For a few years now I’ve been asked by a Vipassana group to come and talk about the Dharma and to sit with them for a while. It’s usually sometime in the beginning of the year. The group of about twenty people has been meeting for many years at the Quaker Center near Santa Clara University. They usually meet once a week and will occasionally ask a speaker to join them. We greet each other as we enter. Some have been sitting together for a long time. Some are new to the experience. We settle in. Some are wrapped in blankets, its often cold when I go. Some sit on zafu, pillows used for sitting on the floor. I sit on a chair, feet on the floor. As the time arrives a small bell is struck.
Jodo Shinshu has long kept its distance from meditation practice. Shinshu, as with other schools of Buddhism, is a path of enlightenment. In other traditions I would perfect practices to cultivate enlightenment. Meditation is a practice that can uncover, reveal the Buddha mind. It is also to practice without trying to reveal the Buddha mind. To meditate to reveal Buddha mind can cultivate ego. Meditation is a serious practice to cultivate the mind enlightenment. Doing shikantaza of Zen, the self falls away revealing the Buddha mind. A beginner may have been sitting for ten years,
Shinran recognized his own inability to cultivate Buddha mind. He did not speak against those who were capable of perfecting these practices. Acknowledging his foolishness he entrusted in the assurance of Amida Buddha to provide for the enlightenment of all beings. Acknowledging foolishness and the assurance of Amida are the two aspects of deep faith. This is shinjin. If we are aware, mindful, we are changed. How we see and engage the world is transformed.
A Buddhist teacher described the mind as like a monkey in a tree, jumping from branch to branch. Never settled. Always grasping. Another teacher describe the mind like an overflowing cup of tea. The mind so full of stuff nothing more can be added.
Sometimes meditation is to just sit. No expectations. No intention. No this or that. No mind. No no mind. Sometimes to sit is to just sit. Hear the sound. No beginning. No end. The car racing up the street enters our consciousness, passes through, then leaves. No thought of where it came from where is it going. Just sit. Count breaths. Don’t count breaths. A person of shinjin realizes that samsara is nirvana.
On December 1 we will begin sitting in the nokotsudo Sunday mornings from 8:15 to 9:15. I’ll try to remember to turn the heater on.
Here’s a couple of websites that might be helpful.