Continuing on the theme of meditation here is a question sent by a reader on the subject of the advisability of meditating on a question or problem in formal zazen.
Was hoping you might be able to clarify something for me. I have read in a few books that if you have a problem, or something that you are unsure about, and are seeking some sort of solution or clarity on it, that you should meditate on it. Does this mean that during meditation you should actively think about it and see what comes up during meditation? Or does it just mean that you just devote some time to just thinking about that one thing, rather than literally meaning meditate on it?
This is the somewhat expanded, and edited, version of my reply:
In our practice we don’t bring any deliberate thought into the formal meditation. There is no object upon which we meditate, there is simply paying attention to what is there, moment by imperceptible moment. That might include a question or problem, however one does not then deliberately start to think about it. So, while sitting formally in meditation we simply ‘let be’ neither rejecting nor hanging on, to anything. Bit like being present in a river and being the river, at the same time.
There ‘is’ obviously a place for deliberately thinking about a problem or question, however that’s ‘deliberately deciding’ to think about something. We have the power of reason and that together with ones sense of what’s right/good to do, or not do, is about how one proceeds. That along with the teaching and guidance of the Precepts.
This is the short answer. There is much that could be said. And since I know you will be here at some point for a retreat I advise you to ask your question in person.