?What does Sekito do in this hut??
Now. How much more simple can it be? Nevertheless if you really pay attention, Sekito takes us through the three basic body positions : standing with the building, sitting with eating and lying down with the nap. One thing at a time. Our daily actions.After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
These actions are perfect in themselves. In the hut, no more hastle, the search has been dropped. You can have a rest. Home. Back home. Let us look at it a bit more closely, the beginning of Buddhist practice is often kindled by the feeling of something lacking, the lack of satisfaction, the pain experienced in the daily struggles of this life and, the path is seen as a real good bargain, a win, a wonderful source of goodness, happiness, nirvana-like states, it is full of promises: if i sit and practice I am going to be like one of these exotic Eastern teachers, a sage coming out of an hollywood movie with a great music in the background... We are still caught in the two wrong views that past is bad and future will be great. We are still living in fear ( heritage of unresolved past stuff) and hope ( a way to cope with what we don't want, the other face of fear itself), and these two are the toys religions and gurus give us: Hell and Heaven. We toy with them and, sadly, as long as we buy these cheap views, we create and generate further suffering. Of course this all set up is also a wonderful way to control our mind, to milk to juicy cow we are, to feed the greed for power and ego of the great spiritual leaders. Shikantaza cuts through this crap instantly. Shikantaza grasps you, the still state grasps you and that's it. No more search. really? Are you kidding? Is the search really over? Well, we are what we are looking for, as long as we believe we'll find something in this book, that ritual, this sangha etc. we are still looking for something and a seeker arises. The so-called spiritual path generates a seeker, totally hooked and drunk, greedy as hell, wanting a fix, thinking he or she can buy their way through. The famous spiritual materialism that Trungpa looked at. Drop the seeker, the search is dropped. Drop the search, the seeker vanishes. And this is when practice starts, not a practice with a goal, an aim, but the practice of being home, coming back home, relaxing at home. The re is no more need for us to pick up this and reject that, our life as it is, our hut is our temple. The hut of shikantaza is complete, nothing to chase, nothing extra, nothing lacking. As crazy it may sound, there is nothing else.
The beloved monk and foolish bloke Ryokan used to live in a very similar hermitage, Gogo-an, and he describes it as follows:When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it?s been lived in, covered by weeds.
[or again, in another poem:quote]My hermitage lies in a forest all around me,
Everything is thick and green
no one finds this place,
Only those who have lost their way.
No news of the affairs of men
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
A thousand peaks, ten thousand mountain streams
yet no signs of anyone.
]There is a bamboo grove in front of my hut
Every day I see it a thousand times
yet never tire of it.
If your hermitage is deep in the mountains
surely the moon, flowers, and maple trees
will become your friends.
Men of the world passing this way are few,
Dense grass conceals the door
All night in silence, a few woodchips burn slowly,
As I read the poems of the ancients.[/quote
Thick and green... the bamboo grove...dense grass concealing the door...All these express the ever growing field of thoughts and delusion in which the hut is built. Sitting not in a remote place, away from illusion, but in the very midst of it. Right into it.
The plants and flowers
I raised about my hut
I now surrender
To the will
Of the wind
Of course, we may expect thoughts to totally vanish, leave us alone. Sitting is not escaping from the very Samsara, most of the time, we experience the constant flow of inner chatter, weeds, always fresh, growing and growing. Endless illusion. Or is it? For observed in the large scenery of the natural and open clarity, these weeds are not an obstacle or obstruction anymore, a form that points at the formless. Play of clouds in the deep blue sky, mists on mountain top, white heron on snow, waves on the sea, the metaphors of our tradition are many, the really experienced in sitting is one. Shikantaza does not reject the monkey mind, it gives it a large space as Suzuki roshi pointed out, and doing so, the monkey mind will calm down. These countless weeds do not need to be cut, just observed as they are, and the mind returns to reality.
The wandering of the monk is no other than the wandering of the attention, back and forth, from thoughts to just open space and back... And at each bend, the backward step or turning and reflecting light of Dogen's Fukanzazengi, for Ryokan a simple looking back.Slopes
of Mount Kugamió
in the mountain's shade
a hut beneath the treesó
how many years
it's been my home?
The time comes
to take leave of itó
my thoughts wilt
like summer grasses,
I wander back and forth
like the evening staró
till that hut of mine
is hidden from sight,
till that grove of trees
can no longer be seen
at each bend
of the long road,
at every turning,
I turn to look back
in the direction of that mountain.
Of course if we turn sitting into cultivating weeds or private video viewing, well it is not shikantaza anymore. As Jundo made clear:
Through form, emptiness is reached and expressed. We sit with a body of flesh and bones, what we bring to just sitting is a lifetime of confusion and illusion, and this turns into the most opened practice ever, objectless for we are not fidling with any God or Buddha or demon.Sitting with just the blue sky alone, or with cloud thoughts just drifting though (not latched on to, not stirred up) ... or seeing the blue sky even through the small clouds ... is Just Sitting Zazen.
'Tis the blue sky and clouds together in such way which is what I believe Dogen meant by "Thinking Not Thinking = Non Thinking"