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Thread: Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (11)

  1. #1

    Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (11)

    What’s the most important thing to remember about ‘breathing‘ during Zazen?


    I am now recommending to folks, especially people new to sitting, that they lightly follow the breath as it enters and exits the body through the nose. No need to repeat to oneself "in" or "out" (although very new folks can do so if it helps them become a bit settled and centered). Rather, just sense the respiration lightly as it flows. While doing so, maintain the equanimity of the Mirrormind, and do not clutch at thoughts.

    Such practices of following the breath can be undertaken for years and years, and some Shikantaza sitters do just that. HOWEVER, for reasons I will discuss, I recommend such breath following practices only as a measure for true beginners with need for help in how to let the mind calm. It can also be useful for others, even very experienced sitters, on those sometime days when the mind really, really, really is upset and disturbed. Even the most experienced sitter might return to following the breath when the mind is really, really, really, stirred up with tangled thoughts, wild emotions and confusion.

    However, AS SOON AS the mind settles a bit, I advise the we return our attention to “the clear, blue, spacious sky that holds all“, letting clouds of thought and emotion drift from mind, focused on what can be called “everything, and nothing at all” or “no place and everyplace at once.” I will explain why in today’s talk. New folks, after they become fairly at home in following the breath, might try to transition during Sittings between following the breath and such "open, spacious awareness" sitting, transitioning back and forth for a few minutes each.

    One we return to sitting in such boundless, open awareness focused on “everything, and nothing particular at all,” letting the thoughts drift through without grabbing on, letting all things “just be” … we let the breath “just be” and give it no mind, too. We do not try to do anything artificial with the breath, and just let “long breaths be long, and short breaths be short,” the breath finding its natural rhythm. Pay the breath no mind, give it no thought, and even (as Master Dogen advises) drop all thought of “long” or “short”! In doing so, as we calm, the breath will calm as well … finding a natural rhythm.

    We may even come to experience that there is really no separate “I” breathing, no separate air being breathed, no separate world to receive our cast out breaths … and we experience breathing as as boundless as that vast, open sky. Thus Dogen’s teacher Master Tendo said, “it is not that this breath comes from somewhere … it is not possible to say where this breath goes. For that reason, it is neither long nor short.”

    Shunryu Suzuki Roshi once said this about the breath …

    If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra. There is no you to say “I.” What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,” no world, no mind nor body: just a swinging door.
    We might say that the breath, too, isno place and everyplace at once.”

    Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended.
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-27-2016 at 03:18 AM.

  2. #2
    Dear All,

    Kindly post all comments, questions, impressions and objections regarding this Series and any of the videos in the following thread. (I have had to do so to keep the lessons in sequence).

    If refrencing a particular talk, it woud be nice to mention which one. Thank you so much.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Last edited by Jundo; 11-08-2016 at 02:31 AM.

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