Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

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JMGinPDX
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Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by JMGinPDX » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:38 pm

I started out in and have a strong affinity for Theravada Thai Forest (Ajahn Chah), but have lately been studying Zen (emphasis on STUDYING - while I have been experimenting with zazen as somewhat different from the "meditation" I've learned from the Ajahns, I do not yet practice with a Zen sangha nor a Zen teacher, so my exposure is limited to various Zen texts).

Earlier, I was working with a fairly structured satipatthana-focused sitting practice...going through the 4 foundations sequentially as outlined in the Pali Canon Satipatthana Sutta.
I was surprised to read the Leighton/Loori text "The Art of Just Sitting" and see a whole section at the end dedicated to satipatthana.

Has anyone here experimented with reflecting on satipatthana during shikantaza practice?
It took me a bit to understand shikantaza as separate from "object-based" meditation, the latter being something that never really worked for me (particularly meditations on light/color or buddhakaya or any other conceptual practice), and while anipanasati is great for me to get into sitting, I've never solely focused on the breath for a whole sit.

Just wondering what others have experienced.

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Anders
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by Anders » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:00 pm

You may want to take a look at Sheng-yen's teachings on silent illumination. He has some techniques for easing into silent illumination that are very satipatthana-like, but gradually become less object oriented.

You may want to take a look at Ajahn Munindo's teachings as well, whom I feel does a good job of bridging the gap from the Theravada side.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by Astus » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:48 am

JMGinPDX wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:38 pm
reflecting on satipatthana during shikantaza practice?
I don't know what exactly you mean by satipatthana, as that practice has various approaches in Theravada itself, and there are other forms preserved in Mahayana traditions too. If you want to see a Zen take on it, check out Dogen's Sanjushichihon Bodaibunpo (三十七品菩提分法 / 37 bodhipaksadharma) found in his Shobogenzo. There are also Thich Nhat Hanh's works, in particular his commentary (Transformation and Healing).

In a way, the essence of satipatthana is the cultivation of sati and sampajanna (e.g. SN 47.2), as emphasised by the disciples of Ajahn Chah, and such qualities can be seen as very much present in zazen as well. So if you take satipatthana less as a four staged method and more as a practice of mindfulness in general, it comes closer to the ideal form in Zen.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

SunWuKong
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jun 27, 2018 4:41 am

JMGinPDX wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:38 pm
I started out in and have a strong affinity for Theravada Thai Forest (Ajahn Chah), but have lately been studying Zen (emphasis on STUDYING - while I have been experimenting with zazen as somewhat different from the "meditation" I've learned from the Ajahns, I do not yet practice with a Zen sangha nor a Zen teacher, so my exposure is limited to various Zen texts).

Earlier, I was working with a fairly structured satipatthana-focused sitting practice...going through the 4 foundations sequentially as outlined in the Pali Canon Satipatthana Sutta.
I was surprised to read the Leighton/Loori text "The Art of Just Sitting" and see a whole section at the end dedicated to satipatthana.

Has anyone here experimented with reflecting on satipatthana during shikantaza practice?
It took me a bit to understand shikantaza as separate from "object-based" meditation, the latter being something that never really worked for me (particularly meditations on light/color or buddhakaya or any other conceptual practice), and while anipanasati is great for me to get into sitting, I've never solely focused on the breath for a whole sit.

Just wondering what others have experienced.
You know, Ajaan Chah is pretty uncomplicated, but profound nonetheless. However, shikantaza is sitting with no object in mind, but its not implying a lack of desire, intent, or will. I think you could adapt to it. I transitioned to it after doing Anapannasati for many years.

The challenge with following the breath is ,when you begin to get to areas of the mind that are very deep and subtle, and returning to the breath, you find its hard to remain conscious and aware. You have to go in with a certain resolve, because the way the mind then functions is on an entirely different order. The deeper and quieter you go, the more difficult it becomes to hold onto. You don't want to use any effort, other than being AWAKE.
Seriously worth your consideration, sometimes on the return trip there's a lot of remembering; like the fact you are human, in a body, maybe not even knowing where you are or what time it is. When the senses become withdrawn, you can lose these things. Give it a try!
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

SunWuKong
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:13 am

The Way of Mindfulness: The Satipatthana Sutta and Its Commentary
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... wayof.html

The Satipatthana Sutta, the Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, is generally regarded as the canonical Buddhist text with the fullest instructions on the ...
The Foundations of Mindfulness: Satipatthana Sutta - Access to Insight
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el019.html

The Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, the Satipatthana Sutta, is the tenth discourse of the Middle Length Collection (Majjhima Nikaya) of the ...
Satipatthana Sutta: Frames of Reference - Access to Insight
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in the Kuru country. Now there is a town of the Kurus called Kammasadhamma. There the ...


Four domains to be mindful of (satipatthana): body (kāyā), sensations/feelings(vedanā), mind/consciousness (cittā)) and elements of the Buddhist teachings (dhammas)

1.kāyā
2.vedanā
3.cittā
4.dhammas

In either shikantaza or in anapanasati, you've got a body, and it's got 5 senses, it communicates with itself through the nervous system - in and of itself this you know - however, dhammas, mental qualities, or the lack thereof, all that's broken down in the Suttas - these aren't specifically objects of meditation in the way they are in Satipatthana or Satipatthana Sutta - that's more the path of Insight meditation or Vipassana - and no matter which path you decide to stick with, in the final analysis you're going to have to incorporate everything to be complete
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

Matylda
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by Matylda » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:08 pm

JMGinPDX wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:38 pm
I started out in and have a strong affinity for Theravada Thai Forest (Ajahn Chah), but have lately been studying Zen (emphasis on STUDYING - while I have been experimenting with zazen as somewhat different from the "meditation" I've learned from the Ajahns, I do not yet practice with a Zen sangha nor a Zen teacher, so my exposure is limited to various Zen texts).

Earlier, I was working with a fairly structured satipatthana-focused sitting practice...going through the 4 foundations sequentially as outlined in the Pali Canon Satipatthana Sutta.
I was surprised to read the Leighton/Loori text "The Art of Just Sitting" and see a whole section at the end dedicated to satipatthana.

Has anyone here experimented with reflecting on satipatthana during shikantaza practice?
It took me a bit to understand shikantaza as separate from "object-based" meditation, the latter being something that never really worked for me (particularly meditations on light/color or buddhakaya or any other conceptual practice), and while anipanasati is great for me to get into sitting, I've never solely focused on the breath for a whole sit.

Just wondering what others have experienced.
infact shikan taza is unique practice, which is preserved within zen, and only zen.. looking for similarities is waste of time and kind of amusement...

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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by JMGinPDX » Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:57 pm

Matylda wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:08 pm
infact shikan taza is unique practice, which is preserved within zen, and only zen.. looking for similarities is waste of time and kind of amusement...
Thank you, but I tacitly disagree with that, as all Buddhist traditions emanate from the same roots and have more similarities than differences. To set up and reinforce divisions and differences is exactly counter to the very idea of emptiness.

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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by JMGinPDX » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:03 pm

SunWuKong wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:13 am
The Way of Mindfulness: The Satipatthana Sutta and Its Commentary
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... wayof.html

The Satipatthana Sutta, the Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, is generally regarded as the canonical Buddhist text with the fullest instructions on the ...
The Foundations of Mindfulness: Satipatthana Sutta - Access to Insight
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el019.html

The Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, the Satipatthana Sutta, is the tenth discourse of the Middle Length Collection (Majjhima Nikaya) of the ...
Satipatthana Sutta: Frames of Reference - Access to Insight
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying in the Kuru country. Now there is a town of the Kurus called Kammasadhamma. There the ...


Four domains to be mindful of (satipatthana): body (kāyā), sensations/feelings(vedanā), mind/consciousness (cittā)) and elements of the Buddhist teachings (dhammas)

1.kāyā
2.vedanā
3.cittā
4.dhammas

In either shikantaza or in anapanasati, you've got a body, and it's got 5 senses, it communicates with itself through the nervous system - in and of itself this you know - however, dhammas, mental qualities, or the lack thereof, all that's broken down in the Suttas - these aren't specifically objects of meditation in the way they are in Satipatthana or Satipatthana Sutta - that's more the path of Insight meditation or Vipassana - and no matter which path you decide to stick with, in the final analysis you're going to have to incorporate everything to be complete
Thank you!
Yes, I've read virtually every sutta on the topic, as well as the popular books by Bhante Analayo (and Ajahn Amaro's series of talks reading through and commenting on the same), Henepola G, etc. (I even set out to read through the entire Pali Canon and have made my way through the DN, MN, SN, and now partway through the AN... :coffee: )
I made going through each of the 4 foundations the basis for my sitting meditation for quite awhile as well and found particularly deep moments going through the 4 Elements. The final satipatthana, not so much. I need to sit with the dhammas more :)
I appreciate your final comments!

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JMGinPDX
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by JMGinPDX » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:08 pm

Astus wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:48 am
JMGinPDX wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:38 pm
reflecting on satipatthana during shikantaza practice?
I don't know what exactly you mean by satipatthana, as that practice has various approaches in Theravada itself, and there are other forms preserved in Mahayana traditions too. If you want to see a Zen take on it, check out Dogen's Sanjushichihon Bodaibunpo (三十七品菩提分法 / 37 bodhipaksadharma) found in his Shobogenzo. There are also Thich Nhat Hanh's works, in particular his commentary (Transformation and Healing).

In a way, the essence of satipatthana is the cultivation of sati and sampajanna (e.g. SN 47.2), as emphasised by the disciples of Ajahn Chah, and such qualities can be seen as very much present in zazen as well. So if you take satipatthana less as a four staged method and more as a practice of mindfulness in general, it comes closer to the ideal form in Zen.
Thank you for this (and for your many lucid posts in general).
I had a similar thought recently - I'd been going through the satipatthanas individually, and then deviated from that practice for a bit, and when I came back realized the whole thing was just about parsing the various concepts in which we can get caught up and staying aware of them as a whole.

I'm a jazz musician, and have always loved the advice from saxophone great Sonny Rollins - "Learn everything there is to know, and then when you get on the bandstand, immediately forget it."
I wonder if that logic is applicable here, where methodical study and individual focus on the satipatthanas can build up awareness to the point where one can "just sit" without that focus? In a sense, the individual satipatthana practice is the training for having the constitution and focus to do shikantaza? Just musing "aloud" although I may be off base...

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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by Matylda » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:26 pm

JMGinPDX wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:57 pm
Matylda wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:08 pm
infact shikan taza is unique practice, which is preserved within zen, and only zen.. looking for similarities is waste of time and kind of amusement...
Thank you, but I tacitly disagree with that, as all Buddhist traditions emanate from the same roots and have more similarities than differences. To set up and reinforce divisions and differences is exactly counter to the very idea of emptiness.
same roots etc. are only intellectual rhetoric. in fact if a certain line of practice is not strictly kept and guarded, its fate is sealed and it will be watered down. it is not sectarian.. the same source died out almost 3000 years ago and today we can rely only on living masters and their genuine realization...
all food has same aim of nutrition.. but there are so many restaurants from oriental up to french, italian, russian etc. would you like to mix all of it just because they have the same source? taste would be disgustful. I asked my friend in Europe why they collect leftovers which are mixed and someone was picking them up in the village. He told me thet they give it to pigs... but for humans it is not any appropriate food and could be harmful.

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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by JMGinPDX » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:32 pm

Matylda wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:26 pm
JMGinPDX wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:57 pm
Matylda wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:08 pm
infact shikan taza is unique practice, which is preserved within zen, and only zen.. looking for similarities is waste of time and kind of amusement...
Thank you, but I tacitly disagree with that, as all Buddhist traditions emanate from the same roots and have more similarities than differences. To set up and reinforce divisions and differences is exactly counter to the very idea of emptiness.
same roots etc. are only intellectual rhetoric. i fact if certain line of practice is not strictly kept and guarded its fate is sealed and will be wtaered down. it is not sectarian.. same source died ut almost 3000 years ago and we can rely on today is only living masters and their genuine realization... all food has same aim of nutrition.. but there are so many restaurants from oriental up to french, italian, russian etc. would you like to mix all of it just because they have the same source? taste would be disgustful. I asked my friend in Europe why they collect leftovers which are mixed and someone was picking them up in the village. He told me thet they give it to pigs... but for humans it is not any appropriate food and could be harmful.
Some would say watered-down....others would say improved upon, or at least made available from a different perspective.
After all, we wouldn't even have various lineages and sects if different people had different ways of interpreting the original buddhadharma...and even if we DO need to guard lineage, whose lineage should be guarded, and which should be discarded, and if a new lineage arises, what should we do about that?
Besides - if finding correlations between Theravadin and Zen practices doesn't work for you, fine. But if it does work for me, isn't that what the Buddha encouraged us to do? Practice, experience, don't take his word for it, then keep what works and discard what doesn't?

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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by JMGinPDX » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:33 pm

Matylda wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:26 pm
JMGinPDX wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:57 pm
Matylda wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:08 pm
infact shikan taza is unique practice, which is preserved within zen, and only zen.. looking for similarities is waste of time and kind of amusement...
Thank you, but I tacitly disagree with that, as all Buddhist traditions emanate from the same roots and have more similarities than differences. To set up and reinforce divisions and differences is exactly counter to the very idea of emptiness.
same roots etc. are only intellectual rhetoric. i fact if certain line of practice is not strictly kept and guarded its fate is sealed and will be wtaered down. it is not sectarian.. same source died ut almost 3000 years ago and we can rely on today is only living masters and their genuine realization... all food has same aim of nutrition.. but there are so many restaurants from oriental up to french, italian, russian etc. would you like to mix all of it just because they have the same source? taste would be disgustful. I asked my friend in Europe why they collect leftovers which are mixed and someone was picking them up in the village. He told me thet they give it to pigs... but for humans it is not any appropriate food and could be harmful.
Some would say watered-down....others would say improved upon, or at least made available from a different perspective.
After all, we wouldn't even have various lineages and sects if different people had different ways of interpreting the original buddhadharma...and even if we DO need to guard lineage, whose lineage should be guarded, and which should be discarded, and if a new lineage arises, what should we do about that?
Besides - if finding correlations between Theravadin and Zen practices doesn't work for you, fine. But if it does work for me, isn't that what the Buddha encouraged us to do? Practice, experience, don't take his word for it, then keep what works and discard what doesn't?

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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by JMGinPDX » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:38 pm

Anders wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:00 pm
You may want to take a look at Sheng-yen's teachings on silent illumination. He has some techniques for easing into silent illumination that are very satipatthana-like, but gradually become less object oriented.

You may want to take a look at Ajahn Munindo's teachings as well, whom I feel does a good job of bridging the gap from the Theravada side.
I'm very much interested in Sheng Yen's teachings, I have a few books in my (ever-growing) Amazon wish list. Ch'an in general is quite interesting to me.
I'm a fan of Ajahn Munindo's books and podcast as well!

SunWuKong
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by SunWuKong » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:44 pm

Personally, I can't tell an actual difference between any of these practices, because although maybe i use breathing as an object and stick with it, i can also not use breathing as an object consistently, and it doesn't really change anything. Same goes for śamatha-vipaśyanā - what is the one without the other? It might define very well different starting points, but after a while you have to involve both. I think the idea that one school or another is the sole possessor of the Silver Bullet is misguided. i think one of the best ones was reading "coursing through the deep Prajnaparimita.." just before doing so, maybe it was merely proximity
"We are magical animals that roam" ~ Roam

mikenz66
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:32 pm

This discussion from Dhamma Wheel might be of interest: https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=13382

:heart:
Mike

Matylda
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Re: Satipatthana practice and Shikantaza

Post by Matylda » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:42 pm

JMGinPDX wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:32 pm
others would say improved upon, or at least made available from a different perspective.


improve what? if ne needs improvment of zen then one is not fit for it.. same applis to any other tradtion..
After all, we wouldn't even have various lineages and sects if different people had different ways of interpreting the original buddhadharma...and even if we DO need to guard lineage, whose lineage should be guarded, and which should be discarded, and if a new lineage arises, what should we do about that?
well...

the diiferent interpretation concerns appraoch and possible degree of attainment... therefore different vehicles.
yes we have to guard there is no question about it
one guards lineage one is practicing or one was entrusted
if one lineage is guarded it does not mean that others should be discarded, as I said before it is not about sctarianism

Besides - if finding correlations between Theravadin and Zen practices doesn't work for you, fine. But if it does work for me, isn't that what the Buddha encouraged us to do? Practice, experience, don't take his word for it, then keep what works and discard what doesn't?
it is not personal or my likes or dislikes, and what works for me or not... there is nothing personal anyway
Buddha did not encourage such things, if he did, then give me a source :) all those quatations in the west of Shakyamuni words are very popular only in the west since it accords with western notion of individualist high values.. it is hardly mentioned in any eastern traditions in their original languages, anyway interpretation is very different
by the way where is Buddha?
as I wrote before we have only few masters nowdays, and we should rely on them.. there is no other way in buddhist practice.. anyway none of them would encourage such things...
one is able to rely on oneself of course, go and do this and that look for similarities and dissimilarities.. but it is waste of time... theravada is good as well zen is good.. mix them and one will get misdirected, being neither thera nor zen.. it is from clear teachings of past and present masters.

of course if one graduates from one school/lineage in a complete sense there will be no harm to go and study other tradition and practice but not before getting to a certain level in one pracitice..
it is good for a freshman to see theravada or zen or whatever but one has to stick to one way to get anywhere... so one has to decide which way to go, so since in the west are so may traditions close to each other it is fine to check for oneself for a while some of them if one does not know which way to go... but if one knows it is waste of time.. there was no such dillema in Asian countries anyway.

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