Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More from Mr. Watts

"The practice of Zen is not the true practice so long as it has an end in view, and when it has no end in view it is awakening - the aimless, self-sufficient life of the 'eternal now.'"

"The relevance of za-zen (sitting meditation) to Zen is obvious when it is remembered that Zen is seeing reality directly, in its 'suchness' ... It is simply a quiet awareness, without comment, of whatever happens to be here and now."

"Because the world is not going anywhere there is no hurry. One may as well "take it easy" like nature itself, and in the Chinese language the "changes" of nature and "ease" are the same word. This is a first principle in the study of Zen and of any Far Eastern art: hurry, and all that is involves, is fatal. For there is no goal to be attained."

"...every stage of the way is both the beginning and end."

[all quotations from "The Way of Zen" by Alan Watts]


Zach Young said...

Good quotes. One thing to remember, though, with taking it easy (third quote) is that you can't just sit around waiting for enlightenment to happen. Practice is still necessary (as the second quote says.) It's a balance that I am afraid is too easily forgotten (by myself as well as by others.)

Around the time of Dogen a lot of monks were just sitting around doing nothing. "We're already enlightened," they said, "so why do we need to practice and work?" Dogen emphasized that this mentality will get you nowhere and practice is still crucial to the practice of Zen.

Thanks for the great words.

isaiah said...

“…For there is no goal to be attained."

Flies in the face of western thought, western religion doesn’t it? “What do you mean, there’s no goal to be attained- that’s all we hear is…get saved, save everyone, and get what’s yours…gotta have goals.”

Well sure, gotta have goals, but as far as a goal for being “saved” or becoming enlightened…It’s already gifted to us! We already have that-man! Now……sit and Zazen, sit and meditate, sit and twiddle your thumbs, much discipline needed here…but not keep trying, over and over again to re-capture what is already gifted.

I’ve gotta tell you I’ve just about given up formal sitting meditation- how hard was that when we first started?…. “no thoughts- thoughts (Oh No!) no thoughts- thoughts (I’ll never get this!)….”

Get the part, the only part that matters- that It’s here now…and then count the stars, watch the leaves fall, laugh and cry. But, even when we don’t get it- we’ve still got it!

Trev Diesel said...

To answer both of you simultaneously, if everything (EVERYTHING!) is a manifestation of Spirit in its many (dual) forms, then there is a place for everyone - even bastards! No one NEEDS to get "enlightened" or SHOULD get "enlightened." What these quotes are saying is: right now everything is perfect... don't work yourself up. Enjoy the now. Now is all there is. Every step is the end and the beginning. So if anxiety and striving grip you, be easy like Sunday morning.

That being said, I think that for those that DECIDE they want to have a deeper, clearer and more profound experience and understanding of WHAT IS, they can do so through zazen or sundry other practices. If they don't, they don't - no foul! Practice may be "necessary" for those who want to see deeper down the rabbit hole, but it certainly isn't "required" for living any more than is basketball.

Tommy, I had almost given up on it as well until I really started reading about - and then actually practicing - zazen, and in particular shikantaza. You meditate with your eyes open, completely still, and while following the breath just observe every thought, feeling, smell, sound... no "stopping the mind," no restricting thoughts... just sitting.

...sure the mind settles, but there's no fight, no struggle. There's awareness of WHAT IS that is deeply profound AND carries over into "off-the-cushion" life.

Thanks guys!

anonymous julie said...

Trev, I've also found that (as best I can put it) meditation doesn't stop just because you stand up. :) So so glad that anybody else has been too...

Amy Harden said...

uhm... am I the only person who reads your blog that thinks that "za-zen" sounds like some kind of dance move, or a spectacular push up bra, or perhaps a snazzy brand name for a yoga mat?

"James" said...