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Thread: Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (Part V)

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    Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (Part V)

    Continuing our “How to” series on Zazen…

    Shikantaza “Just Sitting” is an unusual way of meditation, and might be compared to running a long distance foot race in a most unusual way. In most ordinary races, people run to win something, seeking to cross the finish line at the end of the course, far down the road and over distant hills. So the runners keep on pushing ahead, striving with all their might to get to that goal, the crossing of which will finally make them victors. In Zen, that distant goal is sometimes called “Enlightenment.”

    And in Shikantaza too, we do not give up. We keep pushing ahead diligently with our practice, step by step and inch by inch, seeking the goal. However, the “goal” turns out not to be where we thought it was, and the way of its crossing not as first imagined.

    For, in Shikantaza we must come to realize that the “goal” is not the crossing of some far off line. Instead, each step-by-step of the race itself IS the destination fully attained, the finish line is ever underfoot and constantly crossed with each inch. Each step is instantaneously a perfect arriving at the winner’s tape!

    To know that there is no finish line to cross even as we run the race, no target to hit, is to perpetually arrive at the finish line with each stride, ever hitting the target, always arriving home. But despite the fact that the “trophy” was ours all along, we do not give up, do not sit down at the starting line, do not quit and jump out early from the race (of our practice, our life). We do not turn back or waste time. For that reason, some call our Practice a great, constant striving for the “Goalless goal.”

    In Shikantaza, we find the sitting of Zazen (and all of Practice) to be a perfect act, the one place to be and the one thing to do in the universe at that moment. When we are sitting, we do not think that we “should be” someplace else, or that there is a better way to spend our time. Instead, we find each moment of sitting complete, with not one thing to add or take away from the moment. In other words, we keep on running running running, knowing that we belong in this race, and there is no grander place to be!

    As I have mentioned before, in sitting, we drop from mind all judgments of the world, all resistance… all thought that life “should be” or “had better be” some other way than just as we find it all. No matter how it is going, or the direction it takes, we drop –to the marrow – all thought that the race should be turning out some other way. In other words, we learn to go totally with the race’s flow.

    And thus, the goal is constantly crossed underfoot even as we keep on running forward… yet we persist in running until we cross the line of thoroughly realizing that fact of the line’s true location in each step, then keep on running more steps after steps because all of life turns out to be “Practice.” The very act of running brings the race — and the Buddha’s teachings — to life. So, we keep on running despite no need to”get.”

    Radically dropping, to the marrow, all need to attain, add or remove, or change circumstances in order to make life right and complete IS A WONDROUS ATTAINMENT, ADDITION, and CHANGE TO LIFE! Dropping all need to “get somewhere” is truly finally GETTING SOMEWHERE!

    Attaining non-attaining is the Prize!

    It is a marvelous way to practice, and wonderful way to live all of life : constantly moving forward with energy and effort, living vigorously, yet knowing that there is no place to “get to,” and we are constantly already home.

    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.
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-10-2013 at 07:11 AM.

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    Thank you, Jundo. I'm reminded of words of Plotinus (the 3rd-century Greek "mystical"philosopher of non-dualism, who has been my teacher for many years...). His students were convinced that contemplation (theoria, roughly equivalent to meditation, at least in Plotinus) was something that only humans did and, among humans, only a few special humans -- maybe even only themselves! He began one of his great lectures:
    Supposing we played a little before entering upon our serious concern and maintained that all things are striving after Contemplation, looking to it as their one end- and this, not merely beings endowed with reason but even the unreasoning animals, the Principle that rules in growing things, and the Earth that produces these- and that all achieve their purpose in the measure possible to their kind, each attaining Contemplation and possessing itself of the End in its own way and degree, some things in entire reality, others in mimicry and in image- we would scarcely find anyone to endure so strange a thesis. But in a discussion entirely among ourselves there is no risk in a light handling of our own ideas

    Well- in the play of this very moment am I engaged in the act of Contemplation?

    Yes; I and all that enter this play are in Contemplation: our play aims at it; and there is every reason to believe that child or man, in sport or earnest, is playing or working only towards Contemplation, that every act is an effort towards Contemplation...
    (Ennead III.8.1). Contemplation (as he went on to explain) was what it is to be part of the world. How his students must have been bewildered as he shook them away from the very thing that they were so proud of "attaining," and told them that they had been doing it all along -- and doing it best when they didn't think they were doing it! That their efforts were abandonments of contemplation, and that rocks and dogs had effortlessly reached their goal before them!

    Namo Amida Butsu, here, now and everywhere! - Robert.

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    Meaningless sit
    _/|\_ Gassho with deeply respect
    慈 ji 氣 ki : Energy of Compassion

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    Just be careful you don't get caught up in "best" sits or "good" ones...you will inevtiably have "bad" and "worst" sits...all are zazen, there is no difference other than in our mind. And the mind loves to play with us!

    Ordained Priest -In-Training
    Please take what I say with a grain of salt,
    especially in matters of the Dharma!

  5. #5
    thank you so much Jundo and Taigu for these videos. They have and will continue to change my life so much for the better. This one is especially what I need to practice.


  6. #6
    Thank you Jundo.

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    I struggle sometimes with the act of "not doing" in my daily shikantaza, having been used to 'doing something' to meditate- count breaths, experience the sensations of the body, use a mantra, all in order to still the mind.
    I have had the feeling lately that an important aspect of shikantaza is maintaining the attitude of being with what is whilst sitting , and this is becoming clearer for me while re watching these beginner talks. In fact I had a feeling of recognition when Jundo said at the end of the talk "with this attitude in mind lets sit". I think I missed this talk the first time around. I don't remember seeing Jundo in his work out gear. Now I don't think I will forget it.
    Thank you Jundo.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie View Post
    I struggle sometimes with the act of "not doing" in my daily shikantaza, having been used to 'doing something' to meditate- count breaths, experience the sensations of the body, use a mantra, all in order to still the mind.
    I have had the feeling lately that an important aspect of shikantaza is maintaining the attitude of being with what is whilst sitting
    Yes. Who would imagine that just being, not doing, allowing and being still for awhile could sometimes be so much harder than striving, seeking, working and running after? But it is often so. That is because the needing-wanting little self does not like to be put out of a job.

    And even trickier is our Practice when we rise from the cushion and learn to apply Shikantaza in life ... doing and not doing at once, stillness whether still or in motion, goals big and small even while simultaneously fully free of goals and not their prisoner.

    Tricky to do something even when one knows how wise such a way of living is, and how simple "not chasing" and "chasing-while not chasing" should seem on paper.

    Gassho, J


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    Member Aelric's Avatar
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    Jan 2014
    South Buckinghamshire, England
    Having just finished sitting, after watching this video, it does strike me as strange that everything that people do must be done 'with a purpose'. A means to an end. Even leisure activities and resting.
    "Why are you resting? The reason I am resting is because......."

  12. #12
    '..we drop from mind all judgement'. Thank you Jundo and Taigu for these videos. I have been sitting for just a short time and I have been doing a lot of self-criticism. I think of a vast blue sky and my thoughts are clouds drifting away - 'No!, you're visualising', or my eyes are becoming unfocused and hazy-' No!, that's relaxation, not zazen'. I think what would thinking about emptiness be? - No! Oh dear. However, it's wonderful and I'm learning. Thank you.

    Sat today.


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