Sitting idly is still doing something

I’ve written from time to time about the benefits of meditation, and also contrarily about the uselessness of meditation. Against the view that ‘meditation delivers benefits X and Y’ is the view that ‘meditation is simply the experience of life, being in the moment’. The latter does not mean stopping to think, “this meditation will put me in the moment,” but just sitting and being open to whatever the moment (life) happens to be. The latter is true zen.

Here is a beautiful zen story that illustrates the mysterious adventure of ‘just sitting’ without any ideas of gaining or losing.

When Yakusan met Sekito, Yakusan was sitting in meditation, and Sekito asked him, “What are you doing?” and Yakusan said, “I’m doing nothing at all,” and Sekito said, “Then you’re sitting idly,” and Yakusan said, “If I were sitting idly, then I would be doing something.” Checking him further, Sekito said, “You say you’re doing nothing. What is it you’re not doing?” And Yakusan said, “Even thousands of old Buddhas do not know.” (taken from “The Book of Equanimity: Illuminating Classic Zen Koans”
by Gerry Shishin Wick and Bernie Glassman)