How Living More Zen Can Change Your Life

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Source: TheMindUnleashed.com
Christina Sarich
April 30, 2017

One inch of sitting, one inch of Buddha. Like lightning all thoughts come and pass. Just once look into your mind-depths: Nothing else has ever been.” – Manzan Dohaku (1635-1714)

The Zen culture and daily life practiced in the East is often misinterpreted by Western aspirants. Many think it is nothing more than sitting on a cushion in a Buddhist Zen monastery, practicing Zazen for countless hours a day, perceived as a fruitless endeavor, and an impossible one!  Once you understand more about “Zen living” though, you can truly change the way you experience reality for the better.

The first thing to understand about Zen is that it is a practice in non-being. This doesn’t translate to nihilism, but as an opposite cultural thrust of what we most often do in the West, which is to assert ourselves, often in an aggressive manner.

We are like the adolescent child learning to make his way in the world in the West, but the Eastern philosophies of Zen, Taoism, Buddhism, etc. are more about relaxing into the flow – an unfettered experience of life without any assertion of our will at all, perhaps how we would imagine an old man behaving after he has made his mark, or even like an innocent baby that has not yet learned he will struggle for love, attention, money, success, etc.

For many who have grown up being taught they have to fight, plan, and work themselves to death, this can be a very hard concept to understand.

Zen also doesn’t fit into a neat conceptual package like many Westerns would like it to. You could use a few catch phrases to try to encapsulate it, but this wouldn’t be Zen. It defies doctrinal teachings and can’t even be described accurately through a list of sutras or rules. There are no “commandments,” such as we are used to in the Judeo-Christian religions.

Nonetheless, Zen asks us to give our “natural, or original face” to the world, and not an egoic mask. It is perhaps in learning how to be authentic through and through that we start to realize what Zen really is. Zen even frowns on anyone who has concrete answers to life’s biggest questions – about God, life after death, our own mortality, etc. Zen Master Taisen Deshimaru once said, “It is impossible to give a definite answer to those questions, unless you suffer from a major mental disorder.

The more important focus in Zen is to ask the right questions. The answers are secondary, because these only come, very personally, and uniquely to each person as they quiet their minds and begin to return to their original state of being.

This is a marked difference from the Western viewpoint. We are trained from our earliest years to seek more, try harder, and work as hard as we can to achieve some finite goal. Then, after achieving all the material success offered by the world and the sweat and toil of these endeavors, we discover that we still aren’t happy. Zen would suggest this is because we have erroneously attempted to “add more,” instead of stripping away the artifice.

Zen Mountains Quote

This difference can be demonstrated in the story of Dogen Kigen (道元希玄) who was disturbed by the Tendai concept of “original enlightenment.” He wanted to understand this concept fully – one which was taught by the Buddha himself.

The Buddha believed that enlightenment is inherent in all beings – any sentient creature has the ability to achieve this state. But Kigen wondered why, if all people were already enlightened, then why do they continue to seek enlightenment? He could not find the answer within the Tendai school of Buddhism, so he went looking for it somewhere else.

He ended up studying Rinzai Zen with the famous Zen teacher, Eisai’s disciple, Myozen. Here Dogen became disenchanted with Myozen’s tactic of relying heavily on koans to teach enlightenment. These are mental puzzles meant to force or shock the mind into enlightenment.

Kigen finally ended up in the Soto school (曹洞宗) of Zen, Zazen, or sitting meditation. This practice, Shikantaza, or “just sitting” was the vehicle of Buddha‘s Awakening. It is the essence of Soto Zen. In this practice, there is no goal to be attained beyond the practice itself. Unlike the Western idea of doing more, getting more, or ‘being’ more, in Soto Zen, you don’t do anything but sit.  You only worry about experiencing the present moment fully. You become aware of every action and thought in the here and now. You are acutely aware, you might say.

As Zen Master Taisen Deshimaru once said, “Zazen has no object, it is purposeless, it only brings us back to ourselves.” One doesn’t need to worry about Satori (Japanese word for enlightenment).

Strangely though, in doing less, we experience more. We get to know our “original face” in experiencing emptiness. Westerners find this so difficult to do because there is no goal. We don’t “try.” If anything, we must learn to “un-try.”

As Zen master, Taisen Deshimaru said: “By simply sitting, without looking for any goal or any personal benefit, if your posture, your breathing and your state of mind are in harmony, you will understand the true Zen; you will understand the Buddha’s nature.

Zen practiced in this way returns us to our original condition, and this changes our lives in ways that are almost indescribable.

We learn who we really are, and what we really desire (which is almost never what you think it will be.) We give up cultural, religious, nationalistic, and other presuppositions about who we should be. We are free to experience more joy, because we accept ourselves as we are, not as an artificial person trying to be “worthy” of our parents, our peers, our bosses, our romantic partners, our children, or even our false selves.

Zen maintains that we are “not one” and “not two,” i.e., “positionless position,” where “not two” signals a negation of the stance that divides the whole into two parts, i.e., dualism, while “not one” designates a negation of this stance when the Zen practitioner dwells in the whole as one, while suspending judgment in meditation, i.e., non-dualism – but all of this is only realized in doing less and sitting, in being in Zazen.

We learn that most of the “action” we take in life is busy work. It is movement without cause, and without need. It is wasted effort. We say we don’t have time, but in Zazen we find that to be patently untrue. All we have is now, and in that moment, there is no time. This happens in real ways, not just conceptual ones.

Escape

People magically start solving their own problems because we stop trying to fix them for them. We also stop creating as many of our own problems, because we don’t act from the egoic impetus that forces us out into the world to act in disingenuous ways. We also are less concerned with taking actions to please others’ egos, and learn when to take true action, guided by our higher selves. We get more and more comfortable with allowing life to unfold, rather than having to force it into the tiny compartmentalized sections that make our egos feel they have control.

Zen offers the perfection of personhood. Maybe this brings us closer to our Godliness, or maybe it just means we are less flawed as men and women, but we begin to cherish simplicity and calm, instead of chasing after chaos.  Zazen (just sitting) changes everything.

Read More At: TheMindUnleashed.com

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Bruce Lee’s Taoist Wisdom

Bruce Lee Taoist

Source: TheMindUnleashed.com
Christina Sarich
February 14, 2017

Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist and movie star had an amazing understanding of Taoist principles. He applied them to his art, and lived them in his day-to-day life. He is still revered years after his death as a martial arts Jesus for good reason. His authenticity, and mastery of the martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do, extends into a mastery of self. There is so much to learn from this intrepid soul.

Bruce Lee once said,

“Taoist philosophy is essentially monistic. Matter and energy, Yang and Yin, heaven and earth are conceived of as essentially one or as tow coexistent poles of one indivisible whole.”

Bruce Lee Taoist

Lee was so convinced of Taoist philosophy that he named one of his teaching books the Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

The monistic view Lee refers to is a philosophical idea that all things arise from a single reality or substance. You can call this God, or the Tao, as the Taoists did, but this Oneness doesn’t fit into our convoluted and narrow image of the ‘One’ that we act out today.

Monism is in direct contrast to dualism, which holds that there are two kinds of substances (for instance good and evil). The word comes from the Greek ‘monos’ meaning single and without division.

Wherever Dualism distinguishes between body and soul, matter and spirit, object and subject, matter and force, Monism denies such a distinction or merges both in a higher unity.

It was this understanding that allowed Lee to see his opponents as part of the one – and to truly succeed by winning against himself. He often was able to beat much larger opponents not just by his impeccable training, but by his great consciousness, his immaculate mind, but sometimes his small stature and movie-star moves made him easy prey to men who had lesser wisdom.

Lee was not without ego, but his fight against that part of himself was evident for the world to observe, and this is perhaps why so many relate to him. The fighter was a teacher, really, and his most noble contribution to fighters both lesser and greater than himself physically, was in his legacy of upholding the Tao.

Lee’s philosophical Taoism (as contrasted with the religious variety) isn’t metaphysical or other-worldly, but instead was focused on the art of earthly living. He succeeded in this at times, and others, he failed.

Above all, Lee encouraged, as the Buddha did, to follow no one, and to move past limitations, even when they were set up by people in authority (which were sometimes other martial arts schools or supposed masters). Lee believed an endless process of trial and error was preferable to establishing one day’s intuition as an immutable law.

He didn’t believe in a fixed anything. His quote, ‘be like water,’ still resonates, because it so profoundly encapsulated his philosophy.

Lee also said,

“True observation begins when one sheds set patterns, and true freedom of expression occurs when one is beyond systems.

Knowledge is fixed in time, whereas, knowing is continual. Knowledge comes from a source, from accumulation, from a conclusion, while knowing is a movement.”

This is quite a decent explanation of the Tao which has no explanation. “Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” ~ Lao Tzu, the Tao te Ching

Lee lived some of the basic principles of the Tao, which can only be discovered for oneself:

  • He aided others who were an extension of his own expression.
  • He was always true to himself, even when others maligned him.
  • He connected with others and tried to treat them as he wanted to be treated.
  • He did not fight those who could not accept his true nature.
  • He remained himself no matter the obstacle.
  • He knew he was only the custodian of his body, and that it was merely a vessel for his spirit.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPwQbQekk38

    Read More At: TheMindUnleashed.com

Book Review: Everyday Tao – Living With Balance & Harmony by Deng Min-Dao

EverydayTao
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 19, 2017

Eastern philosophy is a rather intricate subject that has many different viewpoints.  This particular book couples well into that philosophy.

Everyday Tao – Living With Balance & Harmony by Deng Min-Dao is a very insightful book.

Split up into 15 different sections, Everyday Tao covers a variety of ways into which individuals are able to get in tune with the Tao.  The 15 sections are: nature, silence, books, strategy, movement, skill, craft, conduct, moderation, devotion, perseverance, teaching, self, simplifying and union.

Using Chinese ideograms, which contain inherent stories therein, the author brings about much meaning showing the reader what each ideogram breaks into and what insights can be had.

The way the book is set up, each individual insight covering no more than a page, makes this the type of book that can be read straight through, or on a day-by-day basis.  For me, the latter offered much enjoyment and meaning because I was able to digest and discern much of what the book provided and ponder it deeply therein without rushing.

Through and through, the book offers a no-nonsense approach into Taoist insights.  As someone who’s relatively new to Eastern Philosophy and am open minded about it, there was much to appreciate, regardless if one is locked within a particular paradigm or not.  This volume offers much value, and if you’re seeking more to read on Tao or Eastern Philosophy, do not hesitate – get this book.