What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Zazen”?
– feel numbness in your foot
– be struck on your shoulder by an oak wood pole
– become sleepy
– have good posture
– strengthen your capacity of endurance
– increase your concentration
– feel calm
– be free from all distracting thoughts
– attain spiritual enlightenment
– get healthy
I suppose you maybe think about those things.
The teaching of Dogen
For training Zazen, Dogen, founder of Soto school of Zen, taught “SHIKANTAZA”: roughly translatable as “nothing but precisely sitting”, which is a kind of sitting meditation in which the meditator sits “in a state of brightly alert attention that is free of thoughts, directed to no object, and attached to no particular content” *)
Dogen also mentioned “Practicing Zazen is not training, but a gate of being Buddha”. Along with the teaching, monks taught to their ascetic monks wanting to become enlightened and feel comfort by becoming Buddha, “On sitting Zazen, the thought of training is wrong, the action pursuing something is a road block and stops us from becoming Buddha”. “Ideas like Enlightening, becoming Buddha, being comfort, such rhetoric are not much more than images in your brain”, and “It is crucial to let go of your possessions and engage in a simple-minded efforts to sitting Zazen”.
*) refer to Wikipedia in English
A priest’s story facing to Zazen
In terms of myself, from my childhood, there was some sense dissatisfaction deep in my heart and I often pursued something: I would have liked to get recognition from people, receive a compliment or gain a capacity by which nobody can defeat me.
Since starting to practice Zazen, I used to pursue becoming a better person if I could have an mysterious experience by sitting, and believe to handle life’s challenges effectively, like retaining more calm, controlling my mind and emotion without struggle, feeling comfort or becoming healthy.
In such environments, however, there was nothing to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Along with monks teaching, my thought changed one-eighty degrees since I became a priest; that is to say, my mind has changed from having a strong attachment to my possessions to casting them off.
When we do something ordinary, we certainly hope that we can get the result we want.
But, regarding Zazen, it is different. The object of Zazen is not to pursue gaining some special capacity but to recognize and accept yourself as you are.
Therefore, it is essential for you to start from looking deep inside yourself, as an imperfect being, when you start Zazen.
Recommendation to join our Zazen meeting
On sitting Zazen, even if we have an excellent thought, we do divest ourselves of it. By reason of that, we keep the mind calm and stable, whether being in discomfort or in good things.
This explanation to the people who want to get some efficiency from Zazen may seem to be so different from the images they have. But I think “Zazen” can bring relief for people who are suffering from dissatisfaction.
“Zazen” is “aspect of plain true oneself”, “aspect of comfort” and “ aspect of like Buddha”.
Precisely sitting! Why don’t you join us at a Zazen meeting?