Dogen Sangha

Los Angeles

 

HOW TO SIT ZAZEN

with quotations from Master Dogen's Fukanzazengi (in italics)


In general, a quiet room is good for practicing [Za]zen, and food and drink are taken in moderation. Cast aside all involvements. Give the myriad things a rest. Do not think of good and bad. Do not consider right and wrong. Stop the driving movement of mind, will, consciousness. Cease intellectual consideration through images, thoughts, and reflections. Do not aim to become a buddha. How could [this] be connected with sitting or lying down?


We usually spread a thick mat on the place where we sit, and use a round cushion on top of that.


Approach the cushion and hold your hands in gassho.

Then make a bow towards the cushion.

Turn to your right (clockwise) and bow away from the cushion.

Sit on the cushion.

Rotate towards your right (clockwise) until you're facing the wall.

Either sit in the full lotus posture or sit in the half lotus posture.

To sit in the full lotus posture, first put the right foot on the left thigh, then put the left foot on the right thigh. To sit in the half lotus posture, just press the left foot onto the right thigh.

Then put the right hand above the left foot, and place the left hand on the right palm. The thumbs meet and support each other.

Many practitioners find it useful to sway left and right to find the spot where the spine balances on top of the hips.

Just make the body right and sit up straight. Do not lean to the left, incline to the right, slouch forward, or lean backward. The ears must be aligned with the shoulders, and the nose aligned with the navel. Hold the tongue against the palate, keep the lips and teeth closed, and keep the eyes open. Breathe softly through the nose.


When the physical posture is already settled, make one complete exhalation and sway left and right. Sitting immovably in the mountain-still state, "Think about this concrete state beyond thinking." "How can the state beyond thinking be thought about?" "It is different from thinking."  This is just the pivot of Zazen.


A bell will ring three times to signal the beginning of practice.

When the bell rings to signal the end of practice, make a bow towards the wall.


When we rise from sitting, we should move the body slowly, and stand up calmly. We should not be hurried or violent.

Fluff up your cushion.