Zazen: Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

Five o’clock in the Monastery of Silence. This sanctuary does not allow any layperson to access.



A Large sign hanging over the front door of the meditation hall describes the rules that monks must practice with. The aim of Zazen is just sitting, that is, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and even thoughts pass by without getting involved in them.

And the last rule states “Whoever does not obey the rules is the one who hinders the practice of others, will get dismissed and cannot be returned to the temple.” 

The new member of monks must be adjusted to these strictness, at all cost, to proceed to the right realization.


Each day, the monks must practice Zazen meditation for almost 5 hours to reach the Satori, a Japanese Buddhist term for awakening. The sitting posture is similar to the shape of Pyramid. The head seem like a mountain top. The crossed legs act as a firm foundation and the mouth is close with a tongue touching jaw.

The eyelids are half-lowered, the eyes being neither fully open nor shut so that the practitioner is neither distracted by, nor turning away from, external stimuli. In many practices, the practitioner breathes from the hara (the center of gravity in the belly).


When a monk feels tired and drowsy, at the moment, he will receive a warning sign from the “warning stick” or “awakening stick, a flat wooden stick or slat used during periods of meditation to remedy sleepiness or lapses of concentration which is called Keisaku


This Keisaku stick is not considered a punishment, but a compassionate means to reinvigorate and awaken the meditator who may be tired from many sessions of zazen, or under stress, the “monkey mind” (overwhelmed with thoughts) and does allow practitioner to change a meditation posture. Even it shows a symbolic meaning about the simply way of Upāsaka and Upāsikā life.


If someone has asked “How does the sitting zazen can lead us to attain the true Dharma?”

The answer is “Don’t know”

Those who record the experience of attaining Dharma are not the ones who attain Dharma.

It may be as true as the Zen master said

Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.

Of course, the people who say aren’t the people who know.


Producer’s Diaries

From the journey of Bun Kosalwat from the Documentary Tipitaka : The Living Messages