T'was very quiet tonight in The Dock. It was our first Tuesday night back after the Christmas and snow extravaganza (have all you budding zennies gone into hibernation or something?)
Those of us there (both of us, that is!) had a nice chat about zazen and the 'sudden awakening' experiences we sometimes notice in zazen. Such experiences are referred to in Zen tradition as Kenshō.
At such times we might have a sudden realisation about ourselves, or experience a feeling of connectivity with everything around us and/or a very fine clarity and lightness in our sitting or other activities. These experiences are often a very valid part of practice... sometimes they're not though; they might just be random mental events due to our current state of body-mind (referred to as "makyo" in Zen terms), so it's important not to read too much into them as a general rule.
It seems important not to get too caught up in such experiences, especially in seeking them or trying to 'make them happen' or replicate them every time we sit. That's a sort of attachment to our own mental events which is quite contrary to just sitting and allowing every thing to come and go.
All aspects of zazen, just as it is right at this moment, are already complete in themselves. This moment of practice perfectly contains everything in its perfection and imperfection. It really doesn't need improving, and we can't improve it in that way anyway!
Zazen, every aspect of it, is the point of doing zazen and there is no realisation beyond what we are presently realising, beyond what we are presently making real.
Dosho Port posted some excellent points from Dainin Katagiri Roshi to his blog recently where Roshi says:
Peace is not inside or outside. Peace is right in the midst of the functioning of zazen. You think that by zazen you will become peaceful. At that time, peace is already outside. When you feel peaceful by zazen you feel peace inside. But this isn’t real peace and harmony. Next moment it disappears. Real peace and harmony, which is blooming from moment to moment, is not in the idea, but in the midst of the process of zazen.
Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi, in an interview with a student, offers a nice touchstone to keep our heads screwed on in this regard also:
Q: Some people would like to improve themselves with spiritual practice, to get better...