Guidance in Shikantaza the Absolute Practice of Just Sitting

Posted on Nov 14, 2013 in Everything Practice, Featured, Weekly Words | 0 comments

Guidance in Shikantaza the Absolute Practice of Just Sitting

Guidance in Shikantaza
the Absolute Practice of Just Sitting

(by Rob Anderson adapted from the book; Warm Smiles From Cold Mountains)

Zazen is the source of all the teachings and practices of the Buddha Way. All enlightenment practices emanate from and return to zazen. Zazen is neither concentration practice, nor not concentration practice. There are concentration practices, and if we are practicing thus, zazen is just being upright and unmoving, in the midst of such a practice. If we are not practicing concentration, zazen is just sitting upright and unmoving, in the middle of not practicing concentration. Although one might joyfully practice focusing on the posture and the breath, with no gaining idea, zazen is not limited to this form of practice. Zazen is pure presence untouched by all human agency, relying on no contrivance. Zazen cannot be reduced to or trapped into mindfulness or mindlessness of breath or of the posture. It cannot be captured by any activity of body or mind. The stillness of the Buddha’s sitting is not merely stillness; it is complete presence in stillness. There is not the slightest meddling. It is physical and mental non-interfering. It is thorough intimacy with whatever is happening. This is an infinitely flexible stillness that can adjust to the impermanent nature of all things, harmonizing with all situations. Zazen does not prefer success over failure, or enlightenment over delusion. If we are enlightened, we sit still in the middle of enlightenment with no preference for it. If we are deluded, we sit still in the middle of delusion with no aversion to it. This is the Buddha’s zazen.

Zazen practice is selfless. The goal of zazen is the liberation of all living beings from suffering, but the goal is exactly the same as the practice. In realizing this goal, one becomes free of self-concern and personal gain; and becoming free of self-concern and personal gain actualizes the goal. Nevertheless, zazen is an initiatory awareness: it opens the door to a full understanding of how self and other dependently co-produce one another. This is the samadhi of all buddhas. The meaning of zazen, the enlightenment and liberation of all living beings, is not brought forth by the power of personal effort and is not brought forth by the power of some other. Zazen doesn’t start when we start making effort, doesn’t stop when we stop.

We can’t do it by ourselves, and nobody else can do it for us.

~

2013 Fall Ango Text –  Of The Buddhist Temple of Toledo

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