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

  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

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

    Thanks jundo,

    This now gives more meaning to the phrase/expression of taking things "one step at a time"

    Gassho

    Ray

  3. #3
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Re: Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (Part V)

    That`s right Ray

    In everyday life, we tend to leave things for later, which immediately arises tension and stress, thinking vaguely about "all we have to do" ... if we learn to divide "all we have to do" in small definded steps, and do themone by one actually, right now, at present, the only time that really is, we can really move.... nowhere

    I think that would be living in perfect "imperfect acts", one by one, in the eternal now.

  4. #4

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

    Thanks a lot.

  5. #5

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

    Very interesting, in theory! But, I find Shikantaza meditation very challenging to do -i.e., nothing but sit...
    and I often find myself off following the breath... I realize that its become almost an automatic habit of
    mine to "follow the breath" because this is the way I always practiced meditation before joining Treeleaf.

  6. #6

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

    Quote Originally Posted by normr2011
    Very interesting, in theory! But, I find Shikantaza meditation very challenging to do -i.e., nothing but sit...
    and I often find myself off following the breath... I realize that its become almost an automatic habit of
    mine to "follow the breath" because this is the way I always practiced meditation before joining Treeleaf.
    Hi Norman,

    If you have been following the breath for so long that it is in your bones ... and you feel very right with following the breath ... then keep following the breath. That is fine.

    But try (without trying) to "follow the breath" without following or anywhere to go ... dropping all thought of in and out ... long breaths or short breaths ... and anything to attain. That's the best way to get somewhere, attaining non attaining.

    And then once in awhile and at some point in each sitting, see if you can even toss "following the breath" into the space of Emptiness, just sitting openly aware of all around ... and see how it feels. Move back and forth perhaps if you need.

    Gassho, J

  7. #7

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

    Gassho,

    Sitting with out trying to understand what the car is saying, what the dove is singing about, what the refrigerator motor is calling for...just sitting is a challenge. But at the end, the Gassho for allowing me the opportunity to do is all.

    Thanks Jundo for the talk. I have missed these. For a while, they were posted and notice was sent out via email. I lost that notification when my old OS found parinirvana via a virus.

  8. #8

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

    Thanks Jundo... this is very helpful!

  9. #9
    Thanks Jundo,

    I like what you said in the video... "a moment of zazen is a moment of Buddha." This a powerful statement. May I remember this while I meditate.

  10. #10
    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.

  11. #11
    Meaningless sit
    _/|\_ Gassho with deeply respect
    慈 ji 氣 ki : Energy of Compassion

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Norman,

    If you have been following the breath for so long that it is in your bones ... and you feel very right with following the breath ... then keep following the breath. That is fine.

    But try (without trying) to "follow the breath" without following or anywhere to go ... dropping all thought of in and out ... long breaths or short breaths ... and anything to attain. That's the best way to get somewhere, attaining non attaining.

    And then once in awhile and at some point in each sitting, see if you can even toss "following the breath" into the space of Emptiness, just sitting openly aware of all around ... and see how it feels. Move back and forth perhaps if you need.

    Gassho, J
    I would really appreciate any guidance there might be on this. Like Norman, I'm from a theravada background, and am finding the idea of 'just sitting' both simple and also incredibly mystifying. How is 'just sitting' any different mentally from just thinking? I do understand that there is no idea of eliminating thoughts - and I understand the idea of allowing thoughts to pass - but to what do we 'return'? I heard a phrase used by Taigu about letting the breath rest in the left hand. How might this work?

    Thankyou so very much for your teaching and for this community which is allowing me to take my first steps in zen - a journey which I can already feel has been always calling me.

    Gassho.
    This, too will pass...

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Anicca View Post
    I would really appreciate any guidance there might be on this. Like Norman, I'm from a theravada background, and am finding the idea of 'just sitting' both simple and also incredibly mystifying. How is 'just sitting' any different mentally from just thinking? I do understand that there is no idea of eliminating thoughts - and I understand the idea of allowing thoughts to pass - but to what do we 'return'? I heard a phrase used by Taigu about letting the breath rest in the left hand. How might this work?
    Hi Again, Anicca,

    I hope the rest of the videos help clarify this. However, we simply let some thoughts come and go ... but now, do not grab onto them or tangled in them, neither stirring them up nor creating long trains of thoughts. We let them drift out of mind, all while finding the open space between the thoughts (the cloud and sky video should make this clearer). Keep returning to that space, 10,000 times and 10,000 times again.

    But that is not all ...

    As well, simultaneously, we sit with a sense of Total Completeness, dropping all goals. It is not simply that we drop all goals and sit self-satisfied. Rather, it is more that we sit as Wholeness, radically dropping all holes to fill. Again, the rest of the talks in the series should give you a handle on this, as should some of these short writings on Shikantaza.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...lling-Prophesy

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...understandings

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...?7902-Sisyphus

    Please write back after you have had a listen and look.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-09-2012 at 02:29 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Junior Member jayjay's Avatar
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    Hi jundo
    Today was my best sit so far, your talk could have been written for me. After an uphill sort of day workwise where even simple things became complicated and took twice as long. I was really looking forward to sitting this evening. Although I would normally agree that it is sometimes difficult to just sit and let go of the thoughts that come into your head, today I was able to achieve this with relative ease and it was very good medicine.
    Thank you very muchi
    Jayjay

  15. #15
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    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
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    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

  17. #17
    Thank you Jundo.

  18. #18
    Member Jamie's Avatar
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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.

  19. #19
    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

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    Senior Member Nandi's Avatar
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  21. #21
    Thank you.

  22. #22
    Junior Member Aelric's Avatar
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    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......."

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