These questions relate to Martine Batchelor's Week 2 video, "Grasping and Listening," from her Tricycle Retreat, Break Your Addictive Patterns.
From your experience, what do you find are the differences (if any) between vipassana and zazen?
Vipassana and zazen are two different types of meditation coming from two different Buddhist cultures, which developed in slightly different ways. In turn, in each tradition—vipassana and Zen—you have different techniques. In vipassana, you can find the noting technique from Burma or the bare attention meditation sometimes advocated in Sri Lanka, which are quite different from each other. In Zen you can find the Rinzai and the Soto approaches. Then even within the Rinzai approach you have the Korea way, which is different from the Japanese way. So it is hard to compare.
Generally speaking the main difference could be that vipassana is focused on developing awareness of the here and now and Korean Rinzai Zen put emphasis on questioning. Personally I feel that they practise the same thing: concentration and experiential enquiry, which generally lead to developing creative awareness.
PS: In the last 3 chapters of my new book “The Spirit of the Buddha” I look at this kind of thing.
Dear Martine, I am a writer. Your comments about using creativity to engage situations and thoughts appeal to me. Often lately as I have gotten older I find my mind wandering at the computer and I cannot concentrate on the writing project. Instead I am surfing the web or emailing. Then I recriminate myself and feel guilt. Is all of this to avoid writing? I feel I lack discipline, will meditation help with that?
Blessings to you!
It is important to know that writing is tiring for the brain. I do not do it for more than 2 hours at a time on any given day. Editing is much easier and can be done longer. If you want to write, you need to have a theme and a subject, which you are interested in and can develop. You need to write a little every day but not too long and then some of the time left you will throw ideas into your mind without thinking too much about them, and let them gestate so that when you sit down to write you can be creative with them, and follow a certain line of thoughts.
Meditation might help with discipline but you will also need to do it regularly and might need discipline for that too.
How do we creatively engage with obstructive people, difficult people, who we used to call "enemies"? It is not that they want to hurt us or hold us back, they are just wounded themselves. But still I find it difficult. Thank you very much!
It will depend on many different things: the way you feel at any given time, the way the difficult people feel at any given time; what they do or say that you find difficult; how often it happens; if they are family members or strangers; if you meet them often or not; etc. It is hard for me to give advice or make suggestions without knowing the context. In terms of meditation, sometimes metta meditation can help in those cases.