I went up to Sonoma Mountain Zen Center today, Roshi Kwong was speaking, and it was pretty good. He mentioned that it’s possible to breathe into the sitting and sit longer, but he advised not to continue if injury seemed imminent. I’ve been experiencing a variation on that, which is that the extent of the breath and the place in consciousness can continue the activity of the sitting, maintain and deepen the stretch of the sitting- without direction, almost as though in hypnosis. I guess that’s the same thing he was talking about.
Zazen is a peculiar practice. On the one hand, it’s been associated with the cross-legged posture since the Gautamid first described the practice of setting up mindfulness. On the other hand, we have statements like “zazen sits zazen” (Shunryu Suzuki, to Blanche Hartman, as recounted on cuke.com) and “you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around” (Kobun Chino Otogawa, in a lecture in the 80’s at S.F. Zen Center). So is zazen something we do, or something that only happens in a cross-legged posture? Not exactly, it would seem.
If the extent of inhalation and the extent of exhalation guide the stretch and activity we feel, we fall headfirst into feeling beyond knowing sometimes; is this the cessation that the Gautamid described as part of his practice, both before and after enlightenment?