Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sitting as Body & Mind Dropping Off

An Old Non-Buddha said: "Zen practice is body and mind dropping off."

Zen Master Dogen said: "Sit in the full lotus posture as body and mind dropping off!"

Here, as I see it, are four aspects of it:

(1) Sitting as physical doing.

Just following the other. Just doing it. The body breaking out of inaction. Using the self.

Expressed negatively: Not doing my own thing. Losing myself in doing. Forgetting myself in doing.

Exemplified by: Hardcore Zen. When the wake up bell rings, everybody gets out of bed. 1,2,3 Go!

(2) Sitting as balance.

Balance of two opposites -- left and right, front and back, flexor and extensor tone, lengthening and widening, passivity and activity, parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves, yin and yang, accepting and using the self, et cetera.

Expressed negatively: mutual negation of feeling and thinking, of doing and not doing, of excitation and inhibition.

Exemplified by:
* a real conversation with both speaking and listening.
* Vipassana practice. Being awake to breathing and birdsong at the same time, in one unified field.

(3) Sitting as total commitment.

Mobilization of the whole self, centered on the lengthening spine. Thus becoming one piece -- by an act of psycho-physical integration.

Expressed negatively: dropping off old wrong patterns and attachments.

Exemplified by:
* a wren singing -- with its voice, with its ears, with its whole body
* a monk chanting Fukan-zazen-gi well, using everything -- eyes, ears, voice, breath, intellect, the whole body in a chanting/listening posture.
* the sitting in lotus of Master Kodo Sawaki -- with no hair on his head, no direction home, no book in his name, no wife (although he admitted that he wanted one), no stone having been left unturned in his kesa research. No false pretences. No gap.

(4) Sitting as spontaneous flow.

Sitting doing itself. Effortless ease. Like springing up out of the earth.

Expressed negatively: lack of superfluous effort; no consciousness of physical or mental effort.

Exemplified by: Gautama under the bodhi tree.


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