How to Practice · Jundo Cohen - Treeleaf Zendo · Meditation - Zazen · Shikantaza is..... · Soto Zen Buddhism

Shikantaza – The Still Center – Jundo Cohen

Shikantaza Zazen is not meditation, is not development, and thus creates no Karma. Zazen is the polishing of the Jewel that Shines brilliantly whether seen or unseen, and thus can’t be polished. This Zazen “develops” what can be developed only when we drop all need for development and change, sitting in the Wholeness of that which is beyond all change. When one sits beyond and through all need for change, the result is the most radical of Changes. One changes as one realize that which was never in need of change from top to bottom, and sits at the Still Still Center of all the spinning changes of life as the world turns round and round. Shikantaza sits in the realization that sitting itself, in this place and moment at the Still Still Center which spins round and round, is beyond any need for further action, and is the Stillness which is the Root of all life’s busy actions. Better said, this is the Stillness and Silence which is all the world’s stillness and action, all ordinary silence and the greatest noise. There are no other places to go, no other things to do, never one thing lacking from the Startless Start. The Morning Star is seen, and one is the Morning Starlight. It is the Breath of the universe, beyond and right through in and out, breath or breathless, life and death … and is all in and out and life and death too. The mountains and stars breathe this breath.

This is not work nor effort nor exercise, yet neither is it inactive or passive in any way. It is not any more slack than the world can be slack. It is neither acceptance nor non-acceptance. In fact, it is the Activity of All Activities which holds and transcends both the active and passive of small human attitudes. This is the Acceptance of All Acceptances which accepts and holds both ordinary human moods of acceptance and non-acceptance. Its Agenda can only be realized by the dropping of all agendas, and thus the Work is done. It is the Process at the heart of the World which embodies all processes and stillness. Nothing needs to be established, and this dropping of all need to establish from the human heart is the ultimate Establishment. .

Then, getting up from the cushion, we get on with life, back to a need to “work” and “develop” and “attain,” but now seeing that at the heart of “work” is “non-work,” that as we “develop” there is nothing in need of change and no birth and death (nonetheless, lets keep on striving because there are bills to pay and hungry children to feed, mountains to climb, graves to dig). Attaining this “Attainment-non-Attainment” is a very great change and a wonderful attainment. We Accept a world in which there is so much … war and poverty and sickness … that we cannot accept, and we fix the problems and flaws in our life and world knowing that there is never any Problem or Flaw in this Jewel and never will be. Even the apparent flaws and loss and sadness of the world are this Buddha Jewel. This is the Mahayana Wisdom and Compassion of Samsara and Nirvana.

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