Think of not thinking

This is what I was referring to in yesterday’s post:

A few years ago I met a woman at Zen Center who announced to me, and the small group we were in, that she had banished negative emotions from her life. I can’t say I believed her. When I looked at her I saw someone who was still fearful, and was claiming this from a place of positive thinking rather than deep groundedness.
I am similarly sceptical when people tell me they have stopped thinking through meditation. As I am always quoting Uchiyama Roshi as saying, the brain is an organ that is designed to produce thoughts, just as the stomach produces digestive acids, so unless you are killing the brain, you are never going to stop thinking. Of course you can often slow the process right down in meditation, but as I have mentioned before, that is not necessarily the point. Nor should we hold on to the idea that there is a point. Uchiyama Roshi’s teacher Sawaki Roshi is famous for saying ‘zazen is good for nothing’.

So when I read articles like this one, I do feel sad that so much emphasis gets put on stilling the mind and on ‘doing it right,’ (though I am always glad to see the Au Pairs name-checked, a band that was part of my teenage soundtrack, who were part of the wonderful freedom of the post-punk years when women were able to carve out an identifiable feminist space in music – see also the Slits and the Raincoats among others).
What matters is to sit and to keep sitting until you are intimate with all the noises in your head, and more comfortable feeling every emotion in your body.

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