Archive for the 'Zen' Category

It’s so simple

14 October 2008

It’s so simple that it’s difficult to fathom. One thing you do not want, enlightenment-wise, is to act like a zen master. The whole point is to stop acting and to be. Who are you supposed to be? Whoever you are and that includes you with all your failings. Once you stop trying to pretend that you are someone you are not, growth can happen.

Most people do, in fact, grow. And I imagine it happens because most of us don’t manage to pretend to be someone we’re not 100% of the time. When we fail at it, that’s when the growth gets to occur.

Heaven and Hell

4 April 2008

According to David Chadwick in Crooked Cucumber, Shunryu Suzuki once told this story about heaven and hell.

In hell, everyone was gathered around a large table laden with edible delights of all kinds. But their arms were exceedingly short and the chopsticks were exceedingly long. As a result, noone could get the food into their mouths and they were frustrated and hungry and fighting with each other.

 In heaven, everyone was gathered around the same table laden with the same delightful foods. Their arms too were exceedingly short and the chopsticks too long. But in heaven everyone was feeding each other. In heaven, everyone was smiling.

Patience and Pain

28 March 2008

There’s a correlation, I think, between the capacity to voluntarily tolerate discomfort or pain (as in zazen) and patience. If you’re willing to tolerate discomfort or pain then you have at least practiced being able to tolerate the discomforts and self-denial associated with being patient.

I am also reminded of something attributed to Shunryu Suzuki in Crooked Cucumber: by David Chadwick:

“Hell isn’t punishment. It’s training.”

Nirvana is just around the corner

4 October 2006

Brad Warner often gets asked about shortcuts to higher states of consciousness and enlightenment – particular systems, drugs, technologies. His take? They’re all crap. I agree. Here’s his (particularly lucid) explanation.

“The basic idea behind this kind of thinking goes like this. First, we assume that there is a better state than the one we have now. Then we assume that someone else has experienced this state and knows how to get us to it. It therefore follows that, if such a person devised a process or a machine or a drug that could induce this state, we could then use that process, machine or drug to experience the state ourselves quickly and easily. Thus we do not have to waste loads of effort on dreary, time-consuming practices like meditation and will have more time to sit around watching Three’s Company reruns or whatever. Moreover, since the process has been devised for us by an expert and tested on others who offer glowing testimonials to its effectiveness, there is no danger that we might spend a lot of energy on something which will fail us in the end.

Here’s why this is not Buddhism, and, more importantly, why it is not true. Let’s start with the idea of higher states of consciousness. How, exactly, is a higher state of consciousness defined? First of all, we assume that there is something called “consciousness.” We have consciousness. Or we are conscious. In any case there is “me” and there is “consciousness” which is experienced by “me.” But consciousness is really just an idea. Just like the idea of self. How do we separate “me” from “consciousness?” Even if you say “I am a being of pure consciousness” you’re still conceiving it as 2 distinct things. This is what the brain does. It must carve things into pieces. It can never envision wholeness. Buddha tried to find the line where one can separate “consciousness” from the things one was conscious of. He found there was no line between them at all. Consciousness may be a faulty idea at best.”

Turning the light around and looking back

10 April 2006

“When you sit still at night and your thoughts are in a flurry, then use the flurried mind to investigate the place of the flurry. Investigating this thoroughly, you find there is no place – then how can the flurry of thoughts remain? Then turn back to investigate the investigating mind – then where is the mind which can investigate? Furthermore, the perceiving knowledge is fundamentally empty, so the object focused on is also quiescent. Quiescent yet not quiescent, because there is no stilling person; perceiving yet not perceiving, because there is no perceived object. When object and knowledge are both quiescent, mind and thought are at rest. Outwardly not pursuing ramifications, inwardly not dwelling in concentration, both roads having disappeared, the one nature is tranquil. This is the essential path of returning to the source.”
Ching-te chuan-teng lu, scroll 11

It’s nice to be important…

22 February 2006

…but it’s more important to be nice. To wit:

“Another Sunim, Zen Master Dae Bong, said, “When you live together, it’s like rocks in a stream: all the sharp points get worn away. Then you’re nice and smooth. Everyone loves river stones and wants to put one in their pocket. Why? Because they’re smooth. Make yourself smooth, and others will want to put you in their pockets,” meaning we can help and teach people but only once we ourselves have “worn away” our karma enough that we’re no longer in our own way. Meditation and the meditation hall is generally thought of as something you do after you learn how to play nice with others. “

This is from One robe, one bowl. Nice blog. Good sense of humour.