Adult practice

Fritz the Punk is dead (Adult practice 52)

I know it is still March, not May, but let me use the opportunity to write one little article in advance, because once the heavy work starts, I find it difficult to make an update every two months. Viewing the pictures of houses and cars b…

A Zen master and inemuri zazen (Adult practice 48)

Let us take a short break from studying the details of a Japanese Soto-shu monk's career. I would like to quote from a newsletter that just arrived from Itabashi Zenji's temple, Gotanjoji. Gotanjoji is one of thirty-something official Soto…

A question from Vietnam (Adult practice 42)

Before continuing to examine the zazen posture, I would like to share an exchange I had with a young university student from Vietnam. To abbot Muho of Antaiji:After reading your article Lotus in the fire- A broken precept, I think I have s…

Crossing the legs (Adult practice 35)

Original edition of Sawaki's"Zendan" 1st edition of Uchiyama's"Opening the hand of thought" New edition of Uchiyama's"Opening the hand of thought" Exactly one year has passed since I wrote about how to sit in zazen for the last time in thi…

Why bow to a cushion!? (Adult practice 34)

The following instructions for zazen are translated directly from "Zendan". They are about preparing and approaching the place for zazen.Preparing the place where you sit1) Enter the space where you sit with a respectful mind.2) Spread a s…

The meaning of the o-kesa (Adult practice 33)

TAKKESAGEDAI SAI GE DAP-PUKUMU SO FUKU DEN EHI BU NYO RAI KYOKO DO SHO SHU JOHow great the cloth of liberation,the formless field of virtue,I put on the teaching of the tathagatha,vowing to save all suffering beings!The takkesage is what w…

Obstructed by the kesa (Adult practice 32)

Following the paragraph on "Preparing yourself", "How To Do Zazen" continues with a section on clothing:Avoid wearing either dirty or soiled clothing as well as luxurious or expensive garments. It is also advisable to avoid heavy garments.…

Milking the goat (Adult practice 31)

Sawaki Rôshi concludes the paragraph on Physical preparations (or "preparing yourself", as it is called in "Shikantaza") with the advice: "Wash your face and feet so that you feel refreshed."This is a quote from Keizan Zenji's Zazen-yôjink…

Why are you so busy? (Adult practice 30)

When we work and live in a Zen monastic environment, the question isn't really if we work to live or live to work - work has to be a manifestation of life in this present moment, it is not a means to an end. Last month I said that both the…

Work to live - or live to work? (Adult practice 29)

Sawaki Rôshi tells us to "avoid sitting when you are physically exhausted", but the question is why we feel so tired and stressed out in the first place? This relates again to the question of our use of time and our attitude towards work a…

"Eat two parts out of three" (Adult practice: Part 27)

We had a look at the sesshin schedule at Antaiji last month. The new schedule consists of fifteen 45 minute periods of zazen, 12 sets of 15 minute walking kinhin, two meals and two breaks after each meal. When people hear that we sit one p…

Sesshin without toys (Adult practice: Part 26)

Reading Keizan's Zazen-yojinki, it is quite obvious that he thinks not only of sitting indoors, but also considers "green waters, deep mountains and hidden valleys", but warns against robbers, fires, floods, women ("widows, virgins, whores…

Zazen as the perfection of patience (Adult practice: Part 25)

Wherever you sit, there will be plenty of opportunity to practice the perfection of patience. When I became the abbot of Antaiji three years ago, I did not make many changes. Still, one of the changes that I made right at once was that I m…

A map for letting go all maps (Adult practice: Part 24)

In the English booklet "Sôtô Zen", Okumura Shôhaku Rôshi points out that zazen means to let go off all maps. He says: "Zazen is not correcting the distorted map." So if instructions for zazen can be called a kind of map, what we are lookin…

You have to "Fall in love with zazen!" (Adult practice: Part 23)

Last month we had a look at one version of "Instructions for Zazen" by Sawaki Kodo Roshi. Comparing them to a map, we found that it was a rather crude map that needs to be handled with a lot of care and good common sense, otherwise we will…

...you look like a ball of cotton wool! (Adult practice: Part 22)

Let me start to explain about the actual way how to sit. Some people have been asking me if there was a "manual for zazen", and my answer has always been "no!" (see for example the "Shitpaper" September 2004), but to tell the truth, there …

How to sit (Adult practice: Part 21)

We are having a warm winter here this year, and the first snow fell only a couple of days ago. When it gets cold during the winter, the temperature can fall well below the freezing point even inside the temple building, and during these mo…

Just do it - easy to say, but ... (Adult practice: Part 20)

Let me continue to write about our "monkey mind & horse will". In Book 5 of the Eihei Koroku Dogen Zenji said:"Do not control the monkey mind and horse will. Practice like a lotus in fire."In the same Book 5 we find him say:"To say 'this v…

Monkey Mind & Horse Will (Adult practice: Part 19)

I gave answers to three different questions about how to practice Zen on and off the meditation cushion. My main point was to "stop being mindful". This might sound surprising to some, as it is a common believe that practice consists exacl…

Stop being mindful (Adult practice: Part 18)

Second question:"2. Outside of zazen practice, in our daily life when we walk, talk, eat, sit, lay down or work, should we keep being mindful of, or following anything specific? For example, like the Rinzai students who keep the koans on t…

Behind the wheel of zazen (Adult practice: Part 17)

Let me continue with my answer to last month's question: How should we concentrate on the breath?I said that concentrating on the breath can be a way to calm us down during zazen. Now, there is no exact manual of zazen. We have to experime…

Three questions (Adult practice: Part 16)

For the next couple of months, I want to concentrate on the practice of upright sitting. I want to start with my answers to three questions that were sent to me by e-mail quite some while ago. The questions basically are:1. What shall we d…

Tomatoes and cucumbers (Adult practice: Part 15)

In the "Genjokoan", Dogen Zenji writes that "in aversion weeds spread". A good disciple has to be like a weed that grows even while being stepped upon by his angry master. Don't wait for anyone to cherish you or praise your practice.During…

You don't count at all! (Adult practice: Part 14)

Why are we so unsatisfied with our zazen practice? I tried to find some reasons by reading through the articles in the Antaiji yearbook from about ten years ago. Some of these articles were inquiring about the way we should or should not d…

Sitting beyond theory (Adult practice: Part 13)

A lot of people think that for zazen you first adjust your body, and after that you adjust your breath, and finally you come to adjusting your mind - and it is exactly this mind that those people are most concerned about. But this is a mis…

Raw human flesh (Adult practice: Part 12)

Shortly after arriving at Antaiji, one of my later Dharma brothers wrote in the Antaiji yearbook: "Antaiji is not a school. Even though people here may be given a task, it is still up to them to solve it. Each one of us has to search for h…

Knocking? (Adult practice: Part 11)

In Buddhism there are ten precepts called the "ten grave prohibitons". It is said that any monk who breaks any of these prohibitons will fall straight into hell. These ten precepts start with the precept of not killing, and they also inclu…

Ideal and Reality (Adult practice: Part 10)

For the last three months I have been reflecting about the first impressions I got at Antaiji. I described how the image of "zen" that I had as an university student differed quite a lot from the life that I found in the Zen monastery. And…

Don't care if I die... (Adult practice: Part 9)

The life that I found waiting for me at Antaiji was quite different from the "Zen practice" that I had imagined until then. Last month I wrote about my surprise to find the monks sleeping during Zazen, also about how hard the work was for …

You create Antaiji! (Adult practice: Part 8)

I still remember my first night at Antaiji: Although the temple is located remotely in the mountains, I heard music constantly playing on the other side of the valley. Even in the city it was never so noisy. I remember that during the firs…