Dogen wrote out the method of practicing sitting, the heart of Zen discipline, in the “Rules for Sitting” essay in Treasury of the True Dharma Eye. The rules are still strictly adhered to at Eiheiji, just as he set them out. The study of Zen means the practice of sitting.
First, to practice sitting, you need a quiet place. Use a thick mat, and do not let in smoke or drafts. Keep out the damp.
The place for sitting should be carefully and properly maintained. It should be warm, and not too dark in day or night. In winter it should be heated, and in summer it should be pleasantly cool. Leave behind all attachments and bonds, and keep yourself entirely at rest.
Do not dwell on thoughts of good things or bad. Sitting is neither contemplation nor meditation. Do not think of it as a means for attaining enlightenment. Rid yourself of superficial notions of sitting and lying down. Eat and drink in moderation. Use your time well, and do not waste it. Like one whose hair is on fire, make use of every moment, sitting down quickly and devoting yourself to the practice. When you practice sitting, wear a mantle and use a cushion. Don’t sit on the entire cushion but only on the front, placing it under your buttocks.
This is the way of sitting that has been passed down from buddha to buddha and from ancestor to ancestor.
There are two ways of sitting, the full lotus and the half lotus position. In the full lotus, the right foot is placed on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh. The soles of the feet should be laid horizontally on the thighs, in perfect symmetry. In the half lotus only the left foot is placed on the right thigh.
Wear your robes loosely and sit up straight. Next, put your right hand on your left foot, your left hand in your right palm. The tips of your thumbs should be touching. Hold your hands close to your body. Hold yourself erect as you sit. Do not lean to the left or right, and do not bend forward or backward. The ears should stay even with the shoulders, and the nose and the navel should be aligned. Hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Breathe through the nose and keep your teeth and lips together. The eyes should be open, neither too wide nor too narrow. When you are ready to begin, take a deep breath. Sitting this way, you become immovable. Surpassing existence and nonexistence, you free yourself from constrictions of thought. This is the way of Zen sitting.
Early morning sitting lasts normally for a single session of forty minutes, the length of time it takes for one stick of incense to burn down.
Eat Sleep Sit : My Year at Japan's Most Rigorous Zen Temple by Kaoru Nonomura, Juliet Winters Carpenter
"Don’t be amazed if you see my eyes always wandering. In fact, this is my way of reading, and it is only in this way that reading proves fruitful for me. If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it. The stimulus of reading is indispensable to me, and of meaty reading, even if, of every book, I manage to read no more than a few pages. But those few pages already enclose for me whole universes, which I can never exhaust."
— Italo Calvino
all the faces of the people in your dreams are the faces of all the people you have ever met in your life.
Today someone told me that your brain does not make up the faces in your dreams, and that all the faces of the people in your dreams are the faces of all the people you have ever met in your life.
That someone you may have just randomly passed on the street may now populate your dreams as a character in a play.
That makes me realize that my face may live in other people's dreams.
It makes me wonder how much I walk in other people's minds, how many minds I walk in other people's sleep, as they too walk in mine.
It makes you realize that you have an effect on others, and that we are all connected both in the physical world and the mental landscapes.
In Japanese folk tales, often people who have bad thoughts or are possessed, or who use magic in their sleep, awake to find their hair smells of smoke.
We should all awake, our hair smelling of smoke. We are all using magic.
We live many lives in many minds, and we are all many people. We exist in different ways, as different things, as different people.
As technology expands, our words, our gestures, and our thoughts become more transparent, more meme, more viral, until in both the digital and and physical worlds, our selves become intertwined and connected with others, as we are all us.
Dreams are as real a part of us as our hands or eyes.
We are built of thought, it is a lamp that shines on us all.
"What transforms this world is — knowledge. Do you see what I mean? Nothing else can change anything in this world. Knowledge alone is capable of transforming the world, while at the same time leaving it exactly as it is. When you look at the world with knowledge, you realize that things are unchangeable and at the same time are constantly being transformed."
— Yukio Mishima (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
"I wasn't born with any innate talent. I've never been naturally gifted at anything. I always had to work at it. The only way I knew how to succeed was to try harder than anyone else. Dogged persistence is what got me through life. But here was something I was half-decent at. Being able to run great distances was the one thing I could offer the world. Others might be faster, but I could go longer. My strongest quality is that I never give up."
— Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner)
"As Thoreau famously sead, it doesn't matter where or how far you go - the farther commonly the worse - the important thing is how alive you are. Writing of every kind is a way to wake oneself up and keep as alive as when one has just fallen in love."
— Pico Iyer
"Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles - a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other - that kept me going."
— Hunter S. Thompson (The Rum Diary)
Mental discipline matters.
The ability to maintain a constant push towards a goal, to keep yourself moving in a chosen direction despite distractions and roadblocks is important to success.
We are not pre-destined machines, we control ourselves.
People often forget that fact.
No, we do not control all circumstances, nor how others react, or events of random chance or luck, but we do control ourselves, or at least we can, and we can control how we react to everything. How we act defines what we are.
Our physical and mental selves are malleable and infinitely changeable, we truly can make ourselves anything or anyone.
No one is born finished. We are created.
If we do the work then we become what we chose.
Our task is to consciously pick and chose daily to do those things that matter to us and that will make us what we chose to be. These tasks we chose to do daily can redesign us, and we can literally rewire ourselves.
To change, you first must define what success means to you, what success means specifically to you. How do you know if you succeeded?
You then break down that defintion into what are the crucial factors that define that success.
What actions make those factors happen? What actions did others do to succeed? Simplify these to one, two, or three daily actions, and do them each day. Every day.
If you want to be an artist, that is what you need to think about. Artists are who you need to talk to, to be with. You need to meet people who have made art that you respect. If you want to be rich, you must think about money, how it works, the process, how it functions,you need to start a business, and you need to be with people who have built businesses.
Our lives are reflections of our thoughts.
Daily actions matter.
As your thoughts go, so your actions follow.
As your actions flow, so you build your life.
Do daily what you want to be.
The strength to quietly endure things—unfairness, misfortune, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings.”
“The strength I’m looking for isn’t the kind where you win or lose. I’m not after a wall that’ll repel power coming from outside. What I want is the kind of strength to be able to absorb that outside power, to stand up to it. The strength to quietly endure things—unfairness, misfortune, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings.”
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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