Thursday, August 18, 2005

Zenteresting


As of late, I've taken an interest to Zen practice. Let me list a few of my notions about Zen and the characteristics that are appealing:

  • Note the key word being practice. Zen Buddhism is unique in that it's not so much about belief (although there is a philosophy, but it is not to get hung up on). It is about trying it and seeing what happens. It is about the experience of being awake and aware, residing as the Witness, whether in Emptiness or in the world of form. Which leads me to...
  • Zen appears to be one of the few nondualist traditions. As Ken Wilber would put it: there are many traditions/religions that are Ascending (this world is bad or illusion and the idea is to escape it, go beyond it, or "get to heaven") and there are many that are Descending (spirit is found in and through the Earth, Gaia, your fellow man, nature). But Zen would say that both are true (nondual=not two, one reality). "Emptiness is form, and form is emptiness." You go into the emptiness to discover your original face that was "there before your parents were born" then come back into ordinary, everyday life and see the One in the Many ("Before enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water, after enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water," "When you sit, just sit. When you walk, just walk.").
  • Zen has an inherent HUMOR to it. Take this story, in which the only real response is to laugh in realization: "Tokusan kept his master Ryutan up late one evening with his questions. "Why don't you go to bed?" asked Ryutan finally. Tokusan got up to leave, then said, "It's dark in the hall." "Here, take this candle," said Ryutan. Gratefully Tokusan took his master's candle. Then Ryutan leaned forward and blew it out." (from David Fontana's "Discover Zen")
  • Zen appreciates mindful ART as seen in Zen painting and poetry, gardening, tea-making, flower-arranging and the like.

10 comments:

isaiah said...

"...it is about the experience of being awake and aware, residing as the Witness, whether in Emptiness or in the world of form."

This sentence really appeals to me. We read and hear about cultivating the Witness, being the witness to our actions and thoughts as much as possible and not judging everything we do, say and think. It is something that takes practice. I know I easily lose focus...but I return to witness all that is about me and in me with a conscious thought, a simple, beautiful, graceful shifting of there-then, to here-now.

"You go into the emptiness to discover your original face that was "there before your parents were born" then come back into ordinary, everyday life and see the One in the Many ("Before enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water, after enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water,"

This is the beautiful thing about attaining some knowledge and grace...the most magnificent experiences become nothing special. They were something to achieve and posses- but after acquiring…they are nothing really special. What is important is acknowledging grace, developing reverence, and sharing the Peace with others through art, music, gardening, kind words and most importantly...by living gracefully.

isaiah said...

"...the most magnificent experiences become nothing special."

Let me clarify here- I don't mean to say that grace is nothing special. I mean that when all that is happening around you is sacred and holy, after a while, the eyes adjust and everywhere there is sacredness and holiness...so we proceed on with no need to exclaim or marvel anymore. It just is...It (It) just is.

Mark Walter said...

My own experience of being the Witness happens in what can best be described as being in the in between state. Some describe this as meta-consciousness. But anyway, in this state I experience my self as an eternal being. I am connecting to that deeper aspect. And when I am in that state, anything the little "I" (everyday incarnated "I") does, is seen and viewed by the bigger "I" (the Witness) in a very objective, almost detached sort of way. Perspective changes very rapidly as soon as you connect to this state.

Trev Diesel said...

Isaiah/Mark -

It indeed takes practice... and yet it's there all the time. An interesting paradox, for sure.

The crazy part is that the I AM that says "I'm not living from Witness today" is in fact the Witness.

Thanks for your comments, guys.

jaxun said...

"Before enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water, after enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water."

This is perhaps my single favorite spiritual quote of all time. It inspired a quote of my own (which I attribute to God): "I feel the distinctions between the ordinary and sacred moments melting away."

In my recovery from addiction, I now experience this as a fundamental acknowledgement of the divine source of everyone I see from day to day, so even the most annoying person in my life at any given moment is still recognized as a (sometimes less than glorious) child of God, just like me.

gratefulbear said...

A few years ago I interviewed the author of Zen for Christians. The interview is online at the Whosoever site (an online magazine for gay and lesbian Christians):

http://www.whosoever.org/v8i2/boykin.shtml

isaiah said...

Nice interview Darrell-

Trev Diesel said...

Jax - "I feel the distinctions between the ordinary and sacred moments melting away." Powerful stuff. To see all life as holy and all actions as sacraments.

Darrell - That IS a great article. I really appreciate it being more about PRACTICE than BELIEF. Fantastic stuff.

Jon said...

Hey, Trev,

Welcome to Zen. I meet weekly with my teacher, who combines the Zen approach with a guru approach. They actually do go well together.

I like the Fontana book- it's a great introduction. I would also strongly recommend Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner review on my website (plug, plug!), although be prepared for his arrogant and disrespectful tone (which is refreshing in its own way).

One said...

Why should there be identification with the Witness?
There is no Witness. There is only witnessing of what is witnessed. There is only reality without the observer. This is true non-duality.
There is only what is. And what is is sacred!