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The Art of Just Sitting: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Shikantaza Paperback – June 15, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
When Loori, now abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, began his Buddhist practice, he couldn't find much written on the subject of zazen (sitting meditation). This anthology's 22 selections seek to fill that perceived void. Eight ancient voices such as the Fourth Ancestor of Chinese Zen Great Master Dayi (A.D. 580-651) and Eihei Dogen (A.D. 1200-1253), the most important Japanese Zen master, are translated by accomplished scholars such as Thomas Cleary. Beyond a half dozen supporting texts in the glossary, the other selections are by contemporary authors such as Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind). Taken together, the writing spans 1,500 years, all pointing to the practice of "just sitting," whereby no object (breath, candle, mandala, mantra, etc.) is used as a meditation focus. Differing from the other type of zazen wherein koans are studied, shikantaza-just sitting-is less pointed in its intent and methods. There are specific instructions here for location, posture and mental state, which will be helpful for beginners. Advanced practitioners can benefit from the more esoteric thoughts about "non-thinking." Minor flaws include repetitions about technique and contradictions about breath, the need for a teacher and so on. In the main, however, Loori has compiled a useful guide to "just sitting," promising "if you were to live for a hundred thousand years, you would never find in this life anything more powerful, more healing, [and] more empowering..
- more empowering."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"At last a book that brings together writings on the subtlest and most fundamental Zen practice: just sitting. For the first time, now gathered in one volume, we can read 1500 years of the discovery of true path of discovery and realize what it means to be truly present for life as it is. Zen Master Daido Loori has gathered the essence of true meditation into this jewel of a book. We should not miss it." (Joan Halifax Roshi, Head Teacher, Upaya Zen Center)
"When Daido Loori, now abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, began his Buddhist practice, he couldn't find much written on the subject of sitting meditation. Taken together, the writing in his The Art of Just Sitting spans 1,500 years, all pointing to the practice of 'just sitting,' whereby no object is used as a meditation focus. There are specific instructions here for location, posture, and mental state, which will be helpful to beginners. Advanced practitioners can benefit from the more esoteric thoughts about 'non-thinking.' Loori has compiled a useful guide, promising 'if you were to live for a hundred thousand years, you would never find in this life anything more powerful, more healing, [and] more empowering.'" (Publishers Weekly)
"A valuable collection from an authority on this subtle and profound form of Zen. We have needed a book like this for a long time." (Professor Francis Dojun Cook, author of How to Raise an Ox)
"This is the single most comprehensive treasury of writings on the subject in English. It is likely to remain the most important collection for many years to come. Often misunderstood, the practice of shikantaza is authoritatively presented and carefully examined in two dozen essays by Chinese, Japanese, and American masters, along with an appendix of six seminal classic texts. This volume, spanning the centuries since Shakymuni Buddha to the present day, will prove indispensable to meditators and scholars alike. Roshi John Daido Loori has given us a rare treasure." (John Daishin Buksbazen, author of Zen Meditation in Plain English)
"'Just sit' is one of the most commonly heard --and least understood--phrases associated with Zen Buddhism. And yet 'just sitting,' or shikantaza--along with koan practice--is one of the two primary methods of Zen meditation. Zen master John Daido Loori brings together teachings of some of the most prominent ancient and modern teachers, including Dogen Zenji, Shunryu Suzuki, Sheng-yen, and Maezumi. The book also includes an appendix of foundational texts relating to the practice of shikantaza." (Tricycle)
"Wisdom is putting out good, interesting books, and here is one devoted to the meditation of just sitting, edited by John Daido Loori, who has done a fair amount of it. It's a cool book, an anthology drawing from a variety of authors, and it takes the risk of going deep." (John Tarrant, author, Zen teacher and director of the Pacific Zen Insititute [excerpted from Buddhadharma])
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The editor, the late John Daido Loori, has assembled a wonderful collection in this small volume. The English translations are very colloquial and easy to read. I recommend this book most highly.
Having said all that great stuff, please understand that Zen is something you do, not something to read about for abstract study. Ergo, The Art of Just Sitting provides background, and is NOT a substitute for proper instruction by a certified teacher. If you live in a community of some size, get thee to a sitting group or Zen center and learn proper technique. It will take, gee, at least 10 minutes to learn proper posture and the beginnings of zazen mindfulness techniques.
I also recommend Sitting with Koans: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Koan Study - also edited by Loori - but only after getting something of a handle on zazen, the basic practice of Zen.
whom I had not read before. I loved the introductions and some of the passages from Dogen and Hongzhi which I was already familiar with. I am mainly Tibetan Buddhist but appreciate Chan, Theravadan and Zen. I would also recommend the book, "the method of no method" by Sheng Yen. another great meditation manual is bhante gunaratana's "Mindfullness in plain english."
this book does have plenty that is worthwhile if only to be re-acquainted with Dogen's instruction, "If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness
without delay. zen does have one characteristic that other schools of buddhism don't seem to share to the same degree-the ability to make one burst into tears.
I found that it has rekindled my passion and interest and reminded me of things I had both forgotten and never knew.