By Gary Enns
| 12 March 2022 | Saturday Morning Kusen |
At this moment, we are practicing shikantaza, another name for zazen. Shikantaza means just sitting. Only just sitting.
Think about how simple this is. There's no need to talk about the Cosmos or Buddha or anything. You're just sitting, facing a wall, facing your self, and letting everything go.
Zen is life unadorned, everything dropping away—complexities, worries, thoughts, sufferings. Simply place yourself in this simple, healthy posture, with shoulders back and down, relaxed, collarbones up, head presses the sky, hands resting in your lap. Reach, like a flower toward the sun.
Settle into this posture of only-just-sitting and breathe, that’s it! Not trying to attain, transcend, or make yourself into something other than what you are, here and now.
Why? Just try it and see if there is any why to be had, or if you even need an answer to this question once you've given shikantaza a chance to work into the nooks and crannies of your life. This is simple acceptance as you sit with the self, or with others, and the entire world around you.
Be open to the coming and going of any phenomena that happens to appear—the cawing of a crow, the gardener's rake, someone's stomach grumbling, pain in the knees or ankles, a thought, another thought—not pushing away and not grasping, just letting whatever it is arise and fall without your engagement. If and when you find your mind wandering, very simply realize your drift, let go whatever it was you were following, and call again on the radical simplicity of this practice, this very moment. Come back to posture and breath, here and now. All else simply drops away.
"Buddha at Zojoji Temple." D. Fuka, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Dogen, Eihei. "Zanmai-o-zanmai." Translated by Anzan Hoshin and Yasuda Joshu Dainen.