Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 10/14/2013

Silent Illumination

So much of my practice seems to come down to struggling against the defilements that I often forget to really look at exactly what is going on in the heart. At the slightest hint of anything akusala I feel that I react strongly to quash it, often times without actually giving myself a chance to know the mind states or movements very well at all. I am, perhaps, not being entirely fair in my characterization but it is certain that I often feel as if I am contracted and tense in expectation of something. It is as if I can’t trust myself to let in all of my experience (if that makes any sense).

As such, I have decided to take up (yet again) the Soto Zen practice of shikantaza (silent illumination in some Chan schools) as a way of being with the mind and body and trying to be aware of whatever comes up. As Than Geoff rightfully points out, any attempts to cultivate such “bare awareness” are misguided if they are undertaken under the assumption that they can provide an access to the moment or one’s experience anterior to fabrication but, not to worry, as I am not laboring under such an understanding. Rather, understanding that I am engaged in a process of fabricating an open awareness that must constantly readjust itself and relax the continuous tensing and contracting of both mind and body I hope to shed the light of awareness onto whatever it is that comes into the mind. Opening, seeing, softening. Repeat.

It is my plan to add ten minutes of shikantaza to my morning routine prior to anapanasati and after my 10 minute session of walking. We shall see how it all turns out. Every good blessing!


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