Shikantaza in Japanese means "Just Sitting” and refers to sitting meditation in total fulfillment, as Zen Master Dogen taught us. It is the practice of enlightenment itself, as experienced directly by all Buddhas. It is practiced in a meditation posture, with the mind and body totally engaged as one. It expresses complete awakening, without striving to get someplace else. It ends the search we have been on all our lives. In Shikantaza, we are fully present, without goal or effort. It does not end upon rising from the cushion, but continues perpetually moment to moment in our lives. It is the vibrant and alive Dharma gate of joy and ease and we practice it without thought of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ meditation. This profound practice is beyond all duality. It opens us up to all phenomena in the universe, to all life and the interdependence of all things. No more are we separated from the stream of existence. Indeed, we see that we never were separated. Shikantaza is as big as all time and space itself. It is the true Buddha nature we all have, realized joyfully in our lives. It is this peaceful and beautiful homecoming that is our practice.
The kesa is the Buddha’s robe. The robe of Zazen. In Japanese, it is called Nyoho-e, the robe of as it-is-ness. Thanks to the work and life of the Shingon teacher Kaiju Jiun Sonja (1718-1804) who loved being grasped by the still state, to the dedication of Mokishutsu Zenji and later, to Eko Hashimoto and Kodo Sawaki, we have now the opportunity to study, sew and wear the Buddhist robe.
A koan is a short story that is used as a focus for zazen, with each koan highlighting some form of problem. Originally, 'koan' meant a public case which established a legal precedent. In Zen, it is a paradoxical story assigned to a student to solve, in order to help their awakening or to test the depth of their realization. There are about 1,700 recorded koans (pronounced ko-an in Japanese). Notable collections may be found in the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) and the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record).
Koan study is a form of practice that requires the supervision of a recognised teacher who has himself or herself gone through this rigorous training. A koan is a brief anecdote recording an exchange between master and disciple or a master's enlightenment experience. Koans are used to bring a student to realization or to help clarify his enlightenment.