Teacher’s Blog

Our Zazen Is the Most Profound Thing We Do

Doing - or allowing - zazen (that is, shikantaza, or "just sitting") directly challenges our normal, self-centered way of being. It asks us to be as alert and attentive as if our hair was on fire (!) even as we give up every single agenda, no matter how subtle. We let go of trying to improve ourselves, understand, feel more calm, gain insight, relax, everything. We even let go of "trying to be awake for each moment of our life" in a kind of greedy way. It's amazing how pervasive and subtle our agendas are... there's almost always one lurking below the surface if you look for it.

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Spiritual Longing

Spiritual longing, like any desire, can cause great distress and be an obstacle in spiritual practice. It also is a great force that can propel us along a difficult path and drive us to investigate the deepest and scariest spiritual questions, so I heartily encourage it. For about seven long years of my junior Zen training, I was in a pretty much constant state of anguish due to my spiritual longing. These years followed three or four initial “honeymoon” years, when I was thrilled...

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