Secondly, if you’re in the country of Europe and want to see me talk to you please come to one of my gigs. They’re all listed at hardcorezen.info/events. I’ll be in Malaga, Spain; Frankfurt (and Frankfurt again) and Berlin, Germany; Glasgow, Scotland; and Manchester and London, England. I may also be in Birmingham and possibly in Oxford if those Oxford guys ever write me again.
I just finished a three day retreat with the folks from Kajo Zendo in Finland. Kajo Zendo is in Helsinki but the retreat was held in the wild land of Läyliäinen. Don’t ask me to pronounce it. 25 people signed up, 20 of them actually came. It snowed. There was a sauna out back but you had to run naked through the snow from the changing room to the sauna itself. Then some of the guys, after the sauna, went and swam in the frozen lake. Finnish people are kind of crazy.
Mika, the guy whose apartment I’m staying at, said he liked the thing I said at the retreat about thought and attention not being the same thing. I’ve been saying that at a lot of my talks over the past few years. It’s something that’s sort of obvious when you start to notice it. But it wasn’t obvious to me when I began my practice. When teachers would say, “Don’t pay attention to your thoughts,” it just sounded insane. How can you possibly not pay attention to your thoughts? But gradually I learned that you can. After a while thoughts just feel like background noise.
One guy said he’d heard that, for an experienced meditator, thoughts are just like clouds floating in a clear blue sky. But, he said, to him thoughts were like a mist. You don’t even realize the mist is there sometimes but pretty soon you’re totally soaked.
I agree. And it’s much harder to not pay attention to a mist than it is to not pay attention to a cloud. I guess, if you wanted to extend the metaphor much too far, you learn to just deal with the fact that you’re soaking in thought without really dwelling on it. Or something like that.
Lots of meditation techniques are very concerned with how to reduce or eliminate thought or how to channel thought in a particular direction. Zen is different. The fact that you’re thinking isn’t a bad thing. You ought not dwell on your thoughts. But you don’t need to worry too much that you’re thinking. The brain is just doing its job of processing information and experience. Leave it alone to do its thing. You don’t need to dwell on it any more than you need to dwell on what your liver or your pancreas are doing. Just let them get on with it.
Or you can dwell on sending donations to support this page.