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.
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.)
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.