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Shikan-taza (Just Sitting)

by James Shammas (Age: 53)
copyright 03-12-2006

Age Rating: 10 +

Sitting in zazen, one learns to focus
On a number of variables: the breath,
Your belly bellowing like a thin balloon,
Maybe the sights and sounds within the room.
In shikan-taza, one just sits, back straight,
Legs crossed, totally erect, nothing left to do.
The mind will waver under certain pain, till it
Settles like a feather, etherized, fearing

Nothing's more or less than what it seems,
Fearing the "it" before the seeming,
Fickle in its flitting, its coy inertness
Spitting back your all too human gaze,
Refusing all your desperate offerings
To sense it wholly with eyes and ears,
A porous skin, a tongue that tastes
And talks of it and all it is (or seems?).

That things could exist outside of seeming,
Independent and devoid of this yearning you;
That the sterile stars, pinned and pointed,
Would not want to gaze at you: those eyes
Longing with their look of consternation;
That the ambitious earth-- a forlorn mother
Spinning off its mass of musk and matter--
Would not also want to taste of you: this lie

You fear, sitting like a coiling, winding vine
Turning toward the sun; a churning, yearning
Living wine, wafting all its pregnant fruit,
Young but aging, rising like a lump of bread
Fully formed in fleeting flux, more than earth,
Hard, yet efflorescent. The thought is much:
Sitting there: that all you are is all there is,
Full yet hollow, like the sound of the Roshi's bell.

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        05-08-2006     Elisabeth Hatheway        

What a coincidence!!! The title of your poem is almost identical to mine, Just Sittin'. Yours is deeper than mine cuz my poem is supposed to be about lost love, yet it's a little comical in its own way. Pretty cool!

        04-24-2006     Regina Pate        

How do I say, tell you, help you comprenhend, that I beleive in everything that you just said, it isn't just pretend, I'm not familiar with the exercise that you are refering, but I am still with you concuring, I may not be able to spell but I understand very well, I can't explain to you how you just made me feel, I don't understand that part, what's the deal, but just know I'm for real, I want more, Great write, good job, thank you very much my friend


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