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WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby Michaeljc on Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:10 pm

Who can possibly know where isolated lay practitioners end up following to their potential personal techniques?

I feel that is is a mistake to judge the authenticity of others' practice based on settings or personalities that we know very little about. We/I are not there, We/I are not them

Just one way of seeing it :heya:

:Namaste:

m
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:37 pm

hi, Michael,

I'll cut slack, or provide slack, wherever helpful. I'd discourage doing so -- and do discourage it -- where it's not.

Indeed, a genuine teacher is qualified to know what's true-practice, ...and to teach it. That's why I always suggest and recommend engagement with same. And why I never make assumptions about presumed efficacy, sufficiency, or propriety of supposed "substitutions", especially those made in self-reports by an aspiring practitioner.

This is all by way of encouragement, and the placing of emphasis upon the Zen Buddhist way(s).

Hoping most readers understand,

--Joe
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby flutemaker on Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:25 am

desert_woodworker wrote:Indeed, a genuine teacher is qualified to know what's true-practice ...

Then let's stand, together, before a genuine teacher, and let the teacher judge where is each of us at, I fully agree. But regarding your personal guidance, I am not asking for it, nor am accepting it, though appreciate it a lot.
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby TigerDuck on Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:35 am

There is this pitfall (like GG said):
- sitting (= practice)
- post sitting (= where practice is tested)

As Long as a practitioner feels he doesn't practice because he doesn't do sitting meditation, he has fallen into that pitfall.

And the worse is if he feels guilty. This indicates he is not only fallen, but has been fallen so deep into the pit.

Quiteness can be deathly and can cause the practitioner fails to see and experience that actually within that hectic sound, appearances, and so on, that quietness is obvious.

Why not emphasize the reverse?
- Post sitting is the actual practise
- Sitting is where you test your practise
Last edited by TigerDuck on Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:46 am

fm,

flutemaker wrote:I am not asking for it, nor am accepting it, though appreciate it a lot.

Super-duper.

I'd say, it's all about... "appreciation" (and always do say so).

But that's "me".

--Joe

ps "...ask for it, accept it, and appreciate it" from your teacher. That's what I unflinchingly suggest. Here, we discuss, suggest, and encourage. That is all.
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:11 am

TD,

Nice.

TigerDuck wrote:Why not emphasize the reverse?
- Post sitting is the actual practise
- Sitting is where you test your practise

It can very well oscillate (between those). It all depends on causes and conditions. Not surprisingly! :)

Let's say though, that, "ideally" (?!?) -- or, practically, it may obtain that... -- there is no difference between "sitting" and "daily life". Then, the "reversal" you suggest is a "relative-" realm, or "relative-" world action. What's the view from "the Absolute"? (well, that is surely putting the cart before the horse, for anyone who can ask such a question, or make such a suggestion, as yours).

--Joe
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby LolloRosso on Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:37 am

Hi,
I was talking to my Roshi about my Shikantaza experience, how everything falls away and I have a deep TRUST in the experience of here and now.
And he basically told me that had I been doing it right I would have sweated from every pore, and that the alertness need to be 'as if a tiger were behind me but I can't quite sense where'.

This confused me very deeply (I often find being criticised during Dokusan challenging, as one is sharing such intimate insight into oneself).
For starters, I feel drawn towards Zen as a practice because there is no right and wrong. There only is. I honestly believe I am not just 'tuning out', not hearing anything or seeing anything. On the contrary, I feel like I am deeply aware. Nevertheless it is not strenuous. I wouldn't even say it's enjoyable because there is nobody (no-body) enjoying it, I am sure you know what I mean.

So I simply said 'well, if Shikantaza is when you're completely exhausted afterwards, maybe what I am practicing currently has a different name?' (I was certainly not going to argue that 'he is right' or 'I am right' - there is no such thing).

Reading your thread I am all confused again what it is I am actually doing - because it does sound like Shikantaza.
Are there different types of Shikantaza maybe?
I would very much appreciate your insights (this is my first post in this forum ever :heya: )

Fiona
Commenced on my Rakusu - very exciting!
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby Guo Gu on Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:57 am

fiona,
don't be confused. you're doing fine.
shikantaza is not a static "thing." there're different approaches to it--just like meditating on the breath.
there's a "tight" way and a "loose" way to work with shikantaza in sitting. the more we practice, the more we may explore these different approaches. so see your roshi's comment as an encouragement for you to explore the different way to practice... when to use the tight method and when to use the loose. often when we feel secure in what we're doing, or that we "finally go it" that's typically the time a teacher pushes you further! :lol2: -- not as a rejection in what you're doing/experiencing but in hoping you would continue. iag (it's all good).
be well,
guo gu

p.s. in the dokusan, the intimacy shared is not like the worldly way of sharing, expecting, or concealing. in dokusan, both the teacher and the student are open in the freshness and aliveness of this very moment of meeting minds--leaving no trace or shadow behind when you leave the room.
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby jundo on Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:01 am

Hi Guo Gu,

Guo Gu wrote:i see your approach--the practice of giving up, of letting go, of separateness--as a cure to the vexing tendency to craving, seeking, separating ppl and things into this and that.
why not just teach this in all actions of life from the beginning, and not focusing so much on sitting?


Oh, in our Way there is just some wisdom to sitting in stillness, ease and balance which helps one realize 'just this, no where to go'. Then one gets up and goes, realizing "just this, no where to go" whatever one does and wherever one goes in this often chaotic, catastrophe of a life. In truth, all actions and the whole world are "Zazen" ... yet the sitting of "Zazen" is the only Zazen when sitting. I actually don't think that sitting is indispensable, but it is an excellent practice. If one cannot sit still and stare at the wall a bit, how much chance of actually knowing "stillness and sitting" in our rat race of a life? Best to do practice of "stillness and sitting" on and off the cushion, sitting & stable while sitting and sitting & stable while in motion or tossed about by life.

you emphasis sitting and then rising from the cusions, bringing this wholeness/trust into "real life."
in my limited experience, a couple of decades ago, when i emphasized sitting a lot to practitioners, the result was that students tended to unconsciously bifurcate btn sitting (= practice) and "real life" (= where practice is tested). when my teacher, out of compassion, stratified silent illumination into stages, ppl tarted to attach to sitting and to the stages. do you find your students attach to sittings?


No, not in my experience, perhaps because at our place we keep harping on the above message. All of life is Zazen and sacred Practice-Enlightenment ... changing the baby diaper, shopping in the grocery, sickness and hospitalization, working in the office, birthdays and funerals, driving in traffic, reading the news, washing the windows, every ethical choice and chance to avoid greed, anger and ignorance ... and sitting is the crucible where this "All of life is Zazen" is forged.

there's a key word in master hongzhi's teachings that is often lost in representations of his teaching. the word is jiu or kyu in jp 究, which means investigate. for example, he often said mojiu or in japanese it would mokukyu 默究. he also spoke of "purifying and grinding away the various deluded conditioning and illusory habits." so clearly, in addition to teaching intrinsic awakening, he also urged ppl to definitely get rid of vexations.
i found this to be true also in dogen's teaching. is this something you've observed too?


Yes, Zen Practice is constant investigation and exploration, for the conditions, scenes and situations of life are constantly changing. One sits still, but life keeps moving. One moves in life, but the heart is still.

Sometimes the best way to "explore" and "investigate" is to be still and not chase. Let the world come to one while the heart is at rest, and much is revealed. Much is found sometimes when we stop hunting and just open the eyes. (For example, suppose life hands someone a cancer diagnosis. Oh, there will be much to explore just by that hard fact in life. But much of the Wisdom that this Way offers in the face of such a situation is not merely about asking oneself "Why" or "What will happen" or "What is death" or "What is this?" It is simply sitting and being with the fact of cancer as "just this" with a still heart, deep trust, wholeness, gratitude and clarity. )

Our way of Shikantaza is "Silence" of the heart which sings every silence or noise that the world can make. It is clear and vibrant "Illumination" that lights every bright or dark and scary scene.

As we walk on this way, day by day in "practice-enlightenment", facing every new circumstance and changing scene, we get better and better at freeing ourselves from the "various deluded conditioning and illusory habits." Sitting on the cushion is not enough for that, I feel, but it is important to the process. Also important is taking this show off the cushion, out into the world, where the rubber of practice meets the road. All of it is important.

Flutemaker wrote:

flutemaker wrote:Short of that, in my opinion, when a student is practicing with much emphasis on "trust in sitting itself as a complete and sacred act", "no goals", "nothing to seek", "already enlightened", and the like, he may very well accept the position of someone absolutely "relaxed", and "not worrying", who at the same time, deep inside, may be awaiting/expecting that some miraculous door would open for them suddenly. Like when an already ordered item will arrive by mail sooner or later. "There is no need to worry, and meanwhile I can have a nap, and then just sit back and relax." Even further, the student may be awaiting/expecting nothing, while "trusting" in that "everything is just fine as is". But in reality -- just wasting his time in wain.

There is no way without "investigation", which is a continuous effort of a certain kind. Though the true meaning of that effort (expressed by the word "investigate") is hard to put in words. And this is probably good, as each one has to arrive at that meaning on their own.


This is exactly right. Sitting with "no goals, no seeking" does not mean just sitting on one's ass, complacent in one's "original Buddhahood", nor does it mean waiting for enlightenment down the road. It means getting up from the cushion and getting down to life, putting Buddhahood into actual practice in each ordinary day.

"Everything is just fine as it is" is true ... but "many things are not fine" is also simultaneously true (a Koan by which these seemingly contradictory statements are true at once, as one). Thus, for example, there is no "clean or dirty", so let us clean the dirty windows so that we can see. There is no "birth and death, sickness or health" ... yet take your medicine, and try to stay healthy and alive as best one can. Our Practice is, in key aspect, to realize the Truth of these two seemingly contradictory ways of seeing and living life at once, simultaneously, as one. You are Buddha and there is not one more iota of a thing in need of doing or to fix, and yet you are not Buddha (another Koan) ... so best to get going and live as Buddhalike as possible with many things about your human nature to fix as well.

Living this "not two" path of life is our constant "exploration."

Anyway, that is our way.

Gassho, J

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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:22 am

Rest. Sit... .

--Joe

p.s. (establish best and sustainable posture, using no muscles).
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby partofit22 on Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:29 am

Michaeljc wrote:Who can possibly know where isolated lay practitioners end up following to their potential personal techniques?

I feel that is is a mistake to judge the authenticity of others' practice based on settings or personalities that we know very little about. We/I are not there, We/I are not them

Just one way of seeing it :heya:

:Namaste:

m


Yes :)
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:32 am

No.

Just one way of seeing; Yes.

--Joe
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby jundo on Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:33 am

flutemaker wrote:
jundo wrote:
... not by forceful effort and pulling harder, but by non-resistance and letting go

But letting go is sometimes pulling harder, and non-resistance is sometimes a forceful effort ....


Hi Flutemaker,

Yes, this practice takes balls! Courage and determination, and often great strength. Spending minutes, let alone hours and days, sitting in stillness and balance is very hard. "Doing nothing" is often the hardest thing, as the little self demands "entertain me, feed me."

Likewise, encountering many ugly situations in life, and not reacting with excess desire, anger or divisive thinking also takes great strength sometimes (anyone on a diet trying to not grab that extra piece of cake, an addict her drugs, or avoiding to react in anger, jealousy and disappointment when life does not go one's way ... all takes strength).

But I recall one time where I was in Sesshin at a Japanese monastery. It was cold, lack of sleep, bad food, work scrubbing the floors that killed my back. I hated it, resisted every moment. Then, suddenly, I allowed myself to stop resisting it all, to go with the flow. I gave up the fight of resistance and judging, and just decided somehow to taste peace and contentment even with the situation. There was nothing else to do but this, here, which is everything. I was not resigned and broken, but invigorated. One might say that I found great "strength" to meet the hardship, and I was able to get through it and get the jobs well done, by NOT fighting! (I have had similar experiences now so many hard days in life).

Hi Fiona,

LolloRosso wrote:Hi,
I was talking to my Roshi about my Shikantaza experience, how everything falls away and I have a deep TRUST in the experience of here and now.
And he basically told me that had I been doing it right I would have sweated from every pore, and that the alertness need to be 'as if a tiger were behind me but I can't quite sense where'.

...

For starters, I feel drawn towards Zen as a practice because there is no right and wrong. There only is. I honestly believe I am not just 'tuning out', not hearing anything or seeing anything. On the contrary, I feel like I am deeply aware. Nevertheless it is not strenuous. I wouldn't even say it's enjoyable because there is nobody (no-body) enjoying it, I am sure you know what I mean.

So I simply said 'well, if Shikantaza is when you're completely exhausted afterwards, maybe what I am practicing currently has a different name?' (I was certainly not going to argue that 'he is right' or 'I am right' - there is no such thing).


I would bet a dollar that the Roshi was with the Diamond Sangha, White Plum, Sambo Kyodan or one of the other lineages associated with the Harada-Yasutani Lineage. I do not criticize their interpretation for them, and to each their own. I celebrate everyone's interpreting practice in their own way. However, it may come from the Rinzai Zen influenced emphasis in corners of that mixed Soto-Rinzai Lineage on a hard push to Kensho, a "single-pointedness of mind" aiming toward Kensho. The most famous presentation of what they call "Shikantaza" was by their root teacher, Yasutani Roshi, who was so very focused on Koan Introspection and obtaining big, booming Kensho. Rev. Yasutani described Shikantaza this way ... he speaks of Shikantaza as a means of intense concentration leading to an explosive Kensho ...

When you thoroughly practice shikantaza you will sweat-even in the winter. Such intensely heightened alertness of mind cannot be maintained for long periods of time. ... Sit with such intensely heightened concentration, patience, and alertness that if someone were to touch you while you are sitting, there would be an electrical spark! Sitting thus, you return naturally to the original Buddha, the very nature of your being.

Then, almost anything can plunge you into the sudden realization that all beings are originally buddhas and all existence is perfect from the beginning. Experiencing this is called enlightenment. Personally experiencing this is as vivid as an explosion; regardless of how well you know the theory of explosions, only an actual explosion will do anything. In the same manner, no matter how much you know about enlightenment, until you actually experience it, you will not be intimately aware of yourself as Buddha.

In short, shikantaza is the actual practice of buddhahood itself from the very beginning-and, in diligently practicing shikantaza, when the time comes, one will realize that very fact.

However, to practice in this manner can require a long time to attain enlightenment, and such practice should never be discontinued until one fully realizes enlightenment. Even after attaining great enlightenment and even if one becomes a roshi, one must continue to do shikantaza forever, simply because shikantaza is the actualization of enlightenment itself.
https://www.dailyzen.com/journal/shikantaza


Yes, well, that is not my way. I am more with your "deeply aware. Nevertheless it is not strenuous. I wouldn't even say it's enjoyable because there is nobody (no-body) enjoying it, I am sure you know what I mean." Lovely. If that is a healthy and balanced path, you will know because the Wisdom and Compassion that arises from it will manifest in countless ways in life.

Gassho, Jundo

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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:40 am

If one wears oneself out "doing" what one thinks is just-sitting, great!

Because, then comes physical (etc.) exhaustion (while still sitting), which allows actual shikantaza to develop, unwittingly, and without mechanistic fabrication, as one truly sinks.

Wonderful!

Let's not allow the baby, him or her self, to slosh into the drain with the devalued bath-water.

--Joe
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby Michaeljc on Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:09 am

Wonderful dynamics here

Thank you all

:Namaste:

m
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:14 am

Night-night.

Catch you next light day.

--Joe

ps 10:13 PM Mountain Standard Time, here. (ever see a standard mountain???).
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby Nothing on Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:19 am

desert_woodworker wrote:Victor, hi,

Well, let others speak about this, too, if there's no risk to de-rail this thread. Else, at length in a new thread... .

But I'll try to differentiate it or distinguish it (by "finger-pointing" in distinction toward something else) by saying that there was an English fellow here at ZFI who, for the better part of a year, spoke of "meditation", not zazen, who insisted that correct Zen Buddhist sitting practice was simply "abstaining from conscious mental activity". He was untrained, however, and admitted from the beginning that he was just a reader of books.


Thank you Joe, no problem at all, the answer is sufficient. And I remember the fellow :)

desert_woodworker wrote: I will not say what "correct" practice is, though, because that is learned only from a genuine teacher, and is refined during practice with that teacher and with the sangha surrounding that teacher.

Suffice it to say, though, for our purposes, that "correct practice" is not what one THINKS it is if one is untrained by a proper master.


Yes, fully agree, good points there and of course I was not going for a definition of what correct practice is ;)

Gassho
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby bokki on Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:12 pm

a commoner is excused
but a clothed MIND is not
have you not heard what predecessors said?
one sentence and you have been seen trough
a 1000 miles away.
why you stay there is not my work,
just don't fool people.

if it were not 4 enlightenment, were would u hear about Buddha,
on what would u sit, of what would u raise off,
carrying what message?

please give it another go, one step more, 4 our sake, the commoners.

Please, i beg u, beseech u, implore u.


Bodhisattva, u just worry me 2 much.
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:56 pm

LolloRosso wrote:Hi,
[....]
I would very much appreciate your insights (this is my first post in this forum ever :heya: )

Fiona


:train:

Way to jump in!

_/|\_
Gregory
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Re: WHAT's OFTEN MISSING in SHIKANTAZA EXPLANATIONS ....

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:27 pm

ON TRUST

I look at “trust” 信 as faith and confidence. We have the essential Buddhist text Treatise of The Mahayana Arousing of Faith [Mahayana Sraddhotpada Shastra 大乘起信論 Dasheng Qixin Lun] and we have the core Zen verse from Third Ancestor Sengcan Inscription on Faith in Mind [信心銘 Xinxin Ming]. Faith/trust is indispensable to Zen practice. Faith is definitely one of the three essentials of practice, along with doubt and determination. In one sense I do not think that faith/trust can be overemphasized, but in another sense it can be overemphasized if the other two, doubt and determination, are missing or underemphasized.

Whether we speak of trust in sitting practice, trust in shikantaza, trust in koan or huatou inquiry, trust in the Buddha’s teachings,etc., there is a subtle problem if we use trust as looking at an object to trust in. Though “trust in shikantaza” is not an object like a sutra book, it is still an objectified activity if seen as one activity among many others. That separation as the one and only activity that is worthy of our complete and absolute trust, is what makes that approach to trust a risky business, because it reifies the object of trust and makes it “the one and only” true method as a feedback loop of infinite regression.

I’m not saying that absolute trust in shikantaza is wrong; I’m saying that it is not any different from any other method in that regard. Huatou practice also requires trust in it. Any and every practice ultimately requires ultimate trust. In one sense we can say that it is the letting go into the trust that is what provides or ignites the efficacy and not the actual “method” in which the trust is placed. But the need to have a method and to trust in it completely is, to me, the point of trust, regardless of the particular method. The method is the raft to get to the other shore, so I say we need complete trust in the method as the raft, but as the Diamond Cutter Sutra points out, when we get across we don't pick up the raft and carry it with us. The image of not carrying the raft with us is because now we see that every one uses their own raft to get across and no single kind of raft is for everybody, and once we are on the other shore our daily activities are seen in the new light and the raft is not needed in the same way.

The question of the particular method arises because of the question of trust attaching to the method and then the method creating an appearance that it happens only objectively. Thus if shikantaza is defined as an objective conditional event on a cushion then it separates shikantaza from the rest of our life and makes the method appear to be isolated. Personally, I think this is why Dogen himself did not make shikantaza into a big deal. He hardly ever used the word and did not make it his chief method at all. He emphasized inquiry much more than shikantaza. His phrase “investigate this” is ubiquitous throughout the Shobogenzo, and the term shikantaza appears only very infrequently.

So for the big picture context, I emphasize that what we are trusting in, whether it is shikantaza, huatou practice, or any other method, is really trust in mind. When we see that our faith or trust is at bottom in mind, and that mind is the most intimate, true, fundamental, and genuine basis of our life, then when the “inside-outside” dichotomy is weakened to a certain threshold, we do realize trust in every day activities because we no longer reify daily activities as “outside” mind and we no longer reify a self-image as “inside” mind. Daily activities and self-activity both are experienced as the seamless appearance-activity of the true suchness that is mind, the mind that is true suchness.

It takes faith/trust to aim our investigation, doubt to generate the energy for our inquiry, and the determination to persevere in the inquiry to bring together the trust and the doubt to complete integration and resolution. As I see it, complete faith in shikantaza won’t work without both complete doubt in shikantaza and complete determination to practice shikantaza to resolve the apparent disconnect between trust and doubt. When this is practiced to fruition, it can’t but arrive at the realization that shikantaza is not just something happening on the cushion but is the activity of our daily lives. In one sense, there is no genuinely true shikantaza until after the fruition of awakening, or to use Dogen’s image, after dropping body and mind as separate objectified entities. But sadly for many, they just sit as if literally just sitting is all there is to it, and they never generate the doubt of inquiry that turns the light around to shine into themselves, so they live a life of trust simply waiting, without awakening.

As Sixth Ancestor Huineng said, za does not mean just literally sitting, "za means thoughts do not arise when outwardly confronting good or bad conditions. To cultivate nonmoving is to see every person without seeing their rights and wrongs, virtues and evils, and perfections and troubles, and then our own nature is nonmoving."

_/|\_
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