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Thread: Seika Tanden?

  1. #1

    Seika Tanden?

    I started my spiritual exploration in a bit more of an esoteric vein. So that is probably where this question comes from.

    My interest in Zen increased greatly after reading "Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy" by Katsuki Sekida. In the technique of zazen provided it has one hold their attention and just sit with the seika tanden. Being of like mind to such concepts i didn't question it, and found it to be an amazing tool in my life.

    Lo and behold in learning more of shikantaza I was waiting for the video blog where Jundo instructs us to do the same and perhaps discusses it some. SURPISE! I have gone through the first few months worth of this years archives and never came across it.

    So now I wonder why? Is this practice more in line with Rinzai teaching?


  2. #2

    Re: Seika Tanden?

    Hi Dave,

    Life is full of SURPRISES!...I think you say it yourself: to rest the mind in the Tanden is an amazing tool. Yet, Shikantaza is not a tool, it is the practice-realisation of as-it-isness. In a few Zen schools and traditions, what you decribe is emphazised, for instance a stream of Sojiji teachers would warmly recommand to follow the breath or even to push down and expand that lower region, it explains why you find this approach in Deshimaru's teachings. Indeed you also find this concentration on the tanden in the lineage of Harada roshi ( former abbot of Hosshinji, a Soto teacher who also trained in Rinzai style).
    Generally, in most Soto teachings, we just apply what Dogen says: we let the long breath be long, the short breath be short. Not messing with the breathing. Counting can be used for beginners, and I include myself in that category. But I stopped pushing or focusing on the tanden a long time ago.
    That is why you did not come across anything of the sort here. Jundo likes to say that Zen comes in many flavors. We don' t spice up sitting with the Tanden flavor. In fact, shikantaza is the tasteless taste, the gateless gate. Beyond even sitting and standing.
    If you know what Tanden is, I suggest you ask yourself the following questions: what is not Tanden? As everything moves and changes, why should one spot be the centre as opposed to the periphery? And the most important question: what is the original nature of the"I" focusing on the Tanden?

    Thank you for your patience



  3. #3

    Re: Seika Tanden?

    Thanks for the explanation. Gives me something to think about( quick someone make me stop!).

    Everything is everything else..and not. So the tanden is everything..and not. The fish is the tanden and I am the fish but niether and the tanden doesn't exist.So now I wonder why a me that doesn't exist even asked the question that I already had the answer to. Now that's something else for me to sit with at a later date.

  4. #4

    Re: Seika Tanden?

    Thank you, ZenDave. Very witty.
    Questions are not meant to be answered. Our path is not school work.
    Please, just sit, not with something else, not at a later date, not even with questions, just sit.
    And yes, no need to worry about Kensho or satori past, present and future...people generally grow out of it.
    Thank you for your patience



  5. #5

    Re: Seika Tanden?

    Actually I was about to sit for a short bit before going to bed ( 2:30 am here and i'm only sorta tired). and I promise just to sit.

  6. #6

    Re: Seika Tanden?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Please, just sit, not with something else, not at a later date, not even with questions, just sit.


  7. #7

    Re: Seika Tanden?

    I hesitate to break into such a perfect dialogue between you guys.

    But I posted this recently, and want to toss it in ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo Cohen

    Well, it may be that they are "each and all" teaching perfectly fine Shikantaza Zazen. Let me explain ... I used to think that there is only "one way", so everybody else must be wrong. Most teachers sure act like there is only "one way" (which, no coincidence, is always the way they happen to advocate).

    But I do not think that there is only "one way of Shikantaza" any more.


    The bottom line and true key (for me anyway) is that Shikantaza Zazen involves some form of sitting, placing the mind on some object of concentration, dropping judgments, dropping divisive thoughts of this and that, allowing emotions to settle and fade, thereby attaining a sense of balance. The body and mind settle, the breath settles, calm, peace, wholeness is tasted ... the world appears different from before, less broken into pieces, all of one piece, without pieces, Peace beyond pieces, etc. ... . (For want of a better term, let's call this result of Shikantaza as "THERE")

    I am sure that almost everyone (with experience) is experiencing something like that when they sit, at least some of the time, and knows THERE.

    Now, for example, one teacher may associate his "getting THERE" in his mind with needing to be in the lotus posture focused on the spine (because that is what he does to bring about the above, so he assumes Lotus Posture + Spine = THERE). Another teacher may note that focusing on the breath leads to THERE.

    Another teacher (this is what I, Jundo, teach) may emphasize sitting with the mind "Open and Spacious, focused on all objects and no particular object, while letting thoughts drift from mind". That also leads to THERE.

    Everybody's right! Everybody gets THERE! Really just a matter of different places to place the mind, like different ways to sit on the bicycle seat.

    Of course, yes, you can debate the pros and cons, merits and demerits of each way of getting THERE. For example, I emphasize "open, spacious sitting" because I personally believe it makes this practice easier to take off the Zafu, into the rest of life. I also teach that one need not be sitting in Lotus Posture for this, but any balanced way of sitting (in fact, I encourage folks to practice Shikantaza all through their day ... standing in the grocery line, on a crowded subway). I personally believe that it leads to an ability to develop "thinking not thinking = non thinking" as Dogen described. I find this comes more easily from sitting with "open spacious mind, eyes not closed, fully present with one's surroundings yet focused on everything-and-nothing-in-particular, dropping the judgments, letting thoughts come and go, finding again and again the quiet space between etc." ... which makes it easier to bring the "lessons" of Zazen off the Zafu into our day-to-day lives (cause we can't be focused on our spines all the time!). That also brings about "softening and losing the sense of self", as do the other methods, but by not limiting focus to the posture, it is easier to be "at one" with the whole world and all of flowering life, and to bring it off the Zafu ... which I believe was Dogen's and most other Zen teacher's main point.

    But that is just my Schtick, my way of teaching THERE. I do not think the other ways are necessarily wrong.

    Let me close with one last observation: Some folks are more into the body, some more into the head (now, mind-body are not two, but they are two). For example, I have encountered folks like Nishijima Roshi (who got into Zen as a runner in track in high school and often compares that to Zazen), various martial artists, ballet dancers and others who are more into the "losing the self" through the body.

    Me, I happen to emphasize the mental side, and I personally think Dogen emphasized the mental game of Shikantaza more than the physical side (because my reading of his writings emphasizes that he was conveying in words the mental experience of how he was tasting the world through his Zazen ... he rarely spoke of the physical manifestations, let alone spines and breathing). But, again, that is just my reading (and to repeat ... mind-body not two).

    BOTTOM LINE: Many ways to screw in a lightbulb. Many a good teacher will get you THERE ... which is everywhere, and no place at all.

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Seika Tanden?

    Thanks for the input, Jundo Sensei. *gassho* The more the merrier.


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