Learned audience, practicing cessation meditation through the method of mindfulness or shikantaza, can be described as mentally stepping back from all your involvements and considerations—that is letting go of all judgments regarding good or bad, right or wrong, abandoning notions about enlightenment and Buddhahood, and simply resting in your own fundamental awareness.
Good friends, this is in accord with the meditation instructions in all schools of Buddhism. Being in accord with the fundamental teaching, the instructions for mindfulness by all the sages and Zen ancestors are nearly indistinguishable from one another.
Good friends, Master Dogen was very aware that even the simplest guidelines could be turned into dogmatic formulas or commandments. He often warned students about the dangers of becoming attached to the teachings, which he called “the carved dragon,” that are used to point to reality, and thereby miss that reality itself, which he called the “real dragon.”
Learned audience, Dogen, more than many masters, recognized the essential role of the teachings or “carved dragon,” nevertheless, he urged us to “love the real dragon more.“
Arguing semantics about minor differences between the terms used by Dogen, Baso, Obaku, Hyakujo, and other Zen ancestors, not only demonstrates a failure to “love the real dragon more;” it demonstrates a disdain for the “carved dragon,” which is the teaching transmitted by the buddhas and Zen ancestors.
Although modern pseudo-Zen teachers, with their authentic looking costume and “bloodline” certificates may obscure the Zen ancestor’s teachings on meditation, with a little effort, you can personally discover the true meaning of authentic meditation. Once you become familiar with the actual practice of meditation, you can apply and compare Dogen’s method of nonthinking and Obaku’s, method of cessation of conceptualization for yourselves. Then you will discover on your own that the actual experience is identical. This is how you should test all the teachings: try them and discover for yourself if they work.