I brought my ball to the field so please feel free to kick it around with me, OK?
I wanted to present some more food for thought and see what kind of dialog it inspires...
If I am regurgitating tired, old topics that have already been beaten to death, then I apologize in advance! ops:
So shikantaza is "just sitting" where the "goal" is "no goal", right?
Seems straightforward enough.
And yet, I have come across many different "strategies" for shikantaza over the years.
This seems contradictary; how can you "employ a strategy" and simultaneously "drop all thoughts of achievement"?
(Of course, contradictions are the stuff of Zen and life, right??!)
I am curious to find out if others here have encountered these suggestions?
What is your opinion on them and do you ever employ them?
Without voicing bias, support or detraction from any of the following "strategies" suggested for zazen, I submit for your approval the following ditties.
To protect the innocent I will not reveal my sources!
(a) Employing a sense of "presence": When your thoughts "lean" to the past (memories) or towards the future (planning) simply focus on being "here" and "now" and intensifying your awareness of your immediate surroundings.
(b) Find the "space" between your thoughts and try to "stay in that place". So when you have a thought and then it passes, try to extend that period before the next one comes up. (Although no follow up advice on how to do this exactly...)
(c) "Letting go": If you find yourself "following a thought", be mindful of this, let go of the thought and return to just sitting. (Following a thought would be like if you think "I need to give Jane that envelope!" and then you followed that up with "I like Jane; she's so nice!" instead of just letting the first thought float on through...)
I have read many reports of skilled Zen meditators who indicate that while they initially experience thoughts at the start of their meditation, eventually the mind "quiets down" and they have no more thoughts.
This seems to imply that the more skilled a meditator you are, the more likely you can achieve "mushin" (no-mindedness)
Personally, I can't imagine having "no thoughts" any more than I can imagine having no heartbeat!
I have sat zazen for upwards of 90 minutes straight and had no cessation in the thoughts that come bubbling up.
It's simply the way my mind seems to function.
Perhaps it's because I have not sat sesshin or maybe my kung fu is weak!
Should a Zen practitioner hold out hope of no-mindedness or simply accept that thoughts are just thoughts?
Particularly encouraging in this regard was this article with commentary from Zen practitioners with 30 years experience or more:
Please let me know what you think of the above topics!
Again, if I am touching on old material then please accept my apologies.