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Thread: Zafu or Couch...whats the difference?

  1. #1

    Zafu or Couch...whats the difference?

    With regards to being asked what my practice involves in the thread 'Mechanics of Enlightenment' I am compelled to ask the same of those who are comfortable in their practice of Shikantaza the same.

    Can you describe your mind when you sit on the Zafu, what makes that mind different from the one that was sitting on the couch?

    What do you do/don't on the cushion that you do/don't on the couch?

    Thanks in advance!

    Tony... _/|\_

  2. #2
    On the zafu, I just let things be as they are.
    On the couch, probably following mental trips - daydreams, fantasies.

    Just sitting is training for doing the same with the rest of life.

    Have you read Hakuin's Chant in Praise of Zazen?

    What is there outside us,
    what it there we lack?
    Nirvana is openly shown to our eyes.
    This earth where we stand
    is the pure lotus land,
    and this very body the body of Buddha.

    Shikantaza is the realisation that we lack nothing and life is just as it is in every moment. Sometimes I take that onto the couch but it is easier to get caught up in life when not on the cushion.


  3. #3
    I try not to move at all, once I've settled. I slip into the feeling of sitting with all of my senses, like the weight of my body being gently pulled into the cushion and floor by gravity, the feeling of breathing, and the feeling of hearing and seeing what surrounds me where I sit, but I do not concentrate on these things, they are just there. Now this is the part I have trouble with words.

    Before, I was very confused. I didn't know what kind of mind state I was looking for. Shikantaza seemed extremely hard and tiring for me since I was more familiar with mantra meditation. Where I once had a mental toy to play with, I now forced myself to go without. The thoughts came relentlessly. My first year of practice usually saw my sittings end with me hunched over, frustrated at the bombardment of thoughts that just wouldn't stop coming. One day I tried the most literal interpretation of "just sitting" as I could muster, and it seemed to suddenly make sense. Thoughts came, but I somehow learned to just let them go by.

    I honestly think what made the difference was not giving up. It took me nearly two years of intense frustration and I wanted to give up. I wanted to run away from Treeleaf and denounce all organized religion as hopeless. But for some reason I didn't and I kept practicing. Now, what sounded like riddles before makes more sense. It just honestly takes practice. Practice, practice, practice.
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  4. #4

    Sitting on the cushion, I have nothing supporting me. I have to be conscious of everything. My body is tight, mind is tight.

    On the couch, I usually lounge. My body is loose, mind is loose.

    But you can sit Shikantaza on the couch, just not the way I normally lounge back on it. haahahahah



    P.S. I don't mean tight as in rigid. I mean collected I guess. You should check out Taigu and Jundo's excellent teachings in the beginner's videos section. (unless you already have )
    Last edited by Risho; 12-16-2013 at 08:21 PM.

  5. #5
    On the couch, I sit quietly and pet my cats. On the Zafu, I sit quietly and do not pet my cats.

    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  6. #6
    Isn't lying down one of the four positions of meditation? Sitting, standing, walking and lying down.
    I also like standing meditation. Gassho.
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  7. #7
    My zafu is my couch, my couch is my zafu! Perfectly the same, yet perfectly different. =)


  8. #8
    You can practice anywhere, anytime, in any position.

    Kind regards. /\
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    You can practice anywhere, anytime, in any position.
    Yes, all is Zazen ... sitting, standing, rolling on the floor, flying through the air.

    Yet, munching chips staring at the tube thinking about the shirt one wants to buy tomorrow is --not-- Zazen ... but munching chips staring at the tube thinking about tomorrow with the simultaneous clarity of Shikantaza is Zazen.

    In fact, munching chips watching tv and thinking about tomorrow might be said to be "Zazen" even when we don't realize it as so ... even when hidden from us unless we realize it as so with the mind of Shikantaza.

    On the other "sound of one hand" hand ... only Zazen on the Zafu is Zazen. There are some perspectives just easier to realize (such as why sitting on the coach staring at the TV can also be Zazen) which are too hard to get while sitting on the coach staring at the TV. Thus we sit on the Zafu staring at the wall.

    We also sit Zazen because the Buddha sat Zazen ... and because there is no reason too. How nice to do something sincerely for no reason!

    If one cannot physically sit and needs to stand or recline for health reasons ... then standing or reclining --IS-- Zazen on the Zafu. (A Koan)

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-17-2013 at 04:18 PM.

  10. #10
    Yes, exactly as jundo says.
    The sitting Buddha is expressing the balanced posture of joy, ease, peace and dignity.

    Kind regards. /\
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  11. #11
    When I am on the couch I get questions, when I am on the Zafu I develop understanding

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