Any input on Resting Awareness/Shikantaza

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Florian 7 months ago.

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    Dear Sangha

    so I just stumbled into this meditative state which I think qualifies as (or at least has characteristics of) Shikantaza (or Resting Awareness/Silent Illumination) and wondered if anyone has any ideas or information about what I can do with it and how to best use it too perfect my Samatha.

    Fist some words on where I stand at the moment:
    My practice it rather solidly on stage 7:
    Effortlessness is present on and off the cushion (I can enter and sustain Samatha for longer and longer periods whithout putting effort into sustaining it, on some occasions it felt like I would have stayed there indefinitely had I not actively ended it – that might have been rather illusory though :))

    Thoughts are present intermittently but they play out in the back of my mind. They have no “weight” and I can freely choose whether to engage with them or not. Even if I do choose to engage with them, the whole thought process takes up only a minor part of my consciousness – “thinking” does not break my Samatha. Also the quality of thoughts has changed drastically: there are almost no “useless” thoughts on the past or the future (that is: no memory consolidation), almost all that occurs is formulation of concepts and ideas, or answers to questions I posed to myself one day or the other. (To all you neuroscientists: is there analytical verbal thinking going on in the prefrontal cortex?)

    Bodily sensations are still very much present but do not disturb my Samatha: so Pacification of the senses has still to begin or is only just beginning slowly.

    Now what do I mean with Resting Awareness:
    What happens is that I found out that I can sustain Samatha without a Meditation Object. I just “open” my consciousness, and that’s it.
    Which means I am able to perceive my whole body, sounds, thoughts, smells, people and whatever they do (if practicing with open eyes that is).
    I can “deepen” this state by shortly concentrating (only just the tiniest bit of focus) on the outbreath, and use the concentrating effect that that has, to just “zoom out” – that is to take on a wider perspective.
    Whether what I’m doing is putting a very wide concentrational focus on “everything” (or at least as much as possible) or whether I’m actually doing away with focus and using Awareness only – I am not yet completely sure. It feels thought as what is happening is the first – a widening of Concentration’s focus.

    Now the degree to which I am able to do this varies of course, but that’s be basic outline.

    On the effects: Being in this state is neither pleasant nor unpleasant, brings neither joy nor sorrow. It is more a sense of resting peace. Most of all the resting aspect is present. I feel like this state is like the very equivalent of: Resting. That makes this state (at the moment) very attractive and valuable – even more so than the Jhanas (tbh: I just dabbled in the first Whole Body Jhana so far, so no idea as to how this state of mine relates to the deeper Jhanas)

    Well. Thank you for hearing me out. Does anyone have any experience with this? Or further information? Especially on how to integrate it with the practice of deepening Samatha?

    Wish you all a bright, useful, happy life.


    Ivan Ganza

    Hi Florian,

    Shikantaza and such practices are deep and effective. From your descriptions above it sounds like you are ready to explore these practices.

    To get a context apart from what you already have, I would suggest the following two books. They should give you an excellent context.

    Cultivating the Empty Field


    The Art of Just Sitting

    -Ivan/ (DT Teacher in Training)

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by  Ivan Ganza.


    Thank you very much Ivan.
    Orders are placed and books will be read 🙂


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