It is often taught that one should begin with samatha practice (sanskrit; mindfulness meditation, calming abiding, resting the mind) by using the technique of observing the breath and labeling thinking before vipashyana (sanskrit; panoramic awareness, openness, seeing not two) occurs. After many years of his own pracitice and of teaching others, Sokuzan sees the importance of starting off with samatha and vipashyana together by holding still and watching what continues to move, trusting the mind to rest on whatever needs to be observed. This is the practice of “shikantaza” (Japanese) or sitting, observing “just precisely this”.
Sokuzan talks about the benefit of two types of retreat practice: participation in scheduled sitting, study and practice forms with a group and simplified intensive sitting practice with just one’s self in a supported space with few external distractions.
In this dharma talk, Sokuzan makes a distinction between “ego forms”, conventional social constructs that support self centered goals and “practice forms” which provide the structure to support awareness that sees through self centeredness.
Sokuzan talks about the 9th Grave Precept in the Soto Zen tradition: “No Being Angry”. The intention of this precept is to bring awareness to the energy of anger and practice feeling the heat without acting out of it or shutting down on it.