Zazen means sitting Zen and is an important practice of Zen Buddhism. The aim of zazen is just sitting, that is, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, emotions and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them.
The aim of Zazen is to reach a state of Presence in which the awakened Higher Self observes the lower self impartially.
Quiet sitting is a symbol for the state of Presence, when the Higher Self is awake and is sitting on the inner throne.
Sitting, means resting in presence, after one has made efforts and refers to a state of being detached, as Huineng said. Meditating refers to awakening the immutable Higher Self, which observes the lower self as it goes around doing it`s daily business.
The name of the Egyptian Goddess Isis means throne and her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh's power, as the pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided.
Isis is a symbol for the heart that has engaged Divine Presence. The Pharaoh is a symbol for the ruling faculty, or steward, the spiritual body of effort, needed to reach this state, and is born from the heart. The heart provides the desire and the spiritual body makes up the tools to reach presence.
The state of psychological sleep in which humanity spends it`s days is symbolized by lying down in bed at night. Standing up refers to the beginning of making efforts to be present, walking refers to prolonging the effort and sitting down refers to reaching one`s destination, the state of satori, a prolonged state of presence.
The polite form of the verb to be in Japanese is Gozaru.
The first character of Gozaru 「御座る」is an honorific prefix while the second character is the Japanese character for sitting. This symbolizes that the polite form of to be refers to the Higher Self being awake, sitting on the inner throne. Politeness plays a much bigger role in the Japanese culture than in most other cultures. Rather than shaking hands or hugging, people bow to pay respect to each other, and the Japanese language has many more forms of polite speech than other languages.
True love is the result of the presence of the Higher Self. The inner meaning of politeness and bowing in the Japanese culture, is a beautiful and poetic way of showing reverence for the Higher Self in each other.
In the left image, Amida Buddha is seated on the head of Kannon Bodhisattva (Ch. Guanyin). In Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva symbolizes the steward, the part in one that tries to reach the state of presence. Amida Buddha symbolizes the Higher Self, seated in the state of Divine Presence.
In the right image, a Pharaoh is walking with two hands on his head, which symbolize making efforts to reach presence.
Walking also refers to the effort to be present, which is walking on The Way, while sitting signifies that a prolonged state of presence has been reached; one has arrived at one`s destination.
Bodhidharma is credited with bringing Zen Buddhism to China. According to legend, he sat in meditation for nine years facing a wall, causing his limbs to fall off from atrophy, until he reached enlightenment. Limbs refer to the many I`s, the thoughts, emotions and sensations inside man. In the quote from the Vimalakirti Sutra above, the idea of the thirty-seven limbs of enlightenment is mentioned, which refer to I`s that remind one to be present. In the image of Kannon, the thousand hands symbolize the many I`s while the ten limbs, six limbs below and four arms raised upwards, refer to reminders to be present.
The Daruma doll is a Japanese doll modeled after Bodhidharma. They are usually red, depicting a bearded man, although they vary greatly in color and design depending on region and artist. Considered to be a toy, they have a design that is rich in symbolism and are also regarded as a talisman of perseverance and good luck to the Japanese. The mouth portrays the Japanese character of happiness or good luck, which refers to the state of Presence, the only real good luck. The dolls are usually red because red is the color that scares away demons and evil spirits, according to Japanese and Chinese tradition. Red symbolizes combustion of the fire of presence, which gets rid of the demons, the many I`s. The eyebrows are in the shape of a crane, which is a symbol of longevity, the longevity of the state of presence, which is out of time. The dolls are usually made of papier-mâché, have a round shape, are hollow, and weighted at the bottom in a way that it will always return to an upright position when tilted over. In English, this is called a tumbler doll, and in Japanese it is called okiagari, meaning to get up (oki) and arise (agari).
This proverb refers to re-starting one`s effort to be present again and again, even though the last time one fell asleep again. If one perseveres, one will eventually reach a prolonged state of presence. The number eight, which is the eternity sign standing upright, refers to the state of Divine Presence which is out of time.
The thousand arms of Kannon symbolize the thousands of I`s in man.
About thirty-seven of them, the thirty-seven limbs of enlightenment, are holding objects, symbolizing tools that are needed to reach the state of presence. After reaching this state, the tools are no longer needed. The inner meaning of Bodhidharma`s limbs withering, is that after reaching enlightenment, he no longer needed the tools because he had reached his aim. It also symbolizes that the Higher Self is free from the many I`s.
Ten of the eleven heads of Kannon symbolize the ten stages of a Bodhisattva, the ten paramitras, ten tools to reach the state of presence. The eleventh head is Amida Buddha`s head symbolizing the state of Divine Presence. A Daruma doll is in fact only a head, meaning that the body of spiritual effort to reach this state, is no longer needed and died. In Mahayana Buddhism the body of spiritual effort is called Sambhogakaya (Skrt). Sambhogakaya refers to the body whereby a bodhisattva completes his vows and becomes a Buddha. It is also considered one of the primary means by which the Dharmakaya is made manifest. The Dharmakaya (Skrt. meaning the embodiment of the truth itself) refers to the state of prolonged presence.
In this Egyptian image on the right, the head called Ba is rising up from the mummy, the body of spiritual effort. The head refers to a prolonged state of presence. The Ba returns to the mummy every night and rises up again every morning. Night and day refer to the state of sleep and the state of presence.
In this Tarot death card, the grim reaper has cut of hands, feet and heads. Death can refer to the death of the spiritual body of effort, which is no longer needed because prolonged presence has been reached, or to the state of sleep. The Tarot death card refers to the lower self, or the state of sleep.
It symbolizes the lower self getting rid of efforts to be present. The lower self experiences the state of Divine Presence as an interruption to it`s own existence because it can no longer be in control, but needs to be passive in order for Divine Presence to manifest itself. It will therefore try to get rid of presence or efforts to be present as much as it can.
In this image, the lower self is also trying to kill the effort to be present. However, the monk is not paying any attention to the lower self and is continuing to focus on the present. One hand has six fingers and the other four, symbolizing tools to be present.
Bodhidharma was said to have sat in meditaton for nine years. The number nine also has an inner meaning, referring to the passions. In order to reach presence one needs to control the passions.
It is quite possible that Buddha was not born from his mother`s side and his awakening didn`t occur while meditating under a tree, that Christ wasn`t born from a virgin and wasn`t crucified on the cross. Moses may never have gone up to mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God and may never have led the Israelites out of Egypt. Taoist sages may not actually life for hundreds of years in their physical bodies and Muhammad probably didn`t ascend to Heaven with his physical body.
For people who strongly believe in their particular faith, reading this will create a strong internal reaction of denial and ridicule. Their believe has become their identity and admitting that something of their believe might be incorrect means to give up part of themselves, which is always a painful process that evokes a lot of internal resistance from the lower self.
For someone who has read many scriptures and seen the same stories appearing in different scriptures, and has some understanding of their inner meaning, it is not a shock if the outer meaning turns out to be only a pretext for the inner meaning. Someone who is sitting on his inner throne sees that all scriptures have the same inner meaning pointing to the state of presence, and doing or believing the outer meaning keeps one in the state of sleep.