Differing views of shikantaza

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:38 pm

Meido wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:04 pm
Aside from any Jundo/Dosho discussion, i personally would also love to see discussion RE any other viewpoints, however similar or different.

From the official Soto-shu website:

https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/li ... erms01.pdf
and
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/li ... erms04.pdf
Not worth excerpting, short easy reads.

Thanks for everything, Meido.

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by boda » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:10 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:06 am
"radical purists" on matters of Shikantaza. From such position, seemingly James and Dosho do not understand Shikantaza.
A purist is someone who adheres strictly and often excessively to something. Such dogmatism may actually limit understanding. Those with a more open and wider view may possess a deeper understanding, so this alone doesn't indicate that James and Dosho are lacking in understanding Shikantaza, indeed it may suggest that they have a fuller and deeper understanding of it.

Is there some other reason that you believe James and Dosho 'seem' to be deficient in this way?

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by boda » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:59 pm

Sometimes it may be all right to practice zazen as a kind of exercise or training, to make your practice stronger or to make your breathing smooth and natural. That is perhaps included in practice, but when we say shikantaza, that is not what we mean. When we receive a letter from the world of emptiness, then the practice of shikantaza is working.
~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

I think this clears up any confusion on the matter at hand.

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:16 pm

jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:06 am
Some folks here must learn to read full sentences!

I did not say, "[start quote] neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza. [full stop]" For those people who cannot understand so many words strung together at one time, "I believe, but it is just my view (and he would not see it the same way), that he is wrong" is heard to mean in their black/white minds "He is wrong." To help such people and other folks who pull phrases out of the middle of sentences, I place in boldface AND underline the portions which elude their understanding and reading skills:
I will say for the record that, in my view and viewless (and that is all it is), neither James Ford nor Dosho Port have ever truly understood Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen, and thus they teach as they do.

Of course, others, including James Ford and Dosho Port, might disagree.
This is what you like to describe as a 'straw man argument'. The surrounding words do not negate or disqualify the thesis you now try to deny, i.e., that Ford and Port do not have the perfect understanding of shikantaza that you possess.
jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:06 am
I added:
James and Dosho present the beautiful and powerful road of a mixed practice via the Yasutani-Harada interpretations. I do not mean to diminish their way of teaching and practicing for them and others, nor what they present as "Shikantaza." Nobody owns Zazen. I am sure that, for James and Dosho, their path is not lacking, and I celebrate their path. I do not criticize their path, and only honor it as a complete path too.
Personally, I don't believe the author's sentiment in this statement at all. The criticism is obvious. Or maybe I just can't see it clearly since my torch went out?
jundocohen wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:06 am
I merely assert that, for some of us who are radical purists on the one practice path of Shikantaza, James and Dosho do not understand Shikantaza, as witnessed by many of their descriptions and comments on Shikantaza. As I will show in quotes from them, it is not that I criticize their practice, but they have often criticized a straw man version of Shikantaza.[/u][/b]
Speaks for itself, but then I am probably seen as a radical impurist.

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by michaeljc » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:19 pm

Claiming to understand another's understanding is a little precarious I would say

It is difficult enough, even with one's wife ! :113:

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:32 pm

michaeljc wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:19 pm
Claiming to understand another's understanding is a little precarious I would say
Everyone is entitled to belief or opinion, free of blowback against that right.
Michaeljc wrote: It is difficult enough, even with one's wife !
Indeed, how lucky you must deem yourself to have a living spouse.

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by jundocohen » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:31 am

Meido wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:04 pm
Aside from any Jundo/Dosho discussion, i personally would also love to see discussion RE any other viewpoints, however similar or different.
Lovely.

All the folks that Meido linked to (and about all the Soto/Shinkantaza teachers anywhere that I can think of) agree on the point that Shikantaza is sat as one act into which one pours oneself and is poured by. Nothing more is required or sought during the time of sitting. No Koan or Head Word is required, no experience of Kensho opening is sought or particularly celebrated (although they happen, and are too to be celebrated as is every aspect of what happens in sitting).

If there is one point of disagreement among some of the Soto/Shikantaza folks, it to the extent of their emphasis on the necessity of a body posture, and most particularly the lotus posture, as a trigger for a balanced mind (I do not do so as much, especially with the many disabled individuals sitting in our Sangha, and emphasize the sacredness of the "one act" of sitting itself). Some teachers may also emphasize states of samadhi more than others.

Now, a couple of caveats: First, Kensho and samadhi states are most welcome, as is every aspect of sitting. Second, a balanced body is to be encouraged, although I tend not to emphasize what I consider the fetishist, pseudo-scientific heralding of the Lotus postures as working some special physiological magic that cannot be attained just as well in many stable and bodily postures or movements (and for the physically disabled or ill, the most important point is the wholeness of the act, not how the physical form of the act ... I will write about that another time).

Next, teachers vary on where to place the mind during Zazen. Some encourage following the breath (as I encourage for beginners) or counting the breath (Dogen was critical of this), some focusing on the posture, some (like me) on "open spacious awareness." Dogen quoted his teacher Rujing as encouraging placing the mind in the palm of the left hand of the Zazen mudra.

In fact (and this maybe will shock some people when ol' Jundo says it), even placing the mind on a mantra or Koan phrase can be a kind of Shikantaza when one is totally goalless about it. (So what is the difference? Only the emphasis ... by sweating bullets in some interpretations of Koan Introspection Practice ... on attaining Kensho breakthroughs thereby and "passing" Koans through Zazen in the manner of Tahui and Hakuin). However, "objectless" meditation (in terms of both place of focus and goal) is best, at least in the opinion of most Shikantaza teachers.

So, from the article by Taigen Leighton that Meido linked to:
One way to categorize the meditation practice of shikan taza, or "just sitting," is as an objectless meditation. This is a definition in terms of what it is not. One just sits, not concentrating on any particular object of awareness, unlike most traditional meditation practices, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, that involve intent focus on a particular object. Such objects traditionally have included colored disks, candle flames, various aspects of breath, incantations, ambient sound, physical sensations or postures, spiritual figures, mandalas including geometric arrangements of such figures, or of symbols representing them, teaching stories, or key phrases from such stories. Some of these concentration practices are in the background of the shikan taza practice tradition, or have been included with shikan taza in its actual lived experience by practitioners.

But objectless meditation focuses on clear, non-judgmental, panoramic attention to all of the myriad arising phenomena in the present experience. Such objectless meditation is a potential universally available to conscious beings, and has been expressed at various times in history. This just sitting is not a meditation technique or practice, or any thing at all. "Just sitting" is a verb rather than a noun, the dynamic activity of being fully present. ...

Another aspect of Hongzhi's practice is that it is objectless not only in terms of letting go of concentration objects, but also objectless in the sense of avoiding any specific, limited goals or objectives. As Hongzhi says at the end of "Silent Illumination," "Transmit it to all directions without desiring to gain credit." This serene illumination, or just sitting, is not a technique, or a means to some resulting higher state of consciousness, or any particular state of being. Just sitting, one simply meets the immediate present. Desiring some flashy experience, or anything more or other than "this" is mere worldly vanity and craving. Again invoking empty nature, Hongzhi says, "Fully appreciate the emptiness of all dharmas. Then all minds are free and all dusts evaporate in the original brilliance shining everywhere. . . . Clear and desireless, the wind in the pines and the moon in the water are content in their elements."
http://www.ancientdragon.org/dharma/art ... st_sitting
(Footnote: Notice that Taigen offers an interpretation of "Silent Illumination" that has little to do with stages and depths of Samadhi as Guo Gu and his Teacher seem to emphasize in their fine ways of Practice: viewtopic.php?p=3751#p3751).

Another desription from Taigen Leigton on Zazen as "enactment ritual" (a teaching of "sitting as Buddha sitting" which Dosho Port so badly mischaracterizes and misunderstands, in my opinion, in his writings):
Buddhist meditation has commonly been considered an instrumental technique aimed at obtaining a heightened mental or spiritual state, or even as a method for inducing some dramatic "enlightenment" experience. But in some branches of the Zen tradition, zazen (Zen seated meditation) has been seen not as a means to attaining some result, but as a ritual enactment and expression of awakened awareness. This alternate, historically significant approach to Zen meditation and practice has been as a ceremonial, ritual expression whose transformative quality is not based on stages of attainment or meditative prowess.

The Zen ritual enactment approach is most apparent and developed in writings about zazen by the Japanese Soto Zen founder Eihei Dogen (1200-1253). After beginning with his ritual instructions for meditation practice, especially in his monastic regulations for the monks' hall in Eihei Shingi, I will explore relevant teachings about meditation in a selection of his extended essays in Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye Treasury), as well as in his direct teachings to his monks in Eihei Koroku (Dogen's Extensive Record). This will be followed with a sampling of a few other Zen sources with analogous approaches.

Before focusing on teachings by Dogen, we may briefly note that such enactment practice is usually associated with the Vajrayana branch of Buddhism, in which practitioners are initiated into ritual practices of identification with specific buddha or bodhisattva figures. ...
http://www.ancientdragon.org/dharma/art ... ent_ritual
The Soto-shu page which Meido linked to provides ...
Shikantaza has two aspects of emphasis:

(1) Emphasis on zazen and rejection of other practices (full devotion to zazen)
(2) Rejection of zazen as a means to an end (oneness of practice and realization)

As for the first aspect, Zen Master Nyojo rejected practices other than zazen, from incense-burning to reading sutras in the sayings quoted above. ...

Dogen stresses that Buddha-ancestors do not practice zazen as a means to an end. Therefore, as is said in Gakudo Yojinshu, “Realization lies in practice.” Enlightenment is clearly manifested in the Buddha-ancestors’ zazen. In the same vein, in Bendowa Zen Master Dogen wrote, “To suppose that practice and realization are not one is a view of those outside the way. In Buddha Dharma they are inseparable.” He states that when instructing beginners we must teach them not to expect realization outside of practice. Practice is the immediate, original realization. The practice of beginner’s mind is itself the entire original realization.

Dogen clearly distinguishes the zazen of Buddha-ancestors from the zazen of other schools. The principle of zazen in other schools is to wait for enlightenment. For example, to practice is like crossing over a great ocean on a raft, thinking that having crossed the ocean one should discard the raft. The zazen of Buddha-ancestors is not like this, but is simply Buddha’s practice. We could say that the situation of Buddha’s house is the one in which the essence, practice, and expounding are one and the same. (Eihei Koroku, vol. 8:11)

In other schools zazen is a means to gain enlightenment. Like a raft, it is no longer useful when the goal is achieved. Some people boast about their experiences of great enlightenment and kensho. If their zazen practice regresses because of such an experience, that experience is nothing but a delusion that becomes a hindrance to the continuation of practice. Zen Master Dogen says that the zazen of the Buddha-ancestors is Buddha’s practice. It is a very simple and plain practice of just continuing to sit, letting go of our views. Such zazen embodies the “situation of Buddha’s house” in which the essence (foundation/enlightenment), expounding (explaining the Dharma) and practice are one and the same. Therefore, there is no need to seek the Buddha outside zazen. Zazen is not a practice that produces a Buddha-ancestor but an action causing the Buddha-ancestors to live as Buddha-ancestors. The Buddha-ancestors are beings who have already clarified all kinds of enlightenment and psychological states. They have nothing more to gain, nothing more to realize. When zazen is valued as a practice performed by those Buddha-ancestors, the content of that zazen is called “nothing to attain nothing to enlighten” (Shobogenzo Zuimonki , book 6).

When there is nothing to be gained, nothing to be realized, sitting zazen is “body-mind dropping off (shinjin datsuraku).” Body-mind dropping off is not a wonderful psychological state to be gained as a result of sitting zazen. Rather, zazen itself is nothing but “body-mind dropping off.” It is to escape all kinds of clinging. When we sit zazen, our body-mind naturally drops off and the true Dharma manifests(see Fukanzazengi).
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/li ... erms01.pdf
This is mountains and rivers away from the weak, "namby pamby" "fuzzy, spacing-out, lulling vacancy" sitting that Dosho tries to paint with his "Shikantaza straw man." Seems to me that he does not know what it truly means to rest as Buddha then get up and embody Buddha. It is, as the old Zen masters liked to say, "a pity."

As is described in the other Soto-shu article which Meido linked, Practice and Enlightenment are One ...
the general understanding of aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana is that they are four sequential stages. Aspiration comes first. After aspiration, practice begins. As a result of practice, awakening is accomplished. Then, the awakened person enters the state of nirvana with remainder. When the body dies, the awakened person finally enters nirvana with no residue.

However, Dogen Zenji writes in Shobogenzo “Gyoji: Part One” “Between aspiration, practice, awakening and nirvana, there is not a moment’s gap.” There should be no interval or gap between those four. It should be aspirationpracticeawakeningnirvana. Where aspiration is present, there is
already practice. Practice is itself awakening (identity of practice and realization). This practice-awakening is nirvana. Thus “aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana” are not sequential stages. All are one. Buddhas are practicing this oneness of “aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana.” That is exactly what sokushin zebutsu is all about.
(I will comment on that more in regard to Mr. Wonderwheel's article on "Practice-Enlightenment" in which he makes the very common mistake of arguing that, since X doctrine had a certain interpretation in prior Mahayana or Zen teachings, that Dogen held exactly to the prior understanding with regard to time sequence and cause-effect relationships.)

Gassho, J

PS - NOTE FOR PARTIAL READERS & TORCH CARRIERS: Nothing in the above means that anyone else's ways of Practice (including Dosho or James) is thus a bad way for them, nor that Soto folks' characterization of another Practice is how those practicing the other Practice define it for themselves.
Last edited by jundocohen on Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha, an online practice place for folks who cannot commute to a Zen Center due to health, living in remote areas, work or family needs. The focus is Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen http://www.treeleaf.org

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by Caodemarte » Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:01 am

More obviously off topic posts deleted, including attacks on third parties. Please be civil and on topic.

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by lindama » Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:04 am

michaeljc wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:19 pm
Claiming to understand another's understanding is a little precarious I would say

It is difficult enough, even with one's wife ! :113:
Right on, Michael.... like trying to describe the taste of water. Can't be debated.

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:04 am

lindama wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:04 am
michaeljc wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:19 pm
Claiming to understand another's understanding is a little precarious I would say

It is difficult enough, even with one's wife ! :113:
Right on, Michael.... like trying to describe the taste of water. Can't be debated.
.One approach is to rule out what it doesn't taste like . . .

Of course, anything can be debated.

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:24 am

lindama wrote: Right on, Michael.... like trying to describe the taste of water. Can't be debated.
Like Perrier, only without the bubbles?

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:32 am

:chicken:
jundocohen wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:31 am
Meido wrote:
Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:04 pm
Aside from any Jundo/Dosho discussion, i personally would also love to see discussion RE any other viewpoints, however similar or different.
Lovely.

All the folks that Meido linked to (and about all the Soto/Shinkantaza teachers anywhere that I can think of) agree on the point that Shikantaza is sat as one act into which one pours oneself and is poured by. Nothing more is required or sought during the time of sitting. No Koan or Head Word is required, no experience of Kensho opening is sought or particularly celebrated (although they happen, and are too to be celebrated as is every aspect of what happens in sitting).

If there is one point of disagreement among some of the Soto/Shikantaza folks, it to the extent of their emphasis on the necessity of a body posture, and most particularly the lotus posture, as a trigger for a balanced mind (I do not do so as much, especially with the many disabled individuals sitting in our Sangha, and emphasize the sacredness of the "one act" of sitting itself). Some teachers may also emphasize states of samadhi more than others.

Now, a couple of caveats: First, Kensho and samadhi states are most welcome, as is every aspect of sitting. Second, a balanced body is to be encouraged, although I tend not to emphasize what I consider the fetishist, pseudo-scientific heralding of the Lotus postures as working some special physiological magic that cannot be attained just as well in many stable and bodily postures or movements (and for the physically disabled or ill, the most important point is the wholeness of the act, not how the physical form of the act ... I will write about that another time).

Next, teachers vary on where to place the mind during Zazen. Some encourage following the breath (as I encourage for beginners) or counting the breath (Dogen was critical of this), some focusing on the posture, some (like me) on "open spacious awareness." Dogen quoted his teacher Rujing as encouraging placing the mind in the palm of the left hand of the Zazen mudra.

In fact (and this maybe will shock some people when ol' Jundo says it), even placing the mind on a mantra or Koan phrase can be a kind of Shikantaza when one is totally goalless about it. (So what is the difference? Only the emphasis ... by sweating bullets in some interpretations of Koan Introspection Practice ... on attaining Kensho breakthroughs thereby and "passing" Koans through Zazen in the manner of Tahui and Hakuin). However, "objectless" meditation (in terms of both place of focus and goal) is best, at least in the opinion of most Shikantaza teachers.

So, from the article by Taigen Leighton that Meido linked to:
One way to categorize the meditation practice of shikan taza, or "just sitting," is as an objectless meditation. This is a definition in terms of what it is not. One just sits, not concentrating on any particular object of awareness, unlike most traditional meditation practices, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, that involve intent focus on a particular object. Such objects traditionally have included colored disks, candle flames, various aspects of breath, incantations, ambient sound, physical sensations or postures, spiritual figures, mandalas including geometric arrangements of such figures, or of symbols representing them, teaching stories, or key phrases from such stories. Some of these concentration practices are in the background of the shikan taza practice tradition, or have been included with shikan taza in its actual lived experience by practitioners.

But objectless meditation focuses on clear, non-judgmental, panoramic attention to all of the myriad arising phenomena in the present experience. Such objectless meditation is a potential universally available to conscious beings, and has been expressed at various times in history. This just sitting is not a meditation technique or practice, or any thing at all. "Just sitting" is a verb rather than a noun, the dynamic activity of being fully present. ...

Another aspect of Hongzhi's practice is that it is objectless not only in terms of letting go of concentration objects, but also objectless in the sense of avoiding any specific, limited goals or objectives. As Hongzhi says at the end of "Silent Illumination," "Transmit it to all directions without desiring to gain credit." This serene illumination, or just sitting, is not a technique, or a means to some resulting higher state of consciousness, or any particular state of being. Just sitting, one simply meets the immediate present. Desiring some flashy experience, or anything more or other than "this" is mere worldly vanity and craving. Again invoking empty nature, Hongzhi says, "Fully appreciate the emptiness of all dharmas. Then all minds are free and all dusts evaporate in the original brilliance shining everywhere. . . . Clear and desireless, the wind in the pines and the moon in the water are content in their elements."
http://www.ancientdragon.org/dharma/art ... st_sitting
(Footnote: Notice that Taigen offers an interpretation of "Silent Illumination" that has little to do with stages and depths of Samadhi as Guo Gu and his Teacher seem to emphasize in their fine ways of Practice: viewtopic.php?p=3751#p3751).

Another desription from Taigen Leigton on Zazen as "enactment ritual" (a teaching of "sitting as Buddha sitting" which Dosho Port so badly mischaracterizes and misunderstands, in my opinion, in his writings):
Buddhist meditation has commonly been considered an instrumental technique aimed at obtaining a heightened mental or spiritual state, or even as a method for inducing some dramatic "enlightenment" experience. But in some branches of the Zen tradition, zazen (Zen seated meditation) has been seen not as a means to attaining some result, but as a ritual enactment and expression of awakened awareness. This alternate, historically significant approach to Zen meditation and practice has been as a ceremonial, ritual expression whose transformative quality is not based on stages of attainment or meditative prowess.

The Zen ritual enactment approach is most apparent and developed in writings about zazen by the Japanese Soto Zen founder Eihei Dogen (1200-1253). After beginning with his ritual instructions for meditation practice, especially in his monastic regulations for the monks' hall in Eihei Shingi, I will explore relevant teachings about meditation in a selection of his extended essays in Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye Treasury), as well as in his direct teachings to his monks in Eihei Koroku (Dogen's Extensive Record). This will be followed with a sampling of a few other Zen sources with analogous approaches.

Before focusing on teachings by Dogen, we may briefly note that such enactment practice is usually associated with the Vajrayana branch of Buddhism, in which practitioners are initiated into ritual practices of identification with specific buddha or bodhisattva figures. ...
http://www.ancientdragon.org/dharma/art ... ent_ritual
The Soto-shu page which Meido linked to provides ...
Shikantaza has two aspects of emphasis:

(1) Emphasis on zazen and rejection of other practices (full devotion to zazen)
(2) Rejection of zazen as a means to an end (oneness of practice and realization)

As for the first aspect, Zen Master Nyojo rejected practices other than zazen, from incense-burning to reading sutras in the sayings quoted above. ...

Dogen stresses that Buddha-ancestors do not practice zazen as a means to an end. Therefore, as is said in Gakudo Yojinshu, “Realization lies in practice.” Enlightenment is clearly manifested in the Buddha-ancestors’ zazen. In the same vein, in Bendowa Zen Master Dogen wrote, “To suppose that practice and realization are not one is a view of those outside the way. In Buddha Dharma they are inseparable.” He states that when instructing beginners we must teach them not to expect realization outside of practice. Practice is the immediate, original realization. The practice of beginner’s mind is itself the entire original realization.

Dogen clearly distinguishes the zazen of Buddha-ancestors from the zazen of other schools. The principle of zazen in other schools is to wait for enlightenment. For example, to practice is like crossing over a great ocean on a raft, thinking that having crossed the ocean one should discard the raft. The zazen of Buddha-ancestors is not like this, but is simply Buddha’s practice. We could say that the situation of Buddha’s house is the one in which the essence, practice, and expounding are one and the same. (Eihei Koroku, vol. 8:11)

In other schools zazen is a means to gain enlightenment. Like a raft, it is no longer useful when the goal is achieved. Some people boast about their experiences of great enlightenment and kensho. If their zazen practice regresses because of such an experience, that experience is nothing but a delusion that becomes a hindrance to the continuation of practice. Zen Master Dogen says that the zazen of the Buddha-ancestors is Buddha’s practice. It is a very simple and plain practice of just continuing to sit, letting go of our views. Such zazen embodies the “situation of Buddha’s house” in which the essence (foundation/enlightenment), expounding (explaining the Dharma) and practice are one and the same. Therefore, there is no need to seek the Buddha outside zazen. Zazen is not a practice that produces a Buddha-ancestor but an action causing the Buddha-ancestors to live as Buddha-ancestors. The Buddha-ancestors are beings who have already clarified all kinds of enlightenment and psychological states. They have nothing more to gain, nothing more to realize. When zazen is valued as a practice performed by those Buddha-ancestors, the content of that zazen is called “nothing to attain nothing to enlighten” (Shobogenzo Zuimonki , book 6).

When there is nothing to be gained, nothing to be realized, sitting zazen is “body-mind dropping off (shinjin datsuraku).” Body-mind dropping off is not a wonderful psychological state to be gained as a result of sitting zazen. Rather, zazen itself is nothing but “body-mind dropping off.” It is to escape all kinds of clinging. When we sit zazen, our body-mind naturally drops off and the true Dharma manifests(see Fukanzazengi).
https://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/li ... erms01.pdf
This is mountains and rivers away from the weak, "namby pamby" "fuzzy, spacing-out, lulling vacancy" sitting that Dosho tries to paint with his "Shikantaza straw man." Seems to me that he does not know what it truly means to rest as Buddha then get up and embody Buddha. It is, as the old Zen masters liked to say, "a pity."

As is described in the other Soto-shu article which Meido linked, Practice and Enlightenment are One ...
the general understanding of aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana is that they are four sequential stages. Aspiration comes first. After aspiration, practice begins. As a result of practice, awakening is accomplished. Then, the awakened person enters the state of nirvana with remainder. When the body dies, the awakened person finally enters nirvana with no residue.

However, Dogen Zenji writes in Shobogenzo “Gyoji: Part One” “Between aspiration, practice, awakening and nirvana, there is not a moment’s gap.” There should be no interval or gap between those four. It should be aspirationpracticeawakeningnirvana. Where aspiration is present, there is
already practice. Practice is itself awakening (identity of practice and realization). This practice-awakening is nirvana. Thus “aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana” are not sequential stages. All are one. Buddhas are practicing this oneness of “aspiration, practice, awakening, and nirvana.” That is exactly what sokushin zebutsu is all about.
(I will comment on that more in regard to Mr. Wonderwheel's article on "Practice-Enlightenment" in which he makes the very common mistake of arguing that, since X doctrine had a certain interpretation in prior Mahayana or Zen teachings, that Dogen held exactly to the prior understanding with regard to time sequence and cause-effect relationships.)

Gassho, J

PS - NOTE FOR PARTIAL READERS & TORCH CARRIERS: Nothing in the above means that anyone else's ways of Practice (including Dosho or James) is thus a bad way for them, nor that Soto folks' characterization of another Practice is how those practicing the other Practice define it for themselves.
Here, one may become a "partial reader" out of pure fatigue.

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by michaeljc » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:10 am

Here, one may become a "partial reader" out of pure fatigue.
Oh - come now, it's only 1,984 words :lol:

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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by jundocohen » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:23 am

Some folks might do better with a coloring book. :-)

Gassho Jundo
Teacher at Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha, an online practice place for folks who cannot commute to a Zen Center due to health, living in remote areas, work or family needs. The focus is Shikantaza 'Just Sitting' Zazen http://www.treeleaf.org

ol' spikey

Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by ol' spikey » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:46 am

michaeljc wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:10 am
Here, one may become a "partial reader" out of pure fatigue.
Oh - come now, it's only 1,984 words :lol:
Not my style to be long winded. Or to waste my time, as I have read this author before!

P S. The links alone would likely more than double your wc. And the links have links . .

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Larry
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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by Larry » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:32 pm

michaeljc wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:10 am
Here, one may become a "partial reader" out of pure fatigue.
Oh - come now, it's only 1,984 words :lol:
Big Brother is watching :lol:

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lindama
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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by lindama » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:54 pm

ol' spikey wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 5:24 am
lindama wrote: Right on, Michael.... like trying to describe the taste of water. Can't be debated.
Like Perrier, only without the bubbles?
haha! ice and water.... "the natural world and Shikantaza"

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by desert_woodworker » Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:59 pm

Jundo,

Thanks for the clear and clarifying statements.

I think that the differences of understanding or appreciation of shikantaza, if real, can really pale in comparison with how people sit together, say, on sesshin ( = "joining the Mind"; "touching the Mind").

To take an extreme case of "difference": In hybrid sanghas (such as the Diamond Sangha), over the seven days of sesshin, some people will be working koans with Roshi, and others will be sitting shikantaza. Does this cause disharmony in the sesshin? Not apparently. There is harmony.

Granted, the koan-practitioners may be attending dokusan more times per day than the shikantaza practitioners, but that difference does not in itself prevent people from connecting or feeling connected. ;)

When put to the test, it would seem that the differences claimed are more important from a theoretical and academic point of view than a practical one.

Both 'theoretical' and 'practical' interest me about equally I'll admit. I think that the practical is the test or proof of anything theoretical, and that the practical is in fact where we live our lives, even at the same moment while the mind may be full of abstractions. Sometimes the practical is unfortunately "missed", while differences are being mulled theoretically.

--Joe

ps but... any thoughts about possible "neuroscience input" into the matter of, say, the discrimination between "pure" shikantaza and "not-too-pure", or, wavering, shikantaza? tnx. -J.
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Great Sage EofH
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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by Great Sage EofH » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:41 pm

When Fukushima Keido Roshi gave his "Introduction to Zazen" (Lawrence Kansas, 2002) not one word was ever spoken about technique, a technique, or how to meditate, what to do with the mind, thoughts, etc. No words were ever spoken. No words were spoken about how to sit either, except the zafu zabuton arrangement was rank-and-file, facing front. During zazen Roshi walked the aisles stopping to correct postures and mudras, silently, hands on. No instructions, no koans, nothing.

That having been said, he preceeded the zazen with a talk about his first day as a novice and what zazen was like for him at that time. He also discussed in detail how attachment drags down a person's life.

It's my interpreatation that he didn't want us to have thoughts about it, just do it. But that is only my interpretation. Maybe he thought we already knew. Or that we'd eventually learn.

This reminds me of a pottery teacher i had who mostly went out on coffee break, and still his students became the future generation of leaders in the ceramic arts. Understanding how teaching works is a fairly deep subject.

in Buddhism there are many different meditative practices. What I've come away with from Zen is that zazen is like shooting the arrow.
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

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desert_woodworker
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Re: Differing views of shikantaza

Post by desert_woodworker » Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:53 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:41 pm
It's my interpreatation that he didn't want us to have thoughts about it, just do it.
That's neat, Eric.

I've sometimes felt that there's a lot of front-loading from Dogen, and others, about zazen. It seems that the more that students and teachers emphasize those teachings, the more of a load people unfortunately carry into zazen.

Shakyamuni had direction from his five teachers, over time, but it all seems to have left him unsatisfied (and with very skinny ribs at one phase). But when he sat down with plenty of resolve after accepting a ladle of milk from the milk-maid, "all it took" to put him right was to see the Morning Star in the dawn. Aitken Roshi used to say, "Zazen teaches zazen". I hope so!

--Joe

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