On Zen Practice and a little more about who we are:
‘It is the enlightened mind which arouses the thought of enlightenment.’
‘The conditions for arousing the thought of enlightenment do not come from anywhere else. It is the enlightened mind which arouses the thought of enlightenment…One honors the Buddha with a grain of sand, one honors the Buddha with the water in which rice has been soaked. One offers a handful of food to living creatures.’
– 13th Century Zen master Ehei Dogen: Fukan Zazengi – Universal Recommendation for Zazen (Zen Meditation)
Some approaches and individual meditation and mindfulness teachers encourage us to seek more – to be more productive, to be ‘better,’ to achieve more, to, by implication at least, reject those parts of ourselves that we label as being bad or negative. Ultimately such approaches just do not work. They end up making us even more unhappy and unfulfilled. Indeed, such a constant search for more, for different, for better, is part of the problem, rather than a solution, and ultimately fails to answer our real questions, or satisfy our deepest needs.
The Zen approach is fundamentally different. In Zen practice, we are encouraged to see and to realize in our bones that we are not broken. We do not need to be fixed. We are not a problem. In fact the very nature of how we often think of ourselves tends to be incomplete. More helpful is to be willing to work with what is already in front of us, to be with things as they are, which does not preclude seeing where things also need to be changed.
Through ethical daily life practice and meditative approaches, developed, tested and found to work over two thousand years, all across the world, we can learn to start letting go of the grinding search for something else, somewhere else. We can come to see the present – what is in front of each of us right now – as being whole and complete in itself, with nothing fundamentally lacking.
We can also begin to work with not rejecting how we feel, with not trying to cut off parts of ourselves, because of some warped idea of how we are supposed to be. We can learn to both accept ourselves, and to see clearly that what we seek can be realized, seen and above all, be put into practice in our ordinary daily lives, in a simple, direct way that works.
Out of this practical realization, ease with who we are, including our emotions, becomes part of a natural process, which comes with and complements practice in daily life, both on and off the meditation cushion. We can begin to stop fighting ourselves, to stop splitting ourselves off from the world around us and from others. Zen practice and genuine meditation are concerned then, not with theories, not with trying to force ourselves to be other than we are, not with belief, but with practical, direct seeing and realization, and their application in the world.
This very much includes social justice and addressing inequality, discrimination and the marginalization of communities and individuals. There is no ‘other.’ We are all in this together (though admittedly some far more than others at times).
Donations are welcome but SBZC is not a business and we do not charge. The true Dharma cannot be bought and sold and is our birthright if we would but see it. The Dharma is offered freely then, as it should be. It is for all those who would freely accept and are willing to work with what is already in front of them. Nobody is ever turned away, or discouraged, because of their financial situation.
May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May all beings encounter the Dharma, be awake and at ease.
“When Shakyamuni saw, sees and will see the morning star and was, is and will be enlightened, he said, says and will say, “I was, am and will be enlightened together with all beings and the whole universe.”
– From the Denkoroku – Record of The Transmission of The Light – Keizan Zenji (1300 C.E)
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