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Monks Sitting in Zazen - header image

How Do I Meditate?

Buddha - hand brushed by Sokuzan

"There is nothing broken, nothing to fix, nothing to correct."


Background SokukoJi Scroll

Meditation Doesn't Work...!

Often, meditation is taught as a way of calming down, pacifying, stabilizing the mind, even creating another state of mind that is somehow tranquil and at peace.  But Buddhist meditation, as it is taught at SokukoJi, and has been taught down through the centuries, is about actually seeing what we are fundamentally - rather than pacifying what this body/mind complex apparently is.   Because of this, meditation practice doesn't work - at least, not in the way you think it's going to work.


Typically, we may use meditation to be a better person, a good meditator, to be more relaxed, get rid of this, get rid of that, to try to stop being angry or too passionate, too greedy, to be more aware, more mindful - all of which may occur in the context of your practice - but the process of mediation opens up the very shield or barrier you've been developing as protection against reality, like a finely woven matrix of your stories, opinions, ideas, judgments constantly invented, imagined, positioned, and strategized by the mind to get ahead in the world or get what we want, keep away what we don't want, and not be bothered by that which doesn't concern us.  You might discover in your own situation that you don't like that.  It's too uncomfortable.  You feel more confused than ever.

Sokuzan's Meditation Instruction

From Sokuzan's book, "108 Meditation Instructions and 6 Dharma Talks."  Instruction #87, page 166

Experience Your World


Please face the wall.


First, hold the body very, very still without being rigid. Have all the senses open. Through that contrast, just observe what continues to move without adding any of your comments to it. Experience your world, this world, through your six sense fields including the mind. Just watch. Just observe.


Second, hold the body very still without being rigid. Have all the senses open and just observe what arises in the six sense fields including the mind without adding anything to it.


Third, hold the body very still without being rigid. Have all the senses open including the mind and just observe what arises in those six sense fields without adding anything to it. No extra comments at all.


Just observe. (Ring Bell)


What is Shikantaza?

When we practice shikantaza, the Japanese word for just precisely this, and hold the body very still allowing the six sense fields - sense of seeing sense of sound, sense of smell, sense of taste, sense of touch, even the sense of thinking - to settle down and receive what's coming in: the sound of a bell; the fragrance of incense; a flower on the altar; sense of touch like the weight of our body in a chair or cushion; the taste of coffee or tea - this is an opportunity to take a few moments out of our day - ten minutes, twenty minutes, an hour or two - and just observe what this body/mind complex is doing.

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