Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Just Sitting

Sunday April 24 we will meet at my office at 46 Riverside Drive in Binghamton at 2 pm for 15 minutes of silent meditation followed by a discussion of the primary meditation method that I call “sitting in awareness” or “just sitting”. I have also referred to this practice as “doing nothing, with no goal or purpose except sitting in open, receptive awareness”. This sitting, however, is alert-not drowsy or lost in thoughts or daydreams. One reason meditation is so difficult for most Westerners is that there is often a concern with doing it right, and a simultaneous conviction that one is not doing it right. A second common concern is that nothing is happening. It is very hard to believe that simply sitting in awareness is enough. The idea of no goal or purpose is important. Most of us have one or more very clear goals in mind when we sit in meditation. Having a purpose creates tension and self-criticism. That is why it is important to cultivate non-doing. Just sitting, nothing else.
This kind of meditation is often associated with the Soto school of Zen Buddhism, where it is called Shikantaza. Below is a description of this practice from Wikipedia.
(Chinese Zen) “Master Shengyen explains the meaning of the term in this way:
This “just sitting” in Chinese is zhiguan dazuo. Literally, this means “just mind sitting.” Some of you are familiar with the Japanese transliteration,shikantaza. It has the flavor of “Just mind your own business.” What business? The business of minding yourself just sitting. At least, you should be clear that you're sitting. “Mind yourself just sitting” entails knowing that your body is sitting there. This does not mean minding a particular part of your body or getting involved in a particular sensation. Instead, your whole body, your whole being is sitting there.
According to Merv Fowler, shikantaza is described best as, quiet sitting in open awareness, reflecting directly the reality of life. Shikantaza is often termed a goalless meditation in quiet awareness, not working on any koan, or counting the breath. It is an alert condition, performed erect, with no trace of sluggishness or drowsiness.”
In this talk, we will discuss this practice, as I understand it. There will also be several opportunities for brief practice periods during the discussion.
If you are interested in attending the talk this Sunday, please RSVP as space is limited. 

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