Introduction to Zen
This is Zen, and in Zen, as we all know ... anything goes!
There is no letter of the law to follow in Zen. There is a lot of etiquette, but there are no rules.
Zen is discipline -- the discipline of living life, the discipline of taking a breath, the discipline of not knowing and not trying to know.
Zen is about breaking out of your ideas and experiencing life and not ideas.
Nothing is any particular way. It's your state of mind that creates reality.
None of this matters a bit. Yet, of course, it matters at that moment. So we try to be mindful of the moment, but it's fleeting.
Zen was an attempt to get back to the purest teachings of the Buddha --enlightenment without strings.
In the old days, Zen was not really practiced so much in a monastery. The Zen Master usually lived up on a top of the mountain or the hill or in the forest or sometimes in the village.
He would usually study with a small group of students, men and women.
They would spend a lot of their time simply walking around in the woods or in the cities, or they would come over to his house and he would teach them with a great deal of humor and laughter about the nature of existence.
According to Zen Buddhist cosmology there are ten thousand different states of mind to view and understand life through.
I can assure you, as a practitioner of Buddhism, that there are ten thousand states of mind, at least...give or take a few billion.
In Zen we classify ten thousand different states of mind, different ways of seeing life. There is something beyond the ten thousand states of mind that we call nirvana.
Each of the ten thousand states of mind presents you with a different view of essence and experience.
Most persons spend their lives stuck in relatively low states of mind. In these states of mind their views of themselves and the world around them are often severely limited.
If you are around a lot of human beings who are filled with jealousy and anger and rage and desire, it filters into the mind. Zen is writing a new program to run in the mind.
Through the study of Zen you can learn to move from lower to higher states of mind at will. Higher states of mind offer you a much more accurate picture of reality.
In advanced Zen a person comes to realize that the existence of things and their ability to perceive them correctly is completely dependent upon their state of mind.
Zen is the study of mind in all of its manifestations. The purpose of Zen is to be happy.
There is a beautiful flow to the study of Zen. If it is not making you happier, then you are not practicing correctly.
Zen is meditation, the actual experience of life directly, immediately with no buffers.
According to Zen philosophy each human being has two minds, a finite mind and an infinite mind.
In the study of Zen you can learn how to strengthen and clarify your finite mind. Your finite mind is like a muscle; when exercised it becomes stronger.
The intuitive wisdom that comes from your infinite mind can add to your creativity, success and well-being, and can take you to the threshold of enlightenment.
Each of the small enlightenments that a Zen practitioner has, which are known in Zen as "Satori experiences," provides deeper insights into the nature of existence and helps a person prepare for complete enlightenment.
Satori is a brief flash. Suddenly the light breaks through. For a short timeless time we experience eternity in its unmanifest form. It's comparable to salvikalpa samadhi.
We see signs of it perhaps for 28 das or 34 days, then it goes away. Yet we are different.
After this happens again and again, we reach a point were there is nothing but satori, which is what nirvikalpa samadhi is like.
There are two primary ways of studying Zen. Either an individual will enter into a Zen monastery and study with a Zen master there, or they will study with a Zen master who lives in the contemporary world.
There is a sense of competition in Zen. You are competing with your thoughts and trying to overcome them.
Zen is a very quick path to enlightenment and development of the mind and all its facilities.
Zen is the fastest method I know of, aside from mysticism, of dissolving the fixations people have about spiritual practice and themselves.
With Zen we do it more through slight of hand, a very subtle and delicate shift in consciousness, which shifts the world. It's kind of done from the inside out.
Both Zen and mysticsm have this beautiful quality of happiness and laughter, which I think is so necessary in our modern age.
There are ten thousand aspects of your mind. Your awareness has ten thousand forms. There is something else. You have to step outside of perception itself.
From the highest state of mind you have a window whereby you could perhaps move beyond all states of mind, to enlightenment.
Zen is a very fast path to enlightenment, fast in comparison to some other paths, not fast for the person who practices it. There is no sense of speed.
Zen is the way of splitting the self again and again, untilt there is nothing left.
Zen doesn't believe in the reconciliation of opposites because from the point of view of Zen, there is no point of view.
The samurais lived with death constantly, they wore a short dagger to take their own life if need be. At any moment they might have to do that. That was a part of their code.
There are monasteries in Japan where they teach Zen with rules, more rules than you can imagine, and you might feel comfortable with that. I don't teach that type of Zen.
Bodhidharma who brought Zen from India to the Orient, taught a very pure Zen -- in that it was pure Zen. He wanted to show that the way still existed and wanted to get back to its essence.
Now when I speak about Zen, I have a problem, in the sense that the Zen of today has lost the essence, in my estimation, of what I call "old Zen."
Old Zen is the way of nothingness, the way of having a good time.
Old Zen was very funny; there was a great deal of humor and happiness. Zen today seems much drier. While there's a certain amount of humor, it seems to lack that total intensity because humor is one of the primary tools for liberation.
When you laugh at the world the world dissolves.
Old Zen was the reduction of concepts to absurdity.
Different schools of Zen have evolved, principally the Rinzai and Soto orders. A whole hierarchy has developed for the teaching and practice of Zen. Zen has become, to a certain degree, institutionalized.
If you're very, very conservative and you like that sort of practice, go find a very conservative Zen master and just do traditional Japanese practice, which is not that traditional actually.
It is only in the last 800 years that the rules have come into being and conservative Zen has surfaced. It is not particularly popular in Japan at all. Hardly anybody practices Zen any more because it's just too strict; there are too many rules.
If you're very liberal, then you should go and find a very liberal Zen teacher, a liberal interpretation of the doctrines of the Soto or Rinzai schools.
Zen is a study. It's a discipline. It involves the active use of will to make things happen or not happen. These are the secrets of power.
The path of Zen is not easy. It's wonderful. It's beautiful beyond compare. You will experience more ecstasy and beauty than most people will in a thousand lifetimes.
Meditation is the way the mind is. That's why in Zen they call it the natural state, which means you don't have to go and do anything to meditate.
The light is already there. In Zen Buddhism there's a little speck of dust on the mirror, and that's us.
The sense of self is one of the obscurations that prevents us from seeing clearly, the idea that there is a self or that we are anyone in particular.
To have the illusion of selfhood simply means that when you look in the mirror, you see somebody.
Zen is the study of making the mind still. As your mind becomes still, a power enters you. This power transmogrifies your mind. It escalates your evolution and you begin to cycle through many incarnations in one lifetime.
In Zen you practice zazen, mindfulness and other forms of introspection to find out who you are and what you want, to balance your spirit, develop willpower, increase your sense of humor and gain wisdom.
In Zen we strive to bring both the mind and the body into perfect combination, so that there is no intrinsic difference between them.
Most people put the cart before the horse. They approach everything directly. In Zen we approach everything backwards or inside out. Actually it is quite direct and very specific.
In Zen there is a sense of blending, of stepping out of your body and mind and gaining access to powers and abilities that are far beyond the minds of mortal men.
In Zen we study the will. We learn how to cultivate it, to accumulate will. We use it to direct our actions, and we don't overuse it or abuse it - that's a waste.
The study of Zen is the study of energy, power, knowledge and balance. It is the science of energy conservation and control. We use energy to aid others, to see beauty, to discover love where we saw no love at all.
The way of nothingness is the way of Zen. It is just a term. The contemplation of nothingness or everythingness is where everything starts.
The theory of Zen is non-competition. But that is not really true at all. People who practice Zen are very competitive. They are competing against emptiness.
Zen is the path that focuses the most upon meditation. It is almost exclusively a path of meditation.
Zen is very closely allied with Emersonian self-reliance. Anyone who meditates for a period of time will gradually become more sensitized to all of life.
You can only conceive of what lies beyond the state of mind you are in from the point of view of the state of mind you are in.
There are ten thousand states of mind. Most people spend their entire lives confined to a few of these states of mind.
In Zen you are learning how to make new realities, to build things inside your mind.
There are ten thousand planes of awareness within the infinite mind of the diamond mind, your deeper mind.
The ten thousand states of mind that we talk about in Zen are all levels of perception. You can think of each of the ten thousand states of mind as a dimensional plane.
Beyond the ten thousand states of mind is the still point. It exists within them all, yet beyond them. It is not affected by them. It gives birth to them. This is the riddle.
The ten thousand states of mind are hallucinatory. Hallucinations are real. Dreams are real. But there are some things more real.
Both light and dark are eternity. Human beings assign relative values to colors, but beyond the relative, there just is -- what in Zen we call “suchness”.
The study of Zen is a retraining. It is a series of new ways, not just one way, to learn to use your mind more efficiently.
Paradise is not the place you go when you die. Paradise is when your mind is in a perfect state
Just like there are different roads that lead to different places, so there are different levels of awareness that lead to different places and we shift in and out of them. These are the ten thousand states of mind that we study in Zen.