Shikantaza

Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Wed May 16, 2012 1:04 pm

Astus wrote:Matylda,

Where is shikantaza taught the way you talk about? Is it a specific teacher, temple or lineage of Soto Zen? Or more of a philosophical branch?
There were clear instructions quoted and referred to here, and there are many more available. For instance, from the Soto church's official website:

"Do not concentrate on any particular object or control your thought. When you maintain a proper posture and your breathing settles down, your mind will naturally become tranquil.
When various thoughts arise in your mind, do not become caught up by them or struggle with them; neither pursue nor try to escape from them. Just leave thoughts alone, allowing them to come up and go away freely. The essential thing in doing zazen is to awaken (kakusoku) from distraction and dullness, and return to the right posture moment by moment."


Before and after this it gives all the ritual and physical acts one should be aware of, pictures included. What else could be there to it? Gives the same insturctions one finds everywhere. That's why I ask where all those other extras you mention come from.


What you write is correct for the general instruction for public. But still one needs meticulous explanation from the teacher, since in those words are dangers of ordinary understanding. What I wrote comes from different sources.

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'' :lol: 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.

Plus there is now number of restricted materials published in Tohoku by the group of senior priests called Tekizen, which includes several temples of different importance. Tekizen mostly focuses on saving vast heritage of Sugimoto Roshi, but is today very popular among senior practitioners since includes many instructions on esoteric parts, and also on specific retreats like 100 day retreat based on the view of three kayas, and the path of Rishubun, secret part of Prajnaparamita, it is for those who completed their required training. This is one of the most extraordinary ways and I knew some priests and teachers very skilled in it.

One should of course mention great Toin, I met one Roshi who was student in his lineage and inherited Kodo, which was from the other edge. This one was great great master of ST with 1 or 2 disciples :) but I do not think that he was human :D

If you ask about academics, yes some do intense research on it, but they should be part of the inner circle.

But as you correctly pointed all this comes from specific teachers, temples and lineages of Soto Zen. Moreover what is very very interesting even those supportive or extraordinary practices, both for beginners (purification + blessing etc.) and advanced (Rishubun etc.) though are explained from common ground, but more interestingly they are presented in specific way of shikan taza as well.

However for the uneducated, looking from outside they may seem to have no relation with ST or have some exotic appearance. That is not correct since oldest kirigami we have are dated back to the XIV century, which is very early date for soto in japan. I am afraid that all these will be dropped or lost in the West. Including many ST instructions.

If there are misspellings, sorry...
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Astus » Wed May 16, 2012 2:16 pm

Matylda,

As you said, most of those practices you have mentioned are not really transmitted to the West, for a couple of reasons. You may also know that most of the Soto Zen groups in the West are not associated with the Soto church in Japan. These are differences that should be recognised, and handled separately. So what you write about is all very interesting. Perhaps you could organise these information a bit and create a website or blog about it in English, to show how things are currently done in Japan. You might also make some comparisons with the teachings and methods spread among Western Zen students.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Wed May 16, 2012 7:56 pm

Astus wrote:Matylda,

As you said, most of those practices you have mentioned are not really transmitted to the West, for a couple of reasons. You may also know that most of the Soto Zen groups in the West are not associated with the Soto church in Japan. These are differences that should be recognised, and handled separately. So what you write about is all very interesting. Perhaps you could organise these information a bit and create a website or blog about it in English, to show how things are currently done in Japan. You might also make some comparisons with the teachings and methods spread among Western Zen students.


Well I am not in such position... and my English is terrible as you may read. I do not have much time as well. But maybe there will be some people interested in it. What I have observed in the West is lack of translators for Japanese, classical Japanese and kanbun which was Dharma language in Japan... there are of course translators at universities or so, but it is not like in the case of Tibetan Buddhism where many practitioners reached some fluency.

I wish it could be changed one day within zen tradition. On the other hand I think there is not much interest. It may harm in some way transmission to the West. But who knows?
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby ElephantsYeah » Thu May 17, 2012 1:43 am

Well, this has become a little complicated, but there *are* good teachers in the West - and Western teachers - who can speak to Frank's question. Aside from the sources I've already mentioned (Uchiyama, Okumura), Steve Hagen's books are also very reliable.

In the beginning, it is good to read; I think Dogen is a little difficult, honestly, so it is maybe better to start with some more modern practicioners in Dogen's lineage.

I also think it is important not to confuse ourselves, at the outset, with questions which are perhaps more suited to those with some experience. Experience will come, and questions may arise. As you read, learn to recognize what is appropriate to your condition, and try to recognize when you begin to fantasize about obstacles or outcomes. The real danger facing all meditators is the temptation to solve problems in advance, by spending more time reading books, or spending time on forums like this one.

For now, it's okay just to sit, and forget about problems. If problems come, you'll deal with them then, because they will be *your* problems, not someone else's which you have only read about. If awakening comes, it will be *your* awakening, and not someone else's which you have only read about.

Shikantaza is really just a matter of letting go of problems, solutions, delusions, awakenings, and everything in between.

Hope this helps ....
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 5:22 am

matylda, i'm even more intrigued! could you try to write instructions or a summary of instructions please?
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 7:39 am

ElephantsYeah wrote:Well, this has become a little complicated, but there *are* good teachers in the West - and Western teachers - who can speak to Frank's question. Aside from the sources I've already mentioned (Uchiyama, Okumura), Steve Hagen's books are also very reliable.

In the beginning, it is good to read; I think Dogen is a little difficult, honestly, so it is maybe better to start with some more modern practicioners in Dogen's lineage.

I also think it is important not to confuse ourselves, at the outset, with questions which are perhaps more suited to those with some experience. Experience will come, and questions may arise. As you read, learn to recognize what is appropriate to your condition, and try to recognize when you begin to fantasize about obstacles or outcomes. The real danger facing all meditators is the temptation to solve problems in advance, by spending more time reading books, or spending time on forums like this one...
very helpful thank you!
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Thu May 17, 2012 3:25 pm

Frank wrote:matylda, i'm even more intrigued! could you try to write instructions or a summary of instructions please?



I think general instructions are basically similar to what was quoted by Astus. But also most people are advised to practice breathing or counting... it has some specific teaching to avoid separation and dichotomy of subject and object. It is good introduction before ST.

Actually it is not concentration, what is frequently done mistake. It is an important point. It is more like becoming, what is, or complete natural absorption of what manifests, in this case breath. When one gets some proficiency in that kind of zazen one needs farther instruction for ST. Proficiency means basically some sort of samadhi, it means that at least one should have some skill to deal with thoughts, I clinging etc.

If one is without teacher, this method is very helpful.
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Thu May 17, 2012 8:15 pm

Matylda wrote:
Frank wrote:matylda, i'm even more intrigued! could you try to write instructions or a summary of instructions please?



I think general instructions are basically similar to what was quoted by Astus. But also most people are advised to practice breathing or counting... it has some specific teaching to avoid separation and dichotomy of subject and object. It is good introduction before ST.

Actually it is not concentration, what is frequently done mistake. It is an important point. It is more like becoming, what is, or complete natural absorption of what manifests, in this case breath. When one gets some proficiency in that kind of zazen one needs farther instruction for ST. Proficiency means basically some sort of samadhi, it means that at least one should have some skill to deal with thoughts, I clinging etc.

If one is without teacher, this method is very helpful.



thanks. with no concentration how does one not simply fall asleep?
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Fri May 18, 2012 9:57 am

Frank wrote:
Matylda wrote:
Frank wrote:matylda, i'm even more intrigued! could you try to write instructions or a summary of instructions please?



I think general instructions are basically similar to what was quoted by Astus. But also most people are advised to practice breathing or counting... it has some specific teaching to avoid separation and dichotomy of subject and object. It is good introduction before ST.

Actually it is not concentration, what is frequently done mistake. It is an important point. It is more like becoming, what is, or complete natural absorption of what manifests, in this case breath. When one gets some proficiency in that kind of zazen one needs farther instruction for ST. Proficiency means basically some sort of samadhi, it means that at least one should have some skill to deal with thoughts, I clinging etc.

If one is without teacher, this method is very helpful.



thanks. with no concentration how does one not simply fall asleep?



Of course not. Both concentration and sleep are two extremes of erroneous practice. Neither practice should be something between both, it means ''wrong middle'', nor it is none of those. I am not sure here with my English :(
Anyway it is point where one should get instruction on the freedom from extremes, which are listed by Nagarjuna in his Chudoron.

But it could be difficult to understand it in the beginning. So there are also other ways of approach. Depending on person and ones constitution instructions go through the death, the extreme of existence, or through 4 ways of becoming in breath practice etc... Sorry for that but I use my English since I have no idea how it is translated in proper Buddhist English. Death is simple and popular way used in Buddhism: first is thought of ones own impermanence - death, second is like ''last breath'', etc. Mind becomes refreshed and alert. But then one gets body instruction how to keep completely relaxed. But still those are preparation practice instructions not ST itself. but are very useful, since can train mind in conventional way, however are profound, nothing common.

It is same as if we lay down in bed and out of the blue in this relaxed state [when body is horizontal and power of gravitation helps muscles to relax] comes thought of our death. It is only an example. Then there is chance that due to conditions, like being tired after long day etc. that body is still completely relaxed, but the thought makes mind very very alert. There is no concentration in it. But there is no sleepiness as well. Body relaxed, mind very sharp. So it is like basic explanation to the first condition for beginners.

Mistake of concentration. This concentration needs 3 objects. There is subject - concentrating mind, object - whatever it is, be it breath, counting etc., and the tool - concentration itself. So there are three. But zazen from the beginning should be O ... like empty circle. Or one can say 1... but one which is sort of only 1 or absolute 1. In concentration one develops strong sense of acting subject on the object by the means of tool - concentration. Did you play anytime a computer game? Then you need concentration, because you wish to win. What is the result? One becomes exhausted. To keep in line those 3 factors in meditation is extremely difficult, it consumes mind and body energy, more one does it, more tiredness comes. Positive result is, that one gains some skills in it, become master of concentration and can develop even some powers... and that is it. But even the positive result of concentration may become a huge obstacle for zazen or ST. There are errors of 4 extremes in it, etc.

This is the difference between zazen on very basic level and concentration. I hope I wrote it clear... if not it is because of bad English.
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Sat May 19, 2012 5:34 am

matylda, very helpful thanks! and your english is fine :) are you from japan, i'm guessing, since you know about lots of stuff from there ?
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Sat May 19, 2012 2:21 pm

Frank wrote:matylda, very helpful thanks! and your english is fine :) are you from japan, i'm guessing, since you know about lots of stuff from there ?


Most of my life i spent in japan... I just left Japan before new Year - for good. Probably...
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Mon May 21, 2012 5:28 am

Matylda wrote:
Frank wrote:matylda, very helpful thanks! and your english is fine :) are you from japan, i'm guessing, since you know about lots of stuff from there ?


Most of my life i spent in japan... I just left Japan before new Year - for good. Probably...


interesting. i hope to visit there some day to see all the old temples, specifically dogen's and some others. how big is buddhism there? i've heard it's not very popular these days, and that christianity is much more widely practiced and known there, and then i've heard the exact opposite. which is true?
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Mon May 21, 2012 12:17 pm

Frank wrote:
Matylda wrote:
Frank wrote:matylda, very helpful thanks! and your english is fine :) are you from japan, i'm guessing, since you know about lots of stuff from there ?


Most of my life i spent in japan... I just left Japan before new Year - for good. Probably...


interesting. i hope to visit there some day to see all the old temples, specifically dogen's and some others. how big is buddhism there? i've heard it's not very popular these days, and that christianity is much more widely practiced and known there, and then i've heard the exact opposite. which is true?


Christianty? No, it is real minority. Korea yes, it has big population of followers. If you wish to visit soto temples you need good japanese to communicate. It might be difficult. At the moment Toshoji temple in Okayama run by Suzuki Seido is option. He knows English. Sogenji is Rinzai temple and is in Okayama city they speak English and has many foreigners. Some places where English was used are closed since teachers are not there any more. Those two places are recommended. Toshoji is in countryside, Sogenji is in the outskirts of the major city. But the other possibility is to get somehow information from main monasteries or offices of the schools.
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Mon May 21, 2012 8:51 pm

Matylda wrote:
Frank wrote:
Matylda wrote:

Christianty? No, it is real minority. Korea yes, it has big population of followers. If you wish to visit soto temples you need good japanese to communicate. It might be difficult. At the moment Toshoji temple in Okayama run by Suzuki Seido is option. He knows English. Sogenji is Rinzai temple and is in Okayama city they speak English and has many foreigners. Some places where English was used are closed since teachers are not there any more. Those two places are recommended. Toshoji is in countryside, Sogenji is in the outskirts of the major city. But the other possibility is to get somehow information from main monasteries or offices of the schools.


awesome! so buddhism is still big in japan? glad to hear it! thanks for the info! when i some day make my way there i will keep these things in mind and learn some japanese as well.
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Mon May 21, 2012 9:02 pm

Frank wrote:
Matylda wrote:

Christianty? No, it is real minority. Korea yes, it has big population of followers. If you wish to visit soto temples you need good japanese to communicate. It might be difficult. At the moment Toshoji temple in Okayama run by Suzuki Seido is option. He knows English. Sogenji is Rinzai temple and is in Okayama city they speak English and has many foreigners. Some places where English was used are closed since teachers are not there any more. Those two places are recommended. Toshoji is in countryside, Sogenji is in the outskirts of the major city. But the other possibility is to get somehow information from main monasteries or offices of the schools.


awesome! so buddhism is still big in japan? glad to hear it! thanks for the info! when i some day make my way there i will keep these things in mind and learn some japanese as well.



Well if you look in the proper mainstream there is no difficulty to encounter good teachers. Of course there are people who look for some sort of curiosity etc. Due to media power one can have the pretty wrong picture of what is going on in Japan. But at the same time I think that era is changing, people grow strange, I guess Buddhism also is not any longer of quality it had 100 years ago. But still there are some very honest individuals, and very good teachers. I pray constantly for their long life, and also for the sake of Dharma, that it will find worthy vessels in the West. I wonder sometimes how 03.2011 will influence people and show them more true or real values of human life. This terrible shock could be very influential on human spirit.
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Mon May 21, 2012 10:15 pm

Matylda wrote:
Frank wrote:
Matylda wrote:

Christianty? No, it is real minority. Korea yes, it has big population of followers. If you wish to visit soto temples you need good japanese to communicate. It might be difficult. At the moment Toshoji temple in Okayama run by Suzuki Seido is option. He knows English. Sogenji is Rinzai temple and is in Okayama city they speak English and has many foreigners. Some places where English was used are closed since teachers are not there any more. Those two places are recommended. Toshoji is in countryside, Sogenji is in the outskirts of the major city. But the other possibility is to get somehow information from main monasteries or offices of the schools.


awesome! so buddhism is still big in japan? glad to hear it! thanks for the info! when i some day make my way there i will keep these things in mind and learn some japanese as well.



Well if you look in the proper mainstream there is no difficulty to encounter good teachers. Of course there are people who look for some sort of curiosity etc. Due to media power one can have the pretty wrong picture of what is going on in Japan. But at the same time I think that era is changing, people grow strange, I guess Buddhism also is not any longer of quality it had 100 years ago. But still there are some very honest individuals, and very good teachers. I pray constantly for their long life, and also for the sake of Dharma, that it will find worthy vessels in the West. I wonder sometimes how 03.2011 will influence people and show them more true or real values of human life. This terrible shock could be very influential on human spirit.


ugh, footage of the devastation made me cry for the first time in years, and i'm not a very emotional person. it was utter horror.
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Matylda » Mon May 21, 2012 11:46 pm

Frank wrote:

Christianty? No, it is real minority. Korea yes, it has big population of followers. If you wish to visit soto temples you need good japanese to communicate. It might be difficult. At the moment Toshoji temple in Okayama run by Suzuki Seido is option. He knows English. Sogenji is Rinzai temple and is in Okayama city they speak English and has many foreigners. Some places where English was used are closed since teachers are not there any more. Those two places are recommended. Toshoji is in countryside, Sogenji is in the outskirts of the major city. But the other possibility is to get somehow information from main monasteries or offices of the schools.


awesome! so buddhism is still big in japan? glad to hear it! thanks for the info! when i some day make my way there i will keep these things in mind and learn some japanese as well.[/quote]


Well if you look in the proper mainstream there is no difficulty to encounter good teachers. Of course there are people who look for some sort of curiosity etc. Due to media power one can have the pretty wrong picture of what is going on in Japan. But at the same time I think that era is changing, people grow strange, I guess Buddhism also is not any longer of quality it had 100 years ago. But still there are some very honest individuals, and very good teachers. I pray constantly for their long life, and also for the sake of Dharma, that it will find worthy vessels in the West. I wonder sometimes how 03.2011 will influence people and show them more true or real values of human life. This terrible shock could be very influential on human spirit.[/quote]

ugh, footage of the devastation made me cry for the first time in years, and i'm not a very emotional person. it was utter horror.[/quote]

Yeah... :( but Dharma is always hope...
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Frank » Tue May 22, 2012 2:56 am

Matylda wrote:
Yeah... :( but Dharma is always hope...


indeed! that's the positive outlook!
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby Wesley1982 » Mon May 28, 2012 5:01 am

I don't know what the word 'Shikantaza' actually means. I'll have to look it up or ask someone
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Re: Shikantaza

Postby jundo cohen » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:40 am

Matylda wrote:
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'' :lol: 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.

Is that a bad thing?

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 Practice-Enlightenment 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 Shikantaza 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 "open spacious awareness, holding everything and nothing in particular" (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 ...:

"Shikantaza" 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? 8)

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". :shock:

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!

more here:
http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p ... nt94847378



Gassho, Jundo
Treeleaf Sangha
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