The subject is what "what practice is' is.
Joko starts off the section, "Practice is very simple. That doesn't mean it won't turn our life around, however."
A simple truth about simple truth.
If I might comment, though, on one part of the Chapter: In one paragraph, Joko seems to be recommending that we actively "label thoughts precisely" during Zazen, as thoughts arise and before releasing them. Then, we should return to 'just sitting." However, if that is what she is recommending [it turns out from a later chapter that she probably did not mean it like that], I would have to disagree firmly with that approach and say that such a way is not standard for Shikantaza
practice as instructed by most teachers I know. I would not encourage that. Perhaps a little Vipassana
influence in her method? I am not sure. When we "just sit," we "just sit" ... we let thoughts go without analysis during Zazen. There is nothing to do or attain in the sitting, nothing to examine or focus on ... and that non-doing and non-focusing is VERY important.
Now, on the other hand, I think her "thought labeling" recommendation is a wonderful thing to do at other times in daily life, as thoughts arise during our busy day ... when tired, hot, a little angry, happy, etc. Just not during Zazen itself. I think, which should have no object or focus to it.
Originally Posted by DontKnow
This came up in an earlier chapter. It is not standard Soto practice, which is 'just sitting' Shikantaza
. When this came up in an earlier chapter, I guessed it might be something that she had picked up from Vipassana practice, although Joko confuses me a bit in this chapter as she seems critical of such practices.
I will tell you that I also advocate the practice of labeling, just not --during-- Zazen itself (when we are not to be doing anything). Labeling is, however, a very important part of learning to observe our mind's workings. So, for example, instead of just feeling angry, greedy or tired, and instead of just saying to ourselves merely "I am feeling angry/greedy/tired now), we should learn to say to ourselves such things as "this is my mind now temporarily feeling angry/greedy/tired during present conditions ... I can feel it arising, I can feel it developing, I can feel it passing away". When we learn to do that, experiencing the emotions of the mind becomes just watching a bit of theatre.
All that is good, just not a practice for "during" Zazen, when we observe everything and nothing.