Best Shikantaza Ever

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[james]
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Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by [james] » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:40 am

Ha ha ... click bait. Sorry (not really).
But now that you’re here, how about taking a look at this fine selection, by Norman Fischer, of appreciations of what is called by some “Shikantaza”.

http://shoresofzen.com/index_htm_files/ ... antaza.pdf

Here is a good one:

“In Barry Magid's e-mail he suggests that [wholehearted shikantaza] is nothing special, not doing anything extra on and off the cushion, no need to add the extra “wholehearted” involvement in what ever you're doing. Just do as you do. I wholeheartedly (or maybe “halfheartedly”) agree. But I think we have to be careful not to make “not doing anything special” into something special, or “trying not to do anything extra” into a new spiritual endeavor.

Do we see this slipping through inadvertently in Barry's “not trying?” “If anxious, bow anxiously, if tired bow tired. Don't try to be ‘mindful’ or anything else. Be what you are; stay aware of what/who you are moment to moment.” Notice the “stay aware” that sneaks in. Is that different from being “mindful?” Is that an invitation to do something different than just being anxious without awareness? Do we even need to be aware? If we do need to be aware, what part of the anxiety should we be aware of, just a little, out of the corner of one’s attention (halfheartedly) or with “wholeheartedness?” If we aren’t aware, is there Zen? If we “try” to be aware is there Zen?

It also seems that “don’t try” is to invite some sort of trying even though the trying is to not try. It is just as problematic to “not try” as to try and doing something.

The modern koan may go something like: If you try to do something in shikantaza you loose your life as it is right now. If you don't make some effort at awareness you continue in your samsara, not doing shikantaza. How do you do shikantaza?”

-Larry Christensen-

That last paragraph is something special.
Last edited by [james] on Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Anders
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Anders » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:58 am

The modern koan may go something like: If you try to do something in shikantaza you loose your life as it is right now. If you don't make some effort at awareness you continue in your samsara, not doing shikantaza. How do you do shikantaza?”

-Larry Christensen-

That last paragraph is something special.
This is the gist of what I take from the Up a Tree koan.

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KeithA
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by KeithA » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:40 pm

Anders wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:58 am
The modern koan may go something like: If you try to do something in shikantaza you loose your life as it is right now. If you don't make some effort at awareness you continue in your samsara, not doing shikantaza. How do you do shikantaza?”

-Larry Christensen-

That last paragraph is something special.
This is the gist of what I take from the Up a Tree koan.
Also the 100 foot pole and Ko Bong's "the world is on fire" :)
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Pablo » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:07 pm

KeithA wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:40 pm
Anders wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:58 am
The modern koan may go something like: If you try to do something in shikantaza you loose your life as it is right now. If you don't make some effort at awareness you continue in your samsara, not doing shikantaza. How do you do shikantaza?”

-Larry Christensen-

That last paragraph is something special.
This is the gist of what I take from the Up a Tree koan.
Also the 100 foot pole and Ko Bong's "the world is on fire" :)
And every koan, right?

I don't see how you can practice with any koan (that includes shikantaza, by the way) without the intensity that Kyogen asks of us with his man up a tree.
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Enver M. » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:23 pm

The modern koan may go something like: If you try to do something in shikantaza you loose your life as it is right now. If you don't make some effort at awareness you continue in your samsara, not doing shikantaza. How do you do shikantaza?”

-Larry Christensen-

That last paragraph is something special.

I think this is a good question.

If you do something that is bad

If you don't do something that's bad

my humble answer is you'll do both.

I mean while in activity doing nothing.

you combine both activity and non-activity.

or simply to be in activity with an empty mind.

same as being in activity in daily life with an empty mind.

which is our practice.

there is yes and no

when you say 'both', it is called peace!


rgds,

:hatsoff:

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Enver M. » Mon Oct 15, 2018 5:24 pm

The best thing i love about myself is when i speak i speak as if i know :D

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[james]
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by [james] » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:21 pm

But now that you’re here, how about taking a look at this fine selection, by Norman Fischer, of appreciations of what is called by some “Shikantaza”.
Correction: The compilation linked to above is not by Norman Fischer but, rather, by Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler. You may read more by and about him at his web site, shoresofzen.com

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by [james] » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:49 pm

Pablo wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:07 pm
I don't see how you can practice with any koan (that includes shikantaza, by the way) without the intensity that Kyogen asks of us with his man up a tree.
I have never previously looked at shikantaza as a koan and so the quote from Larry Christensen was agreeably startling. Certainly, shikantaza has to be expressed (I hesitate to say “practiced”) with strong determination and ever presence. I have to ask, though, if the application of intensity doesn’t separate one from the essence of shikantaza?

Not having ever been involved with koan practice, I have wondered how shikantaza and koan inquiry meet and merge. It’s been good to read Christensen’s statement and the hints from Anders and Keith that there is indeed an overlap.

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:58 pm

Best is when method(s) disappear, and cannot be grasped.

Methods are good, though. :hatsoff:

--Joe
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

"The World is all that is the case". -Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Anders » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:23 am

Enver M. wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:23 pm


my humble answer is you'll do both.
As Zhao Zhou once said "it is enough to ask the question".

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Enver M. » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:42 am

You develop but you don't notice it.This is the secret of Zen.

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by KeithA » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:59 pm

Pablo wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:07 pm
KeithA wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:40 pm
Anders wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:58 am
The modern koan may go something like: If you try to do something in shikantaza you loose your life as it is right now. If you don't make some effort at awareness you continue in your samsara, not doing shikantaza. How do you do shikantaza?”

-Larry Christensen-

That last paragraph is something special.
This is the gist of what I take from the Up a Tree koan.
Also the 100 foot pole and Ko Bong's "the world is on fire" :)
And every koan, right?

I don't see how you can practice with any koan (that includes shikantaza, by the way) without the intensity that Kyogen asks of us with his man up a tree.
I suppose in some sense we can say "every koan", but koans relate to my life in different ways. The cat koan has a different point than Bodhidharma's beard, for example. Different strokes. :)

I also wonder about the intensity thing. Different medicine for different sicknesses, I suppose.

_/|\_
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Pablo » Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:16 am

[james] wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:49 pm
I have never previously looked at shikantaza as a koan and so the quote from Larry Christensen was agreeably startling. Certainly, shikantaza has to be expressed (I hesitate to say “practiced”) with strong determination and ever presence. I have to ask, though, if the application of intensity doesn’t separate one from the essence of shikantaza?

Yes, maybe "intensity" is not the best word, as both you and Keith point out. What I meant is close to your "strong determination": giving yourself completely to it. That includes both intensity and non-intensity. No need to turn it into something, as you hint.
KeithA wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:59 pm
I suppose in some sense we can say "every koan", but koans relate to my life in different ways. The cat koan has a different point than Bodhidharma's beard, for example. Different strokes. :)
Hey Keith :) For me, all koans (again, including shikantaza) point to the same thing, and I'm never terribly concerned about the particulars of each case. Old Dahui said (paraphrasing): "the ten thousand doubts... they're just this one doubt".

Would you elaborate on the difference between those two koans, as you see them? (this may require starting a new thread)
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by KeithA » Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:04 pm

Pablo wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:16 am
[james] wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:49 pm

<snip>
KeithA wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:59 pm
I suppose in some sense we can say "every koan", but koans relate to my life in different ways. The cat koan has a different point than Bodhidharma's beard, for example. Different strokes. :)
Hey Keith :) For me, all koans (again, including shikantaza) point to the same thing, and I'm never terribly concerned about the particulars of each case. Old Dahui said (paraphrasing): "the ten thousand doubts... they're just this one doubt".

Would you elaborate on the difference between those two koans, as you see them? (this may require starting a new thread)

I agree that in one sense they do point to the same "thing", if we can call it a thing. But they do have different qualities and for me anyway, integrate with my life in different ways. Kind of like when we eat a salad and then a piece of fruit. They both have the same purpose, to satisfy hunger. But they taste different and feed our body in different ways. Not sure if that makes any sense. In the Kwan Um group, we do use koans in a very specific way, as taught by ZM Seung Sahn, so this might seem very foreign to folks unfamiliar with his style.

_/|\_
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Enver M. » Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:28 pm

Enver M. wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:42 am
You develop but you don't notice it.This is the secret of Zen.
at least the good side of zen

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Pablo » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:11 am

KeithA wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:04 pm
I agree that in one sense they do point to the same "thing", if we can call it a thing. But they do have different qualities and for me anyway, integrate with my life in different ways. Kind of like when we eat a salad and then a piece of fruit. They both have the same purpose, to satisfy hunger. But they taste different and feed our body in different ways. Not sure if that makes any sense. In the Kwan Um group, we do use koans in a very specific way, as taught by ZM Seung Sahn, so this might seem very foreign to folks unfamiliar with his style.
Keith,

Yes, that makes sense, thanks. Is there anything I can read to learn more about Seung Sahn's koan method? I started reading "Only Don't Know" some years ago, but I don't recall his treatment of koans to be so different to that of other teachers. Then again, that was before I started practicing with Jeff, so maybe there was something different and I simply don't remember.
Jeff Shore's website: https://beingwithoutself.org

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Meido » Sat Nov 03, 2018 6:52 pm

Getting off topic here. But some general thoughts RE a point that was made:

I do think it's worth saying that all koans point to the same thing: our intrinsic wisdom, i.e. awakening.

But we also have to say that different koans point this out in different ways. That is, they can be said to point out different facets, expressions, and functions of awakening. Some koans also present traps that we each, according to our particularly patterns of habitual delusion, might fall into...so they are very useful in pointing out blind spots and remaining karmic traces. Some require us to express insight in various ways, thus gaining the ability to teach others. And so on.

All of this is important simply because awakening itself is not sufficient at all: it must function freely in all situations, and ultimately all the actions of body/speech/mind must be in accord with it. If we cannot freely and seamlessly embody awakening in many situations, it is not yet the fulfillment of Zen. Thus, the importance of post-awakening practice, and the usefulness of koans that function in different ways. While one or a few koans could indeed be sufficient for one's whole life, the reason many koans are gone through in Rinzai practice, for example, is so that there will be many opportunities for what I described above.

This is also the reason that in Rinzai practice many koans are classed generally according to their purpose/function, i.e. hosshin (dharmakaya), kikan (emphasizing zenki, action), gonsen (to grasp the use of living words), nanto (particularly difficult barriers), and go-i jujukin (the 5 ranks and precepts koans). (In terms of that tradition's use of koans, I always recommend the introduction to Victor Sogen Hori's book Zen Sand as the best English-language explanation of the structure and function of Rinzai koan practice...you can download it for free at the bottom of this page: http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/en/publicati ... /zen-sand/).
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by KeithA » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:18 am

Pablo wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:11 am
KeithA wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:04 pm
I agree that in one sense they do point to the same "thing", if we can call it a thing. But they do have different qualities and for me anyway, integrate with my life in different ways. Kind of like when we eat a salad and then a piece of fruit. They both have the same purpose, to satisfy hunger. But they taste different and feed our body in different ways. Not sure if that makes any sense. In the Kwan Um group, we do use koans in a very specific way, as taught by ZM Seung Sahn, so this might seem very foreign to folks unfamiliar with his style.
Keith,

Yes, that makes sense, thanks. Is there anything I can read to learn more about Seung Sahn's koan method? I started reading "Only Don't Know" some years ago, but I don't recall his treatment of koans to be so different to that of other teachers. Then again, that was before I started practicing with Jeff, so maybe there was something different and I simply don't remember.
Check out the intro to "Ten Gates: The Kong-an Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn"

and also the talk by ZM Dae Kwang here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVSia2_eI2U

and interview witm ZMSS here: https://kwanumzen.org/teaching-library/ ... connection

_/|\_
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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Enver M. » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:48 pm

I've watch the video Keith.like it.
Thanks both to you and master Dae Kwang.
I think we are on the same path.

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Re: Best Shikantaza Ever

Post by Pablo » Thu Nov 15, 2018 10:49 pm

KeithA wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:18 am
Check out the intro to "Ten Gates: The Kong-an Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn"

and also the talk by ZM Dae Kwang here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVSia2_eI2U

and interview witm ZMSS here: https://kwanumzen.org/teaching-library/ ... connection
Thanks, Keith :namaste:

I haven't been able to read the intro to Ten Gates, but both the interview and the talk by Dae Kwang are very clear. I don't think there's a fundamental difference between this kind of approach and the "huatou" approach of the Linji school, but I struggle to see differences sometimes, so maybe it's my fault.

Anyway, I liked that Dae Kwang fellow, he's funny :D
Jeff Shore's website: https://beingwithoutself.org

Zazen in Madrid: https://pandazen.es

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