“Shikantaza is just being that space for everything to be what it is. It is so simple just to be what we are; it is creating tremendous space. In Japanese, the word for hell means ‘no space.’” The Eye Never Sleeps: Striking to the Heart of Zen, by Dennis Genpo Merzel, page 21
Shikantaza, for me, is less of a practice than a goal for my life. Looking around, I feel like making space for others is an imperative. Look at how busy people are. People do not have time to think for themselves and sort things through. (I believe this is intentional and comes from our consumerist, ambitious society that values mindless consumption and obedience. It is designed to ensure that no one ever has time to question what they are doing, let alone why.)
I was talking to a friend yesterday. She has been dealing with an enormous amount of stress. Some stressors include a son breaking into her house, going to law school, taking the bar, working for peanuts, looking for another job, canning a surprisingly large harvest, etc. She needed to talk because she needed to sort out something she may have done wrong at work. It seemed mostly like her own insecurities biting her in the butt to me, but she could not sort through everything on her own. When people are crazy busy, they may simply be unable to process all that comes at them in terms of expectations and responsibilities.
That meant that she needed someone not in the middle of her drama to listen and offer feedback. If I had been as busy as her, I could not have been there for her. Someone, somewhere, needs to not be constantly overwhelmed. People need space in their lives, not just physical space, but emotional, time, and relational. People cannot feel impinged upon constantly and be expected to keep their sanity.
Shikantaza is object-less meditation. I am not there yet, but its purpose is mine: being space.