Our Zazen is thus much more Powerful than simply a way to feel tranquilized and giddy all the time ... a True Joy that sweeps in all of life's banquet (though dropping away the "poison foods" of greed anger and ignorance).
I do not emphasize [such practices] for our Zazen at Treeleaf, however, for the simple reason that our Zazen here (I feel) is not in need of tools or tranquilizers to "feel happy" during Zazen. Ours is more a joyful, vibrant equanimity ... a Joy so Joyous that it does not even crave to feel small human "happy happy happy" all the time to be happy!
In fact, Shikantaza is not about always needing or seeking to "feel happy", peaceful, blissful, etc.. (I might term it a kind of Greater Joy and Happiness about all of life in its richness and many colors, which includes sometimes feeling happy and joyous, sometimes sad, sometimes in between
). So, we do not try or need to feel any particular way in our Zazen, and certainly do not run after sensations of peace, happiness, bliss (which we consider like candy ... we cannot eat sweet candy all the time, or get hooked on needed constant "sweetness", but must have a balanced diet which includes the not sweet vegetables!
) During Zazen, we let all emotions drift from mind without clinging onto any of them. This is true both during Zazen, and in all of life, when we should not need to feel one way all the time, should take life as it comes in all its richness. To truly be at Peace (Big "P") means a Peace which embraces all of daily life, sometimes peaceful and sometimes not. There is a time for all ... sometimes candy, sometimes vegetables ... sometimes joy, sometimes tears ...
Pebble Meditation-From A Pebble for Your Pocket by Thich Nhat Hanh
1) One Pebble
A Pebble for Your Pocket
Sometimes when we become angry during the day, it is difficult to remember to stop and breathe. I know a good way for you to remember to stop and breathe when you are angry or upset. First go for a walk and find a pebble that you like. Then, go sit near the Buddha, if there is one in your house, or outside under a special tree or on a special rock, or go to your room. With the pebble in your hand, say:
Here is my pebble. I am going to practice with it when things go wrong in my day. Whenever I am angry or upset, I will take the pebble in my hand and breathe deeply. I will do this until I calm down.
Now put your pebble in your pocket and take it with you wherever you go. When something happens during the day that makes you unhappy, put your hand in your pocket, take hold of the pebble, breathe deeply, and say to yourself, “Breathing in, I know I am angry. Breathing out, I am taking good care of my anger.” Do this until you feel a lot better and can smile to your anger.
2) Four Pebbles
Place the four pebbles in front of you…
Pick up the first
I am fresh as a flower,
Out flower (bell)
Put down the first, pick up the second
I am solid as a mountain
In solid, out mountain (bell)
Put down second, pick up the third
I am water reflecting
In water, out reflecting (bell)
I am free as the moon in space
In free, out space
3) Five Pebbles (excerpt from a dharma talk by Thay)
After you are sitting in the stable, beautiful position, then take out your little bag of five pebbles. It is very important to do it slowly, mindfully. You take each pebble one by one, just in front of your left knee. One, two, three, four, five. And you put the little empty bag next to them.
After you hear the sound of the bell, you begin to practice pebble meditation. It’s very beautiful practice. I love this practice. I breathe in, and I call the name of the person I love. If your mother is a person you love,
When you breathe in, you breathe deeply and call “Mommy!” Call her name in such a way that she becomes totally present, even if she is not there with you, even if she is in the kitchen, or in another city, or another town,
Or even if she is no longer there alive. She is with you in that moment. Call her name, deeply, with all your heart, and breathe in, and she is there with you, right away, very real, very deep. And when you breathe out, you say, “Here I am.”