How to sit, written this July.
Inspired by the teaching of Dogen, the wonderful stuff of my own original teacher, Mike Chodo Cross, by the great prose of Koun Franz, the teaching of Jundo and plenty of guys who all along did put into words how to sit, I made an attempt at putting it in a nutshell. Here it is. I hope this will really help.
The gate of ease and joy is found everywhere, it is truly the gate-less gate as you are it and not separated from Buddhas of the three times. Here, mundane and sacred have no more relevance. Here, radiance springs out of forms and space. Meeting the true person within this is our great task and joy. The self fulfillment Samadhi. The Samadhi in which one receives and uses the self. Truly know yourself. Forget yourself. Let all Dharmas, let the myriad things come forth, illuminate and reflect.
In this, Do not choose a place. Sit anywhere. Sit everywhere. In cities, trains, streets, whatever you'll see around you, true mountains can be found. Wear the Okesa , the patched robe made of the body of all things, the true kesa covers everything , this robe is not your robe or just plain fabric, it is but the robe of sitting, the skin, flesh bones and marrow of all Tathagatas.
As you sit in loose clothing and kesa on the cushion in lotus, half lotus, burmese or on a bench or a chair, and if you cannot, lie down legs slightly apart folded knees pointing to the ceiling; abdomen relaxed, hips open, shoulders forgotten, involvements cast aside, the weight of your body given to the ground through the sitting bones and knees, your spine sway from left to right and right to left and gradually come to the vertical point without leaning forward or backward. Effortlessly risen up, lower back naturally curved, your head gently sits at the top of your spine, tongue touching the roof of your mouth, jaws relaxed, teeth touching, neck free, the gaze down not fixing anything, not out of focus, just as if watching distant mountains. Your hands in the universal mudra placed below the navel, left hand on top of the right hand or right hand on top of the left, palms up, thumbs delicately touching each other without any pressure. Your hands should be soft and as they touch your lower abdomen. To rest your mind in the mudra means to let the mudra do you, form you, forget you. No special attention is given to the breath, breathe in and out naturally, neither pushing nor forcing. Light and going up, body- mind unfolds in space, space blooms in body- mind. Once the mudra with body-mind manifested, from dust to star, the whole reality is enlightened.
The secret of the Buddha-mind seal is open, just here and now before your very eyes. Don't do anything, be beyond fabrication. Drop all agendas, ideas of being somebody else or achieving something. In this, traveller, path and destination are neither one nor two. As you sit, cultivate the will to go up yet don't do it. In not doing, the natural response to gravity takes place. An inch of doing, and earth and blue sky are set apart, a fraction of making, and you have already left home. Just be caught by the still state. Simply be at home in the homeless state .
No traces to be found, as wild ducks flying off the river, snow falling on snow. This has no particular flavor, the music no specific sound, riding the ox and blowing an empty flute, all things at rest and yet so alive.Fish swims, birds fly, and in doing so, their return to the original and normal conditions.Ploughing clouds, crossing the expanse of the sky, be at ease. Things and thoughts playfully manifest and dissolve. Don't worry. The dynamic transient body of reality is but the very body of all Buddhas . Don't be attached to this or that. No need to linger in the realm of pair of opposites. No need to pick up and choose. Easy, easy going and doing.
Don't sit Buddha, just allow Buddha to sit you. Like the roundness and fullness of the moon, your original face appears naturally, spontaneously, automatically, free and uncontrived. It is not for you to see, it is for you to be.
In there, endless delusions will appear and disappear. Dreams and shadows will arise, let them come and go. Even these thoughts are the very stuff the original ground is made of. In the mountain state, how could the big sky obstruct clouds roaming and drifting? How could a cloud hide the vast blue body? Blue sky or clouds, same origin. Just be awake to the scenery of the body- mind and as you drift away, just come back, here and now. And come back again. You may put your mind in the palm of your left hand, be aware of the vertical spine, being awake to sounds without following them; ultimately there is nothing to do and nobody to do anything. Let not knowing manifest.
This sitting is without object or intention. Just the clear, non judgmental, panoramic attention to what arises here and now. Don't be attached to your thoughts of understanding or not understanding, of being right or wrong, break free from the realm of desires and intentions , be still, be the full body of reflection without judging self or others. To sit like this is to live and thoroughly experience the great question, to fully pierce it and penetrate it.
Don t think that shikantaza is only realized and met on the cushion. As you get up, take this with you, go empty handed, living to the full, day in day out, the wonderful ordinary.Dream within a dream, wake up. This life-death is worth living.Here and now, absolute and relative dance and collapse-bloom in each other. Time flies and you have never been so close to the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.