Open Awareness

In Sōtō Zen there is a practice, Shikantaza, which is derived from a Chinese term in Caodong Buddhism, usually translated into English as “Silent Illumination”, or “Serene Reflection”. Mary Fowler, however, in a now out of print book translates it as “open awareness”, which seems to me a much better, less other-worldly translation.

Daishin Morgan:

Zazen or enlightenment os not about finding a particular state of mind, for all states of mind are fleeting and cannot be relied upon. When you know who is sitting, you know sitting Buddha. This expression is a bit strange; why not say sitting like a Buddha? I prefer to say sitting Buddha because there is nobody sitting like a Buddha; there is just sitting Buddha. That Buddha never stops sitting, but we must awaken to her presence–not that sitting Buddha is either male or female…

A theme I return to again and again is to just do the work that comes to you. Such an attitude is open-ended in the way that life itself is open. If you give yourself to the way, the way appears and that way is always changing.

Morgan, Daishin. Sitting Buddha. Throssel Hole Press. Kindle Edition

The openness here is the openness of just being: there is nothing to achieve, nothing to become. All that is necessary is to cease deceiving ourselves.

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