Is Shikantaza......

Post Reply
Greg_the_poet
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:06 pm

Is Shikantaza......

Post by Greg_the_poet » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:23 am

Is Shikantaza basically the same as Vipassana? I.e allowing whatever to occur occur without judgement or attachment to feelings or bodly sensations?

User avatar
Thomas Amundsen
Posts: 1657
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:27 am

Shikantaza is the union of shamatha and vipassana.

From Dogen's Fukanzazengi:
The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment.

User avatar
dharmagoat
Posts: 2154
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by dharmagoat » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:45 am

tomamundsen wrote:Shikantaza is the union of shamatha and vipassana.
I understand shikantaza to be a refinement of vipassana, which in turn is built on the foundation of shamatha.

Also from Dogen's Fukanzazengi:
Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking. Not thinking - what kind of thinking is that? Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen.
Do not think "good" or "bad." Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:12 am

If you ask that question on a Zen forum the teachers there will usually say 'definitely not'. They will distinguish between the vipassana approach of being 'mindful of sensations and breathing' and the Zen approach of 'watching thoughts come and go'. Conversely, if you ask about Zen on a Vipassana forum the people there will also say 'definitely not'. They seem to think it very important to stick exclusively with their teaching and not mix traditions.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Thomas Amundsen
Posts: 1657
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Thomas Amundsen » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:02 am

Every zen teacher I've ever heard asked the question always said that zazen/shikantaza is both shamatha and vipassana. There is definitely a difference between shikantaza and vipassana. I did vipassana a handful of times a few years ago with a Therevada group. In vipassana, there is a duality where there is an observer watching bodily sensations. In shikantaza, you're not actually even watching the thoughts come and go. There is no such duality in shikantaza. You drop off body and mind.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:16 pm

well, to be pedantic, the word 'vipassana' is a Pali term, and is associated particularly with the Theravadin 'forest meditation' tradition. The Mahayana version of the term would be Sanskrit, i.e. 'vipaśyanā', which, while it means the same thing (namely insight) is much less encountered in Mahayana and Zen literature, who are generally (from my knowledge) more inclined to speak in terms of prajñā (wisdom).

Of course for anyone not acquainted with all the nuances, the physical position of 'sitting cross-legged on a cushion' is to all intents identical, but there are nevertheless real differences in philosophy.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 6656
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Astus » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:32 pm

Vipassana is indeed a Pali word, and just as any Theravada teaching, it has little relevance to Japanese Zen. The vipasyana (kan) practice of the Tendai school has some relevance, but not direct relationship. Shikantaza is not a path, not a method to apply, but just (shikan) sitting (taza).

BTW, the practice of vipassana is not specifically related to the Thai forest tradition. In fact, the modern vipassana groups (bearing this name) are from Burma.
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"

DGA
Former staff member
Posts: 8692
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by DGA » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:51 pm

Astus wrote:Vipassana is indeed a Pali word, and just as any Theravada teaching, it has little relevance to Japanese Zen. The vipasyana (kan) practice of the Tendai school has some relevance, but not direct relationship. Shikantaza is not a path, not a method to apply, but just (shikan) sitting (taza).

BTW, the practice of vipassana is not specifically related to the Thai forest tradition. In fact, the modern vipassana groups (bearing this name) are from Burma.
This is all correct. I'd like to add one complication: in North America at least, nearly all Soto Zen teachers are familiar with the discourse of Vipassana meditation (they'd have to be as they surely get questions like this one with some frequency), and hence are in the practice Tom describes of couching zazen & shikantaza in that context. This recent juxtaposition may give some people the (false) impression it is a longstanding connection.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:01 pm

It's more like 'the mixing pot' of the modern world. All these traditions were barely aware of each other for millenia in the ancient world. Now they're all sharing stages at conferences and having articles and books published alongside each other. Not that this is a bad thing.

I am reminded of an anecdote I read a few years back. There was a formal meeting arranged between a senior Tibetan lama and a Zen Roshi. It was a rather ceremonial occasion, with attendants and translators. When the meeting commenced there was an awkward silence. After some time, the Zen master picked up an orange from the fruit bowl on the table and picked it up. 'What is this?' he demanded.

There was a period of hushed conversation going forth on the Tibetan side for a few minutes. Then the Lama spoke through his translator. From what I recall, what he said was something like:

'What's his problem? Don't they have oranges in Japan?'
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 374
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Meido » Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:28 am

tomamundsen wrote:Every zen teacher I've ever heard asked the question always said that zazen/shikantaza is both shamatha and vipassana.
I know shikantaza is usually thought of as a Soto thing, but FWIW from the Rinzai point of view (as I've experienced it): Tom's statement above is certainly correct. We would say that shikantaza - in its fruition - is an expression of true Zen samadhi encompassing the qualities of shamatha and vipashyana. It is the fulfillment of vipashyana because of the seeing of the true nature (kensho); it is the fulfillment of shamatha because of the stabilization/continuous arising of that recognition. At that point it can be said that shikantaza does indeed manifest "the oneness of practice and enlightenment".

Which is not to say that "just sitting" as a method of practice is not one of the many that might be given to a beginning student, even before the recognition of kensho. That depends on individual capacity and needs.

~ Meido
Even though you have attained insight into the True Nature (kensho), there is yet the barrier of differentiation, and there is the One Path of Advanced Practice. If you have not yet even seen into the True Nature, what a lot there is yet to do! - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org
Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community - http://www.rinzaizen.org

DGA
Former staff member
Posts: 8692
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm
Contact:

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by DGA » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:12 pm

jeeprs wrote:It's more like 'the mixing pot' of the modern world. All these traditions were barely aware of each other for millenia in the ancient world. Now they're all sharing stages at conferences and having articles and books published alongside each other. Not that this is a bad thing.

I am reminded of an anecdote I read a few years back. There was a formal meeting arranged between a senior Tibetan lama and a Zen Roshi. It was a rather ceremonial occasion, with attendants and translators. When the meeting commenced there was an awkward silence. After some time, the Zen master picked up an orange from the fruit bowl on the table and picked it up. 'What is this?' he demanded.

There was a period of hushed conversation going forth on the Tibetan side for a few minutes. Then the Lama spoke through his translator. From what I recall, what he said was something like:

'What's his problem? Don't they have oranges in Japan?'
The two protagonists in that story were Kalu Rinpoche and Seung Sahn Sunim, to the best of my knowledge.

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3495
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Is Shikantaza......

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:40 am

thanks! I read it somewhere a long while back and couldn't remember the details.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dan74 and 31 guests