Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:53 pm

Zen Meditation

Zen Buddhist meditation is referred to as Zazen. Zazan is the heart of Zen Buddhism. Meditation differs for each person, but essentially Zazen is the "study of the self." Zazen is performed seated in half or full lotus position (or any seated position you find comfortable).

There are three ways to practice Zazen...

Concentration: To achieve concentration you are encouraged to focus on your breathing. Counting can help to focus on each breath you take. Another way to help focus on your breathing is to repeat a mantra mentally (For example: Om Mani Padme Hum).

Koan: Once you have developed your concentration in your meditation sessions you can then move onto Koan, which is introspection. Koans are often a paradox that will not have solutions but they will allow you to intellectually think about various subjects.

Shikantaza: is basically just sitting or objectless mediation. It is a state of awareness not based on any object but a peaceful existence in which you are aware of the present moment.

Zazen is meant to be a relaxing practice so, no worries if do not achieve all levels or if you modify zazen to suit yourself... just relax and enjoy.
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Re: Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Postby hungryghost » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:32 am

What exactly do you mean when you say "modify zazen to suit yourself"? If your talking about posture, I would say yes, if you cannot sit in the usual full or half lotus postures, then you must find a stable, upright posture of some sort that you can maintain for a period of time. If you modify the actual practices to 'suit yourself' (I read suit your ego here) then I dont know if you can be said to be doing real zen training.
Both shikantaza and (especially) koan practice require a teacher.

I dont know if zazen is meant to be a relaxing practice. A 7 day sesshin is anything but relaxing, at least during the retreat.
Not trying to be judgemental or argumentative, just sharing my experience with practicing zen.
:namaste:
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Re: Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Postby kirtu » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:16 pm

There can actually be mantra recitation in zazen as well separate from mantra recitation when reciting sutras or dharani. I've seen references to this practice. The Kwan Um school does teach this practice but I've seen references to mantra recitation during zazen in Japanese Zen and Chan as well.

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Re: Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Postby meindzai » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:38 pm

kirtu wrote:There can actually be mantra recitation in zazen as well separate from mantra recitation when reciting sutras or dharani. I've seen references to this practice. The Kwan Um school does teach this practice but I've seen references to mantra recitation during zazen in Japanese Zen and Chan as well.

Kirt


Kwan Um often teaches a little bit of what you might call "mantra" as a starting point. Inhale = "clear mind" exhale "don't know." I haven't seen it in other schools but it may be there as you say.

Kwan Um also does more chanting than any other Zen school I've seen, though they are done quite musically, as opposed to the monotone in most other schools.

I would also agree about zazen not really being what I'd call "relaxing." I've run two marathons an I've done a 5 day sesshin. Sesshin was harder.

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Re: Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:39 pm

:good:
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Re: Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Postby kirtu » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:56 pm

meindzai wrote:Kwan Um often teaches a little bit of what you might call "mantra" as a starting point. Inhale = "clear mind" exhale "don't know." I haven't seen it in other schools but it may be there as you say.


A Kwan Um teacher suggested using Kwan Se Um Bosal (Avalokiteshvara's name) or the Prajna Paramita mantra when I asked her about it.

Also, Bonnie Myotai Treace, one of the two Dharma Heirs of Daido Roshi, taught a workshop on mantra and Zen many years ago that I unfortunately was unable to attend.

I think that Master Sheng Yen also talked about mantra in zazen but I'll double check when I can.

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Re: Three Methods used in Zazen (Zen Meditation)

Postby meindzai » Wed Jan 27, 2010 9:14 pm

Of course as Seung Sahn famously says, "Taoist chanting, Confucian chanting, Christian chanting, Buddhist chanting: it doesn't matter. Even chanting, "Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola. . . " can be just as good if you keep a clear mind. But, if you don't keep a clear mind, even Buddha cannot help you. The most important thing is, only do it. "

Coca Cola, Coca Cola, Coca Cola! :smile:

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