Almost each week someone asks me, "What comes next in my practice? How do I deepen it? What should I do now? What book should I read with all the secrets? I feel like something is still missing and that I must do more."
But how can I respond to such a question when the very heart of this Path is learning to live and be this life radically FREE OF THE NEED FOR 'WHAT'S NEXT', LIBERATED OF 'SOMETHING MORE THAT NEED BE DONE', FULFILLED OF 'ANYTHING MISSING'!
Oh, don't misunderstand. I typically respond that, together with daily sitting, there are some 'this and thats' that we can do to deepen our practice ... such as another 'Zen Book' to read or 'Zen Talk' to hear, studying a bit more of Buddhist and Zen teachings, attending more retreats, adding more practices such as Samu, Bowing, Chanting, Sewing, studying the Precepts or undertaking a Jukai, learning to bring 'Zazen' off the Zafu and to all aspects of life ... ALL ENRICHING WAYS TO DEEPEN THIS PRACTICE!
And, though there is "nothing ever missing or in need of adding and doing" ... that does not mean that there are not things to lose, gain or do! Learning to be free of the "need for change" is a REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE ... a change helped along by things we need to do and change, such as learning to be less driven by GREED, ANGER and IGNORANCE! In this crazy-sane practice, we master how to live 'without need for change' by changing some things about us ... including the view that anything is ever in need of change ... thus bringing about an EARTHSHAKING CHANGE in how life is encountered! Oh, a CRAZY-SANE KARMIC KATCH-22!
However, the fundamental Heart of this Path must remain learning to be so intimately At Home, At One with life ... that there is no need for "what's next" ... no hole to fill as "something missing". Our way to do so is simply to sit Shikantaza, dropping all thought and desire for "what's next" ... all while welcoming and embracing whatever comes next.
So, please learn ... in one's heart of hearts ... that "what's next" is learning to live freer and freer of "asking and needing, running after or away from 'what's next'"
I sometimes hear other teachers speak of flavors of Buddhism that promise to liberate us from this world, to encounter states of mind-and-body free of time and space! Many promise to take us from this world or ordinary being to another world or state of being. They seek for such states as "what needs to be done" and (hopefully, if the practice works out) "what's next". I don't much care for such Buddhism.
That's because this Way of Shikantaza, if properly mastered, liberates us from this world right in this world. Time and space are fully realized, dropped away and found again, in each instant of time and inch of space. Our way takes us from this world of ordinary being ... and leaves us squarely right back in this world of ordinary being ... NOW REVEALED AS ANYTHING BUT 'ORDINARY' ALL ALONG.
All that, simply by dropping to the marrow 'what's next'.
'What's next' then turns out to be ...
'NOTHING ELSE IS NEXT, THUS EVERYTHING IS NEXT!
Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows at this link. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended