Shikantaza is to practice or actualize emptiness. Although you can have a tentative understanding of it through your thinking, you should understand emptiness through your experience. You have an idea of emptiness and an idea of being, and you think that being and emptiness are opposites. But in Buddhism, both of these are ideas of being. The emptiness we mean is not like the idea you may have. You cannot reach a full understanding of emptiness with your thinking mind or with your feeling. That is why we practice zazen.
– Shunryu Suzuki
from the book “Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen”
As ice by nature is water.
Apart from water there is no ice;
Apart from beings, no Buddha.
How sad that people ignore the near
And search for truth afar:
Like someone in the midst of water
Crying out in thirst,
Like a child of a wealthy home
Wandering among the poor.
Lost on dark paths of ignorance,
We wander through the Six Worlds,
From dark path to dark path–
When shall we be freed from birth and death?
Oh, the zazen of the Mahayana!
To this the highest praise!
Devotion, repentance, training,
The many paramitas–
All have their source in zazen.
Those who try zazen even once
Wipe away beginning-less crimes.
Where are all the dark paths then?
The Pure Land itself is near.
Those who hear this truth even once
And listen with a grateful heart,
Treasuring it, revering it,
Gain blessings without end.
Much more, those who turn about
And bear witness to self-nature,
Self-nature that is no-nature,
Go far beyond mere doctrine.
Here effect and cause are the same,
The Way is neither two nor three.
With form that is no-form,
Going and coming, we are never astray,
With thought that is no-thought,
Singing and dancing are the voice of the Law.
Boundless and free is the sky of Samádhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom!
Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes,
This very place is the Lotus Land,
This very body, the Buddha.– Hakuin
– Shunryu Suzuki
from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”
The only way is to enjoy your life. Even though you are practicing zazen, counting your breath like a snail, you can enjoy your life, maybe much better than making a trip to the moon. That is why we practice zazen. The kind of life you have is not so important. The most important thing is to be able to enjoy your life without being fooled by things.– Shunryu Suzuki
“Think of nonthinking. How is this done? By thinking beyond thinking and non-thinking. This is the very basis of zazen.”
Dogen-zenji (1200-53) (from Fukan zazen-gi)
In this talk, as well as covering the basic step-by-step method of how to sit zazen, we place this practice as a central ritual of the zen school, a symbolic enactment of the Buddha’s own awakening under the Bodhi Tree.
Zen master Dogen asked his monks if they sat zazen to become enlightened? If so, then why is the Buddha, who is already enlightened, pictured sitting in zazen?
Many people live in a constant state of anxiety, wishing the world to change in some way, to fit personal expectations and desires. Rather than feeling gratitude for how things are, modern life encourages us to always seek something different or “better.”
Peace arises naturally when this “wanting mind” is released. Letting go of likes, dislikes and desires shifts our consciousness, transforming how we perceive the present moment.
Zen meditation, yoga, tai chi and other spiritual practices help us to calm the mind and experience ever deepening states of inner peace, mindfulness and balance.
These tranquil states of mind are called dhyāna or jhāna in Buddhism. They correspond to a shift in awareness, a release of goal-seeking, fears and judgements, along with a greater appreciation for life as it is…
Tao & Zen
Zazen means putting into practice that which cannot be thought with thinking. It is the dharma-switch that ‘turns on’ the whole universe.
Just doing it means practicing that which fills the entire universe, throwing yourself into it completely, in every single instant, in every single activity. Simply doing something means doing it now, on the spot. It means not wasting the little time you have in life.
~ Kodo Sawaki