What's wrong with Spacing out?
What I found is that most types of meditation practices (including some styles of shikantaza) teach you to focus on an object giving the reason that without an object you might space out (get lost in thoughts). I have been pondering this question for quite sometime. What’s wrong with spacing out? Who knows that you are not “still progressing” (I understand progress is a banned word but you get what I mean) when you are spaced out during your meditation?
I find that having an object or any kind of toys goes against the basic principles of shikantaza: Just Sitting. No manipulation. Sitting with whatever arises, however it is, letting it all be. Wanting to be nowhere else other than here. Letting go of the meditator, the one who is trying to do it right, the one who is trying to control the experience. Trust that there is nowhere to go, nothing needs change.
When I just sit doing nothing, all these aspects can easily be manifested. I’m adding nothing. But when I try to take on an object or add anything else, I feel it is no more shikantaza. The addition can be something as concrete as following breath to something subtle like posture/open awareness/sitting-with-faith etc…
If I add anything else (my favourite being open awareness to nothing and everything as Jundo suggests) I am definitely more aware, more present. But I no longer feel I am not manipulating anymore. I no longer feel there is nowhere to go or nothing needs change. I no longer can let go of the meditator (the meditator is very active). I no longer feel Zazen is useless. lol. To really feel Zazen is useless, I have to sit doing nothing. Just Sit and add nothing. No toys. Then definitely it feels useless. I’m not doing anything. How can I expect it to add anything to me? A Perfectly hopeless practice.