Sitting Meditation and Practice

From Avidyana
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"ZAZEN", Sitting Meditation, and Traditional Zen Practices

Convention has it that attention is either diverted
to or occupied upon the incoming and outgoing breath,
sometimes counting these so as to engage
discursive mind with a task to which to return,
or to unfocus the eyes and direct them
at a comfortable spot a short distance
in front of where one is sitting, not attempting
to achieve any particular thing in the effort to remain still.

Alternatively, as an advance on practical aim,
one may heavily restrain the perceptual arena
(based on our tendency to focus on visual experience)
by sitting close to a blank wall of the practice building.

The character of mind i call 'repose' will likely develop
as a consequence of deliberate attentive restraint, and as one
becomes familiar with this reflective state, it may be engaged
intentionally as part of ordinary affairs,
effectively 'making everyday activities meditative'.

Calm, deliberate, reflective movements are sought as part
of a structured, routinized, and simple lifestyle, within
the mystico-spiritual group or community called the sangha.
This subsumes all functional labour and sustenance, aiming
for slow, reflective attention upon all activity therein.

Some sanghas engage in agriculture, and many
pursue humility practice by going out into the local
community to beg for food. This is done in a formal
style, the charity of those who provide the sustenance
conceived by them as a means of earning merit.

Typically practice may also feature folkloric or cultural
styles (customs, celebrations, observances) which may be
Buddhist or more localized by form and theme.
Seasonal, or other observations may become the focus
of the sangha, and the network of sanghas within a region
may coordinate so as to share time and responsibility for
preparation and festivity.

Formalities in some Zen traditions include the interview
or encounter with the teacher, in which the student may
follow ritual protocols in sharing with the instructor
reflections on their state of development, observations
in focus of meditative repose on traditional records 
(kung-ans, koans), and personal insights gleaned therefrom.

Such exchanges may include idiosyncratic, dramatic, or
confusing challenges on the part of the teacher, and the
student is left to fathom its import and meaning. It is
thought that the structure and nature of the interview may
catalyze a shift in, or mould to rarefaction and potential, the
student's overall mentality or particular cognitive features.

At times such records, philosophic, anecdotal, or personal
considerations and quandries, may become emphasized, within
certain traditions or as part of recommendation by the teacher,
even to the point where these become the routine attentive
focus held during daily tasks about the temple.

Insofar as is possible or as emphasized by the administrator
of the particular sangha (the master), the practical structures
are not rationally justified by theoretical explanation, but are
regarded as sufficient in themselves and an aspect of the
Eight-Fold Path as it has become traditional to maintain by
the elders of the lineage in question.