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Exploring Shikantaza

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Shikantaza, sometimes called “just sitting,” is the subtle and radically nondual practice at the heart of Soto Zen practice.

Shikantaza is a subtle practice, so we encourage folks to practice with the breath for a while first to develop concentration. For some, breath work is a lifelong practice complete in and of itself. Others like to wander into the trackless land of shikantaza, or just sitting. It is good to have a teacher while practicing shikantaza because we so often engage in subtle, unconscious goal-orientation that hinders us. A teacher can help us realize greater freedom.

The best two books to start with are Opening the Hand of Thought by Kosho Uchiyama and Realizing Genjokoan by Shohaku Okumura.

In our liturgy book, shikantaza is described in recitation pieces by Reb Anderson (“Guidance in the Absolute Practice of Shikantaza”) and Shohaku Okumura (“Those Who Greatly Realize Delusion Are Buddhas”).