Sunday, May 31, 2009


My friend Svetlana lives in a small apartment with two roommates. She's a regular practitioner of zazen. So she asked me about a situation she'd encountered a few days ago.

Right at the time she'd set aside for her zazen practice, her roommates decided to start watching episodes of Family Guy in the adjacent room. There was no way to escape the noise. And to add even more misery, Svetlana is a fan of Family Guy and they were watching episodes she hadn't seen.

Still, she decided to do her zazen anyway. But she wanted to ask me what I thought of that.

I can totally relate! I used to have to do my zazen with the Zen Luv Assassins rehearsing with all amplifiers turned to 11 in the basement -- trying to work out a version of "She Said, She Said" without taking into account that the middle section is in 3/4 time. They just kept falling apart every time they got to the "When I was a boy" section. As the pirate with the steering wheel sticking out of his crotch said, "Arrrr, it was driving me nuts!"

Yet I kept on sitting, not just through that, but through countless other distraction -- noisy roommate arguments, noisy roommate sex, buses, trains and aeroplanes, you name it, I have probably done zazen through it!

At one of my stops on my recent tour some guy kept asking me about, like, if you're sitting and a plane flies overhead you lose your concentration. I kept telling him it didn't matter. He kept pressing the question. I don't know if I ever managed to convince him that zazen was still zazen even if you got distracted.

We are not trying to "establish one-pointed concentration" or whatever else some meditation teachers in other religions try and go for. It's still zazen even if you're doing it on a noisy playground at recess time.

Of course you should try and find the quietest spot possible. If you can wait for your roommates to finish watching Family Guy or talk them into using headphones that would always be better. And, to answer another F.A.Q., no, you cannot "do zazen to music." Meaning, you should not deliberately introduce distractions or entertainment into your practice. But sometimes the quietest spot you can find isn't very quiet. That doesn't mean you should neglect the practice. There is still some benefit to be had even if you have to do your zazen among all sorts of noise and distractions.

One of the strangest distractions I've had to deal with comes from Zen teachers who think it's necessary to provide entertainment for people who are sitting. There's a tradition called "kusen" in which the teacher gives a dharma talk during sitting. I hate that! I also hate it when they beat drums and ring bells unnecessarily during practice in a misguided attempt to ape certain misguided traditions present in misguided temples in Japan.

But you deal with what you gotta deal with.

OK. That's my sermon for the day. Now it's off to the salt mines to try and write some material for my next book. See ya!

P.S. By the way, I guess it wasn't the Jerry Rubin who came to that rally the other day. There is a politician here in Santa Monica named Jerry Rubin who is just about the right age, right "look" and right political affiliation (he lists himself on ballots as "Peace Activist Jerry Rubin") to be the Jerry Rubin and really seems to make no great effort to let people know he's not the Jerry Rubin.


Anonymous said...

I remember sitting sesshin where a guy next door deliberately set his speakers in his window and cranked his music to try to piss us off. Seems he didn't like our bells

Anonymous said...

zazen in a noisy room

Anonymous said...

third one in

no, the Jerry rubin who sold (maybe still does) peace activist bumper stickers from card tables at the 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica is not The Jerry Rubin and yes, he does little to make that clear

but then again, since birth, he has always known himself to be the Jerry Rubin others around him are referring to....

Anonymous said...

zazen with tinnitus


zazen near high-power lines buzzing and cracking, only you can't move away

Al said...

Great post Brad!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, a useful teaching to be sure.

Not sure why the dude should have to clarify that he's a different guy than someone with the same relatively common name who died 15 years ago, though.

Jinzang said...

It's better to meditate in the morning if you can, both because it's quieter and because your mind has less stuff going through it.

Harry said...


Note from a human practitioner: Shikantaza is not reliant on a quiet mind, and we don't seek to quieten the mind.

The movement of the mind in a moment of zazen can be directly realised as the movement of reality when we cease all volitional acts of will.

Thus we can 'drop body and mind' in the midst of, and indeed due to, arising not-volitional thoughts. Not 'thinking', not trying to 'not think': 'Non-thinking' or 'different to thinking' as it has been translated from the Chinese. 'Sitting as sitting' as Dogen positively phrased it.



Anonymous said...

Jinzang -

It might be quieter. Why is is better?

Uku said...

Hi Brad,

Important post indeed. I think it's very important not to get too idealistic with Zazen or terms or theories concerning practice; sometimes it's very nice, sometime's it's not. Who cares, it's just Zazen, whether it's practiced under noisy music or in the ├╝ber-zendo (tm). Life ain't so serious, Zazen ain't so serious although in the end, Zazen is death and life but mostly of time talking about it it's like flowers in the space.

Thanks man, take care

Anonymous said...

Hi Uku,

Flowers in space grow on the ground.

Anonymous said...

zazen with tinnitus


Meh. Whatever.

Lauren said...

Occasionally my dog seeks me out in my hidden zendo (4 sqr feet of privacy in my walk-in closet) and plops his front paws on my chest, sniffing away to try and understand what I'm up to.

Hey Anon@12:47. I got tinitus too. I don't worry too much about zazen in silence since it will never happen. Kinda like the old flag waving koan. Is it my mind buzzing or the cilia in my cochlea?

Harry said...

Hi Uku,

Master Dogen had an interesting interpretation of that image 'flowers in space' which differed from the normal dualistic interpretation (i.e. that thoughts and other dharmas are in some way 'unreal' or irrelevant to realisation). Everything in existence is relevant to existence, so maybe it's not a question of talking or not talking, but of talking or not talking as is appropriate.

And so the Old Boy wrote in concluding the chapter 'Kuge':

"Flowers in space exist on the basis of the opening of flowers. So remember, there is a principal that flowers in space cause both the ground and space to unfold".

He revered both the truth of words, and the truth of silence.

The problem with silence is that, if we make it a criterion in Buddhist transmission, we won't know someone who simply doesn't know what they are not talking about from someone who does know what they are not talking about.

Another thing about it is that the position of instilling wariness of the written records of the Masters and the study/discussion of those records, and/or our own observations, is that it may represent a great excuse for people who can't be bothered to study those records and make observations.

It may be worth recalling that even Homeless Kodo, the spearhead of the 'Zazen only' reform movement, studied Shobogenzo daily. Shobogenzo, of course, is just all about zazen.

When we directly realise the 'flower in space-ness' of everything, we realise everything as buddha.



Jinzang said...

It might be quieter. Why is is better?

If you reread Brad's post, he also says quieter is better, so I'm not disagreeing with him. I can only write from my own experience and point of view, which is mahamudra. In mahamudra, first you do shamatha to still the mind. Then you look at the mind in stillness, to inquire into the nature of mind. Once that is seen, you let a thought arise and you look at the thought to inquire into the nature of thoughts. Until the nature of thoughts is seen, thoughts are an obstacle to practice. Obviously you can't do away with them, but you should do what you can to minimize noise and mental chatter.

Anon @2.28pm said...

Thanks for the reply, Jinz.

Yes, I noticed that Brad said something similar: "Of course you should try and find the quietest spot possible.... Meaning, you should not deliberately introduce distractions or entertainment into your practice." And there's no doubt that I've enjoyed quiet zazen a great deal - until the tinnitus kicked in. But there was often noise before then, and I never thought it a bar to 'successful' zazen. Quiet is nice, though.

I can still distinguish between the noise in my head and that outside. So a quiet place is still a quiet place. But as a Shikantaza/Dogen kinda guy, I'm not seeking to clear my mind, or seek into its nature - other than by leaving it alone and seeing what happens.

I can't criticize your practice, I haven't tried it - not consistently, although there are of course times when I'm "enquiring into the nature of thoughts..." But when I notice that going on I usually(try to) drop it and just sit, however tempting it is to hang on and have a good inquire; I don't put much trust in what my mind might tell me about itself. I'm going for the "vigorous road of getting the body out" (Dogen, fukan-zazengi).

Full quote:
""Proud of our understanding and richly endowed with realization, we obtain special states of insight; we attain the truth; we clarify the mind; we acquire the zeal that pierces the sky; we ramble through remote intellectual spheres, going in with the head: and yet, we have almost completely lost the vigorous road of getting the body out."
- Dogen, Fukan-zazengi, trans. Nishijima/Cross.

You do your thing, and I do mine. How else could it be?

Harry said...


Certainly a valid viewpoint from the Mahamudra perspective. From the point of view of how things are as they are though (not exclusive of anything, including us as thinking beings), thoughts are as much the nature of mind, the nature of existence, as is anything else regardless of how we interpret and respond to them.

I believe Mahamudra makes more of some provisional distinctions between the deluded mind (namshe in Tibetan) and the enlightened mind (yeshe) although even there 'both' are considered to be ultimately of the same nature. This is likely a requirement of the emphasis on gradual 'mind training' in Mahamudra.

"Dogen's Zen" recognises that the exterior of things (our thoughts coming and going) is already the representation of/expression of the totality and that realisation is a fact existing before, during, and after we either think or allow thoughts to come and go and so we can realise 'it', and 'it' can realise us, both instantly in a moment of siting letting all thoughts/ perceptions go, and as part of an on-going process: From the beginning there is no distinction between 'enlightened mind' and 'deluded mind', 'good'/'bad', 'right' / 'wrong' or any such dichotomy in shikantaza/ zazen.

One particularly admirable thing I've heard some Mahamudra teachers emphasise is that realisation is not just some psychological event or form of therapy/healing.



Mysterion said...

Welcome the noise(s) into your practice. And accept it as the gift that it really is. The plop of the frog in the still pond.

When Hisako and I first adopted 2 German shepherds, their occasional midnight barking would bother her.

I explained:

Zen doggies bark
to quieten
the night.

After that, she was no longer bothered. We accepted the barking as part of our normal night.

Then, 8-10 years later when the 2 shepherds died of old age, their missing midnight barking would bothered her for months.

I suppose all kinds of stuff happens when I am sitting in the morning. A BART train passes with a squeaky wheel (screeching, really). A bug truck goes over the RR track crossing and makes a loud thump. A police car or ambulance goes by a block away with the siren sounding. Yet, after living here 25 years, we no longer really hear those things - they are just accepted as part of 'normal.'

But, as a matter of reality, I agree - be distracted if you become distracted. Just don't become angry about being distracted because anger takes effort at a time when 'no effort' is necessary.


what's his name

Anonymous said...

One time I was doing zazen and realized partway through that the girl I had a crush on was having sex in the next room. :/

Anonymous said...

This transcription might be of use to some of you. - Sound and Noise, by Shunryu Suzuki from youtube. Enjoy.

The other day I explained "What is sound." Sound is different from noise. Sound is something which comes out more real and which comes out from your practice is sound. Noise is something more objective, something which will bother you. Noise is more objective being. The sound is both objective and subjective. So, if you hit drum, the sound is- you make is, sound of your own subjective practice. And it is also the sound which encourage all of us. So sound is objective and subjective. Buddhists understand everything, every noise, as a sound which we make. You may say, "The bird is singing there- over there." But we think, -bird- when we hear the bird, bird is "me." you know already. I-actually i am not listening to bird. Bird is here, in my mind already. and I am singing with the bird. (laughs) If you think, when you are reading something, if you think, "Bird is there," "Bluejay is over my roof" (laughs)- bluejay is singing, but their voice is not so good." (laughter) When you think in that way, that is noise. When you are not disturbed by the bluejay, the bluejay will come right into your heart, and you will be a bluejay, and bluejay will be reading something. (laughs) Then the bluejay doesn't disturb your reading. Because- because you think, "Bluejay is there. Bluejay should not be over my roof," When you thinking that way, that is more primitive understanding of being. Because we understand things in that way is because of our want of practice. When you practice zazen more, you can accept things as your own, whatever it is.

Check out the face of the young guy at the end.. Reb Anderson?

Uku said...

Anonymous, Harry,

Yes, I agree.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. And I've loved your books. But, man, you need an editor BAD(ly)..... or perhaps a NEW one. I ended up skimming a lot of your most recent book. Many of the chapters seemed to go nowhere. And the unintentional grammatical errors were distracting as hell.

A joke

Anonymous said...


Jinzang is a human being, and a practitioner we are fortunate to share a space with IMO. Go easy


Base of the Pillar said...

I always consider it something of a challenge when my roommate is playing video games or watching tv during zazen. I mean my understanding was that the point of the practice was not to dismiss all physical things from around you, but simply to accept them in the practice and not dwell on them, but as Brad says that doesn't mean I go out of my way to have noise. I'm sitting there to sit and thats the point.

Oh and to the poster before me. This is just a recommendation so take it as you will, but skimming a book leaves out details and limits your ability to follow the plot. I read the latest book, and thought it was quite good. Some of the chapters were self contained, but they fit in the overall story. The only thing I can recommend is that you go back and read for detail and maybe they will make more sense though I cannot make note as to grammatical errors except to say I didn't see any.

Anonymous said...

For zazen, a quiet room is appropriate. Drink and eat in moderation. Let go of all involvements and let myriad things rest. Do not think good or bad. Do not judge right or wrong. Stop conscious endeavor and analytic introspection. Do not try to become a buddha. How could being a buddha be limited to sitting or not sitting?

In an appropriate place for sitting, set out a thick mat and put a round cushion on top of it. Sit either in the full or half-lotus posture. Loosen the robes and arrange them in an orderly way. Then place the right hand palm up on the left foot, and the left hand on the right hand, lightly touching the ends of the thumbs together.

Sit straight up without leaning to the right or left and without bending forward or backward. The ears should be in line with the shoulders and the nose in line with the navel. Rest the tongue against the roof of the mouth, with lips and teeth closed. Keep the eyes open and breathe gently through the nose.

Having adjusted your body in this manner, take a breath and exhale fully, then sway your body to left and right. Now sit steadfastly and think not-thinking. How do you think not-thinking? Beyond thinking. This is the essential art of zazen.

Dogen Zenji (1200-1253)

Source: Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen, Kazuaki Tanahashi (1999)

Anonymous said...

Previously, the Buddha and Patriarchs who incarnated in this world, through the use of thousands of words and various methods, preached the Doctrine, or Zen. All their teachings were nothing but instruments to crush the habitual "clingings" infecting human thought. There is no Dharma in the sense of something real or concrete in that which they have handed down to us. The so-called practice or work is merely a method for purifying the shadows of our habitual thinking and flowing thoughts.

To concentrate all one’s efforts to this end is called "work." If suddenly the surging thoughts stop, one clearly sees that his self-mind is originally pure, genuine, vast, illuminating, perfect, and devoid of objects. This is called "Wu." There is nothing outside of the mind, nothing which can be worked upon, and nothing to be enlightened…. However, the egotistic passions, long-accumulated and rooted within us, are difficult to wipe out.

The first step you should take in Zen work is to forget about all understanding and knowledge and concentrate on one thought. Firmly believe that your self-mind is originally pure and clear, without the slightest trace of any existence – bright, perfect, and ubiquitous throughout the entire universe. From the beginning there was no body, mind, or world, nor any erroneous thoughts or infective passions.

Search out the point where your thoughts arise and disappear. See where a thought arises and vanishes. Keep this point in mind and try to break right through it. Take up this awareness as if holding a sharp sword in your hand.

Abruptly, the violence of mind stops;
Inner body, outer world -
both are transparently clear
After the great overturn
The great Voidness is broken through.
Oh! How freely the myriad
Manifestations come and go!

- Zen Master Han Shan (1545 - ?) from The Practice of Zen by Chang Chen-Chi (1959; out of print)


Anonymous said...

All of the holy ones have turned within and sought the self and by this went beyond all doubt. To turn within means all the twenty-four hours and in every situation, to pierce one by one through the layers covering the self, deeper and deeper, to a place which cannot be described. It is then that thinking comes to an end and making distinctions ceases; wrong views and ideas disappear of themselves without having to be driven forth with; and without being sought the true action and true impulse appear of themselves. It is then one can know the truth of the heart.

The person resolute in the way must from the beginning never lose sight of it, whether in a place of calm or in a place of strife, and must not be clinging to quiet places and shunning those where there is disturbance. If you try to take refuge from trouble by running to some quiet place, you will fall into confusion.

This is the main point of meditation. In the beginning however one cannot mount to the treasure in one step. When in sitting meditation there is agitation of thought, then with that very agitated mind seek to find where the agitated thought came from, and who it is that is aware of it. In this way pressing forward as to the location of the disturbance further and further to the ultimate point, you will find that the agitation does not have any original location, and that the one who is aware of it also is void. This is called taking the search back.

Daikaku (1203-1268)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I usually sit zazen at night. It was turbulent for a long long time during sits, and during non-sits, but now it is very, very quiet, but not yet complete. Practice furthers. Perseverence is necessary.


Harry said...

Hi Abu,

When people stop trotting out the words of the Buddhist Patriarchs like the redundant afterthoughts of dead psychotherapists then I'll give them a break.

Until then, in our self imposed weaknesses and confusion, we might deserve everything we give ourselves.

Good luck finding your unicorn.



Sean said...

I honestly wish that someone would write a book with this pragmatic aspect of practice, in mind. A new student of Zen might encounter instructions to find a special, quite place to put the Zafu, and get stymied simply if that is not possible.

I mean, does a person have to retreat to a monastery, to truly pursue kensho? If one cannot, is kensho out of reach? These questions might trouble a new student of Buddhism.

Sometimes, Mr. Warner, your writing reminds me of Hakuin, insofar as I have read. I wish you good luck with the new book.

Thank you for sharing the insights.

Anonymous said...

Jinzang: "It's better to meditate in the morning if you can, both because it's quieter and because your mind has less stuff going through it."

Harry: "Shikantaza is not reliant on a quiet mind, and we don't seek to quieten the mind."

Jinzang: "In mahamudra, first you do shamatha to still the mind. Then you look at the mind in stillness, to inquire into the nature of mind."

Harry: (to Jinzang) "Certainly a valid viewpoint from the Mahamudra perspective...One particularly admirable thing I've heard some Mahamudra teachers emphasise is that realisation is not just some psychological event or form of therapy/healing."

floating_abu: "He [Jinzang] has spread his dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on his dreams."

Harry: (to floating_abu) "Good luck finding your unicorn".


Harry said...

Hi Anon,

Don't worry, in case you hadn't noticed there's a big market in whispering religious sweet nothings that'll counteract any damage that I could possibly do.

People think it's sexy to 'kill a buddha that they meet on the road'... as long as it's some other buddha.

Now, you should go off and become enlightened like a real anonymous looser and stop busting my chops.

[therapy group hug]



anon @10.28am said...

Hello Harry,

I was being sarcastic: I can see nothing at all insensitive in what you've written. I was trying to, ironically point that out.

Harry said...

Hi, Anon.

No probs. I enjoyed your comment.

I am actually an insensitive bastard, as my missus will confirm.

Practicing zazen, practicing Buddhist realisation, runs pretty contrary to our ingrained Western idealistic minds/values sometimes.

We're big on romantic notions, high ideals, lofty goals, clear ideas of what's perfect and imperfect... and so we get further and further away from how things actually are.

We are consummate liars, and gullible believers, in other words; and the perverse tragedy of it may be that the worst victims of our consummate lying and gullible believing is just us ourselves.

We're not idiots at all until we start lying to ourselves and believing. That action is a choice (as we can come to see with just a little practice), and we can stop doing it at any moment.

...oh, was I generalising a bit there? How inconsiderate of me.



Anon @10.28am said...

More poetry:

"Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!"

- Sir Water Scott

"They say this body is not real existence. Where does the pain come from?...In the end I just cannot be deceived by others."

- Master Genza Shibi, quoted by Master Dogen in Shobogenzo Ikka-no-myoju, 'One Bright Pearl'.

"Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Shall they dangle in the night?"

- From “The Liar” by William Blake

Singing Fat Lady said...

Many kinds of miscellaneous circumstances must be thrown away, and many kinds of business should be stopped so far totally. Don't consider Good and Bad! Don't worry about Right and Wrong! Stop the motion of Mind, Will, or Consciousness! Stop the consideration of Consciousness, Thoughts, or Reflection. Never, never, intend to become Buddha!

many kinds of business said...

What! Even if it's a bit noisy!?

A day late said...

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he supports gays being able to marry but believes states, not the federal government, should make the decision.

"I think, you know, freedom means freedom for everyone," Cheney said in a speech at the National Press Club. "I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish."

Harry said...

He would say that... with a name like 'Dick' and all.


Take your pick said...

Floating abs -

I think I see what you've done there. Three excerpts from three zen teachers, each with there own ideas on how to do zazen and what it's for.

1) Eihei Dogen zenji (1200 - 1253), Fukan-zazengi. Recommends practice of shikantaza. Favorite sutra: Saddharma-pundarika sutra (True Law of the Lotus Sutra).

2) Master Han-shan te ch'ing (1546 -1623). Recommends dual practice of pure-land and zen (it says here) Favorite sutra: Avatamsaka sutra (Flower Adornment sutra).

3) Lan-chi Tao-lung (aka Daikaku, 1203/1213 - 1268/1278). Yogi line of Rinzai lineage. Favorite sutra: dunno.

Take you pick, or chose another.
Take advice, or do it yourself.

Harry said...

Great article here (and a great blog in general)...



Anonymous said...

Dick Cheney said:

"I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish."

What! Even if it's a bit noisy!?

Anonymous said...

Until then, in our self imposed weaknesses and confusion, we might deserve everything we give ourselves.

You might just be right there.

Good luck finding your unicorn

It's all true too. How weird is that? :)

Good luck also.


Anonymous said...

No, *the* Jerry Rubin sold out years ago--abandoned Yippiedom and became a filthy-rich stockbroker.

Mark Foote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Foote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Foote said...

Hi to Harry,

(3rd times' the charm.)

Particularly struck by your comment, "The movement of the mind in a moment of zazen can be directly realised as the movement of reality when we cease all volitional acts of will."

Yes, I agree, yet it's not possible to cease volitional acts through the exercise of will. I have just finished a description of the role of witness in the realization of detachment, so to speak, and you can find it here:
That's the last page of what I wrote, under the title "an unauthorized and incomplete guide to zazen". You might be interested in the whole thing; I wrote it as a way to teach myself how to sit the lotus. Still taking my time with that, as I note on the last page!
gassho & a nod to Brad for hosting excellent comments,


Stuart said...

Meditating in a noisy room will teach you that you can not control your surroundings but you can adjust your reaction to them. Thankfully other people live their lives, you can accept that, or try to make everyone think the same way you do... I recommend accepting diversity even if it inconvenient to you at that moment... silence your mind, and the world will follow.

Mark Foote said...

In Sanyutta Nikaya Pali Text Society volume V pgs 135-136, the Gautamid offered a method for the direction of mind and for the non-direction of mind. here's the part for the direction of mind:
"As (one) abides in body contemplating body, either some bodily object arises, or bodily discomfort or drowsiness of mind scatters (one's) thoughts abroad to externals. Thereupon... (one's attention should be directed to some pleasurable object of thought. As (one) thus directs it to some pleasurable object of thought, delight springs up in (one's being). In (one) thus delighted, arises zest. Full of zest (one's) body is calmed down. With body so calmed (one) experiences ease. The mind of (one) at ease is concentrated. (One) thus reflects: The aim on which I set my mind I have attained. Come, let me withdraw my mind (from the pleasurable object of thought). So (one) withdraws (one's) mind therefrom, and neither starts nor carries on thought-process. Thus (one) is fully conscious: I am without thought initial or sustained. I am inwardly mindful. I am at ease. (this is repeated for feelings, mind, and mind-states)."

I think a characteristic of what works for me is that it is positive and substantive. I don't particularly see silence of the mind as within my control, nor do I want it to be.

yours, Mark

zazen1 said...

Wow! your website have the great information about zazen1
.I'm sure I will be back again.

Mark Foote said...

Hey, Zazen1,

thanks for taking a look at the
"'guide", just let me know if you have a point you want to bounce around, I'm always up for it. You can find my email on the last page of zazen, or on the bottom of the mudra of zen homepage.
appreciate hearing from you,

Yuri said...

Interesting, I would say. But the core of this is being realistic and at the same time being able to compress the whole idea of zen into every life, not just for particular moments or situations.

Mark Foote said...

Hi, Yuri,

Have you seen the Shunryu Suzuki video on YouTube, titled Sound and Noise? This is a wonderful exposition of how the sound of a bluejay can read a book, when the person reading is not disturbed by a bluejay's voice, and opens their heart. I have an explanation of Suzuki's remarks, at Shunryu Suzuki and the Zen of ordinary activity; I know the idea of an explanation of a Zen master's teachings is questionable, maybe I could say instead that my writing is a restatement of this excerpt in a vocabulary I have developed to teach myself how to sit the lotus.
yours truly, Mark

Anonymous said...

I think it should be noted that some rinzia sects do use single pointed concentration. Not in place of the zen Brad Warner descibes but as a preliminary sort of exercise. It comes prior to shikan taza and is used to concentrate and calm the torrent of thoughts. shikan taza in Rinzia is also called just sitting but is very different than Dogans version. It is sort of intense sitting in the moment without any point of concentration at all. This seems incompatible with the no goal,no effort zazen. It is just a very different method.

Mark Foote said...

The transition from thought applied and sustained to sitting without thought applied and sustained is spoken of often in the Pali Canon, and I remind myself of this sometimes when I sit. I also remind myself that shikantaza is literally "pure hit sit", or something like it, and that the Gautamid spoke of sense organ, sense object, consciousness in conjunction with contact, impact with consciousness, and feeling associated with impact. To me this is the impact of the occurrence of consciousness in the stretch that is in existence in the body as consciousness occurs, and the feeling that is opened as a result of activity out of stretch. I write about it in "an unauthorized and incomplete guide to zazen"; I'll link it here, but I think Brad has inhibited links on this site.

So when I sit, the hit is each thing as consciousness occurs, and the activity and feeling allows consciousness of each thing. The feeling draws consciousness, and thought need neither be applied nor sustained, at such time.
I return to the witness of how my attachment or aversion or ignorance can condition the occurrence of consciousness, as the everyday practice.

Unknown said...

That's not zazen, that's torture !