Thursday, April 20, 2017

Arriving at the End.

If there ever was a time i felt most energetic and full of vigor in my life was when I spent two odd years at the Green Dragon Zen Temple at Green Gulch. This was when I decided to let go of all of my past and embrace whatever came my way albeit physical, mental or spiritual; in short I threw caution to the wind. I started off with a debilitating effect of a serious form of pleurisy condition in my chest and ended up feeling like a super man by the time I had left the Zen Center.. My recovery happened gradually over a period of three or four months where i spent days and nights in pain in a small room that was formerly used as a cattle coral. The cold and wet weather of the coastal area along the Pacific coast did little to help but i survived. I was set and determined to rebound from my fall and Green Gulch was the place to do it  especially with the Soto Zen tradition of practice. 
Upon entering the practice session I was full of pain and anger and my head was in so much turmoil that I thought I was going insane. I had no one that i can turn to except the strangers who happened to be there at the time and we soon became friends as we realized that we were in the same boat, all needing some form of healing. I admit that i was a very sick man and very frightened of what the futre held for me as I have been estranged from my family back home in Malaysia for many years.I was alone and felt loneliness like i have never felt before and there i found friends, people who arrived at the place with the intention of taking a refuge and healing in the Buddha's teachings in the form of Zen Buddhism. This was where i truly began learning all about sitting meditation and it was also at the center that i started demanding of myself towards discovering my true nature. I have always assumed myself to be a Muslim as i was converted to Islam at the age of 12 and as it is said. once a Muslim always a Muslim. 
Being a Muslim and practicing Zen Buddhism with al its rituals of bowing and prostrating to the idols on the altar in the meditation hall was a spiritual battle in itself for me. But as one of my spiritual Instructors told me during our "Dokusan' or one on one talk with the Master session. " If you want to joint the club you will have to pay the dues." And he went on to to say that, " If you imagine yourself bowing to something then you are indeed an idol worshiper, but if you are bowing to emptiness, then there should not be any problem." Hence, with this understanding I moved on to dive into Zen Buddhism in the Soto tradition of Dogen Zenji and the American Zen Tradition of Sunryu Suzuki Roshi. I had my mini Satoris along the way and might even say that i was awakened at some point to a whole new perspective in looking at life from then on.
Zen Practice was like a 'spring cleaning of the mind' whereby mental states was fully laid out and dissected and analysed , scrutinized and let go of. The primary idea was to empty the mind of all its accumulations and to bring it into complete focus in the here and now facing what is. Zazen or sitting meditation is one of the most effective method of bringing the mind to a standstill or single pointedness. It is like watching the Astro Channel and switching from one to the next until the is no more to choose from or the mind becomes tired of the choices and gives in to silence and the emptiness within. To arrive at this state is no easy matter as some would take almost a life time of sitting and facing the wall for years of end and still not accomplish it. Essentially the key factor in sitting meditation is breath and the awareness of the breathing process. Watching thoughts rise and fall with every breath helps one to have a good sense of control over one's mental state. 
The sitting posture plays a very vital role in sitting meditation and the spine is kept into a locked position to allow for a direct flow of energy from the abdomen to the top of the head without any obstruction and this too is managed through proper breathing. To allow for a comfortable locked in position of the spine it is advisable to place a pillow or Zafu underneath one's seat which helps to raise the buttocks and push the spine upwards. This also helps to place your knees anchored squarely on the mat as you sit, solid as Mount Sumeru. Achieving the most comfortable posture while sitting is half the battle won while doing sitting meditation and this should in time become effortless.
When you enjoy your sitting meditation, you have arrived at the gates of consciousness where your experience of life becomes pure and simple with all its trappings dropped. You become one with life itself like you have suddenly found Love itself with every breath you take. Sitting meditation can bring you to the edge of your consciousness where you become one with all that is around within and without of yourself. This is the state of Satori, or Samadhi, a state of complete awakened mindfulness of being who you are.   

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