Home Retreat Meditations – Shikantaza

dewdropSitting Zazen and Considering the Teachings of Dogen

This is about Buddhism and meditation.  It’s Super Bowl day and there’s a jazzercise type party on the basketball courts at the gym. I grab for another kleenex. It’s also Family Gameday at my daughter’s house. And the expectorant cough medicine seems to be loosening up chest congestion. A head-chest cold causing a week of missed workouts at the gym is one thing but a forced retreat today when there are places to go, people to see and things to do . . .  darn.  A need for equanimity and another opportunity presents for practice.

So zazen on the cushion again today on and off when the body tells me to stop and rest, I do so on the meditation cushion Zazen to Shikantaza or Shamatha to Vipassana, whatever — its alert patience, acceptance on the cushion. Retreat. Taking to the cushion. Another quiet day of sitting Zazen interrupted only by the sound of my own cough or need to use the tissue to clear the head. Symbolic, I think –the head clearing. Nothing stands alone. All is in relation, connection. Cause and effect but no matter, just being in the experience.

Grateful for the opportunity to do the practice actually. Living alone is a blessing. Being able to schedule my work with clients and work from home, another big one. The ability to have access to teachers and the intelligence to understand their guidance is another key on the piano of gratitude that will play in my heart today.

I am connecting again with the teacher Dogen. Blending Tibetan Buddhism (Kagyu tradition) with Dogen.  Whatever.  No names, no thoughts, just alert presence, awareness tasks on the cushion.  Being patient, persevering with the practice. . . at times joyful, at times disciplined. Enforced home retreat.  Gratefully observed.  Then in nothing … a glimpse of Shikantaza?   Do I even know what that means really?  Just words but they whisper familiar sounds into my soul, my life.

Here are a few of my favorite Dogen quotes:

The whole moon and the entire sky is reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

Life and death are nothing but the mind. Years, months, days, and hours are nothing but the mind. Dreams, illusions, and mirages are nothing but the mind. The bubbles of water and the flames of fire are nothing but the mind. The flowers of the spring and the moon of the autumn are nothing but the mind. Confusions and dangers are nothing but the mind.

But do not ask me where I am going,
As I travel in this limitless world,
Where every step I take is my home.

When both body and mind are at peace, all things appear as they are: perfect, complete, lacking nothing.