Posted inBasic Buddhism, Dharma, Dogen, Introduction to Zen, Other Teachings

Message from Valerie: Choiceless Awareness

July 6, 2022

When you practice just sitting and continuously give up all thoughts and views, the way becomes more and more intimate.   

~ Eihei Dogen

The earliest known Ch’an or Zen text, the Shinjinmei or Affirming Faith in Mind,’begins with the line, “The great Way is not difficult; it simply dislikes choosing.” 

The ‘great Way’ is zazen, or what Dogen called ‘practice-realization.’ It is the root practice of silent sitting – at once focused and dynamic – with its three basic elements: posture, breathing, and stilling the mind. 

  • sitting in a posture that is straightforward and at ease, fully relaxed and fully alert; 
  • following the breath: counting the breath, resting attentively in the breath, or simply allowing the breath to breathe you;
  • and letting the mind settle, like sediment in a glass of murky water that settles and clears when the glass is set down; or like clouds arising and passing away, letting go our tendency to stick to thoughts – to add an opinion or a story – and simply allowing thoughts to come and go. 

This way of absorption and ease is often called choiceless awareness – Everything is included but nothing blocks the view. 

Sitting in silence, continuously letting go all thoughts and views, widens the lens of our perspective. Over time we may come to discover the ‘lens’ of awareness has no edge or boundary, no front or back. Abiding in the here and now, we may come into a deep and unconditional sense of belonging. We may come to taste and see our intrinsic intimacy with the ‘way’ – and, indeed, with all things. 

Wherever you are, sit down and begin. The way of practice-realization will unfold. 

Photo by Fiona Smallwood on Unsplash

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