Shikantaza--or "just sitting"--is one of the simplest, most subtle forms of meditation, and one of the most easily misunderstood. This peerless volume brings together a wealth of writings, from the Buddha himself to Bodhidharma and Dogen and many of modern Zen Buddhism's most influential masters, all pointing directly to the heart of this powerful practice. Edited by one of America's pre-eminent Zen teachers, this book is a rich resource for wisdom seekers and scholars alike.
When Loori, now abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, began his Buddhist practice, he couldn't find much written on the subject of zazen (sitting meditation). This anthology's 22 selections seek to fill that perceived void. Eight ancient voices such as the Fourth Ancestor of Chinese Zen Great Master Dayi (A.D. 580-651) and Eihei Dogen (A.D. 1200-1253), the most important Japanese Zen master, are translated by accomplished scholars such as Thomas Cleary. Beyond a half dozen supporting texts in the glossary, the other selections are by contemporary authors such as Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind). Taken together, the writing spans 1,500 years, all pointing to the practice of "just sitting," whereby no object (breath, candle, mandala, mantra, etc.) is used as a meditation focus. Differing from the other type of zazen wherein koans are studied, shikantaza just sitting is less pointed in its intent and methods. There are specific instructions here for location, posture and mental state, which will be helpful for beginners. Advanced practitioners can benefit from the more esoteric thoughts about "non-thinking." Minor flaws include repetitions about technique and contradictions about breath, the need for a teacher and so on. In the main, however, Loori has compiled a useful guide to "just sitting," promising "if you were to live for a hundred thousand years, you would never find in this life anything more powerful, more healing, more empowering."