The title of this Chautauqua is "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, " not "Zen and the Art of Mountain Climbing, " and there are no motorcycles on the tops of mountains, and in my opinion very little Zen. Zen is the "spirit of the valley, " not the mountaintop. The only Zen you fin on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.
Robert M. Pirsig
The idea of Zen is to catch life as it flows. There is nothing extraordinary or mysterious about Zen. I raise my hand ; I take a book from the other side of the desk ; I hear the boys playing ball outside my window; I see the clouds blown away beyond the neighbouring wood: - in all these I am practising Zen, I am living Zen. No wordy discussions is necessary, nor any explanation. I do not know why - and there is no need of explaining, but when the sun rises the whole world dances with joy and everybody's heart is filled with bliss. If Zen is at all conceivable, it must be taken hold of here.
Zen is the enemy of analysis, the friend of intuition. The Zen artist understands the ends of his art intuitively, and the last thing he would do is create categories; the avowed purpose of Zen is to eliminate categories! The true Zen-man holds to the old Taoist proverb,Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.
Zen purposes to discipline the mind itself, to make it its own master, through an insight into its proper nature. This getting into the real nature of one's own mind or soul is the fundamental object of Zen Buddhism. Zen, therefore, is more than meditation and Dhyana in its ordinary sense. The discipline of Zen consists in opening the mental eye in order to look into the very reason of existence.
Zen abhors repetition or imitation of any kind, for it kills. For the same reason Zen never explains, but only affirms. Life is fact and no explanation is necessary or pertinent. To explain is to apologize, and why should we apologize for living? To live""is that not enough? Let us then live, let us affirm! Herein lies Zen in all its purity and in all its nudity as well.
Zen is really extraordinarily simple as long as one doesn't try to be cute about it or beat around the bush! Zen is simply the sensation and the clear understanding ... that there is behind the multiplicity of events and creatures in this universe simply one energy -- and it appears as you, and everything is it. The practice of Zen is to understand that one energy so as to "feel it in your bones.
I have my own way to walk and for some reason or other Zen is right in the middle of it wherever I go. So there it is, with all its beautiful purposelessness, and it has become very familiar to me though I do not know "what it is." Or even if it is an "it." Not to be foolish and multiply words, I'll say simply that it seems to me that Zen is the very atmosphere of the Gospels, and the Gospels are bursting with it. It is the proper climate for any monk, no matter what kind of monk he may be. If I could not breathe Zen I would probably die of spiritual asphyxiation.
If you are thinking, you can't understand Zen. Anything that can be written in a book, anything that can be said - all this is thinking . . . but if you read with a mind that has cut off all thinking, then Zen books, sutras and Bibles are all the truth. So is the barking of a dog or the crowing of a rooster. All things are teaching you at every moment, and these sounds are even better teaching than Zen books.
I would have thought that I would have become one of those parents - just because it's my nature to be such a perfectionist - that anything falling short, I would have seen as a failure. But something has happened to me over the past few years - it's not Zen, believe me, I'm not at all Zen - but I'm so appreciative of even the chaos.
To have Zen is to be in a state of pure sensation. It is to be freed from the grip of concepts, to see through them. This is not the same as rejecting conceptual thinking. Thoughts and words are in the world and are as natural as flowers. It is a mistake therefore to think that Zen is anti-intellectual.
To speak conventionally - and I think it is easier for the general reader to see Zen thus presented - there are unknown recesses in our minds which lie beyond the threshold of the relatively constructed consciousness. To designate them as 'sub-conciousness' or 'supra-consciousness' is not correct. The word 'beyond' is used simply because it is a most convenient term to indicate their whereabouts. But as a matter of fact there is no 'beyond', no 'underneath', no 'upon' in our consciousness. The mind is one indivisible whole and cannot be torn in pieces. The so-called terra incognita is the concession of Zen to our ordinary way of talking, because whatever field of consciousness that is known to us is generally filled with conceptual riffraff, and to get rid of them, which is absolutely necessary for maturing Zen experience, the Zen psychologist sometimes points to the presence of some inaccessible region in our minds. Though in actuality there is no such region apart from our everyday consciousness, we talk of it as generally more easily comprehensible by us.
Zen wants us to acquire an entirely new point of view whereby to look into the mysteries of life and the secrets of nature. This is because Zen has come to the definite conclusion that the ordinary logical process of reasoning is powerless to give final satisfaction to our deepest spiritual needs.
Zen is to religion what a Japanese "rock garden" is to a garden. Zen knows no god, no afterlife, no good and no evil, as the rock-garden knows no flowers, herbs or shrubs. It has no doctrine or holy writ: its teaching is transmitted mainly in the form of parables as ambiguous as the pebbles in the rock-garden which symbolise now a mountain, now a fleeting tiger. When a disciple asks "What is Zen?", the master's traditional answer is "Three pounds of flax" or "A decaying noodle" or "A toilet stick" or a whack on the pupil's head.
Zen enriches no one. There is no body to be found. The birds may come and circle for a while in the place where it is thought to be. But they soon go elsewhere. When they are gone, the "nothing," the "no-body" that was there, suddenly appears. That is Zen. It was there all the time but the scavengers missed it, because it was not their kind of prey.
The thing about Zen is that it pushes contradictions to their ultimate limit where one has to choose between madness and innocence. Zen suggests that we may be driving toward one or the other on a cosmic scale. Driving toward them because, one way or the other, as madmen or innocents, we are already there. It might be good to open our eyes and see.
Suzuki's works on Zen Buddhism are among the best contributions to the knowledge of living Buddhism... We cannot be sufficiently grateful to the author, first for the fact of his having brought Zen closer to Western understanding, and secondly for the manner in which he has achieved this task.
Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become this totally centered Zen Master, and nobody had noticed. Still, i'm doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When i pass people in the hall at work, I get toally ZEN right in everyone's hostile little FACE.
Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become this totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed. Still, I'm doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When I pass people in the hall at work, I get totally ZEN right in everyone's hostile little FACE.
The secret of this kind of climbing, is like Zen. Don't think. Just dance along. It's the easiest thing in the world, actually easier than walking on flat ground which is monotonous. The cute little problems present themselves at each step and yet you don't hesitate and you find yourself on some other boulder you picked out for no special reason at all, just like zen.~ Japhy
It is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver's will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones. You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run! When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse. If it is impossible to be the best one, we want to be the second best. That is, I think, the usual understanding of this story, and of Zen. You may think that when you sit in zazen you will find out whether you are one of the best horses or one of the worst ones. Here, however, there is a misunderstanding of Zen. If you think the aim of Zen practice is to train you to become one of the best horses, you will have a big problem. This is not the right understanding. If you practice Zen in the right way it does not matter whether you are the best horse or the worst one. When you consider the mercy of Buddha, how do you think Buddha will feel about the four kinds of horses? He will have more sympathy for the worst one than for the best one. When you are determined to practice zazen with the great mind of Buddha, you will find the worst horse is the most valuable one. In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind. Those who can sit perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true way of Zen, the actual feeling of Zen, the marrow of Zen. But those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will find more meaning in it. So I think that sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be the best one. If you study calligraphy you will find that those who are not so clever usually become the best calligraphers. Those who are very clever with their hands often encounter great difficulty after they have reached a certain stage. This is also true in art and in Zen. It is true in life. So when we talk about Zen we cannot say, 'He is good, ' or 'He is bad, ' in the ordinary sense of the words. The posture taken in zazen is not the same for each of us. For some it may be impossible to take the cross-legged posture. But even though you cannot take the right posture, when you arouse your real, way-seeking mind, you can practice Zen in its true sense. Actually it is easier for those who have difficulties in sitting to arouse the true way-seeking mind that for those who can sit easily.
Not thinking about anything is zen. Once you know this, walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, everything you do is zen. To know that the mind is empty is to see the buddha.... Using the mind to reality is delusion. Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness. Freeing oneself from words is liberation.
Zen is really just a reminder to stay alive and to be awake. We tend to daydream all the time, speculating about the future and dwelling on the past. Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, then you are doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, and there is no reality apart from the here and now.
Regarding R. H. Blyth: Blyth's four volume Haiku became especially popular at this time [1950's] because his translations were based on the assumption that the haiku was the poetic expression of Zen. Not surprisingly, his books attracted the attention of the Beat school, most notably writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac, all of whom had a prior interest in Zen.
Reginald Horace Blyth
During the Meiji era, the Japanese Zen master, Nan-in had a visitor from a respected university - a professor who wanted to learn about Zen. Nan-in served the professor a pot of tea, but when the cupwas full, he continued pouring until the cup was overflowing. The startled professor watched in amazement until he could no longer restrain himself from intervening, 'The cup is full and no more will go in. You're making a mess!' 'Like this cup, ' Nan-insaid, 'You are full of your own opinions, artificial concepts and negative speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?' Like the learned professor who wanted to understand spirituality, you too must empty your cup and have an open mind and heart.
We will be entering the beautiful world of a Zen master's no-mind. Sosan is the third Zen Patriarch. Nothing much is known about him- this is as it should be, because history records only violence. History does not record silence- it cannot record it. All records are of disturbance. Whenever someone becomes really silent, he disappears from all records, he is no more a part of our madness. So it is as it should be. Ch. 1: The Great Way Is Not Difficult
The central feature of the practice of meditation and hard work known as Zen is that, as Matthiessen says, it 'has no patience with mysticism, far less the occult.' Nor does it have any time with moralism, the prescriptions or distortions we would impose on the world, obscuring it from our view. It asks, it insists rather, that we take this moment for what it is, undistracted, and not cloud it with needless worries of what might have been or fantasies of what might come to be. It is, essentially, a training in the real... 'the Universe itself is the scripture of Zen." Pico Iyer from introduction.
A very enjoyable meditation on the curious thing called 'Zen' -not the Japanese religious tradition but rather the Western clich of Zen that is embraced in advertising, self-help books, and much more. . . . Yamada, who is both a scholar of Buddhism and a student of archery, offers refreshing insight into Western stereotypes of Japan and Japanese culture, and how these are received in Japan.
Jared had his back to the wall, which Kami thought was a reflex when he was uncomfortable. She wanted to shield him. "He was doing some""Zen jogging," she claimed. Jared flicked her an incredulous glance. "Yes," he said slowly. "Zen jogging. I wasn't wearing that many clothes because""that's part of the process. You're meant to commune with the elements. Normally, I wouldn't have worn my jeans, but I put them on because I know the English are a modest people.
Sarah Rees Brennan
The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry""what am I?""is needed throughout Zen practice. The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything.
The most important part of the practice is for the question to remain alive and for your whole body and mind to become a question. In Zen they say that you have to ask with the pores of your skin and the marrow of your bones. A Zen saying points out: Great questioning, great awakening; little questioning, little awakening; no questioning, no awakening.
Zen's greatest contribution is to give you an alternative to the serious man. The serious man has made the world, the serious man has made all the religions. He has created all the philosophies, all the cultures, all the moralities; everything that exists around you is a creation of the serious man. Zen has dropped out of the serious world. It has created a world of its own which is very playful, full of laughter, where even great masters behave like children.
1. A Cup of Tea Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), recieved a university professor who came to inqure about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!" "Like this cup, " Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your up?
When one of the emperors of China asked Bodhidharma (the Zen master who brought Zen from India to China) what enlightenment was, his answer was, 'Lots of space, nothing holy.' Meditation is nothing holy. Therefore there's nothing that you think or feel that somehow gets put in the category of 'sin.' There's nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of 'bad.' There's nothing that you can think or feel that gets put in the category of 'wrong.' It's all good juicy stuff-the manure of waking up, the manure of achieving enlightenment, the art of living in the present moment.
What is Zen? Zen means doing anything perfectly, making mistakes perfectly, being defeated perfectly, hesitating perfectly, doing anything perfectly or imperfectly, perfectly. What is the meaning of this perfectly? How does it differ from perfectly? Perfectly is in the will; perfectly is in the activity. Perfectly means that at each moment of the activity there is no egoism in it... our pain is not only our own pain; it is the pain of the universe. The joy of the universe is also our joy. Our failure and misjudgment is that of nature, which never hopes or despairs, but keeps on trying. R. H. Blyth
Zen has been called the "religion before religion, " which is to say that anyone can practice, including those committed to another faith. And that phrase evokes that natural religion of our early childhood, when heaven and a splendorous earth were one. But soon the child's clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, at the bottom of each breath, there is a hollow place filled with longing. We become seekers without knowing that we seek, and at first, we long for something "greater" than ourselves, something apart and far away. It is not a return to childhood, for childhood is not a truly enlightened state. Yet to seek one's own true nature is "a way to lead you to your long lost home." To practice Zen means to realize one's existence moment after moment, rather than letting life unravel in regret of the past and daydreaming of the future. To "rest in the present" is a state of magical simplicity... out of the emptiness can come a true insight into our natural harmony all creation. To travel this path, one need not be a 'Zen Buddhist', which is only another idea to be discarded like 'enlightenment, ' and like 'the Buddha' and like 'God.