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Thread: Question about shikantaza

  1. #1

    Question about shikantaza

    Hello all,

    I have been meditating vippasana-style for months and recently decided to give shikantaza a try.

    My question is this: in vipassana when I was distracted or lost in thought, I always returned my attention back to the breath. It was my stable reference point.

    In shikantaza, I'm not sure where that reference point is. Since it is an objectless, choiceless style of meditation, where do you return your attention when you find that it has wandered?

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Re: Question about shikantaza

    Hello Genjokoan,

    As a former Theravadin myself, I can tell you that there is a bit of a learning curve. Have you watched the Series of Talks for New Folks yet?

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=20

    That's a great place to start. Other than there, I would say (not trying to be enigmatic here) to just sit with whatever comes.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  3. #3

    Re: Question about shikantaza

    Quote Originally Posted by Genjokoan
    Hello all,

    I have been meditating vippasana-style for months and recently decided to give shikantaza a try.

    My question is this: in vipassana when I was distracted or lost in thought, I always returned my attention back to the breath. It was my stable reference point.

    In shikantaza, I'm not sure where that reference point is. Since it is an objectless, choiceless style of meditation, where do you return your attention when you find that it has wandered?

    Thank you.
    Hi, and welcome again.

    Please kindly review our series of talks and sittings introducing Shikantaza, and then we can chat some more. One reason is that there are many aspects of the practice that should be understood. Here is the first of those (there are 23 in the series, a few minutes each). I ask that you do look at those, even if you have been practicing awhile or are new to practice, and hope they are helpful. Please have a look to get a taste of the style of Shikantaza Zazen emphasized here ...

    viewforum.php?f=20

    (this thread may also be helpful) ...

    viewforum.php?f=21

    Short answer to your question: Everything and nothing at all.

    We can talk more after you have sat with those.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: Question about shikantaza

    I have been a practitioner in Tibetan Buddhism for about 10 years or so but I am new to Shikantaza. I have meditated with Vipassana like you and mostly with Dzogchen. Sometimes visualization and chanting. I do see similarities between all of the practices but there are many differences as well. So I am experiencing a learning curve too! This practice seems more simpler and practical to integrate into daily life but not necessarily easier. It is humbling for the experienced practitioner but that is good, it opens the door for learning (at least that it was I learned in martial arts anyway). The "Talks for Beginners" are very helpful. I really do like the teachings and this practice.

    The one thing that is different for me is the need for a Zafu. After watching Taigu in the "Talks for Beginners" videos, I realized that I need to adjust the way I am sitting and to get a Zafu. I was always told to just sit in a cross-legged position with a small pillow to create the curve for the small of your back, keep your back straight, eyes closed and have your hands on your thighs. Since I am super frugal, I thought I would try to stack 3 small pillows instead of buying a Zafu. Well that didn't work real well, the pillows kept shifting & sliding and my posture was comprised and then I lost focus ops: . It was actually quite comical, it made me laugh anyway. So I will be buying a Zafu on Amazon.com :roll: .

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Minnesota
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    Re: Question about shikantaza

    Hi Jodi,
    I know there are quite a few places to get Zafu online but I thought I'd suggest one to you.
    There is a Zen center named Dharma Field here in Minnesota. They have Kapok and Buckwheat Zafu which are hand made by Sangha members. The best part is that they offer a 30 day unconditional guarantee (minus shipping). Which is nice should you decide to go back to the pillows(But im sure once you try a zafu you won't want to!). Great for the frugal minded as you can try it out with little monetary loss should you decide it's not for you. The price is also comparable to what sellers on Amazon charge.
    Here is the link to their website:
    http://www.dharmafield.org

    Whatever you decide on good luck!

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: Question about shikantaza

    Hi, everybody.

    The situation with zafus is that one can get picky about it. If you excuse my word, one has to butt-test a zafu before buying it. Different zafus work differently for different people. However, I also understand that it is not easy to find a physical zafu store either. Mainly, when so many at Tree Leaf are here becasue they can't even access a physical zen center.

    Maybe we should start a zafu sewing group here at Tree leaf.That way we can make the zafus that are fit to our body needs.

    Sunyata.

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