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turning the light inward

" learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inwards. " it's with these words that master dogen speaks about the essence of zazen, the practice of just sitting.

the practice of just sitting is the simplest expression of meditation yet is perhaps also the most challenging for in the end we are sitting just for the sake of sitting. doing something wholeheartedly without wanting anything in return is the simplicity that opens us up to a deeper sense of being. one way of naming that is awakening. but that is again naming and what silence invites us to is to drop all naming; just letting presence be.

the resistance to that, to just be, to be just present is momentous. over the years, we also sit with that resistance and slowly find a softening and opening there. learning to carry ourselves and all that the self carries lightly is the silent redemptive power of zazen. of attention, nicolas malebranche, the 15th century french philosopher, said that it is the natural prayer of the soul.

the light that we turn inward during zazen is attention. attention here is another way of speaking of silence.

many years ago my teacher, master tokuda, told me that for him zazen is a form of silent prayer. the feel of that is closer now with time. the prayer with no object, that aims for nothing, asks for nothing but let's things be jyst as they are is the silent light that illumines zazen.

is it innward, is it outward? where is it, this still point that keeps turning?

in jahano ān jahan har do gom shod dar an jahan ke manam /

this world and the world that is other both vanished in the world where i am - jallaludin rumi




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