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Thread: Zazen "doing nothing" vs "being aware" vs "observing"

  1. #1

    Zazen "doing nothing" vs "being aware" vs "observing"

    Dear Sangha,

    I'm contemplating "what we do with mind during zazen". I heard different versions

    - Do Nothing. Leave the mind as is.
    - Be fully aware of what's happening (sounds, bodily sensations etc)
    - Observe what's happening (sounds, bodily sensations etc)

    I have been sitting by "doing nothing". When my mind comes back from "getting caught up", I do nothing and simply sit (Ofcourse I hear sounds or feel body sensations but don't make any effort to be aware of them). I let my posture / zazen / awareness bring me back each time I'm distracted. I don't put my mind on any object or try to be aware of what's happening.

    Does this sound right? Or do we need to make an effort to be aware of what's happening? If we need to be aware of what's happening, then is it different from "observing" (which is like vipassana's noting practice but not as active or fast, just observing what's most obvious)?

    Gassho,
    Sam
    ST

  2. #2
    If you haven't read this, it might answer your question.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ious-Awareness

    If it doesn't we can try again!

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  3. #3

    Zazen "doing nothing" vs "being aware" vs "observing"

    ‘Doing nothing’ or ‘not doing anything’ is what i have understood is the essence. I do sense, as i cannot turn off the senses but I don’t ‘try’ to sense. Not doing anything’ I feel is not very precise because you do several things: breathing, sitting, sensing, etc. But it is the absolute minimum you can do without falling asleep (which is also ‘doing’ something). I found Okumura’s explanation helpful: you stop separating the perceiver from the perceived. Subject and object merges. That is ‘not doing anything’. Or so I have come to understand.

    This is only my incomplete understanding. Thank you for posting the question Look forward to reading other perspectives.

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah
    Last edited by solenziz; 05-15-2023 at 06:34 PM.

  4. #4
    In Zazen, we may place the mind on following the breath, the posture, the belly, in the palm of the upturned hands or in "Open Spacious Awareness." This "Open Spacious Awareness" is simply to have the place of attention on everything, and nothing in particular, with equanimity. In such sitting, the mind can move from and to anything in experience amid the field of awareness, or it can take in the entire field of awareness at once (or just a slice) ... but the key is equanimity. One is observing without judging, not thinking about, getting tangled in chains of thoughts about what one is experiencing....
    .....

    I can describe the experience as something like driving a car, not particularly thinking anything yet attentive. I sometimes see everything out in front of me, or maybe notice this or that as it passes. I am not particularly thinking anything, and the mind is clear, alert, just watching the road.
    ....
    If you do find yourself lost in thoughts, let them go and return your full attention to observing the road and keep going.
    Hi Shinshi, Thanks for that link. The above text is from that link. It looks like Jundo is saying it is the 3rd point in my initial post (observing). We don't "sit and do nothing". Just like using breath as an object, we place the mind on observing whatever is arising and go back to the object (observing) when we realize we are lost in thought. This is kind of like vipassana (noting practice) but instead of quickly noting specific sensations, we just observe whatever is obvious in our field of attention (can be specific sensations or overall field or slice of the field) in a relaxed way. Is that correct?

    Gassho,
    Sam
    ST

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    Hi Shinshi, Thanks for that link. The above text is from that link. It looks like Jundo is saying it is the 3rd point in my initial post (observing). We don't "sit and do nothing". Just like using breath as an object, we place the mind on observing whatever is arising and go back to the object (observing) when we realize we are lost in thought. This is kind of like vipassana (noting practice) but instead of quickly noting specific sensations, we just observe whatever is obvious in our field of attention (can be specific sensations or overall field or slice of the field) in a relaxed way. Is that correct?

    Gassho,
    Sam
    ST
    Well Jundo will be along to clarify I am sure, but yes that is how I see it. Our thoughts come and go like scenery. We don't judge them, we don't discriminate amongst them, we see them and let them go on their way. No thinking about, just experiencing them as they pass by.

    I guess the last thing I would say is that it isn't about doing anything. There is no thing to do. I didn't get this for a long time. I would try to make shikantaza into a task to be completed. But that was erroneous.

    No doing, just being.


    At least that is what I think today.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  6. #6
    Hi Guys,

    I have "nothing to do" right at the moment, so time to respond.

    Zazen is not "doing nothing." It is not "not doing anything." That sounds like sitting on a log, twiddling one's thumbs, killing/wasting time.

    Zazen is radical "non-doing," i.e., doing the practice of sitting with equanimity, and a conviction in the heart that nothing need be done, nothing is lacking. Any need to do anything but sitting, all need to go any other place, is left aside. All that needs to be done is being done just by sitting.

    We do not try to be aware or observe what is happening in any very intentional way. We are NOT trying to "observe observe observe, focus focus focus, be aware, be aware, be aware." It is just a light, easy awareness and observing without giving what is observed any particular thought. Thoughts may come and go like trains passing through a station, but we just do not get on. Frankly, we don't really care if we sense something or don't. We don't even care if we briefly think about something in or out of our field of vision ... it is natural to do so sometimes ... but we don't get caught there and we don't just sit there thinking. We do not wallow in thoughts, or get tangled in them, but just let them drift through.

    Most importantly, one sits in radical equanimity, with the conviction deep in the bones that Zazen is a whole and complete doing, a sacred doing. It is the doing of the Buddha and Ancestors, complete and already all done. If you leave this latter part out (and, unfortunately, many popular Zazen or so-called "Shikantaza" instructions do) you are leaving the fuel out of the motor. One must sit with the conviction, deep in the bones, that there is not one drop lacking, not one other thing to do, no hole in need of filling, just by sitting. Sam, I think you left this part out of your description.

    I hope that helps.

    Gassho, Jundo

    stlah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-17-2023 at 01:44 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Most importantly, one sits in radical equanimity, with the conviction deep in the bones that Zazen is a whole and complete doing, a sacred doing. It is the doing of the Buddha and Ancestors, complete and already all done. If you leave this latter part out (and, unfortunately, many popular Zazen or so-called "Shikantaza" instructions do) you are leaving the fuel out of the motor. One must sit with the conviction, deep in the bones, that there is not one drop lacking, not one other thing to do, no hole in need of filling, just by sitting.


    ST Bernal
    Last edited by nalber3; 05-16-2023 at 07:50 AM.

  8. #8
    No matter how many times I read or hear these instructions, they are helpful to come across again.

    Gassho, Onkai
    Sat lah
    美道 Bidou Beautiful Way
    恩海 Onkai Merciful/Kind Ocean

    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  9. #9
    Member Dan65's Avatar
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    In a way it's not really possible to 'do nothing'. I find that when on the cushion I might be daydreaming, or trying to stop daydreaming, or watching the breath, perhaps using it as a sort of metronome, or any of other things the mind finds to do, it's all 'something.

    My conception isn't so much trying to do the impossible nothing, since the brain continues to operate up until the point of death. Instead I just don't allow the mind to go chasing things. It's as if in zazen my mind is a dog that I've ordered to sit. It wants to be a good boy and sit, but there are interesting smells and things and I need to constantly remind myself to keep sitting and not wander off to investigate each passing thought.

    Just my two cents

    Sattday

    Dan

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Onkai View Post
    No matter how many times I read or hear these instructions, they are helpful to come across again.

    Gassho, Onkai
    Sat lah
    Couldn’t agree more

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah

  11. #11
    My go-to is Fukanzazenji

    Gasshō
    Seiko
    stlah
    Gandō Seiko
    頑道清光
    (Stubborn Way of Pure Light)

    My street name is 'Al'.

    Any words I write here are merely the thoughts of an apprentice priest, just my opinions, that's all.

  12. #12
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    Dear Sangha,

    I'm contemplating "what we do with mind during zazen". I heard different versions

    - Do Nothing. Leave the mind as is.
    - Be fully aware of what's happening (sounds, bodily sensations etc)
    - Observe what's happening (sounds, bodily sensations etc)

    I have been sitting by "doing nothing". When my mind comes back from "getting caught up", I do nothing and simply sit (Ofcourse I hear sounds or feel body sensations but don't make any effort to be aware of them). I let my posture / zazen / awareness bring me back each time I'm distracted. I don't put my mind on any object or try to be aware of what's happening.

    Does this sound right? Or do we need to make an effort to be aware of what's happening? If we need to be aware of what's happening, then is it different from "observing" (which is like vipassana's noting practice but not as active or fast, just observing what's most obvious)?

    Gassho,
    Sam
    ST
    Hi Sam,

    I'm not sure if this helps or not. I try to think of of the thoughts and sensations as the following. The world, cosmos, buddha-nature whatever phrase, suggest all of existence (including empty space) for you, is a dynamic place where things come into existance and then fade out of existance. We are a part of this dynamic world so when we sit our brain generates thoughts, feelings and sensations. They come into existence and then fade away again. But we just kind of witness it. We simply notice them come up and fade away. We don't engage with them. So it's sort of like allowing an itch to be an itch dispite how satasfying it would be to scratch (something I'm guilty of from time to time ) So when Jundo talks of radial equanimity he means we accept these thoughts and feelings as they are because they are the activity of buddha-nature. Out side of Zazen we have to engage thoughts and feelings to function (ignore your thurst for to long and you die!) but we still try to take part of that attitude of equanimity with the world as its presented to us. The precepts and vows can help us engage in health and helpful ways.

    At least that's what it looks like to me right now. Who knows what tomorrow will bring ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

    Gassho,

    Hoseki
    sattoday

  13. #13
    We don't engage with them. So it's sort of like allowing an itch to be an itch dispite how satasfying it would be to scratch
    Usually, we do not scratch during Zazen, and just let the itch be the itch. Do not resist it. We feel equanimity about it. There is a bit of "mind over matter" aspect, in which by ignoring the itch, the itch will likely just pass and go away.

    However, if too bad, it is okay to briefly Gassho and scratch, although we really should not. In a strict Zendo, the monitor might hit us with the stick (we don't at Treeleaf) for moving too much. But if we do need to scratch, we accept that fact too. We accept the stick strike too. We feel equanimity about scratching and being struck.

    Of course, we try not to wallow in scratching, just scratching scratching and scratching again. If we do so, I suggest seeing a doctor right away! Something is wrong. But if you need to see a doctor, accept that fact. Feel equanimity about it.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Usually, we do not scratch during Zazen, and just let the itch be the itch. Do not resist it. We feel equanimity about it. There is a bit of "mind over matter" aspect, in which by ignoring the itch, the itch will likely just pass and go away.

    However, if too bad, it is okay to briefly Gassho and scratch, although we really should not. In a strict Zendo, the monitor might hit us with the stick (we don't at Treeleaf) for moving too much. But if we do need to scratch, we accept that fact too. We accept the stick strike too. We feel equanimity about scratching and being struck.

    Of course, we try not to wallow in scratching, just scratching scratching and scratching again. If we do so, I suggest seeing a doctor right away! Something is wrong. But if you need to see a doctor, accept that fact. Feel equanimity about it.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    Gassho
    Hoseki

  15. #15
    We do not wallow in thoughts, or get tangled in them, but just let them drift through.
    Hi Jundo,

    Guo Gu has a completely different view on this. Since Shikantaza derives from Silent Illumination, I wonder what your thoughts are on the following excerpt starting at minute 56.



    Gassho
    Sat

  16. #16
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inshin View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    Guo Gu has a completely different view on this. Since Shikantaza derives from Silent Illumination, I wonder what your thoughts are on the following excerpt starting at minute 56.
    ...

    Gassho
    Sat
    Hi,

    I just wanted to say that Gu's position indicates that thoughts only arrise from attachments. Is that right though? If a song pops into my head is it because I'm bored and trying to avoid the boredom? Maybe, but I'm not so sure. Anyway I awake Jundo's take.


    Gassho,

    Hoseki
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-18-2023 at 02:34 AM.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Inshin View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    Guo Gu has a completely different view on this. Since Shikantaza derives from Silent Illumination, I wonder what your thoughts are on the following excerpt starting at minute 56.
    Hi Inshin,

    I think he is confusing some different meanings of "wandering thoughts." So, for example, there are only a few ways to deal with thoughts in meditation:

    (1) Stop all thoughts completely. This can happen in Shikantaza too, but is most often associated with very deep concentration meditations.

    (1A) There are also practices of deep concentration which take us closer and closer to a stopping of thoughts, with an "the less thoughts the better" attitude. Simplifying and lessening of thoughts tend to happen in Shikantaza, but we let it happen naturally without thinking "less is better."

    (2) Have thoughts arise from time to time, but we "pay them no nevermind," do not tangle with them, do not get caught in them, let them drift away, with very silent and clear spaces between thoughts. Soon, we may even find that the sometime thoughts become like gossamer, translucent and light, such that even the silent and clear "shines through" and illuminates the thoughts that drift through. Also, the hard separation between the subjective self and thoughts softens or drops away, very much like there may be a table and chair in the room which we see with our open eyes, and they are "just there, as it is," but we don't get caught in judgements and long thoughts about the table and chair. In fact, we might even see but not think about the table and chair, and the hard divisions of "table vs. chair vs. myself" become forgotten. Table-chair-myself is swept up in wholeness. The light and wholeness of emptiness shines in the table and chair, which are somehow there but not there. So it is with thoughts that drift through, there but not. This is the Shikantaza way (and, I believe, traditional Silent Illumination around Dogen's time).

    The difference from (1) and (1A) is that thoughts do quiet and settle, but we do not try to force it or think that "meditation is only good when there are no thoughts, and the closer we get to having no thoughts." We literally are sitting in equanimity and non-attachment to whether there are thoughts or no thoughts, even as thoughts do tend to quiet down and become simpler. There is no "confusing of principle and relative truth (the ultimate and relative)" here, as Guo Gu implies, because one experiences one as the other ... that both "thoughts or no thoughts" are all clarity, wholeness, Buddha, ultimate, silent etc.

    (3) Wallowing in thoughts, caught in our ordinary thought trains of thought following thought, tangled, emotionally reacting, analyzing, planning and plotting, thinking and pondering things like we do in ordinary life. This is bad, we don't do this in any kind of Zazen or meditation.

    (4) Using thoughts in a directed manner, e.g., directing thoughts to a mantra, imagining a visual image of a Buddha, etc. These are lovely practices, but not Shikantaza, and they tend to take the meditator out of this world to some "other realm" kind of experience. Shikantaza realizes the "silent clear wholeness" in this world of tables, chairs, thoughts.

    Uchiyama, Okumura and the like say that thoughts are just like "secretions of the brain" like secretions of the stomach, so teach (2). The image is not so attractive, but their point is that thoughts just come like the stomach just rumbles ... no problem if we don't make it a problem. If the stomach rumbles, and you react with "Oh, how embarrassing, I am hungry, so where should I go for lunch, I want pasta ... etc. etc. etc.," that is you adding additional thoughts and judgements and a separation of "I" to the simple sound. Rumble is just rumble, no need to get tangled in it, and then it does not interfere in Zazen. (Of course, we don't want constant rumbles either, like constant storming mind. If you have constant rumbles, that is a problem ... and you should see a doctor, take antacids, or talk to your teacher about, for example, focusing on the breath, taking a mantra or Koan phrase or the like to get the "brain rumbling" down to a less stormy level.)

    Is Guo Gu saying to stop all thoughts, as in (1)? If he is, then that is not our practice. I don't think he is saying that. I think that he is saying that the less thoughts, the better, so he has that aspect of (1A). We are both saying that (3) is not good. But he seems to imply that (2) is some kind of wallowing, which it is not. I think he fails to recognize that thoughts can come and go in (2), but we can allow so without our getting tangled, but with silence, clarity and wholeness arising even so.

    As to his comment that:

    "It is precisely because of attachment that wandering thoughts emerge. If a person does not have attachment, the mind does not wander. Mind wanders because of craving and desire. This is in all the meditation manuals, from India to Central Asia to East Asia. We have wandering thoughts? Because we have a tendency of grasping and rejecting. What is that? (It is) Attachment. So we cannot say, 'I just allow them to be, I just don't attach to them' as if we allow them to perpetuate."

    One can have thoughts without grasping or rejecting the thoughts. Having thoughts come, but our not grasping them, is not "mind wandering." One can have thoughts without being attached to thoughts, just like one can have a table in the room without grasping, rejecting or being attached to the table. If there is a table in the room, or no table in the room, it has no effect on my Zazen. Likewise for having thoughts or no thoughts. Even so, thoughts tend to simplify, become clear and light, become fewer in Shikantaza ... no thoughts in between. However, we don't seek or chase that ... it just tends to happen. One can "pay the table no nevermind," not think about the table in the room, likewise for some thoughts that pass through the room of the mind. Guo Gu seems not so sure himself here, but seems to confuse any thoughts with being some kind of wallowing? He seems to think that any thoughts must involve some kind of attraction, rejection and attachment which must be tangled with the thoughts, or their causes? Almost all of the "meditation manuals from India" etc. which he mentions would have to do with type (1) and type (4) meditation, which emphasize "thoughts are bad in themselves." If Guo Gu asserts that all thoughts of the brain are due to "attachments," then that is a traditional view that is just physiologically and psychologically incorrect and smacks more of so called "hinayana" (not used here in pejorative sense) approaches that seem to eliminate all thoughts. Saying that thoughts are due to attachments is no more true than saying that "stomach rumbles are due to attachments."

    On the other hand, is Guo Gu saying that we should be completely free of all attachment and the thoughts will stop? That is not our way. Our way is to be completely free of attachment whether there are thoughts or no thoughts. Thoughts will tend to quiet, sometimes stop, but we are unattached in any case.

    Also, what Guo Gu presents is not the only view of Silent Illumination, and it may not even be traditional Silent Illumination. I often note that Guo Gu is NOT teaching the one and only interpretation of Silent Illumination. He is teaching a way developed by his teacher, Rev. Sheng Yen, in which Sheng Yen tried to figure out what was ancient "Silent Illumination" because the tradition had become very lost and confused. Sheng Yen actually tried several different interpretations, before settling on one. All are really forms of concentration meditation to attain varied stages of concentration. Gui Gu (aka Prof. Jimmy Yu) writes about that here, and even says that Sheng Yen turned to the "Hinayana/Agama" techniques of concentration, and he began to speak of "stages" of concentration:

    A Tentative Exploration into the Development of Master Sheng Yen’s Chan Teachings

    Sheng Yen Chan teachings does not constitute a stagnant, premeditated set of doctrines, but was a product of his own life experiences, interpretations of early Buddhism, and appropriations of the Japanese Buddhist response to modernity. Sheng Yen’s Chan was unique in that he synthesized the early Buddhist Agama teachings with the teachings embodied in the Platform Scripture. ...

    ~~~

    It is worth noting, however, that sometime in the late 80s, possibly during his Intermediate Chan Classes, he began to widely teach this method [of mozhao/silent illumination] to many people by clarifying its subtle “stages” and concrete “methods” for practitioners to engage with when using this “methodless method.” The first published English work on a systematized presentation of the mozhao method
    into three stages (of observing the body, observing the mind, and the state of enlightenment) is in 1993. However, this formulation kept on evolving from what he had taught before. By 1995, he formulated a fourfold stage. The first stage is observing the body sitting; the second
    is a unified state of body, environment, and mind sitting; the third is the contemplation of emptiness. The fourth is the ineffable state of enlightenment.
    Guo Gu describes some of the stages this way ...

    Three Stages of Silent Illumination

    The practice of silent illumination taught by Master Sheng Yen can roughly be divided into three stages: concentrated mind, unified mind, and no-mind. Within each stage are infinite depths. You need not go through all the stages, nor are they necessarily sequential.

    ... [Stage] 2.) Unified Mind
    When your discriminating mind diminishes, your narrow sense of self diminishes as well. Your field of awareness—which is at first the totality of the body—naturally opens up to include the external environment. Inside and outside become one. In the beginning, you may still notice that a sound is coming from a certain direction or that your mind follows distinct events within the environment, such as someone moving. But as you continue, these distinctions fade. You are aware of events around you, but they do not leave traces. You no longer feel that the environment is out there and you are in here. ...

    There are progressively deeper states of this second stage. When you enter a state in which the environment is you sitting, the environment may become infinite and boundless, bringing about a state of oneness with the universe. The whole world is your body sitting there. Time passes quickly and space is limitless. You are not caught up in the particulars of the environment. There is just openness of mind, clarity, and a sense of the infinite. This is not yet the realization of no-self; it is the experience of great self.

    At this point, three subtler experiences may occur, all related to the sense of great self. The first is infinite light. The light is you, and you experience a sense of oneness, infinity, and clarity.

    The second experience is infinite sound. This is not the sound of cars, dogs, or something similar. Nor is it like music or anything else you have ever heard. It is a primordial, elemental sound that is one with the experience of vastness. It is harmonious in all places, without reference or attribution.

    The third experience is voidness. But this is not the emptiness of self-nature or of no-self that would constitute enlightenment. This is a spacious voidness in which there is nothing but the pure vastness of space. Although you do not experience a sense of self, a subtle form of self and object still exists. [JUNDO NOTE: This is teaching of a version of the higher Jhana concentration states that Sheng Yen is mixing into Silent Illumination here.]

    These progressively deeper states are all related to samadhi states. When you emerge from them, you must try not to think about them anymore because they are quite alluring. Say to yourself, “This state is ordinary; it’s not it.” Otherwise, it will lead to another form of attachment. ...

    [Stage] 3.) No-Self, No-Mind
    ...

    The third stage of silent illumination is the realization of quiescence and wakefulness, stillness and awareness, samadhi and prajna, all of which are different ways to describe mind’s natural state. Experiencing it for the first time is like suddenly dropping a thousand pounds from your shoulders—the heavy burdens of self-attachment, vexations, and habitual tendencies. Prior to that, you may not know exactly what self-attachment or vexations are. But once you are free from them, you clearly recognize them.

    Self-attachment, vexations, and habitual tendencies run deep. So practitioners must work hard to experience enlightenment again and again until they can simply rest in mind’s natural state. The key is to practice diligently but seek no results.

    ...

    https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Guo-Gu.html
    That is very good, and also very traditional in concentration meditation, but I think that was not the early approach to "Silent Illumination" back in the 13th century. Guo Gu's teachings, even as a scholar, seeks to justify his teacher's system, which is fine. But Silent Illumination, according to some scholars and historians, could be more of a radical "non-doing," non-seeking which very much resonates with Dogen's interpretation in Shikantaza. Shikantaza also leads to such a "putting down of the burdens," and maybe in more practical ways that we can even take into ordinary life more easily because we never ran from ordinary life and thoughts into such special states. I actually think that Shikantaza may be closer to the rebellion against "concentration states" that was early Silent Illumination. Sheng Yen says that Silent Illumination is goalless, but he seems to describe goals and desired states of concentration.

    Interestingly, Guo Gu quotes at the very end of his lecture a traditional teaching, from the Platform Sutra I believe, that a "person of the Way ... neither seeks to discard wandering thoughts nor seeks ultimate truth." THAT'S SHIKANTAZA!!!! Guo Gu then says "this is the state of liberation ... the correct view," but does that not rather contradict everything he said just right before???

    Did that answer the question?

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-18-2023 at 09:37 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    PS - Please show this to Guo Gu, Inshin, if you are in contact. I would like to hear his response.

    Or, I have his email, and we are sometimes in touch. I can send it to him, and the link here, if that is okay.
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-18-2023 at 02:35 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19

    Zazen "doing nothing" vs "being aware" vs "observing"

    The way I read Shen Yeng and Guo Gu, they teach the very same Shikantaza as we practice, but using a different way of explaining it. From Sheng Yen’s book “the method of no method” which Guo Gu translated:

    The stages was something Sheng Yen added later to help students he was teaching when he was not around. Maybe therefore more focus on “stilling the mind”.

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah
    Last edited by solenziz; 05-18-2023 at 08:13 AM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by solenziz View Post
    The way I read Shen Yeng and Guo Gu, they teach the very same Shikantaza as we practice, but using a different way of explaining it. From Sheng Yen’s book “the method of no method” which Guo Gu translated:
    The stages was something Sheng Yen added later to help students he was teaching when he was not around. Maybe therefore more focus on “stilling the mind”.

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah
    Maybe. He changed what he was teaching several times, I think. Sometimes he had more stages and goals to attain in reaching those stages, sometimes less. I am not sure. Maybe he taught that at one time. He was also educated in Japan, studied Soto here, and may have had a strong Soto and Shikantaza influence at once time.

    However, his book and some of Guo Gu's on "the method of no method" sure seem to have many stages and goals, even while saying not.

    I am not criticizing that at all, and there are many good ways to make soup. I am just saying that it is a bit different from the radical goallessness of Shikantaza, its real power.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21

    Zazen "doing nothing" vs "being aware" vs "observing"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Maybe. He changed what he was teaching several times, I think. Sometimes he had more stages and goals to attain in reaching those stages, sometimes less. I am not sure. Maybe he taught that at one time. He was also educated in Japan, studied Soto here, and may have had a strong Soto and Shikantaza influence at once time.

    However, his book and some of Guo Gu's on "the method of no method" sure seem to have many stages and goals, even while saying not.

    I am not criticizing that at all, and there are many good ways to make soup. I am just saying that it is a bit different from the radical goallessness of Shikantaza, its real power.

    Gassho, J

    stlah


    Guo Gu at least has a strong focus on goallessness the way I read it. He uses the word “contentment”. Sitting with contentment. And contentment is a one word summary of non-grasping or non-thinking, non-form and non-abiding (platform sutra?).

    But I also read many “stages”. They do however stress that they are not stages that develop sequentially, and not something to be thought of as “achieved”, but signposts; a “if you are here, do x” sort of guide.

    Personally I do prefer our approach. My mind tends to get caught up in «stages and performance».

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah
    Last edited by solenziz; 05-18-2023 at 02:19 PM.

  22. #22
    Thank you for your reply.

    "person of the Way ... neither seeks to discard wandering thoughts nor seeks ultimate truth."

    That's from Realising the Way by Yoka Daishi, though he also appears in Platform Sutra.

    This is the view of someone who walked the Way all the Way through, view from the standpoint of Realisation.

    Before that we are caught up in delusions, habitual tendencies and ignorance, and "Nothing further to seek as Truth is attaind in each moment" is just a conceptual understanding.

    As Hakuin point out

    "If someone without kensho makes a constant effort to keep his thoughts free and unattached, not only is he a great fool, he also commits a serious transgression against the dharma. He winds up in the passive indifference of empty emptiness, no more capable of distinguishing good from bad than a drunken man. If you want to put the dharma of non-activity into practice, you must put an end to all your thought attachments by breaking through into kensho.Unless you have kensho, you can never expect to attain a state of non-doing."


    As I understood it, the function of Koan investigation is not used to quite the thoughts.

    The above is just my curiosity and questioning, not an intention to oppose anything.

    I don't know Guo Gu personally, I just stumbled on his lectures on YouTube and found it very interesting.

    I don't see why it wouldn't be OK for you to enquire with him if you're in touch.

    Gasho
    Sat

  23. #23
    As Hakuin point out

    "If someone without kensho makes a constant effort to keep his thoughts free and unattached, not only is he a great fool, he also commits a serious transgression against the dharma. He winds up in the passive indifference of empty emptiness, no more capable of distinguishing good from bad than a drunken man. If you want to put the dharma of non-activity into practice, you must put an end to all your thought attachments by breaking through into kensho.Unless you have kensho, you can never expect to attain a state of non-doing."
    Hakuin was not a practitioner of, and did not understand, the radical nature of Shikantaza. He seems to have been a very troubled and searching soul.

    Before that we are caught up in delusions, habitual tendencies and ignorance, and "Nothing further to seek as Truth is attaind in each moment" is just a conceptual understanding.

    You have this backwards. Radical Just Sitting is freedom from delusions, habitual tendencies and ignorance.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  24. #24
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Hi Inshin,



    I think trying to reach a point of non-thinking (Which I guess in this case means a silent mind) is a kind of grasping after a certain kind of mental state. As I understand it, we Soto folk are accepting of all that arises when we sit zazen. Some times our minds the thoughts will be few and far between other times they will be plentiful. I believe Uchiyama Roshi said in Opening the Hand of Thought that he had more thoughts in the summer when it was warm outside. That struck me as odd at first but when I thought about it I realized that our brains which produces thoughts (like the stomach produces acid) is influenced by our environment through our senses. I also think it’s worthwhile to look at the distinctions like the one between silent minds (little to no thoughts arising) in general.

    Distinction such as an organism and their environment is a useful one when we are trying to model the standard life of an organism. If we want to know about rabbits we go watch them go about their rabbit business. What they eat, where they sleep, what tries to eat them etc... But these distinctions should be held lightly (like all thoughts really) that is to say we should try to be able to drop them from time to time. Sometimes a different point of view (different distinctions) helps illuminate some aspect of life that we didn't see before. Our points of view or perspectives enable us to see certain parts of life while also obscuring others. E.g. when I look through a telescope I can see the moon pretty well but if I swing the telescope towards my house I don't see it very clearly at all. So I see myself as distinct from the environment I live in. But am I not a part of the environment that my daughters live in? Are they not part of mine? These dichotomies to help us navigate the world. We pick up some from our family, some from our peers, and some we may come up with on our own. But they shouldn't ever have the last word on an issue. That kind of reification of thought leads us to get locked into views and the world simply exhausts them. Our words never capture the world they help us navigate they illuminate but also obscure. So we need to be able to shift views and that means what's "incorrect" or a “delusion” may be what we need to enlighten our understanding because they are not one but also not two. So we go about dropping some views while adopting others and switching back and forth as the need arises but in all cases we need an understanding of their limits.

    So for us Soto folk we try to develop a radial equanimity for all that arises. When we sit zazen we are letting go of particular views and just allowing things to come and go without engaging, without picking up a perspective on them e.g. good, bad, sad etc...

    I don't know if this the best way to try and engage with Gu comments but this is more or less what I thought about when listened to it and then read your comment above. I do want to add that I'm just a Zen student so I could be a little wrong or a lot wrong. But if Jundo were to correct me I was learn as a result. It would further develop my understanding. It sounds funny but it would mean the wrong step was a step in the right direction (for me._

    Hopefully Jundo will correct me if I'm mistaken.

    Gassho,

    Hoseki
    sattoday/lah

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hakuin was not a practitioner of, and did not understand, the radical nature of Shikantaza. He seems to have been a very troubled and searching soul.
    I can't help it Jundo. Though not troubled anymore I am still searching soul myself

    Gassho
    Sat

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Zazen is not "doing nothing." It is not "not doing anything." That sounds like sitting on a log, twiddling one's thumbs, killing/wasting time.

    I’m not too familiar with what “doing nothing” traditionally implies. I always thought of doing nothing” as one potential headline summary of your shikantaza teachings. Just like “opening the hand of thought”. “Doing nothing” (to me) means to physically not do anything but sitting and mentally to not grasp at anything (e.g. we let thoughts, incl. feelings, come and go as we can’t control them anyway, but we don’t interact with them). In other words we don’t want or need anything to be different from what it is. Therefore I take it to mean sitting with radical equanimity. Might be a non-traditional interpretation and the logic might be flawed, but I guess I sit correctly at the very least

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by solenziz View Post
    I’m not too familiar with what “doing nothing” traditionally implies. I always thought of doing nothing” as one potential headline summary of your shikantaza teachings. Just like “opening the hand of thought”. “Doing nothing” (to me) means to physically not do anything but sitting and mentally to not grasp at anything (e.g. we let thoughts, incl. feelings, come and go as we can’t control them anyway, but we don’t interact with them). In other words we don’t want or need anything to be different from what it is. Therefore I take it to mean sitting with radical equanimity. Might be a non-traditional interpretation and the logic might be flawed, but I guess I sit correctly at the very least

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah
    Hi Michael,

    I think that it is probably an English language issue more than anything, but "doing nothing" in English has the sense of "just sitting around lazy and indecisive, pointless, killing time, passive and uncaring, ambivalent." We say "just sitting, twiddling our thumbs, like a bump on a log."

    Just Sitting (caps) is not that. It is sitting with sincerity and dedication, upright with stable, balanced and comfortable posture, not grasping thoughts, in radical equanimity, but with conviction deep in the bones that this sitting is a complete act, the one thing to do in all time and space in that moment, sitting as the fulfillment and peak of the mountain of sitting. It is not "doing nothing," but rather, that Zazen is so complete that there is nothing left undone, nothing more that can be done, nothing more that need be done, but sitting in the time of sitting.

    So, a rather different feeling and nuance.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Michael,

    I think that it is probably an English language issue more than anything, but "doing nothing" in English has the sense of "just sitting around lazy and indecisive, pointless, killing time, passive and uncaring, ambivalent." We say "just sitting, twiddling our thumbs, like a bump on a log."

    Just Sitting (caps) is not that. It is sitting with sincerity and dedication, upright with stable, balanced and comfortable posture, not grasping thoughts, in radical equanimity, but with conviction deep in the bones that this sitting is a complete act, the one thing to do in all time and space in that moment, sitting as the fulfillment and peak of the mountain of sitting. It is not "doing nothing," but rather, that Zazen is so complete that there is nothing left undone, nothing more that can be done, nothing more that need be done, but sitting in the time of sitting.

    So, a rather different feeling and nuance.

    Gassho, J

    stlah


    Gassho, Michael
    Sat

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Michael,

    I think that it is probably an English language issue more than anything, but "doing nothing" in English has the sense of "just sitting around lazy and indecisive, pointless, killing time, passive and uncaring, ambivalent." We say "just sitting, twiddling our thumbs, like a bump on a log."

    Just Sitting (caps) is not that. It is sitting with sincerity and dedication, upright with stable, balanced and comfortable posture, not grasping thoughts, in radical equanimity, but with conviction deep in the bones that this sitting is a complete act, the one thing to do in all time and space in that moment, sitting as the fulfillment and peak of the mountain of sitting. It is not "doing nothing," but rather, that Zazen is so complete that there is nothing left undone, nothing more that can be done, nothing more that need be done, but sitting in the time of sitting.

    So, a rather different feeling and nuance.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    For me "doing nothing" symbolizes the true attitude of "radical acceptance" in shikantaza. If I do anything (use a technique, come back to object, observe etc..) it feels there is a success and failure and "radical acceptance" is thrown out of the window. Even "letting go of thoughts", I allow it to happen than take it as something that I am actively doing. The main attitude I keep in mind is, "non manipulation" of my experience. Just simply sit and allow my experience be as it is. I tell myself, "it is fine whatever happens during sitting". When I realize I'm caught up in long chain of thought, I'm already back. Nothing to do. Ofcourse I don't try to intentionally continue the thought. If an emotion is coming up, I let it come up, do its thing and let it pass. Same with all experience during sitting

    If I do anything in sitting then it is watching if I'm trying to manipulate or control (or expect something out of) my sitting in anyway and if so let go of that.

    Gassho,
    Sam
    SatLah

    P.S. Ofcourse "doing nothing" doesn't mean we are lazy or go to sleep. We are very alert, holding the posture and allowing everything to be as it is
    Last edited by shikantazen; 05-21-2023 at 08:57 PM.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    For me "doing nothing" symbolizes the true attitude of "radical acceptance" in shikantaza. If I do anything (use a technique, come back to object, observe etc..) it feels there is a success and failure and "radical acceptance" is thrown out of the window. Even "letting go of thoughts", I allow it to happen than take it as something that I am actively doing. The main attitude I keep in mind is, "non manipulation" of my experience. Just simply sit and allow my experience be as it is. I tell myself, "it is fine whatever happens during sitting". When I realize I'm caught up in long chain of thought, I'm already back. Nothing to do. Ofcourse I don't try to intentionally continue the thought. If an emotion is coming up, I let it come up, do its thing and let it pass. Same with all experience during sitting
    Lovely, Sam.

    But of course, do not neglect this aspect either ...

    It is sitting ... with conviction deep in the bones that this sitting is a complete act, the one thing to do in all time and space in that moment, sitting as the fulfillment and peak of the mountain of sitting.

    Sitting is the posture and act of Buddhas and Ancestors sitting in our sitting.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Lovely, Sam.

    But of course, do not neglect this aspect either ...

    It is sitting ... with conviction deep in the bones that this sitting is a complete act, the one thing to do in all time and space in that moment, sitting as the fulfillment and peak of the mountain of sitting.

    Sitting is the posture and act of Buddhas and Ancestors sitting in our sitting.

    Gassho, J

    stlah

    stlah

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    For me "doing nothing" symbolizes the true attitude of "radical acceptance" in shikantaza. If I do anything (use a technique, come back to object, observe etc..) it feels there is a success and failure and "radical acceptance" is thrown out of the window. Even "letting go of thoughts", I allow it to happen than take it as something that I am actively doing. The main attitude I keep in mind is, "non manipulation" of my experience. Just simply sit and allow my experience be as it is. I tell myself, "it is fine whatever happens during sitting". When I realize I'm caught up in long chain of thought, I'm already back. Nothing to do. Ofcourse I don't try to intentionally continue the thought. If an emotion is coming up, I let it come up, do its thing and let it pass. Same with all experience during sitting

    If I do anything in sitting then it is watching if I'm trying to manipulate or control (or expect something out of) my sitting in anyway and if so let go of that.

    Gassho,
    Sam
    SatLah

    P.S. Ofcourse "doing nothing" doesn't mean we are lazy or go to sleep. We are very alert, holding the posture and allowing everything to be as it is


    Gassho, Michael
    Sat

  33. #33

    Zazen "doing nothing" vs "being aware" vs "observing"

    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    Even "letting go of thoughts", I allow it to happen than take it as something that I am actively doing. The main attitude I keep in mind is, "non manipulation" of my experience. Just simply sit and allow my experience be as it is. I tell myself, "it is fine whatever happens during sitting". When I realize I'm caught up in long chain of thought, I'm already back. Nothing to do. Ofcourse I don't try to intentionally continue the thought. If an emotion is coming up, I let it come up, do its thing and let it pass.
    I guess what is difficult is to know the difference between being ok with everything that happens, even to the extent of wallowing in your thinking end-to-end in all sittings throughout a lifetime (letting go of everything, even letting go of letting go) vs. trying to control something/ being aware of what’s happening in your mind and in the environment. Almost like a continuum. Where to draw the line? I guess one solution is to let go of this thinking and just sit

    Edit: on second thought, and after reading a passage in J’s book (“we confuse being present and mindful in the moment […] with being at one with the moment allowing and merging with conditions of life just as they are”) a continuum/one dimension seems wrong. Two dimensions seems more correct: 1) degree of radical equanimity and 2) open awareness/mindfulness of the moment. 1 is the core, the base. When 1 is in place we add 2 on top. The days when 2 doesn’t work as we want, we are not bothered due to 1.

    Sorry for going long.

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah
    Last edited by solenziz; 05-22-2023 at 05:38 PM.

  34. #34
    Hi Sam,

    This is only my second answer on this forum and I'm not an experienced Zen practitioner, and I certainly don't speak on behalf of Treeleaf, I just come from my own experience, so what I say might not be right for you, and I may have the wrong idea of Zazen.


    You asked what to do during Zazen:

    - Do Nothing. Leave the mind as is.
    - Be fully aware of what's happening (sounds, bodily sensations etc)
    - Observe what's happening (sounds, bodily sensations etc)

    There was an old Chan master called Foyan, who said "When sitting, why not meditate? When meditating, why not sit?" This implies that there is something about the nature of meditation that occurs whether we sit or not, and doesn't require us to sit, it doesn't require us to not sit.

    To me, the reason we sit in Zazen is to hopefully come to experience our true nature. We are already our true nature, therefore, Zazen is not a doing but a being. We are not trying to do something to get a result. We are simply being, in its simplest form. Just sitting. So, I would suggest that there is nothing to do at all, but that's not easy, perhaps. There is nothing to do to become what we already are but perhaps are not yet aware of.

    You might want to ask the following:

    - What wonders whether it should do nothing at all? What is going to leave the mind as it is? What thinks it has this control, can you find that in yourself?
    - What thinks it can be fully, partially, or not aware of sounds, bodily sensations, and so on? And if you are already That of which you seek, does it matter whether you are fully aware of something, or not?
    - And naturally, what is observing what is happening?

    What is asking the questions, Sam? In the silent practice of sitting, what notices the mind wondering? What becomes aware of something? What is observing the observation? What is attempting to sit without being disturbed by the presence of thought and sound?

    You cannot use your mind to discover Reality. Yet, Buddhists would say that everything is mind. With that in "mind", we must assume that what "mind" is, is everything that you think you are, and also everything that you think you are not.

  35. #35
    Hi Heath,

    Welcome again.

    I was with you until here, where I might offer a little caution ...

    You might want to ask the following:

    - What wonders whether it should do nothing at all? What is going to leave the mind as it is? What thinks it has this control, can you find that in yourself?
    - What thinks it can be fully, partially, or not aware of sounds, bodily sensations, and so on? And if you are already That of which you seek, does it matter whether you are fully aware of something, or not?
    - And naturally, what is observing what is happening?

    What is asking the questions, Sam? In the silent practice of sitting, what notices the mind wondering? What becomes aware of something? What is observing the observation? What is attempting to sit without being disturbed by the presence of thought and sound?

    You cannot use your mind to discover Reality. Yet, Buddhists would say that everything is mind. With that in "mind", we must assume that what "mind" is, is everything that you think you are, and also everything that you think you are not.
    We are not so big into asking such questions, or searching for a "Watcher" or a "What that wonders, etc." or "What is asking the questions" or a "That." We do not search for Reality. We do not look for "Mind"

    Just put that all down, all the hunting and search, and Just Sit. One may find a reality that is all that, all this, and more.

    Gassho, Jundo

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  36. #36
    Jundo,

    You offered this very same pith instruction about “radical equanimity” our very first conversation about the differences between mahamudra and shikantaza. I’m going into my second year practicing as taught by the Soto lineage, after having practiced under a Kagyu teacher for the eight previous years. At my very first 7 day Sesshin this past week, I feel like my understanding of this crisp teaching point finally blossomed, and I wanted to offer you my gratitude.

    Gassho,
    Yeshe

    Sat this evening.
    Last edited by joshr; 06-05-2023 at 12:14 AM.

  37. #37
    Hi Jundo,

    Are there any references (Dogen's or other texts or modern day websites) where this radical equanimity is discussed. I wonder why many instructions on Shikantaza (including "opening the hand of thought") don't talk about this

    Gassho,
    Sam
    ST

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by shikantazen View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    Are there any references (Dogen's or other texts or modern day websites) where this radical equanimity is discussed. I wonder why many instructions on Shikantaza (including "opening the hand of thought") don't talk about this

    Gassho,
    Sam
    ST
    Well, the most basic would be in Master Dogen's Shikantaza and related writings, his instructions for Zazen, which say, "Cast aside all involvements and discontinue all affairs. Do not think of good or evil; do not deal with right or wrong."

    Dogen has some other comments on this attitude of equanimity in a sage, for example, this from Tenzo Kyokun ...

    A “vast mind” is like the great mountains or a vast ocean. It is free of preferences or factionalism. When lifting up an ounce, yet it does not think of it as light; lifting up a ton, it does not think of it as heavy. It is not enticed by the pleasures of springtime … nor saddened by the falling leaves of autumn. It experiences the four seasons all as one movement, and views both ounce or ton with an equal eye. This is the true meaning of “vast.”
    Also from the Tenzo Kyokun, which is not only a manual for eating, but a manual for living life ...

    A sutra says, "For the person who knows the sameness of food, all phenomena are also sameness; if all phenomena are sameness, then also in food they will know sameness." Simply let all things be the same with food, let food be the same as all things. Therefore, if all phenomena abide in their dharma nature, then food also abides in its dharma nature. If all phenomena are suchness, food is also suchness. If all phenomena are one mind, food is one mind. If all phenomena are enlightenment [Bodhi], food also is enlightenment.
    Also ...

    When all flows into the vast and undefiled ocean of the Buddha Dharma, the flavors of fine delicacies and the flavors of coarse greens do not exist. There remains only the one taste of the great ocean. ... There is an old saying that a monk's mouth is like a stove [which takes in whatever is placed there without opinion or rejection]. You must understand this. ... Thus, do not regard one as low, nor take them lightly. ... Monks should eat whatever is available to eat. If it is refined they should eat it as what is, and if it is meagre, they should also eat such without distaste. We should simply devote ourselves to practice, avoiding hunger and supporting our life only with whatever faithful patrons have donated, and the pure foods that the temple has. Do not distinguish good and bad based on pleasing taste
    Of course, there is the ancient Zen teaching, the Shinjinmei, that advises this:

    The Way is not difficult for those free of preferences;
    Just do not like, do not dislike, and all becomes clear.
    Make the slightest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are torn asunder
    Dogen writes of this in the Zuimonki:

    .” It is written in the Shinjinmei (Trust in Mind) “The Great Way is not difficult, just be free of preferences.” If one casts aside a mind which discriminates, then one may awaken immediately. Casting aside a discriminating mind is to be free from ego. Do not think that one practices the Buddha Dharma in order to obtain some reward by practicing. One should just practice Buddha Dharma simply for Buddha Dharma’s sake. If such attitude is missing, it is not possible to attain the Way of the Buddhas and Ancestors even if one studies one thousand sutras and ten thousand sutra commentaries, nor if one sits Zazen until one’s sitting place is worn asunder. Only cast off body-mind and, within Buddhism, following along with others while free of prior views, one can immediately accord with the Way. (SZ 5-18)
    Also ...

    A sage … is not attached to gold and jewels, but neither to broken tiles or pebbles. For such reason, Shakyamuni Buddha drank course rice milk offered him by a cowmaid, and grain meant for feeding horses. He met each with equanimity. In the Buddhist Teachings, there is no thing either worthless or precious, and ordinary people judge what is shallow and what is profound. ... (SZ 5-11)
    In Shobogenzo-Koku, Dogen quotes Vasubandu ...

    Mind is like the world of space
    equally bringing forth things of emptiness.
    When you realize space,
    there is nothing good or bad.

    Now, the person who faces the wall [in Zazen] meets the wall that faces the person. Here is the mind of a wall, the mind of a decayed tree. This is the world of
    space. Awakening others with this body, manifesting this body to speak dharma, is equally bringing forth things of emptiness. ... When you realize space. If the rock’s head is large, its base is large. If the rock’s head is small, its base is small. This is, There is nothing good or bad.
    In more recent times, Suzuki Roshi wrote things like ...

    In your big mind, everything has the same value. Everything is Buddha himself. You see something or hear a sound, and there you have everything just as it is. In your practice you should accept everything as it is, giving to each thing the same respect given to a Buddha. Here there is Buddhahood. Then Buddha bows to Buddha, and you bow to yourself. This is the true bow.
    There are more from other teachers, but I would have to find them.

    Gassho, J

    satlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  39. #39
    During this week's Zazenkai, I finally understood/felt the feeling that sitting is complete/whole just as it is and instantly felt lighter and free, despite it being a tough Zazenkai otherwise. (Before that I believe I was trying to convince myself of it, I had turned "radical equanimity" into another goal to be met). I saw it like coming to practice; no matter what happens DURING practice, coming to the cushion is still the practice (like soccer practice, you don't say you didn't have soccer practice just because you fell down a lot!)

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Well, the most basic would be in Master Dogen's Shikantaza and related writings, his instructions for Zazen, which say, "Cast aside all involvements and discontinue all affairs. Do not think of good or evil; do not deal with right or wrong."

    Dogen has some other comments on this attitude of equanimity in a sage, for example, this from Tenzo Kyokun ...



    Also from the Tenzo Kyokun, which is not only a manual for eating, but a manual for living life ...



    Also ...



    Of course, there is the ancient Zen teaching, the Shinjinmei, that advises this:



    Dogen writes of this in the Zuimonki:



    Also ...



    In Shobogenzo-Koku, Dogen quotes Vasubandu ...



    In more recent times, Suzuki Roshi wrote things like ...



    There are more from other teachers, but I would have to find them.

    Gassho, J

    satlah

    ST

  41. #41
    Hi Sam,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Lovely, Sam.

    But of course, do not neglect this aspect either ...

    It is sitting ... with conviction deep in the bones that this sitting is a complete act, the one thing to do in all time and space in that moment, sitting as the fulfillment and peak of the mountain of sitting.

    Sitting is the posture and act of Buddhas and Ancestors sitting in our sitting.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    Jundo has written on many occasions about radical equanimity and the completeness of zazen and that zazen is seen as an enactment ritual. I am not sure if you have read this article from Taigen, but it helped me understand how to practice zazen? It describes how Zazen as an enactment ritual. It is a bit long but worth the time; I have read it multiple times, and I learn something new each time.
    https://www.ancientdragon.org/zazen-...ctment-ritual/

    Gassho,
    Van
    SATLAH

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by vanbui View Post
    Hi Sam,



    Jundo has written on many occasions about radical equanimity and the completeness of zazen and that zazen is seen as an enactment ritual. I am not sure if you have read this article from Taigen, but it helped me understand how to practice zazen? It describes how Zazen as an enactment ritual. It is a bit long but worth the time; I have read it multiple times, and I learn something new each time.
    https://www.ancientdragon.org/zazen-...ctment-ritual/

    Gassho,
    Van
    SATLAH
    That is one of the most important essays ever written about Master Dogen's Zazen in English.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    That is one of the most important essays ever written about Master Dogen's Zazen in English.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    This is a fantastic essay! I went ahead and ordered the book that it's published in, as I'm sure I'll want to read it again and again (without the difficulty of managing a large text on a digital device).

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly

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