Pagan Zen

Regardless of the spirits we work with, the success of our spells, or the books we read, we are ultimately here in this moment. Every step we’ve ever taken has led us here. We stand at the gate of everything we will do next.

This is our moment and this is the focal point of our minds.

We All Sit, We All Meditation

This is a chief tenant of all mediation, but for me the Zen practice of “just sitting” has always had the most influence of my meditation practice. Specifically, I am talking about Shikantaza, or “Silent Illumination.” According to Suzuki Roshi, the point of Shikantaza is to “actualize emptiness and move beyond our perceptions of reality. “

To that end, I wanted to start discussing it in a pagan context rather than a Buddhist context.

This is not to invalidate the millennia of Buddhist teaching nor its positive value. If we don’t have Buddha, we don’t have Crowley. However, since so much of the literature around the meditation is Buddhist, I wanted to try and take it and run in a slightly different direction.

The beauty of just sitting is that ultimately, the context around it doesn’t matter. If you are a Buddhist, Satanist, Wiccan, Atheist, or Zoroastrian, sitting is sitting. Quitting the mind (or often just ignoring the thoughts that zoom through it while doing anything) is quieting the mind.

A Witch Who Sits

So, what does it mean to employ Shikantaza in a pagan context? It could be incorporating it into the flow of whatever other rituals you are already doing. Preparing to call the quarters or banish your negativities through LBRP? Then just sit. Do you want to clear your mind before lighting your green, sigil marked candle? Just sit. All of our operations proceed from a point of knowing where you are at that moment, acting on your desire of that moment, and creating your and acting on your will from that moment.

At that moment of now from which we proceed is where I think most of our re-casting our context happens. While it’s a good practice to not worry about the result of any working accept that it will happen as intended, the point isn’t to teach us to move away from those acts will. Rather, we want to better tune ourselves to that higher will both in the more physical and more astral realms. Always higher and lower, simultaneously. While we practice detachment form our desired results of our working, we are still attached to the desire which caused the working to happen. It’s key to who we are to act on our will and desire. We act on our results once they are achieved to move our path forward. In other words, we embrace the negative space around our intention to build the positive space into which they grow. Positive and negative can both move in all directions.

All meditation will help us in this, but some mediations are focused toward specific ends. For me, anyway, the most effective way of centering, calming, and focusing myself is to just sit. This is where I become most open to messages from whatever spirit with whom I work. This is where I come to realizations and answers to questions that may have eluded me.

Just Sitting with Tarot Cards

I use this approach with Tarot cards, too. After I’ve studied the card I will sit with it and purposefully not think about the meaning or symbology of the specific card(s). I let the meaning wash over me and take not of what makes sense; discard what doesn’t make sense. I write it down after I have finished meditating. In doing this, I divorce myself from looking for the specific meaning I may want the card to have and arrive at the clearer message of the card with less of my own filters applied. This also helps me apply the card’s message to the moment, and get less lost in its abstract meanings that may be true, but don’t help with understanding what I need to know at that moment. Tarot cards have both their abstract meanings and they bring you news you can use.

The Road to Forever Starts Now

Regardless of our ritual, we only have the moments we have in a chain of now which stretches into an unknown eternity. We can only operate from the now return to the now. Four incarnate lifetimes from now, this will still be true. As I focus on understanding my true will and raising my inner daemon, I have found just sitting to be one of the chief powers in bag to further that journey.

Regardless of what happens next, for now, I will just sit.

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