Considering Deeply

Hello, everyone, it’s very nice to see you all. I’ll begin by reading Shokushu # 17, Reiseishin.

“We as human beings are given a mind that is directly connected to the universe. This is Reiseishin.
Water, when it settles, can clearly reflect the moon. When our mind becomes calm, Reiseishin expresses itself clearly and unmistakably. Once this mind arises, in that moment, any selfish urges and desires disappear, and the Universal Mind and love and protection for all things shines forth.

Let us polish our Reiseishin.”

So tonight our subject is: “To consider something deeply means to Keep One Point while thinking.”

Let’s begin by asking Sayaka Reasoner to read that in Japanese for us, please.

(Sayaka reads)

When we say “consider something deeply” we usually mean that we’re concerned with some question that is very important to us and we feel we need an answer to. For instance, should I get married or not getting married? Should I take this job or that job? Should I say something to the person that offended me or not? It’s yes or no. And so we struggle. When we think about considering this question, maybe we make a list of the pros and the cons to try to figure out with our small, logical mind, what is the answer? Well, sad to say that this mind never can see. There is no answer for this small mind. And so I want to suggest that when Tohei Sensei says that to consider something deeply means to Keep One Point while considering, his is talking about a completely different state of mind.

This means considering without struggle.

Okay. Let’s do a little Ki Breathing.

(10 minutes of Ki Breathing)

Considering something deeply while Keeping One Point is not an easy thing. In fact, I can see why Tohei Sensei chose this phrase because it really represents our whole practice, doesn’t it?

In addition, if you think you would like to say something meaningful, you must be resting One Point in the lower abdomen to do so. If you want to perform an action that’s effective, same thing. You must Keep One Point in the lower abdomen. This is just like, to think clearly and deeply, you must Keep One Point. These are all the same.

Tohei Sensei taught us that when we’re faced with conflict, we have three choices. Option A, Option B, or Option C. With Option A, you when you’re thinking you struggle trying to find the answer. Considering the benefits and considering the risks, you’re merely struggling with it, fighting with yourself inside, and this will never bring you the correct answer. You will never satisfy the part of yourself that is looking to be satisfied. So, Option A doesn’t work with thinking any more than it does with speaking or with moving in action. And number two is Option B. Option B is giving up or collapsing in the face of this thing that’s very important and is confronting us. But we don’t give up on it. We don’t bail on it just because it is unanswerable. We don’t follow Option B.

Instead, we follow Option C. Option C is what Tohei Sensei is suggesting we follow when considering something deeply. To Keep One Point means to be present. One Point is that place within our state of mind that is the gateway between the physical, relative, or limited world, and infinity or the universal. Tohei Sensei always called it the “Universal Mind.” One Point is the gateway between small mind and universal mind.

Naturally, finding the real solution to any situation is very rarely finding a specific answer, one way or the other. No. Instead, it is finally resting in the quiet, calm, equanimous presence of infinity, of the big picture, of the universal perspective. And when we do that, then we know something true. We discover that when we’re in that universal state of mind, it’s no longer a problem. It’s not as if you say, “Oh yeah, now I know what the answer is!” No. In this state of mind we now know what to do. “Oh, I have to Keep One Point!” And then, in this state of mind, we will always know, in every moment, what is necessary.

Instead of reacting with Option A or Option B, we always respond by connecting, Option C. In this case, within our self, we connect with the universal, that which cannot be spoken. So yeah, we’re not going to get the kind of answer that our small, frustrated, struggling, demonic mind might be demanding of us. We definitely will not find that, because that doesn’t exist as such. In this world, everything is relative. So whatever decision we come up with, whatever answer we pick, can be either good or bad depending on how we look at it.

So that’s not how we make a decision. For instance, if you’re teaching a class or seminar, or teaching this session right here. There is always a subject that is selected for the class, and I know ahead of time what it is that I want to discuss with you tonight. However, I cannot sit down and think, “Okay, what should I say that will be meaningful to them?” You know, of course, I want to support you, in a very deep and thoughtful way. But my small mind is not going to come up with that, folks. True support is not available that way.

Human beings can only express that which is relative. They can’t express the infinite, since there are no words for that which is infinite. It is inconceivable by its very nature, there’s no concept for it. So yes, it’s impossible for a human being to express the universal. But the universal can express itself through a human being. It can allow itself to be known through us as human beings. All we have to do is Keep One Point. All we have to do is allow ourselves to rest in the calm, quiet, equanimity of mind and body unified. And then whatever needs to happen will happen, whatever needs to be realized, whatever needs to become will become, whatever needs to be thought, whatever needs to be said, whatever needs to be done, is done on time, in the right place, and in the right way.

And that’s the only way that happens. It never happens because you just want it to happen a lot, or because you wish for it to happen. That’s not wisdom. That’s magical thinking, ignorance. So of course, we have to learn to be skillful about this business of resting in the universal, of resting in infinity.

Allowing our mind to be calm and quiet in the face of great conflict is something that’s incredibly important to us and has great significance. When we are concerned with what will happen for us in the future, we have to be present with it. If we are struggling with it, then we are either dwelling in the future or we’re thinking about what happened in the past, what he said, what she said, what I will do, what he will do, what she will do. That is all about struggle and worry. This being present, resting in the present moment, this Keeping One Point, is resting our mind and body in the very lowest point of our abdomen, presently. This is knowing.

Okay. This is a huge subject. And it appears to me that it deeply represents everything that we’ve all been working on for the past years in the dojo. And perhaps it has been difficult to fall into clearly.

Okay, so please get together and discuss this subject. And then we’ll get back together in 15 minutes. Thank you.

(15 minute discussion time)

Welcome back, everyone. Please, begin. group number one.

Student: Thank you, Sensei. And Good evening, everybody. I we feel like we have a feeling for what you’re saying Sensei. And it’s, um, it’s like, getting out of the way when there’s something that one needs to work on and decide. We notice that sometimes when we wake up from sleep, we are inspired by good ideas or just the knowledge that comes to us that this is the right thing. And that wasn’t just a knowing that comes from deep relaxation. Maybe that’s related. We were reminded of Suzuki Sensei’s Four Principles: “So what, do nothing, be natural, don’t worry, be happy.” And that is not the same as giving up and just grabbing the best option. It’s a focusing and relaxing and letting the universe support. Feeling the support of the universe.

Thank you very much. You mentioned waking up from a deep sleep and suddenly knowing what to do. Albert Einstein was really famous for talking about this. This was an important subject to him. Einstein was known as a very deep thinker. But he always said that, while he was thinking in his waking state, he was always struggling to find the answer. Of course, he was not always as connected as he would like to be, just like everyone else. He would humorously comment that many people thought he just figured out these formulas of relativity. But he said he would wake up two o’clock in the morning, and there the answer that he was searching for would be. So, it did come to him eventually, and naturally. And perhaps it wouldn’t have come to him if he hadn’t struggled for the answer. But where did the understanding arise from?

To Keep One Point simply means to connect with the source of knowing. This source is the source of who you are, the source of everything that arises, the source of everything that we’re looking for. Everything arises out of this ground of being. And I think it’s interesting that you mentioned Suzuki Sensei’s Four Principles, “So what, do nothing, be natural, don’t worry, be happy,” because they’re written right here on this piece of paper in front of me. When I was sitting here today, this was the thing that came to me strongly regarding this saying. So I wrote it down. I’m so impressed. Thank you so much.

Student: I am interested in the three options, you know, struggling, collapsing, and connecting by Keeping One Point, being present. I usually end up struggling when I am trying to make a decision, and wondering, “What should I do?” Or maybe just letting it go giving up. But this third option, Keeping One Point and being present, I never thought of just trying to do that and see what arises. I find these Zoom sessions really interesting It gives me a new perspective on how to go about my day.

It is important to remember that Option C means “connecting.” We can think of “C” for connecting. That’s easy to remember. This means engaging, and not running away. And of course not trying to struggle with whatever it is. However it is engaging completely with it. When we’re doing either A or B, if might feel like we are engaged, but we’re actually not engaged. We think we’re engaged, since we are struggling with the question. We think that’s engagement. When we look around us in the world and listen to the news, everybody is struggling for position, struggling to be right, struggling to be on top. And they think that’s so engaging and necessary. They are out there doing something, so they imagine that means they are engaged. Okay, that’s probably better than sitting on the couch, because at least something can be noticed, something learned, but still it is usually not connecting. If it is, that is rare.

That’s why a person like Mahatma Gandhi was so unusual. All of his followers told him, “You have got to put down those British, you must overcome them, we are fighting them.” But he said, “No, no, no.” And instead he treated the British like gentlemen, with great respect and kindness, and as a result they ended up doing everything that had to be done to bring peace and a new sense of hope to the country. So good for Gandhi. That’s great. But that is a story that happened long ago.

You and I have to do the same thing within ourselves right now. When we can do it here, within us, then it’s automatically out there. It’s not that when you can do it here, then you can do it with other people, as we say sometimes. That’s not quite it. It’s understanding that when you are doing it, it is being done everywhere you go. When we are connected it is effortless, it’s automatic. That’s very important. So this is something to consider. Thank you.

Student: Hello, sensei. We went around and shared experiences in our life, where we struggled with making a decision in the workplace. One person brought up that, when we’re aware of our struggling with these things, the more where we become aware of it, the more we notice, the less these reactionary patterns, the struggling and collapsing continue to happen. We also noticed that often times things that we think are problems work themselves out, regardless of us. And in that way, I feel like the universe really is supporting us. And then there was also discerning between big problems and small or non-problems. And sometimes, when we’re in the middle of it, it’s easy to feel like the problem is really big. And then maybe in the future, looking back on it, we realize that it really wasn’t a problem at all. So those are some things we talked about, we didn’t come up with a question, per se.

Thank you. And sometimes the universe just doesn’t seem to bring any attention to what we think is essential. It is true that we practice, and we become more skillful at listening to the untamed voice, the raw material. So we do get better at that. But it doesn’t mean we’re hearing everything, it doesn’t mean we’re noticing everything that is arising in our life. Sometimes a situation will be left unanswered or unresolved for many years. And we may think, well, what happened? How come? I’m not getting this. But, you know, this is why I always say, every teacher always says, the solution to every problem is sit, sit, sit, and sit some more. In other words, practice listening more, and listening more deeply.

So always continue practicing Keeping One Point and considering deeper, more and more and more, opening ourselves, instead of trying to find an answer. We open ourselves, trusting even if there is apparently no answer. This way we can just be in a state of joy, of welcome, of gratitude and appreciation. All these things are what we’ve been discussing since the beginning of this class since we’ve been using Tohei Sensei’s phrases and principles. He always talks about this. Even when I would not be understanding since he was speaking Japanese. If I asked somebody, “What’s he saying?” More often than not, they would say, “Oh, he’s saying that we should be grateful. Or we should sit more.” Because those are one thing, you know?

Student: My group actually didn’t have any questions. Instead we shared our experiences. And we can say that practicing of meditation allows us to reach a calm state of mind and so find solutions for any problems. When we are sitting, the unnaturally raging mind comes calm. So I notice that to always keep this state of calm mind is like Indian philosophy.

So that’s, that’s it? You discussed amongst the four of you how important it is to be in an open state of mind. So then, we want to know how’s that going for you? Yes, that is what I said, this keeping a calm mind, and yes, this is what the teaching is, and yes, it probably sounds similar to Indian Philosophy. Of course we need to stay calm and pay attention.

So, when you have the opportunity of these discussions, please don’t just agree with each other, don’t just agree with me. Don’t even just agree with Tohei Sensei. The point of all of this is what does it mean to you in your practice? Not from this morning, or not over the last five days, but right at this moment? Do you see? Are you experiencing this connection right now? I’m not saying you’re not. You must admit to something, and then I want to hear from you, what it’s like for you.

Student: Well, what can I say? Today? I woke up with bad memories. Because yesterday I had a kind of raging conversation via social network and it was still in my mind when I did awake.

So there was an argument.

Student: Yeah, yeah. My mind was jumping. This morning, just now.

Ah, okay. You are in Russia, so now it is very early morning, right now.

Student: Yes, it’s morning here. So I just woke up.

Well, I’m glad we’re having this class, then. This is probably doing the world of good for you. That’s a great answer. Thank you.

Student: Hello Sensei. We had a very wide-ranging discussion. So I’ll try to tie it together as much as I can. So uncertainty, that’s where we started. Living with uncertainty, this is the basic problem. And then from a different perspective, how does that relate to say relying on experience, because to make decisions based on experience certainly seems to work for some people, since having gone through this kind of similar situation or problem in the past. So how does that become tied in? We also did talk about calmness, just like the last group, and the clarity that it provides. Maybe it gives us more room for possibility. And then also how, you know, in terms of getting out of the way, letting the universe act or speak through you. What good is struggling? You talked about this a little bit already with the Einstein example. But struggling with our habitual patterns, habitual thinking, what role does that play in dealing with tough decisions.

Thank you very much. I will start at the end there. This is like the paradox, “If you don’t set a goal, you’ll never get off the couch. But then later, if you don’t give up that goal, you’ll never reach it.”

Setting a goal is an aspect of struggle in itself. Setting a goal is bringing together many disparate difficulties, challenges. Your goal is resolving that, and as long as you think you’re going to, that’s your goal. And you’re going to struggle until you resolve that sucker. Unfortunately you never will. Why? Because since it is a goal, it is in the future, and so you’re always pushing it away out in front of you. But it’s not in the future. That’s not how it comes about. It always is now, never in the future. True resolution doesn’t come about through struggle and goal setting, ever. Only more struggle comes from struggle. Harm comes about through struggle, violence comes about through struggle, uncaring, lack of awareness. All this comes about through struggle.

Resolution can come about once we see the nature of setting a goal and struggling towards it. This is the principal Suzuki Sensei is expressing when he says, “Do nothing.” True action is resting in the midst of engaging crisis. You look around and you think, “Okay, this thing is going to be a really big problem for me. So number one, let’s wait and see. Be patient. So relax, be natural. Be completely in it, and at the same time allowing it to take place.” There is that one phrase that no one likes, because it seems to be contradictory.

You know, you asked about experience. Of course, that’s huge. Why? Because experience equals skill. You’ve noticed already that struggling doesn’t ever get you there. That’s huge. And you only notice that through your own experience. Even though I’m saying this today, and even though this is what Tohei Sensei taught us, does that mean we all can do it? As we gain skill, as we practice, we gain skill, we become experienced in this practice. And this teaches us not only how to allow resolution to take place, but how that happens. This is now wisdom. Experience then becomes wisdom.

This is not like you know a new fact. Wisdom is not that kind of knowing. So this is also something that is kind of unusual, relative to the way the world works, or the way that we’re told the world works. We are taught that it’s all based on fact or not fact. Or as some people would say “alternative facts.” Yeah, well, of course, we know that the whole concept of alternative facts is pointless. But in the same sense, facts can be pointless if they’re causing struggle. You know, it’s all about connection. Or some would say it’s all about love. Love is connection. See, engaging and becoming friends with, becoming one with, a recognition of the joy of being together. This is all huge. And this connectivity solves everything. Then it’s like, those things that you thought were a problem, maybe aren’t even a problem. They’re only a problem when you’re a problem, when you are struggling with them. When you stop being a problem, then the problems go away.

That’s why I was saying in the beginning, I think this is really big, in terms of our practice. Thank you very much.

Student: We discussed a lot of things about making decisions and what makes yourself make the decision without ever struggling or holding back. The problem might be with someone else, but it is mostly with ourselves. When we our own path or with another person. And even when struggling with our own path, I am wondering if we ourselves have a choice of self-help, to ask for that. Would that be part of our connection within ourselves? And helping someone else, or even with yourself, to come to a decision. That’s what we discussed. Sometimes those struggles can disappear with just asking for help. In school, we never got taught how to make our own decisions. They just gave us the process of solving problems of logic. And by solving real problems, you are gaining the experience of self-help to yourself. That’s what we came up with.

In my experience, I have the feeling of being self-help to myself, meaning I am self-taught. I have learned how to learn things on my own. Sometimes there were times when I learned from someone else. So moving myself and being connected is not waiting for someone to teach, or help, but just to get started. Just moving forward on something, that is a challenge. And I do find some other people sometimes have a challenge to move forward on their own.

So, you’re talking about being a self-starter? Yes. These are the kind of people we’re always looking for to work with.

I’ll give you an interesting kind of twist on this idea of self-helping or being a self-starter.

I was reading an article by a neuro neuroscientist. And he suggested that the part of us that thinks it makes these decisions does not actually make the decisions. It’s not that there’s someone else in there. It’s that the decision is made on a level that we cannot access. Now, to me, this means universal assistance, but he is a neuroscientist, so he expresses it that the decision is made on a “level of consciousness that we cannot approach.” Being aware of our normal everyday limited state of mind, this very much makes sense to me. And then he said that, when we realize the decision has been made, we then take credit for it, like “I” made the decision. And after a while we become blind and addicted to this idea of “self-decision.” And a person like can appear to be a very confident and dynamic person to the work world. But ultimately let’s remember, as Miyamoto Musashi pointed out to us so long ago, that is a delusion of grandeur. It’s all being done for us, and we’re just not aware of it. We need to tune in and be grateful.

That’s an interesting take. It doesn’t deny what you’re saying. It just helps to explain why we see things the way we do.

Student: Yes.

Thank you, everyone. I really enjoyed this. I’ll see you Sunday morning. Domo arigato gozaimasu.

(Online Training with Christopher Curtis Sensei, 5. February 2021)