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Thread: SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Sailing, Shikantaza

  1. #1

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Sailing, Shikantaza

    I feel that 80% of Shikantaza teachers these days are teaching only 80% of Shikantaza ("Just Sitting" Zazen). The wind is often left out of Shikantaza's sails.

    The point of Shikantaza is an action done for such action's sake, with the action itself as Total Fulfillment beyond judgment or measure. This is a rarity in our never resting, never satisfied, always running and chasing lives. Sitting is Sacred, Whole and Complete just in Sitting alone.

    Oh, what one does with body and mind while sitting is not to be neglected: assuming a balanced and stable posture, putting aside judgments of good and bad and likes and dislikes, not grabbing onto thoughts, not chasing after special states, returning to the breath/posture/open awareness if one becomes tangled in thoughts and emotions. Yet, Master Dogen explained sitting as a sacred action, the AlphaOmega, the one place to be and one act in need of doing in that time of Sitting, the fulfillment of all goals and desires just as the simple act of sitting in that place of sitting. When sitting a moment of Shikantaza, as Master Dogen put it, "There is nothing lacking. This Zazen is all the Sutras and Commentaries. The buddha seeing the buddha is just this time of Zazen" (He was no "master of understatment" ). I do find that many modern teachers leave this "one wondrous action itself as Whole and Complete" aspect out, and omitting so robs Shikantaza of its real force.

    Let me try a sailing analogy about what is Shikantaza. Shikantaza is like sailing in which the sailing is whole and complete without seeking to arrive at some port. If sailing in a Shikantaza way, then the point and goal of sailing one's boat is sailing, the fulfillment of all that comes on the voyage in each instant of sailing itself for sailings sake. There is no destination, no peak or valley, and the sailing itself is constant arrival. Thus, one can never be off course on this trip to right here.

    Of course, one tries not to crash into the rocks, to stay in a good direction, not to sink! You certainly can have goals in life, places you want to visit on the journey. But in fact (and here is some of the Wisdom of Shikantaza that folks often miss), Shikantaza is whole and complete even if one crashes onto a reef or keeps an even keel, capsizes or stays afloat, gets to a port one aimed for or not! One seeks not to be tangled in stormy thoughts and emotions, but in fact, it cannot matter if the weather (of the mind) is smooth or stormy, whether one is heading north south east or west or not moving at all. Each moment of sailing, as it is, is Whole and Complete, i.e., sailing fulfilling sailing just by sailing. That being said, we advise people to not get tangled in thoughts (avoid the mental storms) and keep the boat steady (assume a nice posture), avoiding the rocks of 'greed anger and ignorance,' heading into good wind (living well and gently in life). One should seek to sail skilfully, keeping one's lines clean and bow pointed away from the rocks and rough seas. However, even as we do so, that is really not what makes fine sailing in Shikantaza, which is a wonderful trip even if one sinks and goes under!

    After all, if we are all just as waves of the water returning to the sea which we are all along, how can one drown? Even though we work to stay alive and afloat as long as possible, we are ultimately just water returning to the waters. Shikantaza is radically non-demanding and goalless in that way. But, nonetheless, let us do what we can not to drown! This is the Koan of Zazen Sailing.

    Master Dogen had a wonderful image of the wholeness of sailing in his Shobogenzo-Zenki (The Whole Works) ... one of the most powerful images of Zen Practice, Zazen as all of life ...

    Life can be likened to a time when a person is sailing in a boat. On this boat, I am operating the sail, I have taken the rudder, I am pushing the pole; at the same time, the boat is carrying me, and there is no “I” beyond the boat. Through my sailing of the boat, this boat is being caused to be a boat—let us consider, and learn in practice, just this moment of the present. At this very moment, there is nothing other than the world of the boat: the sky, the water, the shore have all become the moment of the boat, which is utterly different from moments not on the boat. So life is what I am making it, and I am what life is making me. While I am sailing in the boat, my body and mind and circumstances and self are all essential parts of the boat; and the whole earth and the whole of space are all essential parts of the boat. What has been described like this is that life is the self, and the self is life.

    My little talk on this sailing ...

    This Talk is now available in audio on the Treeleaf podcast as well:
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-17-2022 at 01:11 AM. Reason: Added podcast link.

  2. #2
    Thank you Caption Buddha and First Mate Jundo for the lovely voyage!


    SatToday (on the ship of Shikantaza) / LAH

  3. #3
    That was wonderful - thank you! I am so grateful that I found this practice.


  4. #4


    sat today

  5. #5
    Wonderful talk. Thank you, Jundo.


  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Now available as a podcast:

    Sekishi #sat

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  7. #7
    Thank you for this, Jundo! Lovely


  8. #8
    In gratitude,


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

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  10. #10
    Great Talks Jundo thanks!

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  12. #12
    Thank you Jundo!

    sat + lah
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

  13. #13

  14. #14
    Well shiver me timbers - (my favourite Tom Waites song).


  15. #15
    Thank you, Jundo

    Kaidō (皆道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything that I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

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