— A Quiet Room.
Most days, we’d best sit Zazen in a quiet room, with little noise and few distractions. The reason is simply that a peaceful, still, quiet environment helps us allow the mind to become peaceful, still and quiet, with thoughts and emotions drifting away as the mind settles down.
But once in awhile, maybe every two or three weeks or so, I recommend you sit Zazen in a truly disturbing place. Today, I am sitting Zazen in one of the busiest, brightest, noisiest parts of downtown Tokyo — to make the point that the true quiet room is within us as much as out. In fact, if we always need a calm and tranquil environment in order to reach the balance, stillness, ease, and freedom of this practice, then I believe Zazen loses much of its power. It is right at the eye of the storm that one can know stillness, and in the middle of chaos that we can taste peace.
So, for that reason, I hope everyone will sit, once in awhile, in a truly disturbing, disagreeable, ugly, noisy, smelly, busy, and distracting place. In a stinking garbage dump, next to a construction site with jackhammers pounding, at an Ozzy Osbourne concert, in a game room, while crushed in a crowded city bus or parked in a parking lot off a busy highway.
We can drop all thoughts of beautiful or ugly, moving or still, noisy or silent, chaotic or peaceful .. and just sit as what remains
Following is our sitting today, in downtown Tokyo. Unfortunately, the broadcast signal cut out after only 30 seconds (just another disturbance of life that we sit with). So, the talk and starting bells are gone. However, what I wrote above is pretty much the point, and you can join me sitting with some such disturbance-non-disturbance in your own life.
A sitting time of 15 to 30 minutes is recommended.