Dogen said that zazen was not learning meditation. Rather, it was simply the Dharma gate of ease and joy.
But almost always, people coming to zazen do think it is meditation. That is, it is an effort – in which we can progressively succeed – to control the mind. To put down thought and to pick up stillness. To put down noise and pick up silence.
Except, both thought and noise seem inordinately sticky.
So, we need to make an effort to understand what Dogen is saying. First, we should understand that the desire to make our ‘mind’ different is just the continuation of the habitual activity of the self. There’s nothing spiritual about it. We may as well aspire to be beautiful, or rich.
Second, we need to understand that zazen is making a complete effort with all we are; our ‘body’, our ‘mind’. It’s not something restricted to the mind, or consciousness. It’s not psychological. It’s not mindfulness. That’s one of the reasons we emphasise the posture so much. If the posture is balanced then the breath is free. If the breath is free we can start to feel a kind of pleasure, or easefulness when we sit, and that’s very important.