Category Archives: ZuoWang Articles

Zuowang 2

From shifu Michael’s third book coming out in January 2019

Shifu Michael RinaldiniAs a follow-up to my previous entry on the Three Vitalities, I have done some preliminary research and will shortly be posting my findings here in my journal. Pretty interesting stuff, you’ll appreciate the many benefits of these three simple qigong exercises. As for now, I have about 30 minutes before my Tuesday evening meditation class. I always start with a brief reading on zuowang meditation, some Daoist scripture, or something else related. Tonight I went back to my beginnings of learning about Zuowang meditation to Livia Kohn’s book, Sitting In Oblivion, The Heart of Daoist Meditation. In her introduction chapter to Zuowang, she makes a poignant point on her reason for translating, and hence titling her book, “oblivion” instead of the more common translation of Zuowang as “sitting and forgetting.” Professor Kohn translates “wang” as “oblivion” and “oblivious” rather than “forgetting” or “forgetful” because the meaning of to forget something is associated to an active state of mind as “one should remember” something. Professor Kohn says this way of describing the mind of the ancient Chinese Daoist practitioner is not in sync with those times. Instead, she looks at the Chinese character breakdown of “wang.” Part of the character contains “xin” for “mind-heart” and it is associated with “conscious and emotional reactions to reality.” The rest of the character refers to “wang” for “obliterate or perish.” If you put all of this together, you get a meaning that if you let go of all reactive states of mind you can then enter a state of calm, which is the entryway to the experience of the Dao. (Kohn 2010, 1) Okay, time to go meditate now with my students.


From shifu Michael’s third book coming out in January 2019

I came across this brief Zen saying on Facebook a few minutes before my Tuesday night meditation class. I have nothing to add to it.

The Old Master gave a short dharma talk one day and said, “The conundrum of Ch’an (Zen) is that you realize that;

There is Nothing to Realize,
That there is No dharma to master,
That there is Nothing to the teachings,
That there is Nothing to attain, and
That present mind is Buddha mind.
Yet, it takes Kensho itself to come to and ‘understand’ these ‘realizations.’
Outside of Kensho it cannot be ‘understood.’”

Shifu’s 24-Hour Retreat

Shifu Michael Rinaldini

July 27
10:15 am

Today is the day that I am going to do my 24-hour sitting meditation practice. Review what I said about it in my October 13, 2013 entry. Obviously I haven’t worked on this practice in smaller increments, it would have been reported on in these journal entries. I am finding myself to be too busy to devote to any extended sittings, and so I decided, oh well, just go for it. One of my priest students made an attempt but he was not able to complete the full 24 hours because where he was practicing-in some remote place in Mexico, there were storms that interfered with his meditations. He’ll be sending me his own notes from his experiences, which I’ll include in my journal.

Reflections on Dao De Jing, Chapter 16

Only in meditative states–of silence and emptiness–can we truly perceive the real nature of the 10,000 things. Only then will we understand that creation is destruction, that motion is stillness, that all energy is always there, forming and dissolving in various phases according to the flow.

Knowing this, feeling this, experiencing this keeps Not Two at the forefront. Not Two leads to non-attachment, since everything we need is here, we are all that is and ever was.

Missing the true nature of things creates dualities, which lead to cravings, desires, attachments, suffering.

In knowing the truth, we understand that though the body may break down and dissolve, the energy that is us is ever-lasting, existing beyond time and space as part of the Great Dao this is the essence of it all. Knowing the truth therefor leads to immortality–a vision of eternal oneness. Not knowing this leads to the illusion of perish.

Witness all things changing constantly, emerging, living, returning, dissolving
Like the seasons
Like Breath
Like life, like death
Awareness of this
the constant flux, brings realization of true nature
A vision of Not Two–all things endlessly pulsating
like the blood pumping from the heart of Dao
A vision of Not Two brings eternal love
which is Dao
which is infinite
There is no me
There is no now
There is only Tao
And this is enough

by Jeremy Pollack

Newsletter Summer 2013 – Zuowang

There are several nice articles out there about Zuowang meditation practice.  Articles that explain that one sits and forgets (self, separateness, etc) or sits in what Livia Kohn describes as ‘sitting in oblivion’.  For a beginner mediator this terminology may not be very helpful since they may be challenged by simply “sitting”, period.  The mind racing about with a seemingly endless stream of thoughts arising. Various sensations such as an itch or twitch or an ache here or there all seeming to ask for attention and with this a reaction.  So, the beginner meditator reacts by scratching the itch or adjusting their body to relieve the discomfort. Thoughts may form around these sensations, and the cycle of monkey mind continues.
I have sat with intermediate mediators who shifted their body in response to sensations. How can they have stillness in mind if they are not having stillness in body? To advance in meditation, to truly sit in Zuowang, one practices stillness of both body and mind.  So, here is what I tell beginning mediators:  When a sensation arises, watch it without reacting to it.  Just simply sit with it.  Observe how the sensation changes and then vanishes.  It’s the same with thoughts.  Just simply watch them arise and pass. Keep practicing, noting the sensation and not reacting to it.  Just watch.  With ongoing practice, the mediator is able to sit for short periods and then longer periods without making bodily adjustments.  In doing this sitting still practice, one is also training the mind in stillness.

Written by Priest Tina Hamilton