How to handle thoughts as they arise in meditation

Once you have settled your posture and regulated your breathing, you should relax your abdomen. 

Do not think of any good or evil whatsoever.

Whenever a thought occurs, be aware of it – as soon as you are aware of it, it will vanish.  If you remain for a long period, forgetful of objects, you will naturally become unified.

This is the essential art of tso-ch’an (Zazen).

Honestly speaking, tso-ch’an is the dharma gate of ease and joy.  If there are many people who become ill [from its practice], it is because they do not take proper care.

– Dogen’s Manuals of Zen Meditation, Carl Bielefeldt, p181

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3 thoughts on “How to handle thoughts as they arise in meditation

  1. What’s this about?: “If there are many people who become ill [from its practice], it is because they do not take proper care.” Why would anyone become ill?

    • I think it’s when people grasp meditation wrongly. For example, they may tense up their body to make it straight. Maybe they’ll hold their breath for too long. Or maybe they’ll try to suppress all of their thoughts because they mistakenly think that that’s the way to achieve the state of no thoughts. Or maybe they’ll try to grasp at emptiness as well. These are just some examples I can think of from the top of my head.

      • That sounds reasonable. The word “ill” may be a literal translation as well, when the original text meant it metaphorically, i.e., people get worked up sick with worry .

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