Formal Meditation

There is nothing to achieve in Zen meditation. To have a goal or target is to imagine something, and to strive for it. Trying to achieve is what we call busy-ness of mind. Trying to achieve is not Zen meditation.

So do we sit zazen without care, without interest? To take up the posture in this way, also cultivates an active mind. Daydreams, fantasies, and memories fill the posture.

Sit zazen simply—unadorned by goals and ideas. How is this possible? It is possible when effort transforms into wholehearted participation in this life. Zazen is full participation in posture without ideas of me or posture.

With thorough straightforward interest, we do not find a persistent self with which to identify. Nor do we find a separate activity to call mine. We do not set ourselves out in array with goals and agendas, but fully participate in a life so vast, so thorough, that goals, reasons, and explanations can find no space or purchase. The fabricated counterfeit known as my mind has faded  a  w  a   y … no trace.

How then, do we live life in the world of beliefs … including the one of self and other? Thoroughly. As compassion.

Life is constantly expressing—unhindered and without regard for our beliefs. This can be known directly in meditation, but meditating to know will not bring knowing.

3 thoughts on “Formal Meditation

  1. Andre says:

    Hello Bev,

    It’s been a little while since I’ve been here on this blog.
    Also wanted to mention, that whoever is doing this, nice work and maintenance on the dharmafield website!

    Quite recently, I had the opportunity to read Katagiri Roshi’s book, Returning to Silence, a very unique book, and came across a couple of lines, similar to that which you brought up, in response to one of my replies from one of your posts.

    “Thank you for your comment.
    Your words are quite helpful as long as we are sure to take note of any idea that mind is a container that holds something (as opposed to nothing).”

    The lines I’m referring to is on page 142 of the above mentioned book.

    “Our body and mind are great Dharma containers” and a little further down, ” We have to take care of our body and mind as a Dharma container”

    Perhaps if you find a moment, you can elaborate a little on this topic, would like to see your views on this.


    • Bev Forsman says:

      Hi Andre,

      I found that moment to respond. Sorry for the delay.

      The awakened weave concepts of the relative view of reality with statements that point to the non-dual nature of reality. Subtle turns of phrase and double entendre can help us to ponder assumptions. Katagiri uses language in this way throughout “Returning to Silence.” Katagiri wants us to question any and all assumptions. Do we have ideas of emptiness? Do we have ideas of fullness? If there is “no lack” in emptiness, is emptiness full? Where is the edge of fullness? Are there assumptions of separation? duality? containment? Is Dharma a thing or essence that can be contained? Does the moment contain “everything?” Does the experience contain all? Are moments or experiences things?

      Where is Dharma to show up? Dharma is showing up constantly as body/mind whether there is clarity or not. We cannot find a “container” that is body/mind because clarity demonstrates the swiftness of impermanence. Constant change means no particular container. Dharma shows up in this experience now, which is the full-on experience of what we call “body and mind.” Yes, we must take care of body and mind; attend to this experience of Dharma expressing itself as just this, as fully this, which has no edge. And there’s no one “else” to attend to this experience.

      Be well.


      • Andre says:

        Hi Bev,

        Happy you found that moment to respond!

        Yes, The awakened weave concepts of the relative view of reality with statements that point to the non-dual nature of reality.

        For the most part, unknowingly, we tend to think and believe in a conceptual world, that is, a world made up of countless ideas, of our own design, which also gives “Us” a sense of Self, a shifting concept of a personal Self which is a Real problem.

        Most of the questions you listed here from Katagiri Roshi, reminds us of all the grasping and confusion, as we try to take hold of something, another idea, to try to better define our version of Reality, which of course can never be Reality.

        We constantly hear that Reality is beyond our conceptual awareness, but actually, Reality is always here, before any concept can be conceived.

        Aside from helping Us question our many assumptions, questions can also be helpful to point to the obvious, that is, if we are ready to let go, and see

        As you mentioned, ” Clarity demonstrates swiftness of impermanence ” anyone trying to “contain” or claiming to have “contained” Dharma, is delusional.

        Steve also wrote something regarding this, “Impermanence is so thorough that we can’t even say there’s something that’s actually changing.”

        Here’s a question that rang very true, which I came across in the book, Buddhism Is Not What You Think.

        How do I learn to attend to what’s going on?

        The answer is easy, another idea immediately pops up, but this practice is acutely subtle, you have to do it, not just think about it. And there’s no one “else” to attend this experience.

        Having had no teacher or anyone , it took many years of studying Mahayana Buddhism and Zen, before it dawned that no matter how many teachings I’ve come across, and filled my head with intelectually, it was NOT practice, then right there on the spot, I knew that my Buddhism and Zen was stinky.

        Zazen was what all this studying was pointing to, however, I could not see, I did not know what Zazen Really was as far as a meditation, until I started practicing, which I clearly see, will continue until the last breath!

        Be Well Now,


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