinal column is not a straight line hut Is gently curved, as Illustrated In Figure 5. The position of the neel: and head is of some Importance. It Is not a had thing if the face ls turned slightly downward, just as some Images of the Buddha look down, with the forehead very slightly stuclt out and the chin drawn in a little. Keeping the necl: slightly slanted forward and quite motionless helps one to get Into samadhi; you may, Indeed, find yourself doing this 4i ZEN TRAINING involuntarily as your practice develops and you approach samadhi. ~ However, if the student prefers (because of his physical build) he may 881 simply hold his head and neck upright. The body as a whole must be held quite motionless, since this is a necessary condition for entering madhl. Finally, the chest aml shoulders should be low'ered. By doing this, tension in the shoulders, neck, and the pit of the stomach will be relieved. Place the hands on the knees, with the knuckles forward, and exhale deeply. This is not the formal position of the hands In uzen, but you will quickly discover in this way how to lower the chest and shoulders and thereafter do it routinely. The movement of the buttocks backward also pulls down certain muscles in the shoul- ders and helps to release stress in the chest and shoulders. FA u Lrv Posru x as We may come to appreciate better the essential features of good posture by considering some of the faults that com- monly occur. In Figure 8, for example, the trunk is not placed square- Iy on the pelvis. Point A must be moved to the right; then the shoul- . ders will be level. If, instead, the shoulders alone are corrected, a still more distorted posture will result (Fig. i2). A fault such as this is not easily detected when the student is wearing clothes; one should sit before a mirror, stripped to the waist, and carefully examine one's posture, moving the body into various positions in order to find out which part of the body must be relaxed, and to ‘what extent, and which part tensed. Minute and delicate manipulation of the muscles and skeleton cannot easily be taught by others and is best learned by patient self-investigation. However, even when using a mirror, a student often falls to recognize his fault: for himself. He has not devel- oped an eye to Iudge his own posture, and may fail to see faults un‘ less they are pointed out to him in detail. I stress this point because I myself for a long time failed to notice my own mistakes. Many of the faults in posture that I describe were once my own. Painful experience makes me rather quick now to notice the faults of others, and makes me feel much concern about them. I used, for example, to experience a dull pain in one of my buttocks after sitting for a long time. I assumed it was inevitable and never thought to ask myself the reason. But the fact 42 (\j ZAZFN I'USTlIIKF, / \ l-ld. Faulty um postures. 43 Wfi..a~uww.u_mm Wow u...~...-.... . ... ._. "mu-m...— PEI I F. N T R A l N i N G was that my body was slightly inclined, so that my weight was thrown more on one side than the other. it took me a long time to understand such a simple thing. it is a fact that most of us know very little about our posture and we maintain quite faulty habits, both in uzen and In ordinary activities. When you take up a correct posture you will find that not only the shoulders but the muscles of the back, the sides, and other quite unexpected parts of the body are relieved of strain. Figure 9 shows the upper part of the trunk tilted to one aide. The head is inclined to the other side to maintain balance. in such a posi- tion the subject will feel a tension on the right side of the neck, the lower left side, and the upper right side of the body. A crouching posture, like that of an old man, is shown in Figure i0. This generally comes from failing to perform the "belly forward, buttocks backward" movement adequately. The subject often com- plains of a pain in the back of the neck because of the stress there. ltx will be seen that the spinal column is bent too much at the neck. The subject will also feel pains in the back and shoulders. When you take up a correct posture, with the buttocks backward and belly forward, the muscles of the back of the shoulders (the trapezius) will be pulled downward, while the shoulders will be lowered and their tension relaxed. At the same time the chest, too, Is naturally lowered and the solar plexus relieved of Its tension. You will then feel comfortable. Stiif shoulders and a cramp in the pit of the stomach come from inadequate thrust of the buttocks backward. A pad that is too thin may also he the cause of a round back, with the hips lowered and the belly caved in. The knees do not touch the cushion and the whole posture is unstable. A thicker pad will help to thrust the waist for- ward. Many people, it must be acknowledged, seem to find such a round-backed posture comfortable, at least when sitting in an arm- chair. When you sink deep in an armchair you lean on the back of it, relaxing the belly and waist, and feel comfortable. But if you take up such a posture in uzen you will soon find that it is uncomfortable, as you have to try to support the bent body with your back rounded. As explained above, when one takes up a correct posture the weight of the body is concentrated directly in the tanden. A strong internal pressure is produced there and, as we shall see later, this is important 44 ZAZFN POSTURF for controlling the mind and entering samadhi. A mature 7.en student has onlv to sit down to enter almost immediately into samadhi. It is an outcome of his correct posture. On the other band, with twisted trunk, rounded back, and other deviations not only will one be on- comfortable, but the weight of the. body will not fall correctly into the tanden and it will he correspondingly diliicult to reach samadbi. If one maintains a faulty posture of any kind for a while, one will inevitably begin to feel uncomfortable. in an effort to relieve the discomfort, other parts of the body will be. tensed. The shoulders are particularly quick to react in this way, and stillness of the shoulders is a very common complaint. Furthermore, when we strain our shoul- ders it creates tension in the upper region of the trunk. This tension disturbs the balance of the internal organs, and this in turn disturbs our mental stability. Thus, tensing the shoulders necessarily results in physical and mental disturbance. We can see this happening, inci- dentally, not only in zazen but in other situations. The baseball pitch- er's sudden loss of control, for example, is often attributable to the unusual straining of his shoulders due to his excitement. We must use the same care in ralen that we would in athletics or gymnastics. Figures il-l3 illustrate other faulty postures and require little. comment. in Figure l4 the face looks sideways. in this case the shoul- ders and chest are often found to he. projecting farther forward on one side than the other. This results in a twisted trunk. The same. fault may also arise in some people who sit a little carelessly, without en. suring that their body is facing the wall squarely. That is to say, the line joining their knees is not parallel to the wall. If the face is then directed squarely toward the wall, this will inevitably bring about a twisted think. in the posture shown in Figure is the chin projects and the nape of the neck is compressed. As a result, there will be an unnatural pres- sure on the nerves passing through the neck, and this will disturb one's getting into samadhi. Figure I6 is a noteworthy example and shows the result of the sternum's deviating from the line running from nose to navel. 'l'he trunk is distorted and the shoulders are not level. The neck tilts to one side to balance the posture. if the subject tries to assume a "tor- 4S €81 ZEN TRAINING rect" posture while having this physical fault, tension will develop in the neck, shoulders, and even the face and head. Moreover, a certain pain will he felt in the right side of the chest above the nipple. it may well be almost impossible to correct the curve of the sternum In such a case. For such a person the posture he has been accustomed to may be natural, and should be retained. Such an example is only one of many; careful observation will reveal others. Partial distortion of the spinal column is found in many people. Some are able to right it by sitting correctly, but with others the distortions seem lrremedl- able. lnbom, 0r acquired while very young, one's settled constitu- tion has to be regarded as semipermanent. it may therefore be mis- taken to try always to impose the "correct" posture. A person may well be comfortable with his accustomed posture. and in that case he may as well continue with it. A slight deviation from the standard posture does not necessarily prevent one's getting into samadhi. What i have been speaking of in this chapter are general principles. I will quote just one example to illustrate how one may need to adapt these to suit one's particular constitution. A certain English corree spondent wrote to me recently saying, "After the last live-day mshin I lost the feeling in my feet. This has continued for about a fortnight now. The doctor l have consulted has told me that my fifth lumbar cartilage was destroyed in a car crash some years ago, leaving only IO percent of the cartilage in place." Now, in the operation of pushing the buttocks backward, the region around the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae is sharply bent, and this may have been the cause of the trouble. i advised him to reduce the backward movement of the but- tocks. it is a fact that one can get into samadhi even sitting in an easy chair In a casual posture, and there are many examples of sick people, confined to bed, who have attained maturity in Zen. For most of us, however, it will help greatly if we follow as closely as possible the general principles of correct posture that l have described here. Incl- dentally, this correspondent later wrote to tell me that in the course ol‘time he ceased to lose the feeling in his feet, even if he sat with buttOcks pushed backward. A doctor told me that perhaps calcifi- cation around the vertebrae had fused them into one solid bone. 46 ‘C CHAPTER THREE The Physiology of Attention Ler us rrxsr TRY an experiment that we call "one-minute razen." With your eyes wide open, stare at, say, the corner ofa building out- ‘ side the window, or at a point on a hill, a tree or hedgerow, or even at a picture on the wall. Stare at a fixed part of the object aml do not allow your eyes to move. At the same time stop, or nearly stop, breathing, and with your attention concentrated on that one point, try to prevent ideas from coming into your mind. You will find that you really are able to inhibit thoughts from starting. You may feel the beginnings of some thoughtlike action stirring in your mind, but that, too, can be kept under control. Repeated practice will glt’t‘ you the power to inhibit the appearance of even the faintest shadow of thought. This inhibition can be sustained as long as the breath is kept stopped or almost stopped. it is true that your eyes are reflecting the images of outside objects clearly, but "perception" does not occur. No thinking of the hill, no idea of the building or the picture, no mental process concerning things inside or outside your mind will appear. Your eyes will simply rellect the images of outside objects as a mirror reflects them. This simplest mental action may be called "pure sen- sation.H William lames, in his classic study of psychology, depicts this pure sensation as follows: "Sensation distinguislmlfmm f'crtrpiion. - It is impossihle rigorously to «Idiot a sensation; and in the actual life of consciousness sensations, popularly so called, and perceptions merge into each other by insensibie degrees. All we can say is that what uc 47 t...,_W~_~g~—~W . QSI ZEN TRAINING mean by sensations are FIRST things in the we} of consciousness. They are the immediate results upon consciousness of nerve-currents as they enter the brain, and before they have awakened any suggestions or associations with past experience. But it is obvious that such immediate mutation: can only be realised in the earliest days a] life. They are all but impossible to adults with. memories and stores of associations ac- quired. Prior to all impressions on sense-organs, the brain is plunged in deep sleep and consciousness Is practically non‘exlsteut. Even the first weeks after birth are passed In almost unbroken sleep by human Infants. It takes a strong message from the sense-organs to break this slumber. In a new-bum brain this gives rise to an absolutely pure sen- sation. But the experience leaves its 'unimaginable touch' on the matter of the convolutions, and the next impression which a sense- organ transmits produces a cerebral reaction in which the awakened vestige of the last impression plays its part. Another sort of feeling‘ and a higher grade of cognition are the consequence. 'ldeas' about the /......m. l7. Diagram illustrating the palli- tvap of the m oscillatln, geld concerned in maintaining oahful- ‘ nest. (Frost Guytan. Function of lva-‘Ir "beefs-r the Iluman iiody) W43 PHYSIOLOGY OF ATTENTION . object mingle with awareness of Its mere sensible presence, u e name it, class It, compare it, utter propositions concerning it, and the com- plication of the possible consciousness which an incoming current may arouse, goes on increasing to the end of life. In general, this higher consciousness about things is called Perception, the mere inartiut- late feeling of their presence is Sensation, so far as we have it at all. To some degree we seem able to lapse into this lnarticulate feeling at moments when our attention is entirely dispersed."' , in our experiment of one-minute uren, pure sensation resulted from strong inhibition of the process of thinking. While james con- sidered that "to some degree we seem able to lapse into this inarticu- late feeling at moments when our attention is entirely dispersed," in our one-minute eaten strong mental power controls our mind and inhibits dispersed attention and wandering thoughts. it is not an in- articulate state of mind but a strong, voluntary, inward concentra- tion. Where does this mental power come from? In our experiment it came from stopping (or almost stopping) breathing. And stopping breathing necessarily involves straining the abdominal respiratory muscles—In other words, developing tension In the tanden. Mental power, or we might say spiritual power, In the sense. of this strong inward concentration, comes from tension in the tanden. At iirst this may sound rather ridiculous. But it proves true, as we shall try to show. Let us first listen to the physiologist, discussing the wakefulness center of the brain: "Two oscillatory pathways have been found In the nervous system that, when excited, can cause wakefulness. lloth of these pass through the sympathetic center in the posterior hypo- thalamus, for which reason this area is often called the walrgfulnctt center. In one of the oscillating cycles signals pass from the wakeful- ness center into the anterior thalamus, and then are relayed in all directions into the cerebral cortex. The cortical areas in turn transmit impulses back to the wakefulness center, reexclting it and initiating still more impulses to stimulate the cortex. This sequence of transmis- sion occurs over and over again. creating an oscillating cycle uhich is illustrated as 'oscillating cycle I' in Figure 22l [reproduced here as Figure l7|. "The second oscillatory cycle that can cause wakefulness is the 49 LEI ZEN TRAINING following: Signals are transmitted from the wakefulness center to the buiboreticular formation of the brain stem, and this increases the muscular tone throughout the body. The tension in the muscles in turn stimulates the proprioceptors and other sensory nerve endings over the entire body, resulting in sensory signals that are transmitted back up the cord to the thalamus and finally to the wakefulness center. Thus, a second oscillating cycle is established, the wakefulness center exciting the muscles, and sensations from the body then reexciting the wakefulness center." Figure I8 shows how, if It is assumed that in uzen sensory signals from the body originate principally in the tanden (and this fact will become clearer as we proceed), then the two oscillating cycles can be related In a simplified scheme. The two oscillatory streams of impulses alfect each other when they pass through the wakefulness center. The decreased tone of one of them will decrease the tone of the other. Especially when the second cycle becomes quiet the first cycle tends to be strongly affected. judg- ing from the experience of zen, we would say that it is doubtful whether the first cycle can by itself carry out completely the activity ofconsciousness. It is at least certain that thought cannot be controlled by the action of the first cycle alone. if you doubt this, try the follow- ing very simple experiment. You have only to sit down quietly for a time with the intention of not thinking anything. Presently, however, some idea will come into your head, and you will become absorbed in it and be forgetful of yourself. But before long you will suddenly become aware of yourself and start once again trying not to think anything. However, before perhaps twenty seconds have passed you will once again find a new idea cropping up and will be drawn into thinking about it, forgetful of yourself. You will repeat the same proc- ess time and time again, and at last come to realize that you cannot contml the thought occurring in your own mind. This is what we mean when we say that the first cycle really is unable to regulate by itself what happens within its own cycle. It necessarin needs support from the second cycle to control itself. William james is thinking along similar lines when he writes, " . . the one mental state is 50 C i7 PHYSIOLOGY 0r- ATTFNTIUN not immediately induced by the other, . . . the bodin manifeslm tions must first be interposed between."' The leading party of the. first cycle, tlte cortex of the brain, knous this naturally. When it wants to control its own thought it naturally- hrings into play the tension of the respiratory muscles. The at Iirity of these recruits the awakening power of the wakefulness renter. and by that power it succeeds in controlling itself. in the experiment of one-minute zazen described above, you stopped or almost stopped breathing. The putposc of that was to create tension in the respira- tory muscles and so bring about the effect referred to. The thoughbcontrolling power of the wakefulness center can be regarded as a mental or spiritual power. However, the power is sustained by the stimulation coming from tlte tension in the respira- tory muscles of the abdomen, which tlo not themselves think, of course, but by their straining permit that power to be generated. So we may regard these muscles—or the tanden in general-as the root of spiritual power. The physiology textbook tells us, it is true, that the second rule is formed between the wakefulness center and the peripheral niuseles in general. But we suggest that among the muscles the respiratory ones alone can provide a strong enough stimulus to control thought for any length of time. When you strike a hammer blow, or leap but ofa window, no tholtgltt occurs in your mind. The momentan ten- sion of the skeletal muscles here presumably generates a strong inn- pulsc that is transmitted to the wakefulness center. which it occupies, with consequent Inhibition of thoughts. But this inhibition is mn- Ctiytyx wakefulness M. Simplified diagram showing the proposed mde ofnpemtinn of ccmcr the two alrfffalin, ()1ch in sum. it is postulated Ihnt In g'cfe ‘ I 2 the tundra is the thief source of stimuli from the body to the Ital-(follies! (enter. l‘m'lr" Si W. a ‘ "—l I ,, __ , , .«fl.......wys~mw‘wfl a...” 981 2 F. N T R A l N l N G mentary. On the other hand. the tension of the respiratory muscles of the abdomen can be maintained in such a way as to take possession of the wakefulness center for a much longer time. if now we return once more to the experiment of one-minute uzen and ohserve carefully how it is done, we find that a tremendous amount of effort is being used. Even in spite of this, certain lapses of concentration appear and thoughts threaten to creep in. Each time. this is inhibited by a renewed effort of concentration. The effort is that of keeping up or renewing the tension in the respiratory muscles. The respiratory muscles, too, it seems, can transmit only a short- lived stimulus. which is strong enough to control thought if con- stantly repeated. Our conclusion is that we successfully perform one-minute nzen to the extent that we can repeatedly generate new tension in the abdominal respiratory muscles. Speaking from the experience of nzen practice, we would say that attention, too, can be sustained by the tension of the respiratory muscles. And in just the same way. the fact that attention can be sus- tained at its peak for only a few seconds is due to the fact that these muscles can he maintained maximally tensed for only a few seconds. Hence, to maintain continuous concentration of attention we have repeatedly to generate new tension in these muscles. This requirement forms the basis of the method of breathing in uzen that is described in subsequent chapters. v The condition of samadhl in men is a steady wakefulness. with thoughts controlled and spiritual power maximally exerted. We suggest that it can be described physiologically as a mental force, which appears in the second cycle and which results from the stream of impulses between the tanden and the wakefulness center. In this case, the cortical activity of the first cycle is reduced to all but noth- ing. One may ask, What benefit is there in producing such a mental and physiological state? The answer will appear later. What we want to emphasize for the present is that breathing has an extremely im- portant role in controlling thoughts in uzen practice. 52 CHAPTER FOUR Breathing in Zazcn in 'rnts cusrrra we shall consider some simple facts ahottt the phys— iology of breathing and their relevance to uzen. First, we need to discuss the volumes of air that can be taken Into and expelled from the lungs. These are illustrated in Figure I9.' in this figure, toward the hottom, there Is a line at approximately the MOO-milliliter level that corresponds to the so-calletl retidual lung volume, This means that even though all of the muscles of ex- piration are fully contracted. Ill!) milliliters ofair still remain in the lungs and cannot he expelled. The reason for this is that no amount of muscular contraction can completely collapse all of the alveoli and respiratory passages. This, incidentally, is why it is that In 7.17m practice we can exhale as much air as possible and then remain without breathing for a considerable period. The rising and falling curve in Figure I9 between the levels of 2300 and 28m milliliters represents normal respiration. The lung volume increases front 23m to 2800 milliliters when we breathe ln (inspiration) and decreases again to 2300 milliliters during expiration. The inflow and outflow of air with each respiration is known as the tidal minute. and it will he seen that this is normally approximately 500 milliliters. When none of the respiratory muscles Is contracting, the lungs contain approximately 1300 milliliters of air. This is the. content of the lungs under passive conditions. Normal quiet respiration is per- formed almost entirely by the inspiratory muscles. and so this passive volume is equal to the volume of the lungs at the end of normal ex- 53 68'! 2 E N T R AI NI N G plration. The horizontal line at the BOO-milliliter level we shall refer to as the horizon of breathing. When, at the eml ofa normal expiration, one contracts all the ex- piratory muscles as powerfully as possible, one can force approxi- mately i IOO milliliters of additional air from the lungs. This extra aIr that can be expired only with eIfort Is known as the expiratory reserve volume. With this as backgrouan we may turn to consider breathing in 7a. zen In detail. There is, of course, some variation here In the practice of diII'erent students, and at diII'erent times in any one person's prac‘ tlce. We merely present here what we regard as some essential fea- tures. The line AB shows the maximal volume of breathing In uzen. It will be seen at once that we are concerned chiefly with the expira- tory reserve volume. If we make the maximal effort, the whole of the reserve volume is exhaled. However, we do not do this repeatedly. Following such a deep expiration, some three to five cycles of normal breathing will usually follow, as shown In Figure l9, and then another maximal expiration is performed. Some students wIll not go sb far toward the bottom of the reserve volume but will return from around midway or so, as shown by the dotted lines. If you do not go so far below the horizon, you will not need the tidal recovery breathing. However, the farther you go below the horizon, the more quickly you will attain aamadhl and the deeper It will be. , The major muscles of Inspiration are the diaphragm, the external Intercostals, and a number of small muscles In the neck. The inspira- tory muscles cause the pleural cavity to enlarge In two ways. First, If the lower abdomen is allowed to fill out or inflate, this facilitates the downward movement of the diaphragm, which In turn pulls the bottom of the pleural cavity downward. This Is called abdominal res. piration. Secondly, the external intercostal muscles and the muscles of the neck combine to lift the front of the thoracic cage, directing the ribs farther forward than previously and thus increasing the depth of the pleural cavity. This may be called thoracic inspiration. In zazen It Is exclusively the former method that Is used. This Is because the thoracic method elevates the thoracic cage and displaces tension upward, thereby partly depriving the lower abdomen of Its Internal 54 w“ (7 BRFATHING IN ZAZFN pressure, while the abdominal method pulls the cavity downward and increases the pressure in the lower abdomen. As we. have already emphasired, in razen, tenslon and pressure must be kept in the low er part of the abdomen as much as possible, as this brings about both physical and mental stability. The major muscles of expiration are. the abdominals and, to a lesser extent, the internal intercostals. The abdominal muscles cause ex- piration In two ways. First, they pull downward on the chest cage aan reduce its thickness. Secondly, they force the abdominal contents up- ward against the diaphragm, reduclng the length of the thoracic cage. The Internal intercostals help in expiration to a small extent by pull- ing the ribs downward, which also reduces the depth of the thoracic cage. In zazcn, we repeat, the thoracic cage Is to be. kept as still as pos- sible. Inspiration is performed by InIlating the lower abdomen, while expiration is performed by contracting the abdominal muscles. There is, however, an Important diIl'erence between the method of expira- tion In normal breathing aml in raven. in normal abdominal respira- tion the abdominal muscles are simply contracted, which pushes the l la—tnral lung "parity l '.—\"I' capacity VAVAVAIVAVAVIVI — malts-Inn ml." "I _ _ rarrn brushing le— rcsbhsal "Jars-as- l9. Diagram illustrating the volume air taken into and erpelled from the lump In breathing. The thick, continuous line shows the successive inhalationt and crlurlari-vm in raven. Deep exhalation, In which all or mart of the erpirotary rmrrc Inlmnt' I'. erpelled, isfillawed by a number of cycles of normal breathing. ( Adapted from (in; - tan. Function of the Human Body) 55 “W.-. ,._.......'-m-<-u———._.ms.. . .. 2 E N T R A I N I N G viscera upward, causing them to press on the diaphragm, which in turn expels air from the lungs. However, In uzen. the free contrac- tion of the abdominal muscles and their upward pushing movement are opposed by the diaphragm. This produces bated breath. The instmctlon to oppose the contraction ofthe abdominal muscles by the diaphragm sounds complicated. In fact It is very simple: you have only to hold your breath. If you then expire slowly, little by little, it is necessarily done by holding the diaphragm down and steadily checking the upward pushing movement of the abdominal muscles. The latter are placed In opposition to the diaphragm, and the contraction of each Is Increased. 11'“! Is what we mean when we speak of "throwing strength Into the tanden." It results In the generation of what ultimately proves to be spiritual power, as we have described above. If you manage to keep the diaphragm and the abdominal mus- clcs contracting in opposition with almost equal strength, your breath will be almost stopped. There may be some quiet and almost Imper: ceptlble escape of breath from the lungs because of the natural bodily pressure. You can stop even that, too, If you want to, but to do so will result In an uncomfortable pressure In the chest and Is inadvisable. When we speak of stopped, or almost stopped, breath, we generally mean the above state of very quiet respiration. In the previous chapter we described the experiment of "one- minute eaten" and found we could control thoughts occurringcln the brain by dint of holding our breath. That control and inhibition of thought came from this opposed tension In the abdominal muscles and diaphragm. From the experience of nzen we are bound to conclude that by maintaining a state of tension In the abdominal respiratory muscles we can control what ls happening In the brain. Even those who know nothing about Zen will throw strength Into the abdomen, by stopping their breath, when they try to put up with biting cold, bear pain, or suppress sorrow or anger. 'lhey use this method to generate what may be called spiritual power. Furthermore, the ab- dominal muscles can be regarded as a kind of general manager of the muscular movements of the entire body. When doing heavy manual work, such as weight lifting or wielding a sledgehammer, you cannot $6 BREATHING IN ZAZFN bring the muscles of the rest of the body into play without contract- ing these muscles. Even In raising a hand or moving a leg you are. straining the abdominal muscles. Scribble with your pen or thread a needle and you will find tension developing In the diaphragm. Willmltt cooperation of the respiratory muscles you cannot move any part of the body, pay close attention to anything. or, indeed, call forth any sort of mental action. We cannot repeat this fact too often: itis ofthe greatest importance but has been rather ignored up to now. i et us now return to consider once more the horiron of breathing. This lies at the border between the tidal volume and the expiratory reserve volume, at about 2300 milliliters. In a passive condition, at the end of a normal expiration, the lungs contain about this amount of air and the tension In the respiratory muscles is at zero. Inspiration starts from this point. and tension starts to develop In the tnuseles used in inspiration. In normal respiration, when the lung volume. reaches 2800 milliliters, Inspiration automatically turns Into expira- Ilon; the lnspiratory muscles relax, the volume comes down to 2300 milliliters, and all the tension returns to zero. Normally, inspiration then automatically starts to take place again. In tau-n, however, you do not stop expiration at 2300 milliliters but continue to expire. and this calls for effort. In general, then, we may say that above the hori- zon of breathing it Is inspiration that requires effort. while below this it is expiration. Normal respiration is performed above the horizon. using the tidal volume alone, and expiration comes about by the re- laxation of the lnsplratory muscles. In uzen, expiration goes down below the horiron, and It Is In this phase. that most elfort is exerted. It is this expiration below the horllon that Is principally eIlectise in bringing about samadhl, because It Is here that the diaphragm and ab- dominal muscles are brought most strongly Into opposition. It Is important to note that this opposition between the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles must not be brought into play when there is still a good deal of air In the lungs, as this will cause a choking and oppressive feeling in the chest. A certain amount of breath should first be allowed to escape rather quickly, and then you may start to expire more slowly. When expiration above the horizons is restricted 57 IPI ZEN TRAINING and the breath is allowed to escape too slowly, the result is rather like applying a bralte on a car descending a hill. This is not a positive attitude but a negative one. A similar negative elfect can also appear In Inspiration below the horizon, when you control the Intake of breath and inhale too slowly. If you do this, you must necessarily put the brake on the re- laxation of the abdominal muscles, and such a negative eil'ect, when carried beyond a reasonable degree, again brings about an unnatural, oppressive feeling In the chest. in recovering the expired reserve volume, a rather quick inspiration Is natural and desirable. in both expiration and Inspiration, therefore, avoid these negative effects, since they will lead to a shallow and uneasy mental condition. If one delays exhalation when there is too much air in the lungs, or delays inhalation in spite of an urgent need to never the breath, then no composed performance can be achieved, not only In zazen but in other disciplined activities, such as the tea ceremony, ilower arrange- ment, and archery. With regard to the method of inspiration to be used In zazen, we‘ suggest that this can be divided into two phases. in the first, during inspiration below the horizon, breath is taken in naturally and easily by relaxing the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, at the same time allowing the lower abdomen to Inilate (that is, performing abdominal inspiration). In the second phase, above the horizon, inspiration is performed by contracting the diaphragm. In this second phase It Is desirable to begin once more tensing the abdominal muscles so as to inflate the abdomen (that is, perform active abdominal inspiration). This will prevent the occurrence of chest breathing. Otherwise, there may be a tendency to gasp and the abdomen may cave in. The method may sound somewhat complicated, but In practice It is done very naturally and easily if you only talte care not to gasp (that is, not to do chest breathing). With regard to expiration above the horizon, this is done naturally, avoiding negative strain. At around the horizon and below it you may start to contract the diaphragm, to malte it work In opposition to the contraction of the abdominal muscles, which pushes the viscera up- ward. $8 (’3 BREATHING IN ZAZEN The material in this chapter constitutes what we regard as the es- sential general principles of breathing in razen. in the. following (hap- ters we shall describe in mOrc detail how these principles are applied in the. various methods of zazen practice. What is described in this chapter is not found elsewhere in Zen literature. it isa new proposal. Of course, if you are experienced in zazen and do not like the method proposed here, you may ignore it. However, as your practice develops you may come to see the value of It. 59 - s.......—..m.,. 8i”! CHAPTER FIVE Counting and Following the Breath COUNTING THE Baenu It is usual to begin the practice of eaten by counting your breaths. There are three ways of doing this: (i) Count both inhalations and exhalations. When you inhale, count "one" inwardly; when you exhale, count "two," and so on up to ten. Then return to one again and repeat the process. Perhaps at first it may be helpful to whisper the count inaudibly, or even audibiy. Then, except for occasions when you feel the need for audible counting. concentrate on the counting inwardly, stress- log your vocal cords but not making any sound. (2) Count your exhalations only. from one to ten, and repeat. Let the inhalations pass without counting them. (3) Count your inhalations only, letting the exhalations pass with- out counting them. Of these three, the first method is generally used for the initiation of beginners, the second is recognized as a more advanced step, and the third is somewhat difficult for a beginner but gives good training in inspiration. When, in the first method, you have said "one" with your inhala- tion, and begin to exhale, if you try to say "two" Immediately, you will experience an oppressive feeling In your chest, though it may be very slight. This results from a negative effect of the kind we have described on page 57. This is avoided quite naturally by allowing a little bit of breath to escape from the lungs before you say "two." Why the pain in the chest? When you stress the vocal cords, whether 60 _ COUNTING THF. "NEAT" you utter a sound or not, an extra tension, somewhat stronger than in an ordinary exhalation, will develop in the lungs. and if much air still remains in them, a pain will be felt in the chest. The same “ill prove true “ hen you recite "Mu" or work on a koan (see chapter (s). Of course, in practice, we naturally take steps to avoid this sort of breathing almost before we are aware of it, but it is better to do this knowingly than unknowingly. in practicing the second method the procedure is to say "won- n-n" with a lengthened expiration, and, after taking a breath, to say with the next expiration "two-oo-oo." With each count the expira- tion will naturally go down below the horiton of breathing. There- after you keep on, saying Hthree-ee-ee," "four-r-r," and so on, up to ten. liut in the middle of the counting, some other idea will suddenly come into your head, and you will find yourself involved with that thought for a while. However, you will soon return to yourself and take up the counting again; but now you discover that you have for- gotten where you left olf and must go back to the beginning and start from one again. Any beginner who has tried this practice for the ftrst time must have experienced this failure and been surprised by his inability to control his thoughts as he wanted. Some readers may find this hard to believe. Then they should try it themselves, and they will say, "indeed!" and say to themselves, "This won't do." That, incidentally, is what a Zen teacher wants to hear, for be. will then say, "Then you may as well train your mind with this method for a while." The third method is a training in inspiration. The most important thing in this case is to inflate the lower abdomen and inhale. in the course of saying "one," generally the tidal volume. will be filled. As you approach the end of the inhalation it will tend to become chest breathing and you will have to make an effort to keep up the. abdom- inal breathing. iiere you will discover the value of the Iwn-pltast'tl inhalation that we described on page. Sii, in which fresh tension is applied in the abdomen in each phase. if you try to inhale in one phase, before you are aware of it tension will move up to the chest and gasp- ing will occur. The two-phased inspiration is very helpful in keeping you doing abdominal breathing, even in tidal respiration, which is done soler above the horilon. ‘ 6i P171 2 E N TR Al N I N 0 Positive Sanaom AND Assosurs Ssnsom Although we shall discuss samath In detail in chapter 8, we want at this stage to Intro~ duce a distinction between two kinds of samadhi, since It Is relevant to the discussion of counting the breaths. We shall refer to the two kinds as absolute tomoth and positive samadhi. People generally associate the term samath with Nirvana, In which the activity of consciousness is almost stopped. But the samath reached In counting the breaths involves a very definite action of consciousness. This, then, Is an ac- tive sort of samadhi, and we shall call It positive umadhl, to distin- guish it from the other kind, which we shall call absolute samadhi. We do not call It negative samadhi. because absolute samadhi con- stitutes the foundation of all Zen activities and also because it leads us to experience pure existence. To date, these two kinds of samath have not been clearly distin- guished, and confusion has resulted. The lam Zen (working on koans; see chapter~9) of the Iltnni sect Involves alarge element of positive samath (although training In absolute samath is also found In this school), while In the practice of airtime-u of the Soto sect (see page 80), absolute samath Is more Important (though of course here, too, positive sausath is developed as well). We suggest that the right course Is to develop positive and absolute samadhl equally. To enter the silence of absolute samath Is to shake all what we call the ha- bitual way of consciousness—In an old phrase, "topsy-turvy delusive thought." By doing so we purify body and mind. Then, going out (or coming back) Into the world of actual life and of the ordinary activity of consciousness, we enon positive samath and freedom of mind In the complicated situations of the world: this is real emancipation. Returning to the question of counting the breaths, a useful analogy can perhaps be drawn with the state of mind necessary in driving a car. When driving you are obliged to exercise two kinds of attention. The first Is sharply focused, directed upon a certain limited none ahead of you. The second It quite the opposite and is dliTused over a broad area; you are on the lookout for emergencies arising in any direction. Similarly, In counting the breaths. both' sharply focused and diffused attention are required. We have to concentrate on reciting the numbers, while at the same time being alert not to miss their 62 COUNTING THE “HEAT” order. This may sound easy, but in fact, the more you concentrate on the individual breaths and counts, the more dilhcult it is to keep the attention widely diffused at the same time. To accomplish the two things at once with real success requires the utmost elfort. incidental- ly, we may remark that after a sesshtn in which we may have worked ' on Mu for a long period, we have to be very careful in driving, since we have been concentrating for so long In a sharply Ioumwl inmost-r and have not employed the more tllllttsesl type. of attention. it seems likely that the two types of samadhi are correlated with distinctly dilierent patterns of electrical activity In the brain. An elec- troencepbalographic study of seven Kundalini yogls in Calcutta by “as and Gastaut' demonstrates the appearance of an intensified heta rhythm during samadhi. The beta rhythm Is understood to denote ani- mated cortical activity. On the other hand, studies of Soto Zen toasters In japan by Kasamatsu and Hirai' drew theappearance, in the course of naen, first of alpha waves, then an increase of alpha amplitude. fol- lowed by a decrease of alpha frequency. and finally the development of a theta rhythm. It Is known that alpha waves appear when a person Is awake but not thinking hard. The Increase in amplitude of these was-es seems to denote the progress of mental calmhsg, while the appearance. of theta waves may be presumed to denote the advent oi'ahsolutc samadhi. Comparable studies of Zen masters in positive samadln hare not been reported, so far as I know. However, we may guess that they would shew an active pattern of electrical activity, perhaps like that of the yogls. One final word on the topic ofcounting the breaths. if, after making good progress In men, you return to this practice once more. you will find that it leads to the development of an extraordinarily hrilliant condition ofconsclousness. But this Is not to be expected in the ran-u of beginners. Therefore, the teacher Is usually satisfied If his pupil can master just the elements of counting the breaths and will then pass him to another kind of practice. The pupil may suppose that he has finished with this sort of discipline and that he will not have to prac- tice it again, but this Is mistaken. Students practicing alone may also revert to counting the breaths from time to time, even though they have gone on to other kinds of exercises. 61 .F.~me~ . . .... .. manly—1'!“ .H ,. ’wWHrI—mmw'vsd‘hmvmw . ,,n»wv—y—n-vaumu»-Msw n 2 E N T R A I N IN G FOLLOWING rur. BREATH A certain understanding of Zen (In japan, at least, probably arising from the general cultural background) makes people vaguely seek after absolute samadhi, even though perhaps not consciously. When you practice counting the breaths, recognizing that it is a training in positive samadhl, you will find it brilliantly il- luminating. But this will come only when you have made considerable progress in your study of Zen. And when beginners have worked on breath counting for a while they will find, without knowing why, that the counting is something of an encumbrance to them. They will wish to practice a quiet form of meditation in which the activity of consciousness will be transcended. Then, very naturally, they turn to the practice of following the breath. instructions for following the breath are very simple. Follow each inhalation and exhalation with concentrated attention. At the begin- ning of your exhalation, breathe out naturally, and then when you reach a point near the horizon of breathing, squeeze the respiratory muscles so as nearly to stop breathing. With the epiglottis open,‘the air remaining in the lungs will almost imperceptibly escape, little by little. At first this escape will be so slight that you may not notice it. But presently it will become noticeable, and as the exhalation goes below the horizon you will find that the air is being pushed out in- termittently. if you regulate the escape of air in a methodical manner you will advance more effectively toward samadhi. The longer the exhalation, the sooner you will be there. However, a very long exha- lation must necessarily be followed by short, rather quick respirations, to make good the oxygen deficiency that results. This more rapid res- piration need not disturb samadhl, as long as you continue with ab- dominal breathing. However, if you find such an irregular method of breathing uncongenial, try shorter exhalations. These seem to be used by many Zen students. When using such moderate exhalations. however, even those who have made considerable progress in men will often find it dilficuit to control wandering thoughts. Let us consider these wandering thoughts for a moment. They are of two kinds. The first type is that which appears momentarily and disappears as quickly. The second is of a narrative nature and makes up a story. The first type may be sub- 64 __ —_.— —- COUNTING THE HRFATII divided into two: (i) noticing someone coughing, the window ral- tling, birds chirping, and similar disturbances that intrude momentarily from outside; and (2) the momentary thought that springs up from within, so that we think, "Now I am getting into samadhi," or "I am not doing well today. " This sort ofthinklng does not disturb one's getting into samadhi very much. and as samadhi progresses, such thoughts gradually disappear of themselves. The second type of wamlering thought Is the sort of narration that occurs in daydreaming, in which one thinks, for example, that one had a conversation with certain people and one is once again absorbed in the situation. While the body is apparently sitting in meditation, the mind is getting angry or bursting into laughter. This type is quite a nuisance. Now, it is to this type of thougllt that one very often fails a victim when practicing moderate exhalations. Every so often one comes back to oneself, notices the wandering thoughts, and plucks up concentration to control the fantasy. But eventually one iinds that one's power is too weak. How can one get out of this condition? There is no way other than by generating tension in the respiratory muscles by stopping or almost stopping the breath. lf now you were to use the vocal cords and inwardly say "Mu," you would find that a greater strength is thrown into the abdomen and mental energy is increased. That strength aml energy give you the power to control wandering thoughts. However, you are now working on Mu, rather than following the breath, and that forms the subject ofthe next chap- ter. Finally, we may note that when you are mature, following the breath will naturally lead you to shikantaza. 65 ...
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This note was uploaded on 08/08/2010 for the course RELIGIONS Asian 325 taught by Professor Jamesrobson during the Spring '07 term at University of Michigan-Dearborn.

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Sekida - Ll(dyiw‘oiat minim/9 My Orientations IN nus mnonucroav cunrrra I want to review briefly some of the main topics that are to be dealt

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