Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

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  • Seiryu
    Member
    • Sep 2010
    • 620

    #16
    Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

    It won't come easy or quickly. It is much easier to remain aware and focus during Zazen, because that is that type of environment it creates, off the cushion our minds get wrapped up into everyday life like it always does. It is just habitual. Which is why a daily practice is so important, eventually our awareness during Zazen follows us throughout the day. It does not come quickly because the moment we get off the pillow it is back to old routine. So I would recommend every now and then just stop, and 'be' for a minute. If you are at work, or waiting for the bus, just 'be' there. These short 'sittings' in everyday life can be and extremely powerful way to close the gap between our formal practice and the rest of our lives, in that way we will realize for ourselves, that Zazen is found wherever we are.

    Gassho

    Seiryu
    Humbly,
    清竜 Seiryu

    Comment

    • Dosho
      Member
      • Jun 2008
      • 5784

      #17
      Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

      Hi Chris,

      I had to chuckle when I read this post because it sounded a lot like me when I started. I was trying to "be aware" and carry my sitting "off the cushion"...all zenny 'n stuff. Now? I just sit, ring the bell three times, then sit, then ring the bell once, and then...

      ...nothing else.

      Oh, things happen like screaming kids, doorbells, that pile of papers I have to organize, should I do the laundry?

      But if I step off the cushion with awareness of nothingness it is a lot easier to deal with somethingness.

      So, my advice? Don't overthink it. Don't be concerned about carrying one to the other. Be sitting. Then be not-sitting. And then drop any distinction between the two. Be with what is, whatever that may be.

      Hope that helps.

      Gassho,
      Dosho

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39273

        #18
        Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

        Originally posted by Pedestrian
        A question for you: do you have a particular way that you "get up"? For example, I've been trying to continue to be aware of my body when shifting out my legs from the half-lotus I'm in, then in stretching, then in standing.
        Hi Chris,

        Some very good comments above.

        Chris, bringing Zazen on and off the cushion ... such that there is no "on" or "off" ... is what this place is about! About everything we focus on here impacts that in some way. If one is in a monastery, if one is in the office or changing a baby's diapers or a flat tire ... all Shikantaza!

        However, I ask you to sit with and review our "beginner's (we're all beginners)" series, as they will address the flavor of Shikantaza emphasized here.

        viewforum.php?f=20

        One reason is that, if you feel Zazen is about needing to hold and maintain some particular awareness of the body or mindfulness or concentrated Samadhi state or focused sensation of "nonattachment" that one sometimes encounters in sitting, then that may not be "Shikantaza on or off the cushion" as is encouraged here. However, if in life, one develops the ability ... amid life's twists and turns, complexities, sunny days and rainy ... to "open the hand of thought and emotion", and to drop the resistance and separations of self/life ... that is Shikantaza.

        That may be a bit clearer after you go through the beginners series, and we can talk again after you do. However, in a nutshell, it is not about attaining or holding onto any particular mental state or concentration or awareness ... but very much about releasing, letting go, allowing, dropping various thoughts and emotions that divide self-life-world, creating friction and separation from "what is". One learns to do such in the heart of life ... and the proof is in life's pudding.

        Gassho, Jundo
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • ChrisA
          Member
          • Jun 2011
          • 312

          #19
          Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

          Thank you, everyone, for your replies.

          John, I really appreciate your bringing the practices from Akido and Tea Ceremony to bear on my questions. The concrete examples are very useful to me.

          Originally posted by JRBrisson
          Second is Tea Ceremony. After the guests leave the host should see them off until they disappear from sight. Then the host should go back into the tea room to silently reflect before taking care of the cleanup.
          Ditto Seiryu: I'm increasingly thinking that twice daily zazen sessions that bookend the day can create a frame, a form defining inside and outside that provokes my (overthought) questions about transition. So this was a very helpful suggestion:

          Originally posted by Seiryu
          I would recommend every now and then just stop, and 'be' for a minute. If you are at work, or waiting for the bus, just 'be' there. These short 'sittings' in everyday life can be and extremely powerful way to close the gap between our formal practice and the rest of our lives, in that way we will realize for ourselves, that Zazen is found wherever we are.
          Dosho, as you probably can tell, I've no aversion to performing beginner's errors -- particularly overthinking! My budding practice makes it clear that

          Originally posted by Dosho
          [i]f I step off the cushion with awareness of nothingness it is a lot easier to deal with somethingness.
          Thank you for that.

          Finally, thanks to you, Jundo, for your comments. I've begun the Treeleaf's beginner's series as you recommended, and it is helping me understand "the flavor of Shikantaza emphasized here." To that end:

          Originally posted by Jundo
          One reason is that, if you feel Zazen is about needing to hold and maintain some particular awareness of the body or mindfulness or concentrated Samadhi state or focused sensation of "nonattachment" that one sometimes encounters in sitting, then that may not be "Shikantaza on or off the cushion" as is encouraged here. However, if in life, one develops the ability ... amid life's twists and turns, complexities, sunny days and rainy ... to "open the hand of thought and emotion", and to drop the resistance and separations of self/life ... that is Shikantaza.

          That may be a bit clearer after you go through the beginners series, and we can talk again after you do. However, in a nutshell, it is not about attaining or holding onto any particular mental state or concentration or awareness ... but very much about releasing, letting go, allowing, dropping various thoughts and emotions that divide self-life-world, creating friction and separation from "what is". One learns to do such in the heart of life ... and the proof is in life's pudding.
          Thanks for this. I'm certainly seeing the proof in the pudding: I understand letting the fish slip through the net while I'm sitting, and I'm increasingly able to do the same when I'm not sitting. Yesterday at my school was quite an adventure: lots of fish in that school!

          But there's no doubt that the fish that consistently gets its gills stuck in the net these days is (over)thinking about practice. I admit that embracing your, Dosho's, and others' advice can be a bit of a challenge, given my enthusiasm for study and for this sangha, my on-going struggle to find words for the ineffable, and my recognition that that struggle -- with words, concepts, and other forms -- is yet another manifestation of clinging. I keep hearing Dogen say, "Do not suppose that what you realize becomes your knowledge.... [T]he inconceivable may not be distinctly apparent."

          So thanks for cutting the new guy some slack. I mean, heck, not only am I a beginner, I'm saddled with a Ph.D. :wink:

          Time to sit. I haven't ever used this term before, but seems like now's a good first time.

          Gassho, everyone.
          Chris Seishi Amirault
          (ZenPedestrian)

          Comment

          • ChrisA
            Member
            • Jun 2011
            • 312

            #20
            Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

            I wanted to jump onto Treeleaf and say thank you again to those who took the time to post in this topic. My last two days "off the cushion" have felt a lot more consistent with shikantaza than before we started this discussion. I can't quite say why or how, of course, but I wanted to note it and say, again, gassho.
            Chris Seishi Amirault
            (ZenPedestrian)

            Comment

            • Kaishin
              Member
              • Dec 2010
              • 2322

              #21
              Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

              Originally posted by ChrisA
              My last two days "off the cushion" have felt a lot more consistent with shikantaza than before we started this discussion.
              Fear not, it will get bad again. But that is OK

              Gassho,
              Matt
              Thanks,
              Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
              Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

              Comment

              • Risho
                Member
                • May 2010
                • 3179

                #22
                Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

                Originally posted by Matto
                Originally posted by ChrisA
                My last two days "off the cushion" have felt a lot more consistent with shikantaza than before we started this discussion.
                Fear not, it will get bad again. But that is OK

                Gassho,
                Matt
                Isn't that the truth? haahahhahahh It's like this innate thing inside that wants to get "it". but there's nothing to get. I guess that's my hidden agenda, and ultimately this practice helps me to see that and try to drop the want and just non-do the whatever. OK, sorry for the rambling. I'm at work, what do you want? :mrgreen:
                Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

                Comment

                • JohnsonCM
                  Member
                  • Jan 2010
                  • 549

                  #23
                  Re: Transitioning From Shikantaza To...

                  I think it's important to realize that you can't always be mindful. We can do our best, but if we are always trying to "be mindful" I think we may veer from it. Much like when we always try to be "nice" and only later do we catch ourselves and say "well, that wasn't a very nice thing for me to say, I'll have to try harder." However, if we try to focus on really and truly being in the present moment, as Steven Hagen says "be here now" then we can more readily realize the boundlessness that is shikantaza, with nothing more to add and nothing to take away.

                  Not that it's easy, mind, but then only Shakyamuni was perfectly enlightened....

                  Just my two cents...well more like a hay penny. :mrgreen:
                  Gassho,
                  "Heitetsu"
                  Christopher
                  Sat today

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