In our recent practices, the feedback regarding the development of shikantaza has been quite positive.
Members report that habits from other meditational styles - such as focusing on a particular point/chakra sometimes intefere with the effortless awareness principle. This is a normal result which can be dissolved by a relatively chilled out approach to the style. The more one worries about getting rid of habits, the more mental energy ends up feeding it. If you find yourself being drawn to a particular focal point, relax, this is not 'bad' shikantaza. It is more likely the conditioning of the body and mind that predisposes your awareness. Give the focal point as much attention as it needs without consciously regulating it while allowing your awareness to flow around everything else in your field of experience. Gradually, the stiffness of the habit will ease.
Two key elements of Buddhist 'philosophy' are directly dealt with in this style: Karma and Emptiness...
The karmic flow of cause and effect is best understood by observation - by a high degree of effortless immersion in the practioner's immediate locale and quelling of the 'I' process (I see this, I feel that...) elemental patterns in the nature of things tend to present themselves.
The principle of Emptiness is witnessed in a similar manner. Emptiness in this tradition is the interconnectedness of things. It is viewed that things have no inherent nature of their own and are thus 'empty' - they are results of karma and conditions. It's easy to think about this too much and meditations such as the shikantaza are far better at elucidation.
Note, however, that these principles aren't going to be explained (at least in a conventional sense) by the meditation. Remember the process is not a discursive one and quite non-linear. Don't let them bother you unless you're a fan of philosophy. The ideas aren't really necessary.
That's it for now.
We'll be having our meetings on Saturdays from 1100-1200hrs in the Interfaith House. If you can't make it, you can always use this web-log to keep track and ask questions.