Last time, in our series on Zazen for Beginners (we are all always beginners), I used the analogy of clouds of thoughts and emotions drifting through an open, clear, boundless blue sky.
I said, in Shikantaza “Just Sitting” Zazen, we do not resist the clouds, do not attempt to silence the thoughts and emotions forcefully. Instead, we just return our attention again and again to the clear sky, and allow the clouds to drift out of mind. Be focused on “everything and nothing at all,” just as the sky covers all the world without thought or discrimination.
What is more, I said, we do not think of the clouds as “bad” while the clear sky is “good” … We never say “this cloudy day is not good because there is no blue sky today.” When the sky is blue and empty, let it be so. When the sky is cloudy, our mind filled with thoughts and distractions, let it be so. Drop all judgment of Zazen, and of all of life, as “good vs. bad.” Nonetheless, though we reject nothing as “good” or “bad” Zazen, we do not stay in the clouds. Not at all! We allow the clouds to drift from mind and return our attention again and again to the blue.
In doing so, a surprising thing happens …
Though we do not reject our thoughts and emotions, do not try to change them, suppress them, judge them or push them away… “bad” thoughts will change, will be experienced quite differently, and sometimes fully drop away. To illustrate this process, I will talk about sitting with three common thoughts and emotions that may fill our heads during Zazen or at any moment of life: anger at someone, greed for something, and fear about the future.
CLICK HERE for today’s Sit-A-Long video.
Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended.