To understand Zen and feel comfortable in Zen, it is good to sit in zazen every single day.
To sit in zazen, choose a place you will like and where you can stay quiet for about 20 minutes. Make sure the temperature and light are comfortable. Don’t waste time looking for or decorating the place: you can sit anywhere.
Sit on an armchair, sofa, bench or chair. If you can do it painlessly and enjoy it: sit on a cushion lying on a thick mat on the floor.
Zazen with the Body
Shakyamuni Buddha as well as all patriarchs in the Zen tradition satWhy did they sit? Meditation originated in India many thousand years ago. Meditation originated in India many thousand years ago. In order to escape the oppressive heat Indian “truth seekers” went into forests and on mountains. There they meditated under trees or other shadow givers. When they stood, they became tired; when they lay down, they fell asleep. So they developed a way of sitting on the floor in a “cross-legged seat” with a straight back. This posture was more upright than their usual sitting on the floor, where they supported themselves with arms or lay halfway – and ensured alertness zazen.
Some of the Buddhas and patriarchs sat on grass mats; some sat on large stones, others on curbs or telephone books.
Often these ancestors sat in the full lotus seat, master Dogen in the 13th century allowedWhat relief this was, what generosity in the male-dominated warrior and samurai country of Japan in the 13th century. The Asian masters had learned to sit on the floor with their legs crossed as children in their families. They didn’t know any chairs or sofas, so they didn’t get the idea that it was possible to sit in a raised position. Sitting on the floor, but not lambing, they passed it on to their students. Upright to stay awake; but, like Master Dogen, with some freedom. his monks also to sit half lotus.
On the floor, you sit on a cushion (zafu) firmly filled with buckwheat husk or cotton. Cross your legs to a full or half lotus seat or place them uncrossed to the Burmese seat. You can also place the lower legs backwards, next to the pillow; this seat is called Seiza. To sit seiza-style, one must first be kneeling on the floor, folding one’s legs underneath one’s thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels. The ankles are turned outward as the tops of the feet are lowered so that, in a slight “V” shape, the tops of the feet are flat on the floor and big toes overlapped, the right always on top of the left, and the buttocks are finally lowered all the way down (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiza)
In each of these positions, your knees will rest on the floor mat. The cushion should support your buttock and raise the pelvis slightly. So the spine can balance the torso upright.
The head does not bend forward or backward and does not tilt to the side. Just as the spine rests and balances on the sacrum and pelvis, the head naturally balances on the spine. You don’t need to create a certain shape or hold anything.
The arms stay relaxed and the hands rest in the lap, forming a kind of circle with the right hand under the left hand – the tips of the thumbs meet gently. This hand position is called cosmic Mudra .
On a chair or in an armchair or sofa, place your feet next to each other on the floor. You may have your back supported by the backrest to remain upright. Sit comfortably and lively. If you want, you can form the “cosmic mudra” with your hands – or place your hands on the armrests.
As as you sit upright on the chair or on the floor, with your arms and hands comfortably put down, you lower your gaze (not your head) without fixating anything with your eyes for a prolonged period of time. You can leave your eyes a slightly open – or you can close them completely. You will notice that the “atmosphere” of sitting is different whether you have your eyes closed or open.
At the beginning of your zazen you breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth a few times – as if you were about to breathe deeply after a run. Then you breathe naturally through your nose with your mouth closed.
Care for a relaxed, peaceful sitting and let anything be which goes beyond sitting.
This is the basic physical posture, relaxed without pain, in physical peace. This zazen was passed on from Buddha to Buddha and from patriarch to patriarch.
Zazen with the Mind
Zazen is neither the work with a mantra nor visualization. Zazen is not contemplation, not concentration. Zazen is not a mindfulness exercise nor a meditation, because there is nothing to meditate on.
All matters may rest, all entanglements may remain entangled Do not try to become a Buddha. You don’t have to form an opinion, for example about how to sit the right way or how to lay down the right way. Let yourself and everything else be as it is and rest in zazen.
Thoughts will come up with questions and doubts.
Therefore follow the example of the Buddhas and Patriarchs and think “beyond thinking and not-thinking”.
By feeling at home both in “thinking” and in “non-thinking”, but taking your residence “beyond thinking and non-thinking”.
This is the foundation of the mind, unstrained and in peace. This zazen was passed on from Buddha to Buddha and from patriarch to patriarch.
Zazen with Body and Mind dropped off
Thinking”, “not thinking” and “beyond thinking and not-thinking” are related to each other like parents to their children. Master Dogen also calls this transcendence “parents mind” or “body and mind dropped off”. As an illustration, we can imagine a triangle: the left corner is “thinking”; the right corner is “not-thinking” and at the apex is “beyond thinking and not-thinking”:
In general, parents love their children equally and prefer neither the child called “thinking” nor the child called “not thinking”. The parents are not their children, but know them well and know how to guide them and give them their place.
Zazen with “Body and Mind dropped off” is not dependent on sitting, standing, walking or lying down. It comes and goes and acts freely, appropriately and in accordance with every situation.
Zazen with “Body and Mind dropped off” is not the goal or end of Zen, but its beginning. In daily life we work and refine our insight and being at home in “ourselves” – we heal ourselves and the misery of the world.
This is the life of a Buddha. This life was passed on from Buddha to Buddha and from patriarch to patriarch.