Za Zen

ZaZen is a Zen meditation practice.


In a nutshell, which is all you'll need:

Sit in a full or half lotus. Slowly bring your hands to rest in your lap, one cradling the other, thumbtips touching. Half-lid your eyes and touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Straighten your spine. Inhale slowly into your belly, focusing your awareness on the "tan tien" of your abdomen, the point below your navel about which your body is naturally bent. Place all tension there. Exhale slowly with your belly, spine straight, eyes unfocused, placing all tension in the tan tien. Let sensation flow up your back and down your front. Breathe as deeply and slowly as you can. Accept everything that occurs to you. Until nothing occurs.


Once nothing occurs, you're done. You don't need chanting or anyone whacking you with a stick - nothing is all there is to it. -- EasternWuss

True, but a good whack when you're nodding off or feeling sore from all the sitting can help (no)things.


However, western limbs may not do well to try to fold in this manner, for the many years of sitting on nothing but a chair have had their effect on the joints; having sat since childhood in chairs, not in lotus on the floor, we upon trying this are so distracted by discomfort or PAIN as to completely miss out on the benefits of ZaZen. Therefore, some of us are forced to sit in a comfortable chair offering support for the back and arms, that we are NOT distracted by the body. -- KirkBailey


 Oh, pity the Emperor Wu
 He did all the good that he knew.
    Bodhidharma said, "Void,
    Nothing holy." Annoyed,
 Wu said "Nothing? Well, sir, who are you?"

"I don't know" said the sage, looking stern, And he left. Wu's advisor said, "Durn! That old fellow, I feel, Was the Buddha Mind Seal And there's nothing will make him return."

The lotus position is nice and stable, and great when you don't have chairs, but it's hardly a requirement. There's nothing "enlightenment-sucking" about chairs, or any particularly mystically significant about the lotus position. What it does is keep your back straight and keep you from wobbling (sitting merely cross-legged is not adequate for that purpose. Sitting in your chair with your hands comfortably on your knees (not clasping) and your back straight and away from the back of the chair, is perfectly adequate for most office (or computer desk) chairs. Do turn off the monitor though...

When I sit on a chair and meditate, I find myself sliding off my chair and assuming ZaZen... it's funny how quickly that happens.

ZaZen is simple:

Master Ju Hun wrote
"From ancient times until now, the great Way has not changed. On top, the head. Below on both sides, the legs."

Dogen himself wrote
"Eyes horizontal, nose vertical."

>> True enough; nevertheless, Master Lin-Chi (Rinzai) reportedly once said: It is not good to have nothing further to seek.

>>> And, perhaps even more to the point, Master Lin-Chi (Rinzai) also said: "The Dharma that I expound is different from that of all others....In the outside world I do not lay hold on either the worldly or the sacred; and inside, I do not stick to rock-bottom....If [only] one can see with perfect clarity, then all is completed."


Worth mentioning that you should sit on a fairly thick cushion. This transfers some weight to your knees and lets you arch the bottom of the spine. Mastering the more physical aspects of Zazen is called getting a good seat

CategoryOnTopic CategoryEasternThought

EditText of this page (last edited August 1, 2013) or FindPage with title or text search