Not thinking about anything is zen. Once you know this
walking, standing, sitting or lying down, everything you do is zen. To know that the mind
is empty is to see the buddha. The buddhas of the ten directions have no mind. To see no mind
is to see the buddha."
Za-zen means seated-meditation. Zazen is a place of refuge far beneath our everyday involvements, a place where we turn inward for peace, for the answers to the deepest questions of life, and for the ability to meet our lives with wisdom, love, and compassion.
For twenty-five hundred years the practice of Zen meditation and the essence of Buddhism has been passed from teacher to disciple. The method of this practice is simple and direct. However, like any discipline, knowing of it is not enough; Zazen requires time and effort sitting on the cushion, training the mind, and doing the work that leads to transformation.
Zen is the school of Buddhism that emphasizes the practice of meditation as both the means to, and expression of, awakening. “Zen” is the Japanese transliteration of the Chinese “Ch’an,” which derives from the Sanskrit “dhyana,” which means ‘absorption.’ This is the state of stable, focused concentration that grows from repeatedly bringing the mind back to the present. Dhyana is the form and method of zazen; the practice of letting go and returning to the present. Cultivating this prevents distraction, but it is not a way to escape or ignore the conditions around us. Zazen happens in and with the world, not apart from it. The result of meditation is ever deeper experience of samadhi. Samadhi is deeply entering into the openness that letting go cultivates, always broadening the scope of releasing self-attachment.
In Soto Zen, we use Shikan-Taza, staying alert, aware and still. This is ‘just sitting,’ and is a formless and objectless method of meditation. It is simple and straightforward, but radical in its acceptance, and profound in its depth. Practicing this meditation helps us see our minds clearly, for there is nothing to do but watch how our habit patterns distract us from the present moment. Seeing our mind clearly is awareness of both the impermanence of everything in the mind, each thought, feeling, pattern, idea, as well as the limitlessness of mind itself, that which lies beneath all the clutter. The practice of Zen is a direct method of finding this place of real truth within ourselves, and learning to function with this wisdom.
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