SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Zazen for Beginners (We’re All Beginners) VIII


In Soto style, we ‘face the wall‘ … we sit with our backbone at the center of the Zafu, perhaps slightly forward … back straight, as if a tiny thread were running to the ceiling through the crown of the head … give that thread a small tug, ever so slightly, to stretch the neck and pull the chin in … your eyes should be 1/3 or 2/3 open (my teacher says naturally and fully open though … the point is to remain present in this world and not drift into some dreamy state) … gazing at a downward angle to the wall (or floor if that is all you have) …

Aim for that, in a balanced Full or Half Lotus, or Burmese … change things as necessary, but try for the ‘ideal’ … There is no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way at the heart of Zazen, nothing to aim for. Thus, please aim for the ‘right way’.


Press on arrow for ‘play’



2 Responses to “SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Zazen for Beginners (We’re All Beginners) VIII”

  1. jundo cohen Says:

    Someone wrote to me to say that the fellow in the second photo is clearly more round shouldered than the fellow in the first photo. Looking at the photos closely, I must agree … and that second photo is from the “official” homepage of the Soto school in Japan!!For me, it comes down to this: Just sit with your back, head and neck straight, but in a way that feels balanced and comfortable. If, on most days, there is no discomfort and you can forget the body (drop it from mind) … do that! You will know what is right for you.In my case, I favor the straight back, chin slightly tucked in, as if a string were running from the crown of my head to the roof. My back is straight and I am nut hunched over. For me, this is comfortable and balanced, without discomfort. Gassho, Jundo

  2. jundo cohen Says:

    Let me add something else: There is a tendency in Japanese culture to make a fetish of body position in physical activities. Over the years, I have encountered this many times. For example, having had tennis lessons in both Japan and America: In America, a good teacher will help you find the swing right for you, your body type, the way we are all a little different. In Japan, there is more of a tendency to say “tennis swings are to be done X way because that is how it is done, and you should conform.”I find this difference in attitude especially true in Japanese Zen with regard to Zazen. I believe that there is good form in Zazen, but it may vary somewhat for body type, etc. For any serious Japanologist in the house, there is a pretty amusing book on the subject Slightly politically incorrect but, based on my 18 years there, pretty true.Kata: The Key to Understanding & Dealing with the JapaneseBy Boyé Lafayette De MenteBOOK REVIEW LINKGassho, Jundo

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