Penetrate the Heights & the Depths! Forceful Zen Methods

(Here is about half of the section of “Forceful Physical (Body and Mind) Techniques” from The Little Manual of Shibumi Ki Do.)

Shedding Mind and Body Instantly

Zen practice is total absorption, resolve, and dedication to pushing all the way through. So, archery for example can be a Zen practice. Have you read Eugene Herrigel's little book on the Zen of Archery?

"A yes, a no, a straight line -- a goal." (Nietzsche) This is Zen.

So, there is no difference between Zen and life, except that in Zen one pushes forward to the point that everything drops away, whereas usually in other areas of life there is a stopping point short of "shedding body and mind" then "shedding the shedding."

Any practice can be a Zen practice. It is just a matter of going all the way & breaking through.

Once the illusory appearances of life are broken through, & thinking is exhausted, Mind is realized in a flash.

"Majestic and imposing, I've come from the mountains!"

Cutting Off Your Own Head

Kneel in Seiza and bring all your attention along with the energetic flow of your breath decisively and all at once, yet softly, with no special effort (like a cut in kendo) down to the seika tanden (the one-point in the lower belly). This cuts off your head.

If any thoughts occur now, they occur like miracles in space, dreams or hallucinations in the middle of the night, nowhere and at no time. Aware, clear, relaxed, and inspired. No problems. No mind. No body, even. Just the sense of breathing and moving around or sitting still.

Once you've "cut off your own head" then you can do whatever you like. After this, meditation isn't even meditation. It isn't anything at all.

If those didn't work, why not try some sudden shouting, to startle yourself into the unborn state? The following text is a slight adaptation from a Tibetan manual:

Shouting It Out

While resting in an even state, at ease,

Suddenly let out a mind-shattering Ha! --

Fierce, forceful and abrupt. Amazing!

There is nothing there: transfixed in wonder,

Struck by wonder, and yet all is transparent and clear.

Fresh, pure and sudden, so beyond description.

Priming the Pump with Breath Meditation, Then Shouting Hoh! Toh! Sho! or Ha! To Shatter the Chain of Thinking All at Once

"Prime the pump" first by breathing in slowly & deeply with fine attention to the flow of the breath into the body & the expansion of all the channels. Yet the out-breathing should be cool, natural & relaxed.

It is as if you were accumulating a blazing fire in the Seika Tanden area, compressed at the bottom of your breathing. Every breath adds to it and with each breath your awareness should become keener.

The in-breaths should be done in a series. How many repetitions? It depends on how much energy you need to accumulate in the lower Tanden. Only you can know this.

At a certain point, after you've done a series of these deep, slow, profoundly aware in-breaths, maybe ten or maybe twenty-five, suddenly make the out-breath an explosive "Ha!"

At this point your usual dualistic mind will shatter & you will instantaneously taste the realm of "Suchness."

To put it another way, you will experience Great Awareness, Great Energy & Great Space all as one sphere of absolute reality.

Gaze at Your Index Finger for 30 Seconds Straight Without Giving Rise to Any Thinking

Look at your index finger. Give rise to no thoughts at all for 30 seconds. Can you do it?

If you can manage it for just one or two seconds, you will see it with an almost magical clarity, there before you in space.

Then, likely as not, the thinking will wash over you again & though you are still seeing the finger, your whole being is not awake to it. Compare these two states. Which is better?

Question: If giving rise to thoughts can blind you to your own index finger, how much more so to the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the sun and moon and the starry sky?

Leap Into the 360 Degree Panorama of Mind

Here you are looking at words on a page or a screen. But now shift your attention in a forceful manner to focus on the glowing colors of your computer screen or the black on white of your book, then expand that focus to a clear sudden awareness of the 360 panorama of the room you're in, including sounds & all other sensations, free of any thinking at all. Ah!

Leap in this way over all of your doubts to a 360 degree panoramic space. The person who can accomplish this leap gains startling new abilities effortlessly.

Just Still Thoughts

"Just still the thoughts in your mind. It is good to do this right in the midst of disturbance. When you are working on this, penetrate the heights & the depths." -Master Yuanwu.

Try starting up an intense series of thoughts about something emotional for you and then "still" them all at once, just like pouring cold water into boiling water.

Penetrate the heights & the depths!

Drop Thought as You Grip a Sword

As soon as you grip your sword all thinking should vanish instantly like a snowflake on a blazing hot stove. This is a forceful yet subtle technique.

"The pine and bamboo draw a fresh breeze."

Every step is joyous, is it not?

Give Everything Back to Its Source

Give light back to the sky, darkness to empty space, body to the four elements, thoughts to books, &c. Give everything you've borrowed in your life back to its source, then rest nakedly in the no-thing left over.

Give light back to the sky.

Give darkness back to empty space and shadows.

Give hate and suffering from hate back to the Hell demons.

Give pride, love and joy back to the gods in Heaven.

Give body back to the four great elements.

Give speech back to writing.

Give everything you borrowed back to its source.

What's left? That's the real "I Am."

The great bindu without size or location --

original, mysterious, before all thoughts.

Do Intensive “Shedding” Meditation as Taught by the Woman Hunchback

After three days, he was able to put the world outside himself. Once he could do this, I continued my support and after seven days, he was able to put beings outside himself. Once he could do this, I continued my support, and after nine days, he was able to put life outside himself. Once he could do this, he achieved the brightness of dawn, and after this, he could see his own aloneness. After he had managed to see his own aloneness, he could do away with past and present, and after that, he was able to enter [a state of] no life and no death - Buliang Yi’'s meditation progress under the guidance of Nüyu (The Woman Hunchback) in Chuang-Tzu

Polishing a Dusty Mirror

Train like this: as you meditate, simply allow your breathing to purify whatever is there inside, like polishing a dusty mirror with a rag.

When you polish something, you use a light touch, yet there is energy behind it.

Who is holding this rag? In the end, breathing will breathe itself. How mysterious!

White Gauze

Visualize a piece of white gauze & then mentally project yourself through it. If you do this practice with very concentrated attention, what comes out on the other side is just the pure consciousness itself. Yowza!

Put Your Mind into a Sound

Put all your attention (mind) into a sound, in space outside your body, and suddenly your mind will be the space that also includes your body both inside & outside.

Rilke, speaking of himself in the third person, had this experience spontaneously one afternoon in a Capri garden:

Späterhin meinte er, sich gewisser Momente zu erinnern, in denen die Kraft dieses einen schon, wie im Samen, enthalten war. Er gedachte der Stunden in jenem anderen südlichen Garten (Capri), da ein Vogelruf draußen und in seinem Inneren übereinstimmend da war, indem er sich gewissermaßen an der Grenze des Körpers nicht brach, beides zu einem ununterbrochenen Raum zusammennahm, in welchem, geheimnisvoll geschützt, nur eine einzige Stelle reinsten, tiefsten Bewußtseins blieb.

“He thought of the hour in that southern garden (in Capri), when a bird's song was out there and in his inner being at once. It certainly did not break at the frontier of the body but took both inside & outside to a boundless space in which, mysteriously protected, there remained only a single zone of purest, deepest consciousness.

At that time he shut his eyes in order not to be distracted from such a magnanimous experience by the outline of his body, and the infinity went so intently into him from all sides that he could believe he was feeling in his breast the slight revolt of the dawning stars.” (My poor translation.)

Likewise, in the great Surangama Sutra, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara describes to Buddha's assembly how he attained complete penetration samadhi (sudden enlightenment, followed instantly by liberation) just by concentrating on sounds in such a way as to drop off all deluded thinking and awaken to the hearing-nature itself, ultimately realizing the non-duality of sound and hearing-nature or bare, intrinsic awareness.

The method is to be attentive to how deep and how far the sound of the bell, the rain, or the birdsongs penetrates or drops into you. Is there any obstacle to total absorption, to a glistening clarity and freshness? If so, Where is that obstacle? What is that obstacle? Is it the contours of your body? What happens to those contours if you shut your eyes, like Rilke did?

Gaze without Thinking at a Tibetan Thangka

I used to walk by one of these an antique shop window in San Francisco every day & I would stop & look at it until I was clearly aware but without any mental fixation or clinging on any detail.

Once the tendency of mind to grasp or fix onto details is clearly realized, the way out is also evident. Just drop all mental clinging.

The larger the mural is the better. Stand close to it & become aware of where your mind goes (right, left, up, down, center). Very revealing, right?

What detail appeals to your mind the most? (Is your mind drawn upward, to the yogis sitting on clouds, or downward. Which Buddha draws you in?)

At the instant your mind stops fixing on or being drawn into any isolated part of the mural you will experience the ease & bliss of nonmeditation.

In the instant of fixating on specific appearances, awareness pours into it like water into sand & gets lost. This method restores your bare awareness.

Take Outside Inside

Take the outside inside. Look around you, feel around you, & take everything -- the whole vast universe extending in all directions -- deeply & suddenly inside you, experience it clearly as your whole & real self. Wow!

Merge Your Mind with Space

Merge your mind with space. Extend your mind into space in all directions, so it merges completely with space, like fire thrown into fire, water poured into water.

Very powerful.

Zen Bamboo Flute

In the Fuke-shu sect of Zen, merely playing the bamboo flute is the most profound Dharma practice. That's because while doing it you let go of any conceptions of self or other and just blow the note with total absorption. The bamboo flute has a "dark" & gritty, dirty sound, even when the sound is most bright. It contains all vibrations, like OM.

Misogi, Pouring Ice Water on Your Own Head

Misogi -- dousing one's naked body with cold water -- is an infallible way to wipe out thoughts.

At the instant the freezing shock of the water hits your head, your thoughts get knocked right out of your body, along with your breath.

Yet with practice you can learn to breathe calmly even under the shock of the ice water.


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