Treeleaf Zen

Treeleaf Zen

Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zazen for Beginners (We’re All Beginners) V

We continue our series on “How To” Zazen …

and how to handle thoughts that appear during Zazen.

I often used the analogy of clouds (of thought) drifting in and out of a clear, blue spacious sky (a mind open and clear of thoughts).

Our mind in Zazen
may be compared to the sky … We are open, clear, spacious, boundless,
like the clear blue sky … Our attention is focused on everything and
nothing in particular, just as the sky covers all the world without discrimination
… Thoughts, like clouds, often come and go.

Clouds drift in and
out, that is natural. However, we bring our attention again and again
(10,000 times and 10,000 times again) to the open, blue sky between, allowing the clouds of thought to drift
away. More clouds will come, and so we repeat the process endlessly,
once more and once more bringing our attention back to the blue sky …
to the open spaces between thoughts.

However, this is important to bear in mind:


We do not try to “silence the thoughts forcefully” in
Skikantaza. It is more that we allow the thoughts that naturally drift
into mind to naturally drift out of mind, much as clouds naturally drift in and out of a clear blue sky. In this way, return again and again to the open, clear blue sky.Although
we seek to appreciate the blue, open sky between the clouds, we do not
resist the clouds of thought that drift through our mind. We are not
disturbed by them, we do not actively chase them out, neither do we
welcome them, focus on them, play with them or stir them up. We allow
them to pass, and return our focus once more to the quiet blue
. Again
and again

As in the real
sky, both blue expanse and clouds are at home there. We should reject
, not think the blue somehow “truer” than the clouds. In fact,
some days will be very cloudy, some days totally blue … both are fine. We never say “this cloudy day is not good because there is no blue sky today“.
When the sky is blue and empty, let it be so. When the sky is cloudy,
our mind filled with thoughts, let it be so. You see, even when hidden
by clouds, the blue is there all along. Both the blue sky and the
clouds are the sky … do not seek to break up the sky by rejecting any
part of it. (In other words, do not think one good and the other bad).
WE DO NOT SEEK TO BREAK UP OR RESIST ANY PART OF THE SKY, CLOUDS OR BLUE … It is all the unbroken sky. Though we reject neither, we allow the clouds to drift from mind and
return our attention again and again to the blue. Throughout, we are
awake, aware and alert, conscious and present … we are not in some
mysterious or extreme state.

The clouds of thought and the
clear blue are not two, are simultaneously functioning and whole … a
single sky. This is our way in ‘Just Sitting’ Shikantaza Zazen. When you see the clouds, be as if you are thereby seeing the clouds as blue. When you see the blue, you may also see the blue as clouds.


Master Dogen called that ‘thinking not thinking‘ or ‘non-thinking’ …

blueskybuddha.jpgClick HERE  to Play Today’s TALK & SITTING  VIDEO
(SITTING TIME: Approx. 30 Minutes)

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