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Dogen's Zazen: Not Meditation

A secret of zen is we do not meditate. Rather we sit zazen. How can this be so, we might ask? Ah, I cannot give you an answer, only a direction. But first I define meditation as placing the mind on an object. This may also be defined as awareness as in, "hey mind, take a look at 'X'." In various practices of meditation resting the mind on an image, symbol, chant or the act of counting creates a force or focus that is to be maintained squarely in the lock of mind-to-object. However, Master Dogen, the founder of the Soto Zen School, describes zazen thusly (underlines are mine):

“The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once its heart is grasped, you are like the dragon when he gains the water, like the tiger when she enters the mountain. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the right Dharma is manifesting itself and that, from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.

Repose and bliss is openness and equanimity. We sit upright still and quiet, allowing reality to arise through the dropping away of focusing on body and mind. It is practice born from the act of living-being breathing-in and breathing-out.

By being alive reality is manifested. Life is unfolding existence, with nothing to grasp or catch or attain when the mind is without hindrance. We are fully such, in the way a dragon or fish is the water a tiger is the mountain and bird sky...



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