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

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  1. #1

    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.

  2. #2
    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.

  3. #3
    Meaningless sit
    _/|\_ Gassho with deeply respect
    慈 ji 氣 ki : Energy of Compassion

  4. #4
    Jayjay,

    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!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  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.

    Gassho,
    Treena

  6. #6
    Thank you Jundo.

  7. #7
    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
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  9. #9

  10. #10

  11. #11
    Member Aelric's Avatar
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    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.
    Gassho,

    Cathy

  13. #13

  14. #14
    Thank you Jundo.

    At the risk of asking a stupid question, does sitting without goals mean we should not sit in response to emotional states, for example, sitting when angry in order to calm to the mind? Should we simply "sit when we sit", with no view of sitting as a tool or a means to an end? Or can we sit when we "need" to as long as, while sitting, we just sit, and let go of the need once we are on the cushion?

    Gassho,
    Libby

    just sat

  15. #15
    Hi Libby,

    I might better describe this as "sitting in total satisfaction and completeness, such that all is satisfied just by the act of sitting." Why? People don't know how to be such in life.

    I was just reading a scholar's paper on the great Zen Teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, filled with quotes about this. I will paste some below ....

    ---------------

    For Joko, the enlightened state is the realization of the perfection of things as they are,
    growing in our “understanding and appreciation of the perfection of each moment,” or, as
    she more often says in this talk, being OK with things as they are. The enlightened state,
    she says, is “the state of a person who, to a great degree, can embrace any or all
    conditions, good or bad.” Joko observes that there may already be some areas of our lives
    in which we can embrace any and all conditions, “but mostly,” she says, “we wish to be
    something other than we are.” The enlightened state is to be able to be OK with
    anything—as long as we correctly understand what it means to be OK with things. “If
    they’re OK, what does it mean?” she asks. “What is the enlightened state?” She clarifies:
    “When there is no longer any separation between myself and the circumstances of my
    life, whatever they may be, that is it.”4

    Joko is careful to head off some possible misunderstandings of what it means to
    be OK with things as they are. It doesn’t mean fatalism or passivity. Being OK with
    things “doesn’t mean blind acceptance. It doesn’t mean if you’re ill, not to do all you can
    to get well.” But there are times when “things are inevitable, when “there’s very little we
    can do. Then is it OK?”477

    Being OK with something also does not mean being happy with it, having no
    negative feelings about it, being indifferent to reality: “For something to be OK, it
    doesn’t mean that I don’t scream or cry or protest or hate it. Singing and dancing are the
    voice of the dharma, and screaming and moaning are also the voice of the dharma. For
    these things to be OK for me doesn’t mean that I’m happy about them.” Being OK with
    everything “doesn’t mean that you are never upset.” “When something’s OK with us,”
    Joko explains, “we accept everything we are with it; we accept our protest, our struggle,
    our confusion, the fact that we’re not getting anywhere according to our view of things.
    And we are willing for all those things to continue: the struggle, the pain, the confusion. .
    . . an understanding slowly increases: ‘Yes, I’m going through this and I don’t like it—
    wish I could run out—and somehow, it’s OK.’ That increases.”478

    For Joko, being OK with something means, more precisely, being OK with
    however I feel about it, being OK with whatever attitude I have toward something. She
    gives the example of our attitude toward our own death. “The key,” she says, “is not to
    learn to die bravely, but to learn not to need to die bravely.” We don’t necessarily learn to
    be OK with death; we learn to be OK with however we feel about death. She observes
    that the enlightened attitude of being OK with things as they are is “an interesting attitude
    indeed: not to learn to put up with any circumstance, but to learn not to need a particular
    attitude toward a circumstance.” Joko uses the fictional character of Zorba the Greek as
    an example of someone who is OK with whatever happens. She says that, “strangely
    enough, those who practice like this are the people who hugely enjoy life, like Zorba the
    Greek. Expecting nothing from life, they can enjoy it. When events happen that most
    people would call disastrous, they may struggle and fight and fuss, but they still enjoy—
    it’s OK.”479 According to Joko, struggling with life can be a part of being OK with life
    and even enjoying life.

    Joko realizes that the attitude of being OK with things just as they are may sound
    strange: “You may protest that a person for whom any condition is OK is not human.”
    And she admits that there’s something to this: “In a way you’re right; such a person is not
    human. Or we may say they are truly human. We can say it either way.” She allows that
    “a person who has no aversion to any circumstance is not a human being as we usually
    know human beings,” but this way of being is “the enlightened state: the state of a person
    who, to a great degree, can embrace any or all conditions, good or bad.”480

    If the enlightened state is being OK with things exactly as they are, how do we get
    to that state? How do we learn to be OK with things as they are? How do we learn to
    embrace all of life? Through practice. For Joko, Zen practice is a way to realize the
    perfection, or OKness, of things just as they are, whether we like them or not. “As we sit
    in zazen,” she says, “we’re digging our way into this koan, this paradox which supports
    our life. More and more we know that whatever happens, and however much we hate it,
    however much we have to struggle with it—in some way it’s OK.”481

    Through practice, Joko says—and here she is talking specifically about the
    intensive practice of an extended Zen meditation retreat, or sesshin—we increase our
    appreciation of things as they are: increasingly “we appreciate the struggles, the
    weariness and pain, even as we dislike them.” We experience the joy of things just as
    they are. Although a sesshin is difficult, Joko says, it has “wonderful moments,” when
    “our joy and appreciation may startle us.” Through intensive practice like this, “a residue
    builds which is understanding” (italics hers). Joko says that she is “not as interested in
    the enlightenment experiences” as she is in “the practice which builds this
    understanding,” because as this understanding increases, “our life changes radically,”
    though perhaps not in the way we expect it to. “We grow in understanding and
    appreciation of the perfection of each moment: our aching knees and back, the itch on our
    nose, our sweat. We grow in being able to say, ‘Yes, it’s OK.’” And this is the miracle of
    practice: “this miracle of appreciation.

    https://etd.library.emory.edu/view/r...id/emory:7tzfk

    ...

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-13-2015 at 10:53 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  16. #16
    Thank you very much, Jundo, the extract is very helpful and I appreciate the link to the full paper. This idea of greeting even negative states and conditions with an attitude of OK-ness is a powerful one. I shall sit with it, on and off the cushion.



    Libby
    sat today

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Libby,

    I might better describe this as "sitting in total satisfaction and completeness, such that all is satisfied just by the act of sitting." Why? People don't know how to be such in life.

    I was just reading a scholar's paper on the great Zen Teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, filled with quotes about this. I will paste some below ....

    ---------------

    For Joko, the enlightened state is the realization of the perfection of things as they are,
    growing in our “understanding and appreciation of the perfection of each moment,” or, as
    she more often says in this talk, being OK with things as they are. The enlightened state,
    she says, is “the state of a person who, to a great degree, can embrace any or all
    conditions, good or bad.” Joko observes that there may already be some areas of our lives
    in which we can embrace any and all conditions, “but mostly,” she says, “we wish to be
    something other than we are.” The enlightened state is to be able to be OK with
    anything—as long as we correctly understand what it means to be OK with things. “If
    they’re OK, what does it mean?” she asks. “What is the enlightened state?” She clarifies:
    “When there is no longer any separation between myself and the circumstances of my
    life, whatever they may be, that is it.”4

    Joko is careful to head off some possible misunderstandings of what it means to
    be OK with things as they are. It doesn’t mean fatalism or passivity. Being OK with
    things “doesn’t mean blind acceptance. It doesn’t mean if you’re ill, not to do all you can
    to get well.” But there are times when “things are inevitable, when “there’s very little we
    can do. Then is it OK?”477

    Being OK with something also does not mean being happy with it, having no
    negative feelings about it, being indifferent to reality: “For something to be OK, it
    doesn’t mean that I don’t scream or cry or protest or hate it. Singing and dancing are the
    voice of the dharma, and screaming and moaning are also the voice of the dharma. For
    these things to be OK for me doesn’t mean that I’m happy about them.” Being OK with
    everything “doesn’t mean that you are never upset.” “When something’s OK with us,”
    Joko explains, “we accept everything we are with it; we accept our protest, our struggle,
    our confusion, the fact that we’re not getting anywhere according to our view of things.
    And we are willing for all those things to continue: the struggle, the pain, the confusion. .
    . . an understanding slowly increases: ‘Yes, I’m going through this and I don’t like it—
    wish I could run out—and somehow, it’s OK.’ That increases.”478

    For Joko, being OK with something means, more precisely, being OK with
    however I feel about it, being OK with whatever attitude I have toward something. She
    gives the example of our attitude toward our own death. “The key,” she says, “is not to
    learn to die bravely, but to learn not to need to die bravely.” We don’t necessarily learn to
    be OK with death; we learn to be OK with however we feel about death. She observes
    that the enlightened attitude of being OK with things as they are is “an interesting attitude
    indeed: not to learn to put up with any circumstance, but to learn not to need a particular
    attitude toward a circumstance.” Joko uses the fictional character of Zorba the Greek as
    an example of someone who is OK with whatever happens. She says that, “strangely
    enough, those who practice like this are the people who hugely enjoy life, like Zorba the
    Greek. Expecting nothing from life, they can enjoy it. When events happen that most
    people would call disastrous, they may struggle and fight and fuss, but they still enjoy—
    it’s OK.”479 According to Joko, struggling with life can be a part of being OK with life
    and even enjoying life.

    Joko realizes that the attitude of being OK with things just as they are may sound
    strange: “You may protest that a person for whom any condition is OK is not human.”
    And she admits that there’s something to this: “In a way you’re right; such a person is not
    human. Or we may say they are truly human. We can say it either way.” She allows that
    “a person who has no aversion to any circumstance is not a human being as we usually
    know human beings,” but this way of being is “the enlightened state: the state of a person
    who, to a great degree, can embrace any or all conditions, good or bad.”480

    If the enlightened state is being OK with things exactly as they are, how do we get
    to that state? How do we learn to be OK with things as they are? How do we learn to
    embrace all of life? Through practice. For Joko, Zen practice is a way to realize the
    perfection, or OKness, of things just as they are, whether we like them or not. “As we sit
    in zazen,” she says, “we’re digging our way into this koan, this paradox which supports
    our life. More and more we know that whatever happens, and however much we hate it,
    however much we have to struggle with it—in some way it’s OK.”481

    Through practice, Joko says—and here she is talking specifically about the
    intensive practice of an extended Zen meditation retreat, or sesshin—we increase our
    appreciation of things as they are: increasingly “we appreciate the struggles, the
    weariness and pain, even as we dislike them.” We experience the joy of things just as
    they are. Although a sesshin is difficult, Joko says, it has “wonderful moments,” when
    “our joy and appreciation may startle us.” Through intensive practice like this, “a residue
    builds which is understanding” (italics hers). Joko says that she is “not as interested in
    the enlightenment experiences” as she is in “the practice which builds this
    understanding,” because as this understanding increases, “our life changes radically,”
    though perhaps not in the way we expect it to. “We grow in understanding and
    appreciation of the perfection of each moment: our aching knees and back, the itch on our
    nose, our sweat. We grow in being able to say, ‘Yes, it’s OK.’” And this is the miracle of
    practice: “this miracle of appreciation.

    https://etd.library.emory.edu/view/r...id/emory:7tzfk

    ...

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    This is good to read and very relevant today. And it is nice to do these talks again.

    Gassho,
    Sierra
    SatToday

  18. #18
    Thank you, Jundo.
    Andrew
    I sat today.

  19. #19
    Thank You Jundo

    I think i see this example Here as most place maybe people are in such a Hurry Traffic is crazy yes lines in grocery store can be long
    but some people get angry because the line is not moving traffic is not moving at a certain speed. I feel if most learn teachings such
    as this that they would not become irritated or angry because the Traffic or the long grocery line. something I myself need think about


    Gossho
    Cyd

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