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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
CONTRARY TO POPULAR understanding, zazen is not a practice of mind. It is not just a thing you do with your mind, even if the thing you’re doing is attending or concentrating. It includes the mind but is not limited to it. In American culture, people tend to identify themselves with the arisings and goingson of their minds, but zazen is not overly con cerned with such things. Zazen also includes the breath and body; even so, we don’t exactly apply the mind to the breath, nor do we focus specifically on bodily sensations. Rather, zazen is simply sitting in presence to breath, sitting in presence to mind, sitting in presence to body. Zazen is body, breath, and mind harmoniously “zazening.” Body, breath, and mind are in fact one thing. Or, more accurately, bodybreathmind is actually bodybreathminduniverse. As Dogen Zenji, the Japanese founder of the Soto Zen sect, wrote in Shobo- genzo Yuibutsu-yobutsu (“Only Buddha and Buddha”), “The entire universe is the true human body ... The entire universe is the dharma body of the self.” In the lineage in which I teach, as in many others, the tradition is to encourage people who are new to zazen to begin by counting the breath. There are two common methods. One way is to breathe in, counting silently “one,” then breathe out, counting silently “two,” in “three,” out “four,” and so on up to ten, before starting again at one. The other way is to breathe in silently, without counting, and then silently counting “one” on the outbreath, breathing in with no count, then counting “two” on the outbreath, and so on up to ten. It doesn’t matter whether or not you get to ten. It doesn’t even matter if you get to two. The power of breath practice, the utility of Shikantaza Is Not Limited to the Mind Josh Bartok photo | Rick Neves BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 23