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Thread: I have been doing Zazen all wrong!

  1. #1

    I have been doing Zazen all wrong!

    NOTE FROM JUNDO: PLEASE SEE MY RESPONSE BELOW.


    This is not a philosophical thread. I just realized I have been doing Zazen all wrong till this point. I started only 3 months back so it is not such a bad thing.

    What I was doing: Just sitting doing nothing. When awareness comes back by itself to the current moment, then just sit silently again doing nothing.

    The correct way: Sit and be present to what is happening in the body-mind. Connect to your senses, listen to what is happening, feel the sensations in the body, attend to whatever is happening in the current moment in your body, watch for the thoughts in your mind. Doing this anchors your awareness to the present moment.

    Hopefully I described it right and my practice might still evolve as time goes. Please correct it if you see anything wrong. This whole Zen thing is so confusing! But it works.
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-23-2013 at 03:10 AM.

  2. #2
    I have found that the following things are recommended

    - Be actively aware of what's happening in your immediate present, body, mind (This means listening to every sound, feeling the sensations in your body, being aware of your thoughts)
    - Be aware of your posture, your whole body sitting there (Keep bringing your attention to your body sitting there, feeling your weight on the cushion etc...)

    Charlotte J Beck recommends the first approach in her famous "Everyday Zen" book. This is what all the ancient spiritual teachers are talking about. As Taigen says in his introduction in the "The Art of Just Sitting"

    Objectless meditation focusing on clear, non judgemental, panoramic attention to all of the myriad arising phenomena in the present experience

    - Sam

  3. #3
    sam, as somebody new to seriously starting to practice, I didn't understand this either, and think that I have been doing it the first way you described as well, although starting up I always thought it was the latter way. which I think I was more or less asking (but more round about-ly) in one of my first replies on here. gassho, justin

  4. #4
    Am glad it helped; Everyone keeps saying "Just Sit" and that is very misleading.

    It is funny that I read Beck's book and the method described a month back and dismissed it as not zazen. I think she is the only person I read who clearly outlines the practice. Adyashanti's book too had a chapter on this and I took it out of my earlier thread about his method thinking that it is not important. The lesson learnt is that whenever some teaching doesn't seem to agree with what I already know, then I must be wrong!

  5. #5
    It really is as simple and as complicated as just sitting. Countless ancestors giving and receiving the teachings, and I'm still not doing it right

    Seriously, it is tricky. We have to figure it out for ourselves. We never get it. We never, ever get it. It's a continual process of just sitting. I've only been doing it a couple of years; sometimes it feels like I'm doing it "right", but mostly it doesn't. It doesn't matter, just sit... then just sit some more until the sitting sits you (yes I'm stealing that from Taigu ). Literally, when the sitting sits you, you don't know what's going on because you are not separate from the sitting to know. I've caught a glimpse of that, but mostly the pesky watcher judges or does it's thinking type thing.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  6. #6
    In addition to the very excellent zazen instructions provided in various places here by Jundo & Taigu, I will not be alone I'm sure in directing you to Opening The Hand of Thought by Kosho Uchiyama for what may be the clearest explication of shikantaza practice.

  7. #7
    Hi Sam,

    I appreciate your enthusiasm. You have asked umpteen timeless-times now, and I keep encouraging the following. If you keep asking me, I will keep telling you the same:


    First, one's sitting is not "doing something", nor is it "doing nothing". One sits beyond and through all mental divisions of "doing/not doing" "something/nothing". Just drop all such questions, categorizing and judging from mind, and sit. One sits as Buddha ... beyond all divisions of this and that ... and sitting sits you. It is sometimes called "doing-non-doing" or "thinking-non-thinking".

    Next, a corollary of the above, one can "do Zazen wrong" ... largely by thinking about "right" and "wrong". One sits beyond and through all mental divisions of "right vs. wrong". Read here:

    Right Zazen and Wrong Zazen
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...nd-Wrong-Zazen

    Next, please sit with the following boundless-attitude as one's bones (when sitting ... When rising from the cushion, live such when living!):

    Seated Zazen is our ONE AND ONLY practice, for by the very nature of Shikantaza ... when sitting Zazen, there is nothing more to do, nothing more that need be done, no addition needed nor anything to take away. Zazen is complete and whole. No other place to be in all the world, no other place we must (or can) run to. Nothing lacks, all is sacred, and Zazen is the One Liturgy. It is vital to be sat by Zazen with such attitude. Thus, Zazen is sat each day as the One and Whole Practice. If one sits any other way, if one sits with any sensation of "'I' need to fill some hole that is not Whole" ... one kills Zazen, gets nowhere. If one sits Zazen, one need do no other practice!
    I also encourage placing the mind with "everything and nothing in particular", but the real keys are above. The following is --NOT-- Shikantaza that I am aware of, but some kind of intentional observing, listening, watching, anchoring. It very much misses the point (If Joko Beck recommended it, she was sometimes of a Vipassana bent in some moments).

    Sit and be present to what is happening in the body-mind. Connect to your senses, listen to what is happening, feel the sensations in the body, attend to whatever is happening in the current moment in your body, watch for the thoughts in your mind. Doing this anchors your awareness to the present moment. ... Be actively aware of what's happening in your immediate present, body, mind (This means listening to every sound, feeling the sensations in your body, being aware of your thoughts)
    - Be aware of your posture, your whole body sitting there (Keep bringing your attention to your body sitting there, feeling your weight on the cushion etc...)
    Keep asking, Taigu and I will keep repeating.


    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-23-2013 at 04:01 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    It takes a lot of practice. I spent the first two years of practice thinking these questions constantly when I sat. Around the third year, it settled and clicked more. It could have clicked a lot sooner if I had just sat through the questioning.
    迎 Geika

  9. #9
    Hi Jundo,

    I think I understand the method you suggest. To be honest with you I found it to be a bit vague and more importantly I haven't found similar approach recommended anywhere else. So I am a bit hesitant to follow it.

    I had discussion with Chan teacher Guo Gu last week and he corrected my practice saying that just sitting doing nothing would cause me to space out. He suggested that I instead sit with awareness of my whole body sitting. This is very similar to what Uchiyama roshi proposes in his "Opening the hand of thought" where he says to keep coming back to sitting straight. Nishijima roshi also teaches same thing where he says straighten the back whenever you feel you are lost in thought. Bringing attention to the posture seems to be a common and pretty popular theme here.

    Being present to whatever is happening is proposed not just by Beck. Few days back we had a thread by Koun Franz and in these instructions below http://nyoho.com/2013/04/07/an-attem...ons-for-zazen/ he says this:

    Let in all sounds hear the shifting of the continents, a bird turning in flight. Facing the wall, see beyond the horizon. Feel your heart beating, your lungs moving, your skin expanding and shrinking, the magnetic draw of your thumbs. Breathe in the stench and the perfume of the world. Let your tongue rest flat in your mouth, and taste.
    Also Taigen Dan Leighton in his introduction to the famous book "The Art of Just Sitting" says

    Objectless meditation focusing on clear, non judgemental, panoramic attention to all of the myriad arising phenomena in the present experience
    So for whatever I am proposing above, there is more than one source confirming it. That is how I came to the understanding that those two are the best methods to anchor the mind during Zazen. Sitting with a feeling as you teach too sounds like one way to anchor the mind and I can try that to see how it works out.

    I definitely would like to hear from Taigu too on this. I too am kind of confused that this kind of panoramic attention sounds very much like Vipassana. Sorry for my endless questioning. I am sure I'll get kicked out from the forums one day for this. lol. Thanks for your compassion and patience in repeatedly trying to answer me.

    - Sam

  10. #10
    Ok Sam,

    What keeps the waters muddy here is the will to be right, to get it right and not being wrong. As Jundo points out, shikantaza is letting go of this right and wrong. Shikantaza is whole, complete, lacking nothing. It is the boat, the bloke and the other shore in one place, in one piece, at once and timelessly. This practice is beyond skilled or unskilled, does not require a particular technique or anchoring. Why? Because it is already panoramic and broad, in other words we don t make or create a special state called panoramic mind, Deshimaru roshi used to say that it is returning to normal conditions. If you knock on the door of Chan, tibetan or Vipassana teachers they will sing you another song, not wrong, just their way.
    So what do I do when I sit? I sometimes put my mind in the palm of my left hand, feel the uprightness of the body, indulge in Kannon s activity listening to the sounds of theO world, watch thoughts passing by like clouds in the blue sky, look at the blue sky being loved by white clouds, look at the non dual reality of clouds and sky, I also sometimes do nothing at all, actually a lot of not doing, I do all of the above surrendering to the deep faith that even asleep or distracted on the cushion, it is still zazen. I don t judge my pratice anymore, don t try to get it right or better. I have left behind a long time ago athletic and competitive practice, greedy and hungry sitting, caught by the still state, hugged by things as they are I just sit and whatever... I allow Buddha to do the job.
    Hope this helps.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 04-23-2013 at 05:25 AM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  11. #11
    Hi Sam,

    Yes, I go with what Taigu says.

    If you wish to study Silent Illumination with Chan teaher Guo Gu in the method of Rev. Sheng Yen, you should do so. It is a bit different from Master Dogen's method.

    Also, I am absolutely sure that you confuse the trees for the forest when quoting Koun Franz, Taigen Leighton and Uchiyama Roshi. I believe you miss Koun's main point, for example, which is not to engage but to just be present with all things, "Breathe in the stench and the perfume of the world." as he puts it. He closes ...

    Zazen is not non-doing; it is not non-thinking. Zazen is a deep, dreamless sleep on fire. It is clutching a boulder to your belly at the bottom of the cool ocean. Roots penetrate and plunge downward into the rough textures of the earth. A cloud dissolves into open sky.

    Notice that Taigen says ...

    Objectless meditation focusing on clear, non judgemental, panoramic attention to all of the myriad arising phenomena in the present experience

    An open, boundless panoramic attention on everything. Taigen goes on to say in that essay ...

    This just sitting is not a meditation technique or practice, or any thing at all. ... Dogen describes this meditation as the samadhi of self-fulfillment (or enjoyment), and elaborates the inner meaning of this practice. Simply just sitting is expressed as concentration on the self in its most delightful wholeness, in total inclusive interconnection with all of phenomena. Dogen makes remarkably radical claims for this simple experience. "When one displays the buddha mudra with one's whole body and mind, sitting upright in this samadhi for even a short time, everything in the entire dharma world becomes buddha mudra, and all space in the universe completely becomes enlightenment."[13] Proclaiming that when one just sits all of space itself becomes enlightenment is an inconceivable statement, deeply challenging our usual sense of the nature of reality, whether we take Dogen's words literally or metaphorically. Dogen places this activity of just sitting far beyond our usual sense of personal self or agency. He goes on to say that, "Even if only one person sits for a short time, because this zazen is one with all existence and completely permeates all times, it performs everlasting buddha guidance" throughout space and time.[14] At least in Dogen's faith in the spiritual or "theological" implications of the activity of just sitting, this is clearly a dynamically liberating practice, not mere blissful serenity.
    You are confusing the outer scaffolding with the Heart of Shikantaza. For example, all the instructions for Zazen say that, in sitting, one should take off one's shoes. But that does not mean the pointless point of Zazen is about being barefoot!

    Reading "Opening the Hand of Thought" is an excellent recommendation.

    Don't miss the forest while observing the trees.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-23-2013 at 05:42 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Another suggestion, Sam.

    Listen to the voice of Sekito Kisen. He has something to tell you:

    I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
    After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
    When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
    Now it’s been lived in—covered by weeds.
    The person in the hut lives here calmly,
    not stuck to inside, outside, or in between.
    Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
    Realms worldly people love, he doesn’t love.
    Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
    In ten feet square, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
    A Great Vehicle bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
    The middling or lowly can’t help wondering;
    Will this hut perish or not?
    Perishable or not, the original master is present,
    not dwelling south or north, east or west.
    Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
    A shining window below the green pines—
    jade palaces or vermillion towers can’t compare with it.
    Just sitting with head covered all things are at rest.
    Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
    Living here he no longer works to get free.
    Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?
    Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
    The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned
    away from.
    Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction,
    bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.
    Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
    Open your hands and walk, innocent.
    Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,
    are only to free you from obstructions.
    If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
    don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.


    You could check my old words about it:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ekito-s-poem-2


    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 04-23-2013 at 06:17 AM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  13. #13
    thank you jundo, taigu, and everybody for replying, and of course sam for asking. i feel like lately when ive been sitting ive tossed out all previous "ideas" of meditation; vipassana, breath counting, etc. and just sit, which seemed insane to me at first. so this topic kind of threw me through a loop again. but was a good reminder. gassho, justin.

  14. #14
    Yes, just do (non-do) this one thingless thing as All, Complete, Wholly-Holy-Whole, Nothing Lacking, No Place Else To Go, Beyond Judgments, All Time and Space in this one timeless-time and Zafu space.

    I mean, how often in life do we do anything like that?

    Then, perhaps one can come to experience all moments of life so too.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Thank you so much for the clear instruction, Taigu and Jundo. My mind gets so fixated on doing it right that it is good to keep hearing to let that drop.

    Gassho
    Andy

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    This is a great thread. Sam is asking for many that are afraid to ask. It is always time to sit again for the first time. Gold from our two teachers ...
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Sam,

    There is no method to follow.

    Stop asking. Write less.

    Just go sit.

    That's all it takes, really.

    Answers will come in time.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    To be honest with you I found it to be a bit vague and more importantly I haven't found similar approach recommended anywhere else. So I am a bit hesitant to follow it.
    Just in case someone might think I am making this up, preaching "Jundo's Shikantaza", here is how the bossman Dogen would write about the Wholly-Holy Sacred Wholeness of Zazen. We already had the quote from Bendowa above, this is from Zanma-O-Zanmai. It makes my words seem quite understated!

    ---------------------

    Abruptly transcending all realms, to be greatly honored within the quarters of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Trampling the heads of the followers of alien ways and the legions of Māra [the Devil], to be the one here within the halls of the buddhas and ancestors—this is sitting with legs crossed. Transcending the extreme of the extremes of the buddhas and ancestors is just this one dharma. Therefore, the buddhas and ancestors engage in it, without any further task.

    My former master, the old buddha, said,

    “Studying Zen is body and mind sloughed off. You get it only by just sitting; you don’t need to burn incense, make prostrations, recollect the buddha, practice repentence, or look at scripture.”3

    ...

    Now crossing the legs of the human skin, flesh, bones, and marrow, one crosses the legs of the king of samādhis samādhi. The World Honored One always maintains sitting with legs crossed; and to the disciples he correctly transmits sitting with legs crossed; and to the humans and gods he teaches sitting with legs crossed. The mind seal correctly transmitted by the seven buddhas is this.

    The Buddha Śākyamuni, sitting with legs crossed under the bodhi tree, passed fifty small kalpas, passed sixty kalpas, passed countless kalpas. Sitting with legs crossed for twenty-one days, sitting cross-legged for one time — this is turning the wheel of the wondrous dharma; this is the buddha’s proselytizing of a lifetime. There is nothing lacking. This is the yellow roll and vermillion roller [that hold all the Sutras and Commentaries]. The buddha seeing the buddha is this time. This is precisely the time when beings attain buddhahood.

    Upon coming from the west, the First Ancestor, the worthy Bodhidharma, passed nine autumns in seated meditation with legs crossed facing a wall at Shaolin monastery at Shaoshi Peak. Thereafter, his head and eyes have filled the world of the land of Cīnasthāna [China] till now. The vital artery of the First Ancestor is just sitting with legs crossed. Prior to the First Ancestor’s coming from the west, beings in the eastern lands had not known sitting with legs crossed; after the ancestral master came from the west, they knew it. Therefore, for one life or ten thousand lives, grasping the tail and taking the head [head to tail], without leaving the “grove” [right where you are], just sitting with legs crossed day and night, without other business — this is the king of samādhis samādhi.

    http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3/trans...anslation.html

    ------------------------

    Or this from Zazenshin ...

    Know this, that it is the seated buddha that buddha after buddha and ancestor after ancestor have taken as their essential function. Those who are buddhas and ancestors have employed this essential function, while those who are not have never even dreamt of it. To say that the buddha dharma has been transmitted from the Western Heavens to the Eastern Earth implies the transmission of the seated buddha, for it is the essential function. And where the buddha dharma is not transmitted, neither is seated meditation. What has been inherited by successor after successor [in this transmission] is just this essential message of seated meditation; one who does not participate in the single transmission of this essential message is not a buddha or an ancestor. When one is not clear about this one dharma, one is not clear about the ten thousand dharmas, not clear about the ten thousand practices. And without being clear about each dharma, one cannot be said to have a clear eye. One has not attained the way; how could he represent the present or past [in the lineage] of the buddhas and ancestors? By this, then, we should be firmly convinced that the buddhas and ancestors always singly transmit seated meditation.

    To be illumined by the radiance of the buddhas and ancestors means to concentrate one's efforts in the investigation of this seated meditation. There are a bunch of fools who, misunderstanding the radiance of the buddha, think it must be like the radiance of the sun or moon or the light from a pearl or fire. But the light of the sun and moon is nothing but a mark of action within transmigration in the six destinies; it is not to be compared with the radiance of the buddha. The radiance of the buddha means receiving and hearing a single phrase, maintaining and protecting a single dharma, participating in the single transmission of seated meditation. So long as one is not illumined by the radiance [of the buddha], one is not maintaining, nor has he accepted, [the buddha dharma].


    http://scbs.stanford.edu/sztp3/trans...anslation.html
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-23-2013 at 11:52 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Another suggestion, Sam.

    Listen to the voice of Sekito Kisen. He has something to tell you:

    I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
    After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
    When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
    Now it’s been lived in—covered by weeds.
    The person in the hut lives here calmly,
    not stuck to inside, outside, or in between.
    Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
    Realms worldly people love, he doesn’t love.
    Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
    In ten feet square, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
    A Great Vehicle bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
    The middling or lowly can’t help wondering;
    Will this hut perish or not?
    Perishable or not, the original master is present,
    not dwelling south or north, east or west.
    Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
    A shining window below the green pines—
    jade palaces or vermillion towers can’t compare with it.
    Just sitting with head covered all things are at rest.
    Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
    Living here he no longer works to get free.
    Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?
    Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
    The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned
    away from.
    Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction,
    bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.
    Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
    Open your hands and walk, innocent.
    Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,
    are only to free you from obstructions.
    If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
    don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.


    You could check my old words about it:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ekito-s-poem-2


    Gassho


    Taigu
    Hi Sam - if I were forced to travel lightly - ditching all books, instructions and the zillion of words that have been written on 'instruction' - I would choose to retain Sekito's poem. Whenever I feel 'lost' - like I'm not doing Zazen correct - I return to the anchor point of Sekita's poem.

    Gassho

    Willow

  20. #20
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    So much wisdom and instruction condensed into one thread. Where were you when I started out down this path?

    Thank you Jundo and Taigu.

    Gassho
    Matt

  21. #21
    All,

    Thanks for your replies and clarifications. May be it will all make sense one day. I don't know why this practice has to be so vague and unclear unlike other practices. The poems and all those beautiful philosophical descriptions sound great but if someone can put practical instructions (either here or in a PM) to me that would be useful. I'll try to follow Uchiyama roshi's instructions on this for now. If that doesn't work may be i'll start following my breath.

    Thanks again for your help.

    - Sam

  22. #22
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Hi Sam,

    Opening The Hand Of Thought by Uchiyama Roshi is a great book. I'm on my second read. I know very little about our practice, but If you do pick up a copy read page 165 onwards (obviously read it all). Uchiyama Roshi talks about sitting for ten years and then another ten years, and ten years after that. The one thing I do know is that it is not a race to the finish.

    All the best & Gassho,
    Matt

    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    All,

    Thanks for your replies and clarifications. May be it will all make sense one day. I don't know why this practice has to be so vague and unclear unlike other practices. The poems and all those beautiful philosophical descriptions sound great but if someone can put practical instructions (either here or in a PM) to me that would be useful. I'll try to follow Uchiyama roshi's instructions on this for now. If that doesn't work may be i'll start following my breath.

    Thanks again for your help.

    - Sam

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    All,

    Thanks for your replies and clarifications. May be it will all make sense one day. I don't know why this practice has to be so vague and unclear unlike other practices. The poems and all those beautiful philosophical descriptions sound great but if someone can put practical instructions (either here or in a PM) to me that would be useful. I'll try to follow Uchiyama roshi's instructions on this for now. If that doesn't work may be i'll start following my breath.

    Thanks again for your help.

    - Sam
    Imagine that! Zen folks talkin' kinda vague and unclear-ish!



    Hang in there, Sam. Keep sitting.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-23-2013 at 05:57 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Ok Sam,

    What keeps the waters muddy here is the will to be right, to get it right and not being wrong. As Jundo points out, shikantaza is letting go of this right and wrong. Shikantaza is whole, complete, lacking nothing. It is the boat, the bloke and the other shore in one place, in one piece, at once and timelessly. This practice is beyond skilled or unskilled, does not require a particular technique or anchoring. Why? Because it is already panoramic and broad, in other words we don t make or create a special state called panoramic mind, Deshimaru roshi used to say that it is returning to normal conditions. If you knock on the door of Chan, tibetan or Vipassana teachers they will sing you another song, not wrong, just their way.
    So what do I do when I sit? I sometimes put my mind in the palm of my left hand, feel the uprightness of the body, indulge in Kannon s activity listening to the sounds of theO world, watch thoughts passing by like clouds in the blue sky, look at the blue sky being loved by white clouds, look at the non dual reality of clouds and sky, I also sometimes do nothing at all, actually a lot of not doing, I do all of the above surrendering to the deep faith that even asleep or distracted on the cushion, it is still zazen. I don t judge my pratice anymore, don t try to get it right or better. I have left behind a long time ago athletic and competitive practice, greedy and hungry sitting, caught by the still state, hugged by things as they are I just sit and whatever... I allow Buddha to do the job.
    Hope this helps.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Well said. Deep bows.

    You'll find your path Sam. To me the concept of this practice isn't vague. Not because I'm smarter or better read. Just because I sit, and in not doing I allow the muddy water to settle. I've experienced it. This is the frequently used expression to which Taigu is using, in case that isn't known. A cup of muddy water will clear if you leave it to sit. The dirt will float to the bottom and the water will be clear.

    The cup just needs to be still.

    To me, the practice is its own point. I don't really have any big goal. Essentially, the teachings feel right to me, Zazen feels right to me. Now I know that is vague. Ha. But it's my truth. You're truth is out there. It might be here. It might not. But I do wish you the best.

    Gassho,

    Mc (I think there are quite enough Johns, ha. Kyonin called me Mc in a private message so I'll go with that)
    Last edited by McGettigan; 04-23-2013 at 06:29 PM.

  26. #26
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Thank you for asking Sam, this is such a helpful thread, I agree on Myozan's comment


    I have been sitting for some time now, but I still, sometimes, have your same doubts, some times I wonder "Am I doing this thing right??" "Am I missing something?".... so, I think I know how do you feel/think about this Practice.... we just want some clear 1+2=3 instructions, so we can do "good" Zazen and don't loose our time and get Nirvana as fast as possible, become Buddha and be happy and wise forever after...


    But, you know, there are other times when I can SEE through the vague and unclear instructions and UNDERSTAND them without words.....maybe because, at some point, I KNOW that am not going to get something, some result, out of my Zazen (goodbye Nirvana, goodbye Wisdom), I can see that there is nothing to measure, judge or compare about my Zazen (it is ALWAYS as it has to be, perfectly imperfect)....sometimes (very few, by the way) I can FEEL what is to JUST SIT.... of course, the moment I REALIZE this, I loose it, because in that very moment, I begin to compare, to label, to judge my Zazen..... then is time to JUST SIT again, over and over again..... simple, isn't it??? Nothing to attain, no place to go.....


    I don't know about yesterday's Zazen, I forgot... I don't know about tomorrow's Zazen, as it is not here yet, I don't know about today's Zazen, because, maybe, there is nothing to Know about it, I just have to sit, not-knowing, not-doing, not-thinking...


    Of course, it is just my foolish take on this, I don't know nothing....only that Uchiyama's book is great. I am almost finishing it for the third time, then will start Beck's Everyday Zen


    Gassho
    ______________________________
    Kōshin / Leo



    P.S. Yup, I know, my English sucks

  27. #27
    Koshin



    Willow

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    Thanks for your replies and clarifications. May be it will all make sense one day. I don't know why this practice has to be so vague and unclear unlike other practices.
    If it happens to make sense one day, just give it time and the feeling will pass. I don't know why other practices have to be so precise and clear, but why isn't critical.

    Water in the stream
    Sometimes clear, sometimes unclear;
    Fish just keep swimming.


    -Untei

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Koshin View Post
    Thank you for asking Sam, this is such a helpful thread, I agree on Myozan's comment


    I have been sitting for some time now, but I still, sometimes, have your same doubts, some times I wonder "Am I doing this thing right??" "Am I missing something?".... so, I think I know how do you feel/think about this Practice.... we just want some clear 1+2=3 instructions, so we can do "good" Zazen and don't loose our time and get Nirvana as fast as possible, become Buddha and be happy and wise forever after...


    But, you know, there are other times when I can SEE through the vague and unclear instructions and UNDERSTAND them without words.....maybe because, at some point, I KNOW that am not going to get something, some result, out of my Zazen (goodbye Nirvana, goodbye Wisdom), I can see that there is nothing to measure, judge or compare about my Zazen (it is ALWAYS as it has to be, perfectly imperfect)....sometimes (very few, by the way) I can FEEL what is to JUST SIT.... of course, the moment I REALIZE this, I loose it, because in that very moment, I begin to compare, to label, to judge my Zazen..... then is time to JUST SIT again, over and over again..... simple, isn't it??? Nothing to attain, no place to go.....


    I don't know about yesterday's Zazen, I forgot... I don't know about tomorrow's Zazen, as it is not here yet, I don't know about today's Zazen, because, maybe, there is nothing to Know about it, I just have to sit, not-knowing, not-doing, not-thinking...


    Of course, it is just my foolish take on this, I don't know nothing....only that Uchiyama's book is great. I am almost finishing it for the third time, then will start Beck's Everyday Zen


    Gassho
    Lovely. Thank you K,U, everyone ...

    Water in the stream
    Sometimes clear, sometimes unclear;
    Fish just keep swimming.


    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Untei;
    If it happens to make sense one day, just give it time and the feeling will pass.
    I like that! I don't beat myself up when I have thoughts during zazen

    gassho, Shokai
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

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