Welcome admin !

It is currently Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:59 pm
Pathway:  Board index Zen Discussion Forum Zen Practice & Philosophy Zen Buddhism Sōtō

Rambling thoughts about sitting

Discussion of Japanese Sōtō Zen / 曹洞宗

Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby Taigu on Sun Nov 01, 2015 1:11 am

If you have 5 minutes to lose...an old text written in the light of a beautiful Japanese summer. It involves my limited understanding of this whole journey and some insights coming from Alexander Technique. Not much.


The gate of ease and joy is found everywhere, it is truly the gate-less gate as you are it and not separated from Buddhas of the three times. Here, mundane and sacred have no more relevance. Here, radiance springs out of forms and space. Meeting the true person within this is our great task and joy. The self fulfillment Samadhi. The Samadhi in which one receives and uses the self. Truly know yourself. Forget yourself. Let all Dharmas, let the myriad things come forth, illuminate and reflect.

Please, sit.

In this, Do not choose a place. Sit anywhere. Sit everywhere. In cities, trains, streets, whatever you'll see around you, true mountains can be found. Wear the Okesa, the patched robe made of the body of all things, the true kesa covers everything , this robe is not your robe or just plain fabric, it is but the robe of sitting, the skin, flesh bones and marrow of all Tathagatas.

As you sit in loose clothing and kesa on the cushion in lotus, half lotus, burmese or on a bench or a chair, and if you cannot, lie down legs slightly apart folded knees pointing to the ceiling; abdomen relaxed, hips open, shoulders forgotten, involvements cast aside, the weight of your body given to the ground through the sitting bones and knees, your spine sway from left to right and right to left and gradually come to the vertical point without leaning forward or backward. Effortlessly risen up, lower back naturally curved, your head gently sits at the top of your spine, tongue touching the roof of your mouth, jaws relaxed, teeth touching, neck free, the gaze down not fixing anything, not out of focus, just as if watching distant mountains. Your hands in the universal mudra placed below the navel, left hand on top of the right hand or right hand on top of the left, palms up, thumbs delicately touching each other without any pressure. Your hands should be soft and as they touch your lower abdomen. To rest your mind in the mudra means to let the mudra do you, form you, forget you. No special attention is given to the breath, breathe in and out naturally, neither pushing nor forcing. Light and going up, body- mind unfolds in space, space blooms in body- mind. Once the mudra with body-mind manifested, from dust to star, the whole reality is enlightened.

The secret of the Buddha-mind seal is open, just here and now before your very eyes. Don't do anything, be beyond fabrication. Drop all agendas, ideas of being somebody else or achieving something. In this, traveller, path and destination are neither one nor two. As you sit, cultivate the will to go up yet don't do it. In not doing, the natural response to gravity takes place. An inch of doing, and earth and blue sky are set apart, a fraction of making, and you have already left home. Just be caught by the still state. Simply be at home in the homeless state .

No traces to be found, as wild ducks flying off the river, snow falling on snow. This has no particular flavor, the music no specific sound, riding the ox and blowing an empty flute, all things at rest and yet so alive.Fish swims, birds fly, and in doing so, their return to the original and normal conditions.Ploughing clouds, crossing the expanse of the sky, be at ease. Things and thoughts playfully manifest and dissolve. Don't worry. The dynamic transient body of reality is but the very body of all Buddhas . Don't be attached to this or that. No need to linger in the realm of pair of opposites. No need to pick up and choose. Easy, easy going and doing.

Don't sit Buddha, just allow Buddha to sit you. Like the roundness and fullness of the moon, your original face appears naturally, spontaneously, automatically, free and uncontrived. It is not for you to see, it is for you to be.

In there, endless delusions will appear and disappear. Dreams and shadows will arise, let them come and go. Even these thoughts are the very stuff the original ground is made of. In the mountain state, how could the big sky obstruct clouds roaming and drifting? How could a cloud hide the vast blue body? Blue sky or clouds, same origin. Just be awake to the scenery of the body- mind and as you drift away, just come back, here and now. And come back again. You may put your mind in the palm of your left hand, be aware of the vertical spine, being awake to sounds without following them; ultimately there is nothing to do and nobody to do anything. Let not knowing manifest.

This sitting is without object or intention. Just the clear, non judgmental, panoramic attention to what arises here and now. Don't be attached to your thoughts of understanding or not understanding, of being right or wrong, break free from the realm of desires intentions , be still, be the full body of reflection without judging self or others. To sit like this is to live and thoroughly experience the great question, to fully pierce it and penetrate it.

Don't think that shikantaza is only realized and met on the cushion. As you get up, take this with you, go empty handed, living to the full, day in day out, the wonderful ordinary.Dream within a dream, wake up. This life-death is worth living.Here and now, absolute and relative dance and collapse-bloom in each other. Time flies and you have never been so close to the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye.

Be it.

Last edited by Taigu on Sun Nov 01, 2015 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ordained in 1983 by Rev. Mokudo Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage, and received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2003. Devoted to the sewing of the Kesa (Buddhist Robes), now residing in Osaka, Japan and teaching at Treeleaf Sangha.
User avatar
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:25 am
Location: Japan

Re: Ramblings about sitting

Postby Taigu on Sun Nov 01, 2015 1:26 am

I might as well join the wonderful text of Koun Franz about sitting.


Choose this place.

Whenever you can, sit with others. When you can’t, sit with others. Let others sit with you.

Wear the kashaya. Just as Buddhas sit in zazen while zazen is the activity of Buddhas, Buddhas wear the kashaya — the kashaya manifests the shape of a Buddha. Even if there is no robe, just wear it.

Do not put yourself into sitting — come empty handed. Do not make zazen — let sitting reveal itself. Do not use zazen for this or that — sitting is neither means nor end.

Spread a blanket or mat and place a zafu on top. Sit down, marking the center of the zafu with the base of the spine.

To sit in the full lotus, place the right foot over the left thigh, then the left foot over the right thigh. Rest your left hand on your right hand, palm up — the middle joint of the middle finger below aligns with the middle joint of the middle finger above, and thumbtips touch as if trying not to, just near enough to feel the electricity between them. This is called Sitting in Practice.

Reverse the legs; reverse the hands. This is called Sitting in Verification.

Sit in practice today and in two days. Sit in verification tomorrow and yesterday.

If not full lotus, half lotus. If not half lotus, rest the foot of the raised leg across the calf of the lower leg. Or kneel. Or sit on a chair. Remember that this body is the buddha’s body. Do not harm it. Also, do not underestimate it.

Always place the knees below the hips, the pelvis tilted forward, the lower back slightly curved. Establish a posture that need not fight gravity.

Be the tree beneath which other buddhas sit.

Press the hands below the navel; let them move with the breath. In full lotus, rest them on top of the heels. In any other posture, support the hands with a blanket or cushion.

Once seated, rotate the torso at the hips in wide circles, then in small ones until the spine is holding the earth in place; pull in the chin and stretch the back of the neck upwards, lifting the sky.

Take seven long breaths. As you inhale, fill the body with a wind that loops through your feet and across your thumbs. As you exhale, do so slowly, continuing until your breath has touched the far corners of the world. Exhale until nothing remains.

On the eighth breath, just breathe.

How long must one sit? How many breaths? Ancient buddhas did not measure zazen in minutes or hours.

Let in all sounds — hear the shifting of the continents, a bird turning in flight. Facing the wall, see beyond the horizon. Feel your heart beating, your lungs moving, your skin expanding and shrinking, the magnetic draw of your thumbs. Breathe in the stench and the perfume of the world. Let your tongue rest flat in your mouth, and taste.

Mara visits during zazen, but not as visions — visions, if only glanced at, will pass by like shadows. Nor will Mara come disguised as desire — desires, confronted directly, lose their power to haunt. Mara will visit as a weight on the eyelids, bearing the soft seduction of sleep. Open your eyes; if they grow heavy or the world blurs, open them wider. Keep the room cool. Let light in. Explore the waking world, not dreams.

Be the force of gravity, pulling you deep into the ground; be the weight of a flame. Do not move from this posture. With every cell in your body, every drop of blood, every inch of skin, constantly do not move.

Zazen is not non-doing; it is not non-thinking. Zazen is a deep, dreamless sleep on fire. It is clutching a boulder to your belly at the bottom of the cool ocean. Roots penetrate and plunge downward into the rough textures of the earth. A cloud dissolves into open sky.
Ordained in 1983 by Rev. Mokudo Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage, and received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2003. Devoted to the sewing of the Kesa (Buddhist Robes), now residing in Osaka, Japan and teaching at Treeleaf Sangha.
User avatar
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:25 am
Location: Japan

Re: Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby Avisitor on Sun Nov 01, 2015 5:43 am

It is a good thing that one does not ramble while sitting ... haha :heya:
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
User avatar
Posts: 1696
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:43 pm

Re: Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby Guo Gu on Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:13 am

thanks, taigu, for sharing.
be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
User avatar
Guo Gu
Posts: 1339
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:52 pm
Location: Tallahassee, FL USA

Re: Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby lobster on Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:13 pm

Bravo Taigu. :heya: Many thanks :peace: :)X
User avatar
Posts: 445
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:01 am

Re: Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Nov 05, 2015 11:14 pm

Zazen is ancient Human rest.

Ancestors knew, without needing a nudging.

Practice long enough, and you'll need no nudging, either. Rest... .


ps "Rest" is a big research-topic, lately come to the fore. Heard a feature on BBC World-Service today about "rest". Really in-depth. "See" (listen... ), at URL:


pps others say that "sitting is the new smoking". That's a little different. We can talk about that under separate cover.
User avatar
Posts: 7020
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA

Re: Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby Taigu on Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:44 am


Yes. In many ways...

Yet, as I was lately telling a great friend of mine, to be unclear about where one is is precisely part of the training by the way. Unless you give up doubts and questions in the faith into a mighty God, a super saving daddy who did it all, does it all for you and will wrap it up all...questions will puzzle your mind. It is very interesting to see how people need rock solid evidence of their involvement, constant feedback about what they do and how they are. A combination of materialistic expectation and selfish drive. Of course the great Mahayana is not giving any of us the chance to put our paws on stuff like truth or even enlightenment, as we are the very stuff we might be chasing. Mahayana invites us to empty our hands, let go of views, stop doing and believing in our own thoughts, so we may let our true existence fully bloom.

Rest as the way to let go of everything, to even let go of letting go itself.


Ordained in 1983 by Rev. Mokudo Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage, and received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2003. Devoted to the sewing of the Kesa (Buddhist Robes), now residing in Osaka, Japan and teaching at Treeleaf Sangha.
User avatar
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:25 am
Location: Japan

Re: Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby julio on Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:53 pm

Rambling that was a pleasure to read :)

User avatar
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:40 am
Location: England

Re: Rambling thoughts about sitting

Postby JessicaLeigh on Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:00 am

How lovely!

Thank you for posting, Taigu.

"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andrè Gide
User avatar
Posts: 95
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:52 pm
Location: Washington DC

Return to Sōtō

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

RocketTheme Joomla Templates

Who is online

In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 157 on Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:44 am

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest