--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, "Bill!" <BillSmart@...> wrote:
> Steve,
> The Japanese word shikantaza has been tranlated on this forum by both
> Japanese and Chinese speakers in great detail.  You can go back into the
> posts to see all the discussion on this, but the bottom line for me is
> that the translation means 'only sit'.  When I was instructed in this by
> zen masters from both the Rienzi and Soto schools of Japanese Zen
> Buddhism I was told shikantaza meant 'clear mind'. - which is for me the
> same as 'only sit'.
> Now 'only sit' means just that - Only Sit.  What is doesn't mean is
> counting breaths, chanting a mantra or visualizatons.  It means Only
> Sit.  To do this you have to have an 'empty mind' or 'clear mind'.  That
> means you have to stop or pause your active discriminating mind - the
> one that thinks about things, creates duality (especially the illusion
> of self),  makes valuations, catergorizes, plans, dreams, etc...  This
> activity has to stop!
> Just how you get to the point of stopping the activity of this
> discriminating mind is the crux of Japanese Zen Buddhism - in my
> opinion.  To get you to the point where your dicriminating mind stops
> (or disappears) Japanese Zen Buddhism uses various kinds of techinques. 
> The one most often used goes like this:
> 1. First you learn to sit with a good upright posture which allows you
> to breathe from your belly pushing up on your diaphram and not using
> your shoulders to lift up on your diagphram.  This is called
> belly-breathing.
> 2. Then you start sitting by counting your breaths 1 - 10, counting 1 on
> an exhale and 2 on an inhale.  You focus all your concentration on the
> counting: one, two, three, etc...  You think of nothing else.   If you
> loose count or find yourself at 12 or 13, or catch your mind wandering -
> like thinking about how good you are sitting today or what you're going
> to do after you sit - you just start over at 1.
> 3.  When you can do the above fairly well you change the counting to 1
> on and exhale/inhale, 2 on the next exhale/inhale, etc..., to 10.
> 4.  When you can do the above you change to following the breaths.  This
> is just being conscious and focussed on the exhale and inhale.  You can
> visualize or feel your breaths going out and in.  No counting.
> 5.  When you can do the above you follow (concentrate on) one entire
> exhale/inhale cycle.
> 6.  When you can do the above you drop the following - and then there is
> nothing.  Clear Mind.  Only Sit.  Shikantaza.
> There are other Japanese Zen Buddhist techniques to get you to Clear
> Mind.  Some of them are chanting, bowing, formal walking (kinhin),
> washing dishes, mopping the floor, painting a fence - and of course the
> most famous of all - koans.  Koans are used to give your discriminating
> mind something to work on that it can't solve rationally.  Eventually
> your discriminating mind gets tired or bored or whatever and just gives
> up - shuts down, and then you have Clear Mind!
> Hope this helps.  I enjoyed writing it anyway...Bill!
>  Thank you, Bill!


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