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Thread: In Response To Al

  1. #1

    In Response To Al

    Hello Al
    Breath counting is fairly common as an introductory practice in many zen centers and although it may seem tedious,just have confidence that your particular center knows how to guide you.If you have questions concerning the zazen practice you have been given then raise them with the teacher.If you remain with this group then you will have the opportunity to work with koans when the time is right if you have an interest in koan practice.
    Two Palms Together

  2. #2
    Hi Malcolm and Al,

    I will be discussing breathing very soon in the series of talks we've just started for beginners to Shikantaza at Treeleaf. ... nners.html

    However, absolutely no Koan Zazen at Treeleaf. I do not teach it, and I do not encourage anyone here to engage in Koan Zazen practice for various reasons, including that one cannot easily take two diverging paths at the same time. Not that there is anything "wrong" with it, but it is not our Practice. Obviously, being a "Just Sitting" teacher, I am completely biased! But I do actively dissuade many people from that Practice, which is significantly different in philosophy from Shikantaza. I will be talking about the differences (and sameness) between Koan Zazen and "Just Sitting" also during an upcoming talk in the beginners series.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS- Before someone asks, let me mention that we employ Koans too during Soto Practice, just not during the actual sitting of Zazen itself. For example, Master Dogen's writings are chock full of Koans, but the sitting of Zazen is just "Silent Illumination" without any Koan in our minds. Let me also mention that Maezumi Roshi's lineage is actually a mixed Soto and Rinzai Lineage, and they tend to place primary emphasis on Koan Zen. No problem there, but that results in them sometimes not teaching "Just Sitting" with proper emphasis, because they are seeking to harmonize the philosophy with Koan Zazen Practice. We will discuss all this on the netcast too.

  3. #3
    Ya picked a good one, Al. Jundo tries very hard to make shikantaza easily understood.

    Even going as far as to whack himself with a hammer.

  4. #4


    Hello Jundo
    I apologise for a failure to make a response to Al's blog clear.Al said he had joined a group in the Maezumi lineage and as far as I am aware there is a strong emphasis on koan practice in this particular lineage and hence my reference to koans.
    Two Palms Together

  5. #5
    Honestly, I think koans are awesome but the practice of sitting with them has always seemed an odd practice to me. I've often wondered, "Why would I want to sit with someone else's question?" Sitting is so intimate, so basic and simple, introducing koans into it that don't arise naturally in one's own mind seems like a clumsy sort of thing to do. But I may just not understand the practice fully, as I've never tried it. It's funny, because sometimes it seems to me I may have more of a "Rinzai" personality than Soto, but many of the actual Rinzai practices have an affected quality to them that I don't know if I could ever get into. Though I do like the intensity of formal dokusan that I've experienced in the Maezumi lineage, and that's something that seems more Rinzai in flavor.

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