Discipline Of Tao

D. T. Suzuki

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A master called Yuan came to Tai-chu Hui-hai and asked: 'When disciplining oneself in the Tao, is there any special way of doing it?"

Hui-hai: 'Yes, there is."

Yuan: 'What is that?"

Hui-hai: 'When hungry, one eats, when tired, one sleeps."

Yuan: 'That is what other people do; is their way the same as yours?'

Hui-hai: 'Not the same.'

Yuan: 'Why not?'

Hui-hai: 'When they eat, they do not just eat, they conjure up all kinds of imagination; when they sleep, they do not just sleep, they are given up to varieties of idle thoughts. That is why their way is not my way.'

From the book, The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion of becoming empty of idle thoughts? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to engage in action with full presence? What helps you deepen in presence?

Add Your Reflection:

11 Previous Reflections:

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    On Jul 27, 2020 Carrie wrote:
    Interesting! What I take from "my way is not their way" is that everyone has had different experiences. We may eat the same food, but cannot know that we taste food the same. We all sleep but we do not know what unconscious thoughts others are unpacking as they sleep, therefore we do not sleep the same.

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    On Jul 24, 2020 Usha Shetty wrote:
    So true, not to conjure up with all kind of imaginations and empty ourselves with those idle and unwanted thoughts. We are continuously in the process of thinking. Stress, anxiety clouding our mind makes our thought vague and us vulnerable. To have clear mind, it is very much necessary to empty it and fill it with positive thought and always do something that could bring smile to someones face.

    It is not necessary we get everything in our life that we have expected, it can never be possible. But we can make it better and beautiful by cleansing ourselves physically and mentally every now and then. Letting go the unwanted and nurturing whatever we have...that is our present.

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    On Jul 24, 2020 Smita wrote:
    Well engaging oneself in doing something one is passionate about helps one go empty of idle thoughts. Yes when I sing it is an action with full presence! Well deepening the presence is a continuous process where one needs to remind oneself and witness what one is thinking and doing and gradually this technique of witnessing all the time helps us keep ourself in presence and total awareness!!

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    On Jul 22, 2020 Anilkumar Pandit wrote:
    Do anything.. but being totally aware of it is the key, to be in Self and being in the Present.

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    On Jul 21, 2020 Claudia wrote:
    Sometimes its hard to sit with the uncomfortable feeling + thoughts of introspection. In this day and age, there is much distraction and its easy to drown ourselves in food, social media, TV, Internet, etc.

    This morning I woke up with feelings in anticipation + anxiety. I took a moment to sit with my thoughts and to write down my feelings. The morning peace and calmness helped ground my spirit.

    1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
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    On Jul 21, 2020 Annette wrote:
    Full presence is like listening with the body. When I'm listening with the body, I am not thinking. My entire attention is focused and I am aware of everything. I am open to be. It is difficult to maintain for long periods of time, but daily zazen practice hones it.

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    On Jul 21, 2020 Gayatri Neena Nambiar wrote:
    Sitting Quietly for an hour everyday made me attentive / conscious of my multidimensional self. Now it's not a ritual but a joyous way of spending time with self . I am fully present to the moments and also when not fully present I m aware of. It's an attentive living while observing my not attentive self. Creativity Compassion & empathy are the byproducts of this attentive Self in every day living! In deep gratitude! ❣️🥰🎶

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    On Jul 21, 2020 Yvonne McAskill wrote:
    I would love to be able to say truthfully that I too can drink the coffee....in a movie called City Slickers Billy Crystal got tired of Jack Palance continually repeating ..The secret of Success...and lifting one finger up...finally he asked him. "What is this secret of success...Jack Palance again put that finger up and replied. "The secret of success is doing ONE thing at a time".......discipline indeed.

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    On Jul 18, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    When alone, I'm empty of idle thoughts for periods of time when focused on a project which may be a physical activity or reading or writing and during brief times of reflection and meditation. There are times when interacting with others that I become empty of idle thoughts. During such times, I am very much in the present, focused on what the other is saying, attentive to what I am experiencing, and responding to the other out of what I am experiencing in the moment. What helps me deepen in such presence is the aliveness, intimacy, satisfaction, and value of such engagement, and practice in such engagement. Emptying of idle thoughts and deepening in full presence occur with practice.

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    On Jul 17, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    How to disciplineourselves in Tao is a question that every Mindfulness meditator asks the master and himself. The answerthe Zen master Hui-hai gives to Yuan, the questioner, is simple and profound: Be Here Now: not to conjure up all kinds of imaginations and and varieties of idle thoughts; to empty the mind clouded with idle thoughts. In my Mindfulness Meditation practice, I let whatever arises in my body, mind and heart come and go. Letting in and letting go is my way of emptying the useless and harmful stuff. It helps me to stay in the present moment. This daily Mindfulness practice helps me in my daily tasks and transactions. Emptiness is Fullness. Last night I had a very helpful and fruitful talk with my 23 yearsold grandson. He wanted to learn how to be his true self-genuine and authentic self with his friends when they have a different take on Black Life Matters. We had a dialogue between two of us. This was a good opportunity for practicing Mindfulness. He observed me how I had... [View Full Comment] How to disciplineourselves in Tao is a question that every Mindfulness meditator asks the master and himself. The answerthe Zen master Hui-hai gives to Yuan, the questioner, is simple and profound: Be Here Now: not to conjure up all kinds of imaginations and and varieties of idle thoughts; to empty the mind clouded with idle thoughts. In my Mindfulness Meditation practice, I let whatever arises in my body, mind and heart come and go. Letting in and letting go is my way of emptying the useless and harmful stuff. It helps me to stay in the present moment. This daily Mindfulness practice helps me in my daily tasks and transactions. Emptiness is Fullness.

    Last night I had a very helpful and fruitful talk with my 23 yearsold grandson. He wanted to learn how to be his true self-genuine and authentic self with his friends when they have a different take on Black Life Matters. We had a dialogue between two of us. This was a good opportunity for practicing Mindfulness. He observed me how I had kept my mind and heart open and non-judgmental while listening to him and responding to him without judging him. Both of us felt deeply connected with each other and understood each other's position on this hot and burning issue. It was a cool and enriching experience
    for both of us.

    Practicing non-judgmental existential awareness of what is happening in me in my daily life helps me to deepen my presence with me and with others. Non-judgmental self-awareness and open-mindedness enrich and deepen my understanding of myself and other people in my life. Beginner's mind is an open, empty, receptive, and a wise mind.
    May we all learn and practice what Hui-hai taught Yuan.
    Namaste!
    Jagdish P Dave'




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