Seikan Cech, 4
Interview with Seikan Cech
I get what you are saying now, especially with your words "the breath can breathe itself, pains can feel themselves, sounds can be sounds". In this way there is no identification going on. Everything is happening by itself. You spoke early on of the intent to meditate as an idea-that this idea fades as we begin to actually just sit. The process is initiated out of the intent to sit and start meditation. I am curious about this intent.
When I ask about where the idea to sit comes from, I am really asking about what it is that draws us to meditation (i.e. the intent). Do you feel that the intent to sit is supported by this same simplicity-that the body knows of sitting inherently-just as the breath breathes itself? I want to assure that my intent here is not to talk in circles, but I suppose if we are talking then we must expect circles. There is something I want to get at in earnest and that has to do with this draw towards meditation. Otherwise, everyone everywhere would already be involved in sitting meditation practice.
I do not know what it is that specifically draws someone to Zazen, and how their intent arises. Most probably it varies somewhat depending on the individual and their circumstances. Again, I would firstly say that it is not so important to try and get to the bottom of this. Having said that, though, our intent will obviously influence our approach and attitude to our practice. In Zen, the most direct path comes from an attitude which is wholehearted and non-expecting, in other words not weighed down by any particular intent. So I often use the phrase: "Let your motivation bring you to the practice, then leave it at the door."
A more common scenario is that we hold on to what has brought us to meditate, and this then upholds, but also complicates, our sitting practice for some time. I mean you are exactly right, if sitting Zazen was happening as naturally as breathing or having ideas, then everybody everywhere would be doing it now. One of the reasons why people do not sit Zazen is because there are countless alternative activities that are much more enticing, entertaining, pleasurable, distracting, and/or mind-numbing than to be sitting still. There are many many toys on offer in life, and naturally we tend to keep on playing with these toys for as long as we can.
If and when our toys of choice start to become unavailable or less effective, we can start practicing Zen more easily, even without too many promises or expectations. In my own case, I probably only started sitting wholeheartedly once I felt there was nothing better to do. So the starting point can sometimes involve a measure of despair, which then makes it easier to start sitting and accept the practice as it is.
So why sit Zazen? For no reason! It simply becomes a way of being at the most basic level, something along the lines of "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." - And yes, talking about it as we are now invariably involves dancing around in circles. So thanks for the dance Benjamin.