|Statue of Avalokitesvara (|
bodhisattva of mercy and salvation) in a road to Zuigakuin
- “Various scales are used to measure the depth of Zazen, the sitting meditation. There are five levels in the depth of Zazen in considering a factor of time which I personally experienced during Zazen.
- Level 1: your thought is filled with delusions.
- Level 2: you feel the time passes faster than usual
- Level 3: you feel the time passes slower than usual
- Level 4: you feel no passage of time
- Level 5: you can control the passage of time in yourself”
One practitioner asked Roshi, “To reach the higher level of Zazen, what kind of practice I should do and how long I should continue such practice?” Roshi answered as follows:
- “It depends on an individual characteristic. Some person may quickly reach to the deeper level, and some person may take much longer time than others. However, you should never worry about such things. I was able to reach the deeper levels through practice, and so can you.”
As practitioners, you really do not need to worry about what level you are at now. In Soto Zen lineage, the practice of Zazen is more emphasized. Naturally, practitioners wonder if he or she is doing correct Zazen or how he or she can attain the enlightenment. However, the practice of Zazen is NOT a means to reach any of such targets or objectives. Zen Master Dogen, the founder of Soto lineage, said in Fukanzazengi (Universal recommendations for Zazen):
- “The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma-gate of repose and bliss.”
Zazen which Zen Master Dogen recommended isn’t a sitting meditation or seated meditation practiced as part of the Buddhism practices (Noble Eightfold paths) including other practices than Zazen. Dogen’s Zazen includes all of such practices therein. Hashimoto Eko Roshi, one of great Soto Zen teachers, wrote in his book “Lecture on FukanZazengi”:
- “The not-learning-meditation Zazen is the way that you should do just-sitting wholeheartedly with no-gaining mind from the inception of way-seeking mind, and walk on the path of continual practice endlessly even after becoming a Buddha.”
In Zazen, there is no “static” condition to be aimed at as the final goal. The important point is “dynamic” actions of adjusting your posture, breath and mind in each and every moment. General idea and manner of Zazen are described in FukanZazengi (Universal recommendations for Zazen). However, you should consult with Moriyama Roshi or your teacher regarding details and specific part of Zazen until you are fully convinced. There are so many different methods for Zazen and meditation in this world depending on religion, lineage and teacher, such as Nen-soku (paying full attention to breath), Su-soku-kan (counting breath), Nai-kan (internal observation), samatha, vipassana, mindfulness meditations, etc. Practitioners aware that only the awakened teacher can teach you what kind of Zazen is suitable for you in that time.
UN ZEN OCCIDENTAL
The above blog site introduces and explains FukanZazengi line by line in English. The blog also posts French and English translations of Dogen and other Japanese Roshies: