The Zen of a Good Sh*t. ~ via John Pappas

Via on Oct 29, 2009

Zen

Is there such a thing as “a good sit”? Is a meditative session ever actually bad?

There are times when I really feel connected to what I am doing and there are times when the outside seeps in and I am distracted or annoyed by well, anything. Cars, my legs (which are usually killing me), someone farting, stress, the guy next to me that insists on smoking before a zazen session, provide endless supplies of distraction and annoyance.

But this morning was a great sit. I went through my entire morning session without any sense of difficulty; a simple feeling of sublime comfort and ease. Meditating can be just as easy as slipping into bed and reading a book. So, when I was done I tried to pinpoint what exactly made it so positive and so different from those less satisfying (but productive) sits.

I try to avoid the standard “Zen” answers about seeing my own nature, my Buddha-nature or my face before I was born (what the hell does that mean anyway) and found that I had the same feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction as when finishing a huge pile of dirty dishes or cutting the lawn; a general sense of being happy that something was completed and somewhat tired from the work but not completely drained. It wasn’t easy or hard it just was. Wonderful!

In the end a good sit is the same as a good sh*t.

Some effort required but you hopefully never got stuck or had to strain. You feel lighter afterwards and you have the urge to tell everyone about it but to them, it is just sh*t. In the end you don’t know why it was good or bad, you just know that you did it. Tomorrow, I start again. No comparisons, just another sh*t.

The act of meditating, yoga practice or chanting is all an imitation of the act of wiping our collective spiritual ass. This comes to no surprise to most of the Zen practitioners out there, especially with Zen Master Yunmen Wenyan’s statement that the “Buddha is a Sh*t-Stick”. Some recoil in horror at this description, this contradiction of the mundane and the holy.

With all the bells and whistles, the pomp and the austere, at the crux of our spiritual practice is the expelling of the waste and the wiping of what it left over. Anything else is putting a tie on a pig.

Good Zen sh*ts for all!

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78 Responses to “The Zen of a Good Sh*t. ~ via John Pappas”

  1. Thanks for taking the time to engage me in this John.

    I completely accept that, like any strong metaphor, this one works well for some people and not for others. It certainly looks like it works well for most of your readers here. So you must be on to something! It just doesn't work for me.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  2. Thanks for taking the time to engage me in this John.

    I completely accept that, like any strong metaphor, this one works well for some people and not for others. It certainly looks like it works well for most of your readers here. So you must be on to something! It just doesn't work for me.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  3. Thanks for taking the time to engage me in this John.

    I completely accept that, like any strong metaphor, this one works well for some people and not for others. It certainly looks like it works well for most of your readers here. So you must be on to something! It just doesn't work for me.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  4. John Pappas John says:

    Thats fine, Bob! If it did work for everyone, I would be scared…er…sh*tless. I look foward to learning from your practice and from your viewpoints. I plan on posting next week on some resources online that I find valuable in defining my practice as well as broadening it.

    They would be able to provide some info and insight for your explorations into Buddhism (I'm not an expert or anything). I am also looking into incorporating more yogic principles into my own practice.

    If so inclined you can check my blog at http://zendirtzendust.wordpress.com for some insights into my practice.

    Cheers and great big bows,

    John

  5. Thanks, John. Yes, I've been on your site and it's a really good source of information. I believe I'm coming from a similar spot to yours, only from the Yoga side, so I think my site might be very useful to you, too.

    There is so much spiritual and historical commonality between Buddhism and Yoga that the differences have become a pet interest of mine. One problem, of course, is that both Buddhism and Yoga are each sprawlingly diverse and contradictory in themselves!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  6. Thanks, John. Yes, I've been on your site and it's a really good source of information. I believe I'm coming from a similar spot to yours, only from the Yoga side, so I think my site might be very useful to you, too.

    There is so much spiritual and historical commonality between Buddhism and Yoga that the differences have become a pet interest of mine. One problem, of course, is that both Buddhism and Yoga are each sprawlingly diverse and contradictory in themselves!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  7. Thanks, John. Yes, I've been on your site and it's a really good source of information. I believe I'm coming from a similar spot to yours, only from the Yoga side, so I think my site might be very useful to you, too.

    There is so much spiritual and historical commonality between Buddhism and Yoga that the differences have become a pet interest of mine. One problem, of course, is that both Buddhism and Yoga are each sprawlingly diverse and contradictory in themselves!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  8. Thanks, John. Yes, I've been on your site and it's a really good source of information. I believe I'm coming from a similar spot to yours, only from the Yoga side, so I think my site might be very useful to you, too.

    There is so much spiritual and historical commonality between Buddhism and Yoga that the differences have become a pet interest of mine. One problem, of course, is that both Buddhism and Yoga are each sprawlingly diverse and contradictory in themselves!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  9. Thanks, John. Yes, I've been on your site and it's a really good source of information. I believe I'm coming from a similar spot to yours, only from the Yoga side, so I think my site might be very useful to you, too.

    There is so much spiritual and historical commonality between Buddhism and Yoga that the differences have become a pet interest of mine. One problem, of course, is that both Buddhism and Yoga are each sprawlingly diverse and contradictory in themselves!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  10. Thanks, John. Yes, I've been on your site and it's a really good source of information. I believe I'm coming from a similar spot to yours, only from the Yoga side, so I think my site might be very useful to you, too.

    There is so much spiritual and historical commonality between Buddhism and Yoga that the differences have become a pet interest of mine. One problem, of course, is that both Buddhism and Yoga are each sprawlingly diverse and contradictory in themselves!

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  11. John Pappas john says:

    Unfortunately I think many of the commonalities that most are familiar with are in the ways both were/are marketed to the public.

    I look forward to the chitchating!

    John

  12. Don Jones says:

    I read a book called "A Glimpse of Nothingness" about the author's experience at a Zen retreat. The most interesting part is where he went for a shit on the campus and found the largest and most luxurious shrine just opposite the toilet.

  13. John Pappas John says:

    Are you sure he wasn't accidentally in the Bodhisattva's room? I hear that they have double ply!

    On a similar note, I read in "Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn to Gold" by Taitetsu Unno that it is advised against chanting the nembutsu while on the crapper. Again…I blaspheme! I think it is as good a time as any.

  14. John Pappas John says:

    Are you sure he wasn't accidentally in the Bodhisattva's room? I hear that they have double ply!

    On a similar note, I read in "Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn to Gold" by Taitetsu Unno that it is advised against chanting the nembutsu while on the crapper. Again…I blaspheme! I think it is as good a time as any.

  15. John Pappas John says:

    Are you sure he wasn't accidentally in the Bodhisattva's room? I hear that they have double ply!

    On a similar note, I read in "Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn to Gold" by Taitetsu Unno that it is advised against chanting the nembutsu while on the crapper. Again…I blaspheme! I think it is as good a time as any.

  16. John Pappas John says:

    Are you sure he wasn't accidentally in the Bodhisattva's room? I hear that they have double ply!

    On a similar note, I read in "Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn to Gold" by Taitetsu Unno that it is advised against chanting the nembutsu while on the crapper. Again…I blaspheme! I think it is as good a time as any.

  17. John Pappas John says:

    Are you sure he wasn't accidentally in the Bodhisattva's room? I hear that they have double ply!

    On a similar note, I read in "Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn to Gold" by Taitetsu Unno that it is advised against chanting the nembutsu while on the crapper. Again…I blaspheme! I think it is as good a time as any.

  18. John Pappas John says:

    Are you sure he wasn't accidentally in the Bodhisattva's room? I hear that they have double ply!

    On a similar note, I read in "Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn to Gold" by Taitetsu Unno that it is advised against chanting the nembutsu while on the crapper. Again…I blaspheme! I think it is as good a time as any.

  19. Yoga Spy says:

    Bob W:

    I am no expert on Zen Buddhism, but I did sit experiment with sitting in zazen, studying with Reb Anderson of Green Gulch, and reading a book or two. I myself wouldn't use the sh*t analogy, but it emphasizes what I consider a key element of the practice/philosophy: you can find "enlightenment" (that sublime resonance with the whole world) in day-to-day life. In fact, that mind-state can be present not only in zazen, but in everyday activities (the stuff of life), like washing dishes, walking, and, well, those toilet activities common to all living beings.

    In a way, it makes the concept of samadhi or nirvana more accessible. In Zen, just sitting, just being present (as if that's so easy!) is enough. If you can fully be in the moment just sitting, you can expand that mind state to the rest of your life. To your interactions with others. To moments of crisis. To the moment of death.

    So, while I am not crazy about that analogy myself, I can see the point…

    Missing you in my neck of the blogosphere!

    Yoga Spy
    http://www.yogaspy.wordpress.com

  20. [...] event brought back to mind comments from an earlier post on the elephant journal: My feeling is that, at least in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism (the tradition I [...]

  21. John Pappas John says:

    Oh I just found a great quote that relates to this post from Chogyam Tungpa:

    Many people try to find a spiritual path where they do not have to face themselves, but where they can still liberate themselves.

    In truth, that is impossible. We cannot do that. We have to be honest. We have to see our gut, our real shit, our most undesirable parts. We have to see that.

    Cheers and thanks to http://www.oxherding.com for bringing to light this quote!

    John

  22. It's a good quote, John, and Trungpa, by all accounts, certainly had plenty of his own shit to deal with!

    But respectfully, I still don't buy that taking a shit is a very good metaphor for the spiritual experience as a whole, as you suggest at the end of your original blog.

    Thanks again for a great discussion.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  23. It's a good quote, John, and Trungpa, by all accounts, certainly had plenty of his own shit to deal with!

    But respectfully, I still don't buy that taking a shit is a very good metaphor for the spiritual experience as a whole, as you suggest at the end of your original blog.

    Thanks again for a great discussion.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  24. It's a good quote, John, and Trungpa, by all accounts, certainly had plenty of his own shit to deal with!

    But respectfully, I still don't buy that taking a shit is a very good metaphor for the spiritual experience as a whole, as you suggest at the end of your original blog.

    Thanks again for a great discussion.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  25. It's a good quote, John, and Trungpa, by all accounts, certainly had plenty of his own shit to deal with!

    But respectfully, I still don't buy that taking a shit is a very good metaphor for the spiritual experience as a whole, as you suggest at the end of your original blog.

    Thanks again for a great discussion.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  26. It's a good quote, John, and Trungpa, by all accounts, certainly had plenty of his own shit to deal with!

    But respectfully, I still don't buy that taking a shit is a very good metaphor for the spiritual experience as a whole, as you suggest at the end of your original blog.

    Thanks again for a great discussion.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  27. It's a good quote, John, and Trungpa, by all accounts, certainly had plenty of his own shit to deal with!

    But respectfully, I still don't buy that taking a shit is a very good metaphor for the spiritual experience as a whole, as you suggest at the end of your original blog.

    Thanks again for a great discussion.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  28. [...] growth. I came here to bike, do yoga, laugh with friends, and sit. Yes, to sit. Just sitting, or zazen (Zen meditation) has been massively rewarding and transformative for me (my teacher being the [...]

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