Quote Originally Posted by Omoi Otoshi

In Shikantaza, I find it more difficult to put the finger on what the focus point is if there is one. I'd like to say it's just open awareness of everything at once as one, but that is not often true, especially not when first sitting down on the Zafu. Instead, I consciously have to focus on the body, my crossed leg posture, letting the spine grow upwards, outwards, going through all muscles, relaxing them, releasing all tension, finding stability. Then, when I can trust the body to do its own thing, I sort of do the same with the mind, studying its contents, consciously watching thoughts and emotions arise and drift away, letting the search light steady itself and the wild monkey swinging from tree to tree calm down. If and when the mind settles down and I can leave it also to do it's own thing, then there can be open awareness without so much focus on the body and mind, without identifying so much with the body and mind. And here I feel Shikantaza begins. From here, there is the chance of dropping body and mind completely. It may happen and it may not and it's not something to look for. This is my current interpretation of Shikantaza. If it is way off, please correct me so no one is mislead.

I would just like to drop a few words here about the strange doing-non-doing nature of our practice.

What you describe is lovely, if ... hand-in-hand ... one simultaneously drops all thought or need for having to "find stability" "relax and relieve tension" "letting things steady themselves" "achieving open awareness" "dropping body-mind" and the like. Why?

Hard to explain in the mad-sane practice of Shikantaza, but perhaps it is because the True Stability is something that swallows both the stable and unstable, True Peace is both peace and war. It is the small self which demands that one "relax" and "drop the small self" ... so, if one truly wants to "drop the small self, drop body-mind" one must (paradoxically) drop to the marrow any chasing after the need to "drop the small self, drop body-mind"! :shock:

Perhaps a bit like walking a tightrope by ... giving up all effort and thought of trying to walk a tightrope, how far the ground is, how thin the rope, how near death, or any desire to cross ... just walking the tightrope!

Don't think "I can only walk the tightrope when things are still and the wind stops blowing". Far from it, the true master walks the rope however the wind is blowing, and from whatever direction ... taking everything as it comes. That is true balance! True Sitting Zazen without need to sit zazen on a quiet, windless day.

If one looks to find the Self by searching for the Self, it is much like one's nose searching outside for the nose! Trying to make the Zazen experience into "open spacious awareness" or what you think "open spacious awareness" should feel like ... trying to change the way things are ... actually brings one more distant from how things are, and "open spacious awareness". Nonetheless, we sit in "open spacious awareness" as you describe.

This Practice is Wonderfully Strange like that!

And, yes, this is a Koan!

Gassho, Jundo