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May 16, 2011

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I'm glad I found your site. I consider myself to be a Buddhist. Not a necessarily good Buddhist but at least I try. Keep up the good work here and I will try to visit often and hopefully contribute something of substance in the future.

May you all be well and happy.

Thanks for the awesome article!

Clyde,

To be sure, there are many Zen teachers out there with at least a healthy attitude to posture. I risked overemphasizing the point of posture in my post by even mentioning it. Clearly the heart of the matter is elsewhere than in posture.

“Visiting many Zen centers, the posture itself is often mystified to the point of worship . . .”

Vaccha;

My experience in sitting with a variety of Zen teachers is different from yours. The Zen teachers (and Buddhist teachers from other traditions) I have sat with have been clear in emphasizing sitting comfortably erect, whether on a cushion, a bench, or a chair.

clyde

Having read the author's obscure little meditation manual, It seems to me that the author is ok with seated meditation so long as it does not become cult-like. If one (a beginner) is going to try meditating, he or she might as well sit down as any other posture. Especially as a beginner, this helps you to eliminate distractions, right? And if one is going to sit down, one might as well have a stable and healthy posture for that, right? But don't worship the posture itself, which is just a configuration of the body. Quite especially the legs...the "lotus" posture is so revered sometimes people literally think they can't meditate properly without it, and people literally injure themselves with attempting this posture, and you know, all they are thinking about when sitting is the correctness of the posture and how long they can endure it. Visiting many Zen centers, the posture itself is often mystified to the point of worship, and it's like if I can sit exactly how Dogen describes, then I am disappearing into that form and expressing enlightenment. The mentality becomes so concerned with the act of sitting for a specified duration that something can become lost. Buddha images are interpreted from the viewpoint of the posture rather than the content of the enlightenment. I personally think there's more to Dogen's interpretation of "sitting" than may meet the Zennist's eye, but I strongly sympathize with the thrust of his critique because I've seen a lot of the cult of the cushion around modern Zen centers.

Originally "just sitting" just referred to a category of retreat practice in which rather than only walking or some walking and some sitting (both equally valid as "sitting-only"), the aspirant spent the whole time exclusively sitting. It was one possible way to practice. This has for some evolved into "just sitting" meaning that if you can "totally sit" zazen that is enlightenment. I agree with the author that this interpretation is wrong-headed.

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