2016Posted by Gustav 02 Mar, 2016 22:07
This is my practice space for sitting meditation tonight. Nothing special. And at the same time the most special place to me - my home. Kids are sleeping. No idea of any gain, I think... And I enjoy it tonight. Sitting still. Sounds from the dishwasher in the kitchen. Folding my legs and relaxing into the posture. Nothing more to accomplish today. Just sitting.
Nishijima Roshi said that the goal of zazen - sitting meditation - is zazen itself. And at the same time he, for example, included the Bodhisattva vows at ordinations. "I vow to save all beings..."
My heart holds shikantaza zazen - just sitting - dearly. But I also call our public sittings "meditation for peace". What is "for peace"? What does it mean to state such a direction, purpose, or dedication for the practice? As I replied to Mike Cross' comment in the post below, my peace is almost always disturbed anyway...
I'm not sure how to best put it in words, but in my limited experience it holds together. Perhaps somehow related to the Christian concepts of law and grace? Right now, I don't know. Just sitting, leaving thoughts of different kinds of worth behind, and it's far from worthless. In this flowing weaving of things, perhaps a sense of being near. A manifestation of peace, even when I'm far from it. It's for all beings.
2016Posted by Gustav 15 Feb, 2016 01:23
A friend of mine helped me realize that the previous blog name, The Sitting Priest, sounds way more pretentious than I intended. So I changed the name to The Sitting Frog. Which is actually what it's all about. My restless frog mind jumping around and trying to learn sitting down. Also, frog rhymes with blog. Perfect!
2016Posted by Gustav 07 Feb, 2016 22:44
Last Wednesday, we gathered again for meditation for peace in the city square. We were six people this time, three men and three women. I think it was -8 degrees Celcius, but there was no wind. I found it easier to be comfortable this time. Last time, it was -13 and windy, and a bit more difficult to keep warm.
Our form is quite simple. About twenty minutes before noon, I go with the car to drop off the signs and my cushion and blankets at the square. Then I park the car somewhere nearby, and go back to meet up with the others. Most participants arrive five or ten minutes before noon. We have some time for greetings, before we arrange our cushions and blankets and sit down.
I try to remember to often say in the beginning that it's perfectly ok to stretch out, change posture, take a break, and go inside to get warm if necessary. And I usually check in the end if everyone has been comfortable. Or at least relatively comfortable.
The city hall's big clock serves as our beginning and ending bell. Twelve chimes at noon, and we begin our sitting meditation. We keep a lowered gaze, not looking those passing by in the eyes. For this hour, we let the form of our practice speak for itself. The folded legs forming a solid base. The spine held in a relaxed upright posture. Comfortable and still. Breathing in and out. Paying attention. Receiving and letting go.
And the signs. We have one sign in Swedish, and one in English, with peace symbols, that says:
Some people stop, read the sign, and stand still for a little while. Others rush by. Sometimes I hear comments, mostly positive. To me, it's a remarkable experience to sit still in the middle of all the movements and sounds of the city square, along with what is moving in my body and mind. Returning to the practice, again and again. Posture. Breathing in and out. Together.
At one 'o clock, the chime from the big clock marks the end of sitting meditation. I usually move a little bit in front of the group, and turn around toward my friends in the practice. With my palms joined together, I thank the group for the hour of meditation for peace, and we bow. Then we usually go to a nearby restaurant to have lunch and share thoughts and experiences with each other.
Maybe it will change somehow in the future, but for now, this is our simple form for public meditation for peace that we enjoy practicing once every month. And you are more than welcome to join us, in whatever way that is possible for you!
2016Posted by Gustav 29 Jan, 2016 14:10
Today, Alfred and I are going to Stockholm to spend the weekend with my parents and my youngest brother. They are living in the south of Sweden, about 1200 km away from us, and it will be great to see them. We are going to check out a museum with dinosaurs, see a film about coral reefs on a huge screen that is somehow bent around the audience, and have dinner at a thai restaurant that looks like a jungle. That's the plan. Good times!
On Wednesday, next week, we are having meditation for peace in the city square again. If you're in the area - welcome to join us! Last week I wrote something about why I do these public meditations, and next week I would like to say something about how we do it - arrangement and form.
If you have any questions or comments that you would like to bring up in this forum, you are welcome to post them below.
Thanks and see you soon again!
2016Posted by Gustav 21 Jan, 2016 23:59
Why do we do public meditation for peace? There can be many different motivations among us, but behind the initiative are four basic ideas and the following is an attempt to put them into writing. Please help with your comments on content, grammar or anything you'd like to change, add or take away. Thanks!
1. It's a practice in ourselves. It's a practice in stopping and sitting still with breath and posture. We return with our attention to the body and mind, and practice both receiving and letting go of the thoughts and sensations that come. A space that makes it possible for me to see what is moving within me - thoughts, feelings and images - and the states of mind that my actions grow from. This is the foundation, just sitting. Firm as the ground beneath me, upright as the buildings and trees around me, and open as the sky above our heads.
2. We sit as witnesses to the suffering in ourselves and in the world, and train our mind in compassion. We sit in the middle of the flow of people, sounds and movements, and remind ourselves that everyone who walks by is carrying a story, joy and sorrow, fear and love. Just like myself, everyone who walks by has also been a little newborn child, a five year-old who explores the world, and one day we will all die. We are all vulnerable, intertwined parts of life and the world. From this view, compassion can grow.
3. It's a symbolic act of solidarity with everyone affected by war, violence, disease and disasters. People suffer in all weathers, and therefore we also sit outside in all weathers.
4. We sit as a reminder to those who walk by. For those who hardly notice that we are there, for those who laugh and shake their head, and for those who are interested and read the text on our sign. A reminder that it's possible to stop and be silent and still. A reminder that compassion and peace are possible. Maybe, in the midst of all that is dark, it can contribute to that which is light.
2016Posted by Gustav 13 Jan, 2016 23:17
Today was our first hour of public meditation for peace in 2016, in the Umeå city square. It was minus 13 degrees Celcius, and we were four people sitting together. My toes were a bit cold, but, other than that, I was comfortable and warm. I don't think I've ever worn so many layers of clothes... We sit like this once every month, in all weathers, as a small symbolic act of solidarity with everyone suffering from war and violence in the world. I don't know if it makes any difference, but it feels right to do it. I strongly believe that some way of stopping and being quiet and still needs to be a part of peace work. A chance to be still with all my thoughts and emotions. Letting them come and go. And finding my way to act from a sense of compassion, love and togetherness, or whatever we'd like to call it, instead of succumbing to hatred and fear. During meditation practice in the city square, I keep a lowered gaze, as usual, and do not make eye contact with anyone passing by, in order to let the focus not be on Gustav, but on the practice itself. Inside and outside, hand in hand. That's what it's about, to me. And maybe someone passing by is reminded to slow down and breathe. (Photo: Thomas Ylvin)