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Thread: What is NOT Shikantaza?

  1. #1

    What is NOT Shikantaza?

    Of late I have been interested in Shikantaza as a study subject. I love projects and am considering doing some research on its origins and adoption. Why? Because I feel that after the 800 years since Dogen’s Shobogenzo creation it is still being misinterpreted by many Zen practitioners. For sure many practitioners around the world are not restricting their interpretation to ‘just sit’.

    I will of course read and watch again our teacher’s presentations on this subject.

    As a starter I want to throw a question out on this forum. My question is:

    What (in relation to Zazen) is NOT Shikantaza?

    Regards

    m

  2. #2

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    Everything but just sitting, letting everything and no thing be and not be, is not Shikantaza.

    Or would you like a list? A list would be fun!

    /Pontus

  3. #3

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    From one perspective,
    following the breath, counting the breath, mantras, koan practice, contemplation, are not Shinkantaza, yet at the same time within all of these practices is what the very heart of Shinkantaza is. Just sitting is simply just allowing yourself to be without any hindrance. So when you sit, you just sit, when you chant, you just chant, when you are struggling with that koan, you just allow your self to do that. That very mind is not separated from the heart of our practice.
    Shinkantaza is not found only in the cushion, shinkantaza is the manifestation of your life, the manifestation of the life of the Buddha. If you are attentive and watchful, how can anything not be shinkantaza? Even those things which clearly seem to not be shinkantaza.

    The question to ask is not, what is not shinkantaza, but what IS Shinkantaza?

    What does it mean to you to sit? What does it mean to you to practice out in the world?

    Is being out in the world different from being on the cushion? if so, how do you close that gap? If being in the world is just like being on the cushion, then can't it be said that you are living in a dream world?

    Just some thoughts....

  4. #4

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    This is not an intellectual project and finding a true teacher and just practicing is enough.

  5. #5

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    What is not Shikantaza?

    Have been thinking about this for a couple of hours ....I only began putting words like Shikantaza to my practice
    recently - before that I would have said mindful meditation - before that ... just meditation .....before that, sitting
    quietly trying to calm the mind ... the activity kinda spirals down thru many years.

    So why do I feel that something has shifted? It's a subtle shift - but definately a shift - so when I wrote in my last post
    I've been meditating like 'this' for over 21 years - Mm........ bit of ego defensiveness in that possibly. because of the need
    to defend the 15 minute zazen.

    ..... need to think on this a bit more .......

  6. #6

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    What is not Shikantaza? = intention and differentiation ...
    sorry this one was an easy one :lol: but seriously... I'll just go back to the cushion 'cause I'll lost myself in gibberish talk if I begin!

    But if you want to dig into the practice of Shikantaza in the Chinese Chan Buddhism before Dogen's trip to China, you can look for "Mo-Chao Chan" or 'Silent reflection'...

    gassho,
    Jinyu

  7. #7

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    Thanks for the opinions ALL

    I have my seasons for asking what is NOT. I feel we are more likely get to some consensuses on what constitutes legitimate Shikantaza through this approach. Why intellectualise this subject? Well, if Dogen thought fit to write over 1000 pages on this and relating topics I hoped I would get away with a handful. My main motivation relates to the practicalities of sitting Zazen.

    PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO BELITTLE ANY OTHERS PRACTICE. I will repeat this statement as required

    To kick off I am pasting some stuff from another forum

    Michaeljc wrote:While the above is classic in relation to the most common interpretation of Skikantaza I am still not convinced it correlates to 'just sit' It infers a degree of discrimination between those pesky common thoughts and samadhi - a process that leads to a goal. Just sitting does not discriminate, has no goal, and is therefore more closely aligned to the basic principles of Zen. Furthermore, the above definition requires proactive (high energy) attention. This cannot be easily integrated into 'just sit'. I am still quite comfortable with 'just sitting' with no meddle whatsoever. There is no place to which we should keep returning. Everything is of equal no-value. It's enough imo
    m


    Hi Michael,

    Is it possible for us to perhaps differentiate attachment to a result during practice and maintaining intent during practice?

    One can say that there is no need to return to anything and so on, but at the very least one is maintaining the zazen posture, not allowing oneself to slip off into sleep or daydreaming, not intentionally allowing thought chains to proliferate (i.e. not using shikantaza as a time to go over your grocery list), yes? One refuses to abandon this simple presence or mindfulness, and that attention is an expression of intent.

    In the mastery of a practice, this may become effortless to the point that such intent is not consciously expressed. But such would hardly be the description of practice for a beginner...and I would say beginners should be encouraged to develop "high-energy" or "proactive" attention.

    We say Zen is "goalless" because it does not cause us to gain something that was lacking or apart from our nature. However this does not negate the fact that Zen and Buddhism in general take great pains to describe what sort of aspiration/goal/desire is the correct basis for practice. And it does not mean that during actual sitting it is mistaken to express intent by consciously setting up the mindfulness which upholds the practice.

    Further, each of us certainly has goals and results of practice which we desire: if zazen didn't give us a feeling of positive benefit (i.e. if it consistently caused a worsening of our mental and physical states) we would certainly stop doing it. Simply choosing to practice anything unavoidably in the beginning implies choice and desire for result. But desire is not the same as craving, and some desires (realization, helping others) are wholesome ones.

    But yes, during the time we actually engage in a practice, we drop these things: desires, goals. Not because they are a problem or antithetical to practice...but because thinking about them isn't practicing.

    It's important for beginners to understand these things, I think. Confusion surrounding "goallessness" (as an affirmation of our true nature and that there is nothing to attain, but not meaning that there is no goal and no attainment) can be a big obstacle to the deepening of practice and to, well, attainment

    Does this jibe with your understanding?

    ~ Meido

    Meido is a Rinzai Priest. I am very impressed by his very practical manner of describing and understanding Zen practice.

    However the above post does emphasise a proactive-energy approach to Shikantaza. I have put in bold relevant statements.

    What we see is that almost all interpretations lay down some NOTS and some DO’S in Shikantaza practice. I am practicing with no NOTS and only one DO; maintain the position during regular daily sits exceeding 30 minutes. I guess I am on the extreme left. Any further left and will fall over the cliff. But – am I on the right path?

    There is much more to come out of this subject e.g. ‘sitting is enlightenment’

    m

  8. #8

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    Hellos to all posting here!

    Michael--in your last post you end by describing your sitting as placing you 'on the extreme left' and then you ask 'but am I on the right path?'

    What is 'extreme left' when it comes to zazen? What makes your practice of zazen extreme or left, and extreme as compared to what? left of what?

    This kind of expression of your views of yourself and your practice may help you understand what you are doing when you sit, but 'zen is not what you think' (a title of a book by Steve Hagen if I recall correctly).
    'You have to say something' is a title of a book by Katagiri Roshi (Steve Hagen's teacher), and "Return to silence" is another book title of Katagiri Roshi's. ***

    I am not aware of zazen having any direction associated with it.

    Am I on the right path? An excellent question...a koan to live by!
    Having a teacher is important when it comes to such matters.

    Teachers have a way of conveying so much without uttering a word. Not that there is anything wrong with words.
    For beyond words, a beyond words method is required.

    In gratitude to all teachers past, present and future
    May we all realize the buddha-way together


    ***I have not read these books, have always loved the titles and have found the titles themselves to be very instructive!
    I appreciate words--it's what we've got! I also appreciate words which help point beyond words.

  9. #9

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    During the last retreat, I wrote on the rakusu a sentence of Dogen s fukanzazengi:

    The true person is beyond study and intention to achieve.

    Everything being study and goal orientated is out of Shikantaza, or not allowing shikantaza to be.

    My old teacher often Quotes Dogen s words too:

    ZEN-AKU O OMAWAZU,
    "Don't think of good and bad."

    ZE-HI KAN SURU KOTO NAKARE
    "Don't care about right and wrong."


    So thinking about good or bad and caring about rigt and wrong is obviously not hitting the mark.


    MIichael, Don t mind about shikantaza. Just sit.


    Gassho



    Taigu

  10. #10

    Re: What is NOT Shikantaza?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    During the last retreat, I wrote on the rakusu a sentence of Dogen s fukanzazengi:

    The true person is beyond study and intention to achieve.

    Everything being study and goal orientated is out of Shikantaza, or not allowing shikantaza to be.

    My old teacher often Quotes Dogen s words too:

    ZEN-AKU O OMAWAZU,
    "Don't think of good and bad."

    ZE-HI KAN SURU KOTO NAKARE
    "Don't care about right and wrong."


    So thinking about good or bad and caring about rigt and wrong is obviously not hitting the mark.


    MIichael, Don t mind about shikantaza. Just sit.


    Gassho



    Taigu
    Taigu - Now that, I can do .

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