First as for the purification etc. it is in instructions and sodo practice, but could be done individually as well... those are manuals which are not translated. Commentaries as well.
For the second - ST instructions come from following lineages: Bokusan, Sotan, Kodo; then from Tokuo line and 8 teachers of combined lines ending with Sogaku, plus very particular line of Tenkei, down to Roryu and his successors. Plus one line of Eko, and his successors, the last whom I knew died almost 20 years ago, and I have no idea who inherited from him.
Then very very intense and powerful instructions to ST from Tanzan of Saijo... they are in part written by himself. Saijo is guardian of those. The lineages are not always in agreement, the example is of Tanzan and Sogaku.. Tanzan had a lot of subsequent instructions on breathing ST, which gave fruition of great JINZU, I think it is called siddhi in sanskrit. Anyway he had a lot of supernatural powers which is somehow connected to Saijo from its beginning... Sogaku did not say it is entirely wrong, but he said that it was really dangerous for ones life and health if it goes wrong. Actually Sogaku way was how to say double. The external conditions were wrathful, however overall conditions were totally relaxed. So for outside public he was known as ''devil''
it is lineage I knew best probably, and I knew 4 of his direct heirs and also number of his disciples. And there was some
Blessing of the lineage is required by sodos and all lineages, as I said it is practiced on ones own, since it comes from the very particular lineage of individual practitioner, often includes prayers to personal protection diety as well.
Matylda's description of the various 'Kirigami' Traditions that have come to encompass Soto Practice in Japan is fascinating, and I thank her for that. It is true that we have moved away from much of that in the West, and most Zen Teachers in the West present a more "stripped down" and reformed vision.
It may be in some ways and for some people, but for other people may serve to create a cleaner, more wonderfully direct, effective, relevant and powerful Way of
placing the central Practices (Zazen especially) right at the forefront and freeing students from the wrappings and baggage of (what is perhaps) decorative exoticism, extraneous superstitions and unnecessary esoterica that all tend to grow and multiply like obscure and tangled vines in Buddhist practices over centuries. In other words, the "reforms" of the West may be a better and more vibrant way, more direct and effective, while also more accessible to many more people, having pruned away the extra tangled vines. If something is truly an effective and needed tool for peoples' Liberation ... keep it. But if just some magical ritual or esoteric interpretation that someone dreamed up 500 years ago with no real basis or significance ... no need to keep it, and let's cut those choking vines.
I would think of what is arising in "Zen in the West" as just further flavors emerging in the great development of Buddhism and Soto Zen Buddhism, and there is room for all medicines ... modern and traditional ... so long the prescription is effective in treatment of what ails us.
Here is how I usually present Shikantaza to folks asking me the pointless point of it all. Just my take, one flavor, and
has been described many ways by many different teachers, to each their own. Even in the West, there are some minor variations in flavors of Shikantaza as emphasized by various teachers ... some emphasize the posture more, or following the breath, or placing the focus on the Hara, or
" (I am more of that camp) ... but that's all unimportant really. I believe that the true heart of Shikantaza can be described something like this ...:
" Zen practice is a radical, to the marrow, dropping of the self's demands that something needs to be attained
to make this world "right
", that something must be added or removed
from our lives to make life complete
, that something is defective and needs to be changed
., that we need to get some place
to find our "True Home".HOWEVER
, radically dropping, to the marrow
all need to attain, add or remove, or change in order to make life right and complete --IS-- A WONDROUS ATTAINMENT, ADDITION and CHANGE TO LIFE!
Dropping all need to "get somewhere" is truly finally GETTING SOMEWHERE! The True Home is here and everywhere! Abandoning all need in life's race to cross some finish line over a distant hill, is simply arriving at the finish line which is our every step!ALL THAT
, even as we continue to move forward, make choices, have preferences ... LIVE! Moving forward, yet as still and unmoving as a mountain or a stone ... having choices and preferences while choices and preferences are fully dropped, and we drop all demands to get somewhere ... living passionately, yet not a prisoner of passions ... at once, the still mountains walking, the stone women dancing ...
We fix what needs to be fixed .. in this world, in our life ... all without thought of something to repair. We clean what needs to be cleaned ... the messes and disasters and filthy oil spills ... yet there is no "clean" or "dirty". GOT HOW THAT WORKS
All the conflict and division is dropped from mind ... with other related clutter and clatter like thoughts of this and that, self and other
... and, in doing so, the body-mind of self (being out of a job) drops away too!
To the marrow sitting free of seeking ... is a dandy way thus to find that which can only be found by sitting radically free of seeking
. Realizing that there is no where to "get to", and no place you can get or need get ... is finally getting somewhere that will revolutionize life, and put your "you" out of a job
. One gets very far, one finally arrives ... by sitting still.
Being the "Buddha" all along, and having not a thing about you that is in need of change ... that does not mean you don't have some work to do to realize truly that you are the Buddha without need of change. To realize that you are never, from the outset, in need of change is a VERY BIG CHANGE! There is absolutely nothing about you and the universe (not two) to add or take away, and tasting that there is "nothing to add" is an irreplaceably important addition!
By being "goalless" we hit the goal ... a goal which is hit by being thoroughly goalless.
In seeing the ordinary as sacred ... we find (as Hakuin Zenji wrote) "this earth where we stand is the Pure Lotus Land, and this very body the body of Buddha
". This very life is it!
Yes, the key is "not me" ... because that "me" is a trouble maker of frictions with the "not me" world. But depriving the "me" of its fuel, dropping body-mind, the friction vanishes. The way to "drop body-mind" is to drop all thought of achievement of "dropping body-mind" and all other need for achievement ... which results in a very major achievement, namely, the "dropping of body-mind."
And, yes, finally ... this practice makes me happy, joyful, deep down and pervading. It is an abiding happiness and joy at a life in which I do not need to, and will not, feel happy and joyful all or much of the time. And that makes me happy! It is a Peace which sweeps in all peace and war, is at home with all ... at peace in, as and with a life that is oftimes anything but peaceful, thus True Peace.
See how that all works?
Our 'heart and all being' Practice here is Shikantaza
Zazen which, by its very nature, must be experienced as the only and complete Practice, nothing more to do, no other place to go than on one's Zafu, not a single thing to add or take away ... the whole universe sitting as our sitting, as sitting sits sitting
And what we learn about experiencing life in that "just what it is
" way when 'on the cushion' can also come to be taken with us when we rise from the cushion into daily life ... which is 'Zazen' in its wider meaning. I sometimes write ....
Every moment of Zazen is complete, sacred, a perfect action, with not one thing to add, not one thing to take away. When we sit Zazen, we are a Buddha sitting.
And all of this life and world can be known too as sacred, a jewel, with not one thing to add, not one thing to take away. Perfectly just-what-it-is.
THUS, by definition, Shikantaza
is a practice of radical non-doing, non-need-to-changing, non-seeking for a promised land 'somewhere else'. The “effect" of Zazen greatly derives from learning to accept the moment with all the body-and-mind, being “at one” with what is as we drop demands and resistance to changing circumstances, thus going with the flow and being just the very flowing itself, finding stillness even as and through the motion of life, dropping desires and demands for how the frustrated “me/myself/I”‘ self wants things to “should be” vs. “life just as we find life”. Yes, if you are having difficulty to sit still, and to drop demands and judgments of “how things should be”… it is because the self resists.
But sitting radically to the marrowless marrow with "nothing to attain" does not mean that nothing is attained. Far from it!
To realize that you are never, from the outset, in need of change is a VERY BIG CHANGE! There is absolutely nothing about you and the universe (not two) to add or take away, and tasting that there is "nothing to add" is an important addition!
And how do you realize that non-realization?
By Just Sitting to-the-marrow, radically dropping all goals, judgments, attempts to get somewhere or to achieve some realization. That gets you somewhere, and a revolutionary realization!
Truly understanding that everything is completely beyond need for change is a complete change, and finding that there was never a place to get to is finally getting somewhere.
What is more that is the reason for being (and non-being)
of this Sangha, and no other practices or perspectives should be taught here to the degree they take away from the above, the central message. HOWEVER, Zen teachers often talk out of two sides of their no-sided mouth!
Just because there is "nothing to change about us" ... does not mean that there is "nothing to change about us".
Perhaps a fellow sits down to Zazen for the first time who is a violent man, a thief and alcoholic. He hears that “all is Buddha just as it is
“, so thinks that Zen practice means “all is a jewel just as it is, so thus maybe I can simply stay that way, just drink and beat my wife and rob strangers
“. Well, no, because while a thief and wife-beater is just that … a thief and wife-beater, yet a Buddha nonetheless … still, someone filled with such anger and greed and empty holes to fill in their psyche is not really “at peace with how things are
” (or he would not beat and steal and need to self-medicate). In other words, he takes and craves and acts out anger and frustration because he does not truly understand “peace with this life as it is
” … because if he did, he would not need to be those violent, punishing ways.
If the angry, violent fellow truly knew “completeness
“, truly had “no hole in need of filling
“, “nothing lacking” everything “complete just as it is
” … well, he simply would not have need to do violence, steal and take drugs to cover his inner pain.
You see … kind of a self-fulfilling Catch-22.
Thus, our “goalless sitting
” in Zazen is –not–
merely sitting on our hind quarters, self-satisfied, feeling that we “just have to sit here and we are Buddha
“. Far from it. It is, instead, to-the-marrow dropping of all need and lack. That is very different. Someone’s “just sitting around” doing nothing, going no where, complacent or resigned, giving up, killing time, is not in any way the same as “Just Sitting” practice wherein nothing need be done, with no where that we can go or need go, for all is faced ‘head on’ and energetically as already whole and complete … even while we realize that the choices we make in life have consequences, that how we choose to walk the walk in this life, and the directions we choose to go, do make a difference!
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