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Buddhadharma : Spring 2018
26 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY of subtle strivings. At some point we may use less scaffolding, and at some point we may use none at all. Even within shikantaza, it isn’t the case that some version is “more advanced” than another version. Having no scaffolding is not inherently better than having a little. One subtle form available to us in shikantaza is discerning when the mind is engaged in the fires of doing, then desisting from adding more fuel. This is still an active thing we do. What differen tiates shikantaza from breath practice is that we do not engage in the doing of bringing attention specifically to the breath; we do not enact a preference for breath as object of mind. We simply desist and carry on sitting with breathbodyminduniverse as the true dharma body of the self. Another piece of scaffolding within shikantaza is the intimate, inward gesture of turning toward whatever is arising right here, toward what the universe is doing right now. This is the true human heart of bodybreathminduniverse. This turning toward is so small as to be almost nothing, but it is not nothing. A line from Shake speare’s King Henry V captures both the smallness of this gesture and its power: “A very little little let us do, and all is done.” Shikantaza is not nothing. Shikantaza is not a practice of just watching thoughts, though a mindmoment may arise in which one is aware of mental formations. Shikantaza is not a practice of just spacing out, though a mindmoment may arise that has the content of “I have just been spacing out.” These mindmoments are neither themselves the practice of shikantaza nor do they negate or break shikantaza. Dogen refers to the practice of shikantaza as being “unstained.” He tells us, “To be unstained does not mean that you try forcefully to exclude intention or discrimination, or that you establish a state of nonintention.” Touching on the radically nondual and non doable nature of the practice shows us, in fact, that “Being unstained cannot be intended or discriminated at all.” photo | David Gabriel Fischer