Friday, 7 July 2017


130. In the Eightfold Path of the Buddha we hear not only of right concentration but also of right mindfulness. Where concentration is a closing in, mindfulness is an opening out. This mindfulness is an important aspect of zazen, an aspect that has been developed through breath awareness and body awareness. The 'letting-be'. the 'letting-go' and the 'being-with' of shikantaza opens our awareness to all that arises in the present moment of our ordinary heart-mind. So we find that sitting is Zen, standing is Zen, walking is Zen, eating is Zen, washing the dishes is Zen. The Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton has a story that nicely illustrates the centrality of mindfulness to the practice of Zen. He tells how he once met a young man who had just spent twelve months in a Zen monastery. Merton asked him what he had learnt in the course of that year of Zen training. Merton was half expecting to hear of unusual experiences such as altered states of consciousness, discoveries of the spirit, transforming enlightenments. To his surprise the Zen novice replied that he had learnt to open and close doors.  

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