Bill and Jody,

I have no problem at all with Bill's excellent description of a useful technique. I would like to point out though that ultimately Zen doesn't depend on any technique and has nothing to do with zazen or sitting. True zen is just experiencing things as they actually are no matter what one is doing, or where one is. You can be sitting in zazen or doing anything whatsoever in your daily life. As I think Bill would agree zen is 24/7, it is always present no matter what one is doing, it's just a matter of looking around and seeing and directly experiencing.

Likewise zen is not something to be found just within the gates of a zen temple. There is no gate to enter to find zen. Thus mumon, the gateless (nonexistent) gate. Zen is everywhere in the universe. It is always right where you are right now.


On Aug 30, 2008, at 9:10 PM, <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:


First you need to know how to breath properly. Your posture is very important. Sit in some posture with your spine upright. Any variations of the lotus position are best, but you can also sit on the edge of a hard chair as long as you keep your back upright and do not lean against the back of the chair. Use 'belly breathing', using only your diaphragm. Your lower 'belly' should go in and out when you breath. You should not breath by expanding your chest or raising your shoulders. Breathe slowly and deeply, but effortlessly. You'll have to settle in to your own rhythm to do this well. Focus your 'mind', your counting, your awareness, in your belly, NOT IN YOUR HEAD!. The Japanese word for this is 'hara', an area about 3-4 finger-widths below your belly-button. This is VERY IMPORTANT!

At first sit for only about 10 minutes. Increase this time as you become more accustomed to sitting, both mentally and physically. 20 minutes is a good time. I sit 30 to 45 minutes, but I've been sitting for many years. Also, sit every day if you can, even if for just 5 minutes.

FIRST sit counting your breaths, 1 to 10, and then start over. Count each exhale and inhale separately, starting with 1 on your first exhale, 2 on your first inhale, etc... (All your focus and strength is strongest on exhales - that's why marital artists or athletes yell (exhale) when striking/hitting. JMJM would refer to this as 'chi'.) When you finish your 5th inhale (count 10), start over. Only think/focus on ONE, TWO, THREE, etc... If your mind wanders and you lose count, start over at 1. If you find yourself counting '12, 13, ...', start over. If you find yourself thinking 'Gee, I'm really sitting well today!' or 'I wonder how many minutes left.', start over.

AFTER you have mastered that, start your count (1) on your exhale and continue counting 1 through your inhale. The next exhale/inhale is 2, etc...

AFTER you have mastered that, start marking exhales/inhales only as OUT - IN. Start with your exhale. Out - In - Out - In.

AFTER you have mastered that, start 'following' the breaths. No count, no marks, no words. Just your awareness flowing out and in with your breaths.

AFTER you have mastered that, drop to following. Drop everything. Just sit.

That is zazen (shikantaza - clear mind).

I follow this sequence every time I sit to transition into shikantaza. Sometimes I slide into shikantaza very quickly. Sometimes my mind is very active (I'm thinking about something or have a problem I'm dealing with) and it takes longer. Sometimes I sit an entire period (30 to 45 minutes) without getting to shikantaza. That's not a problem and may be the best sessions. That (to me) just means I need to sit more often, not longer periods.

Hope this helps.


From: [EMAIL PROTECTED]:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of Jody W. Ianuzzi
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2008 9:49 PM
Subject: Re: [Zen] Test of Character

Hello JM,

I hope to reach the level of meditation where I don't have to count my
breths. I am still a beginner. I hope to reach the point where I am just

I will keep working on it while not working on it.


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