From Australian Zen teacher Dr Andrew Tootell.
Meditation: Resistance to being presence
Another expression for Zazen might be, being presence, but when we first sit down we may experience a strong pull away from being presence, almost like being caught in a rip current. Sometimes, it is best not to resist resistance and allow ourselves to be carried away by the rip in the faith that it will naturally come to an end and we will wake up again, in the light of a deep sense of being presence.
Resistance to just-sitting is part of our experience of just-sitting. It is hard to just rest in being here now without desiring something to happen or to be entertained in some way or to get involved in our thoughts. Or to get preoccupied with constant evaluations of how are we going? Am I doing this right or wrong? Am I there yet? As if there is a there to get too. As my teacher, Barry Magid says, “In that just sitting we enter a place which is neither right or wrong. We don't have to make anything happen. This practise heals our separation from life. Nirvana is nonseparation from life. This is our healing.
Nothing is Lacking: Ordinary Self is the Way
In our discussion last fortnight, we talked about making friends with death, and finding our home (nirvana) in this world rather than seeking some kind of transcendence of our ordinary self in an afterlife or in a “true” self that is behind, above or higher than our ordinary self, as if there is always something missing in our experience of ordinary self. In today’s talk I will explore some possible explanations as to how this sense of lack arises. I will be challenging the idea found in many commentaries, that the ordinary self is always experienced as an egocentric or separate self that is inherently insecure. Rather, I will suggest that the ordinary self is composed of many different self-states – only some of these states, the egocentric states, feel a painful sense of lack at their core but others may feel a deep sense of acceptance and nonseparation from the world. As is suggested in Case 19 of the Gateless Gate, maybe the ordinary self, when experienced from the perspective of emptiness, just like the spring flowers and the moon in Autumn, is the way.
Meditation: I Am My Body
This guided meditation is inspired by a reading that can be found on the OzZen website by my teacher Barry Magid. I read the pargraphs from the reading and then the meditation flows with the encouragement to allow and accept all aspects of our experience and needs.
Meditation: Let It Be
The topic for this guided meditation is let it be. Whatever we may be experiencing right now just let it be, no need to change or fix anything. Allowing everything to be just as it is. If you get caught up in the contents of a thought that’s fine, just gently return to just sitting.
Making Friends With Death
In this talk I want to say something about the importance of accepting our finitude and making friends with death, as if it was our most intimate companion. I contrast the acceptance of finitude with the flight from finitude - towards a quest for permanence or transcendence found in many religious and spiritual teachings including nondual teachings such as Zen, Advaita and Dzogchen.
Zen is a communal practice; it is also a commitment. Zen, ultimately, is a path of service to all beings and to each other, this commitment or vow is expressed in the Four Bodhisattva Vows. Showing up to practice together is an expression of that commitment. In some ways, commitment in Zen is like the Metta or Loving Kindness practice. We start with making a commitment to ourselves then extend that to loved ones and friends and continue extending to community and ultimately to all beings.