Zen – I have been fascinated with Zen for over 40 years. I was never into memorizing names or dates or facts, and I have not felt comfortable with the organized structure and strict rituals of most religions.
Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism, which originated in China and then was brought to Japan. Zen has also been influenced by Taoism.
Zen teaches zazen, or meditation, as a way to understand our true nature and thereby reach enlightenment. Zazen is generally a sitting meditation, with no thoughts, no attachments, non-thinking. Simply sitting and being present. Zen stresses awareness, insight and being present as a path to realizing the true nature of ourselves and of existence, where we understand our Buddha nature and reach Buddhahood. “Buddha” means “awakened one.”
There is actually no true definition of Zen. It is beyond words, beyond thinking. It is in between thoughts, in the spaces. It transcends the rational mind, bypasses intellect, to pure essence, what Is.
In addition to meditation, Zen koans, riddles, and parables are ways to bypass thought and the conscious mind and open a space where enlightenment happens, where we can awaken. One of the most well-known koans, or riddles, is “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Another is “What did you look like before your grandparents were born?”
Of course, these cannot be answered with the logical, rational mind. And that is the point – these are meant to bypass our intellect, shift us into a different consciousness, and open up something much deeper, from where we can awaken.
The parables, or stories, do that also. One of the Zen parables, taken from “Zen Buddhism,” published by The Peter Pauper Press in 1959, is: “Baso said to a monk, ‘If I see you have a staff, I will give it to you. If I see you have no staff, I will take it away from you.’ ”
Of course, on the surface, this does not make rational sense. And it’s not supposed to. It’s meant to shift things beyond rational, logical thought.
I still don’t know what Zen is. And that is good, because it is not something to be intellectually or rationally understood. It is to be awakened to through meditation, awareness, mindfulness, and being present. And something in that resonates with me on such a deep level. Zen simply Is.
Here are a few of the most quoted Buddhist sayings.
“You only lose what you cling to.”
“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
“Three things cannot hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.”
“Doubt everything. Find your own light.”
“There is no path to happiness: happiness is the path.”
“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
“In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”
And I have come to realize that the divine source, the essence, all that is, everything that is sacred, the answer to all – is in everything and is in ourselves. It is part of everything and nothing – it is the essence of all that is and is emptiness itself.
That which you seek is the one doing the seeking. What I am looking for, is looking for me. All the answers to everything you ask or search for, is in you.
I hope none of this makes sense. And I hope something shifts and opens so that it makes sense somewhere within you.
Wishing each of you peace and love.
Copyright © 2014 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.