Posted in buddhism, zen

Why Zen?

I’m not interested in worshipping the Buddha or Bodhisattvas. I’m not even really all that interested in revering them.

When the Buddha attained awakening under the Bodhi tree he said, “I and all beings have attained Enlightenment.”
I want to actualize that statement. Zen isn’t about bowing to statues, it’s about bowing to our true nature.

I don’t want to follow the Buddha or anyone else. I seek what the Enlightened ones sought. Zen is about dwelling in this moment, rising above or stepping away from the delusions that are a constant part of our lives.

Bodhidharma, the man who brought Zen to China, said it was:
A special transmission outside the scriptures;

No dependence on words and letters;

Direct pointing to the mind;

Seeing into one’s nature and attaining Buddhahood.

Zen is not an intellectual study. It’s not something we learn about. It’s something we do, a direct pointing to our true nature. It’s just the practice of stopping our minds and seeing reality as it is.

Zen is an exploration into our true nature. For those of us that practice it involves stepping out of our thoughts and the labels we try to put on reality. It involves introspection and contemplation, going to the place where we are able to slow down our chaotic minds enough to explore the inner self.
In time, seeing our true nature can come naturally.

I can’t really tell you. I can only show you.

Come sit with me and see what it’s all about.

 

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Author:

Daniel is a Zen Teacher in Kansas City. He leads Fountain City Zen, a floating meditation community. Daniel is affiliated with the Dharma Winds Tradition, where he ordained in 2018. Daniel is a co-owner of the website The Tattooed Buddha and he has a weekly podcast called Scharpening the Mind.

4 thoughts on “Why Zen?

  1. You know Daniel in Vajrayana Buddhism we do not bow to statues in the way you allude to. Statues, thangkas, and pictures are seen as a archetype symbol that awakens our Buddha nature deep from within they symbols are nothing more than our own Buddha nature. We are not bowing to anything external or separate we are in essence bowing to our selves. We also do not follow the Buddha, as he did not want followers he wanted contemporaries. We simply have the confidence that if he, a man, can do it so can we.
    But yes there are many that do as you say, but they do not take responsibility for themselves and like the Christians and Muslims they look outwards instead of inwards. This farsightedness is shortsighted, :), it will not lead to full development but it’s better than nothing.

    Yes Tibeten Buddhism is complicated, some minds or egos need a complex trick to fool them into understanding the co-emergent nature of everything or mahamudra. We also have many texts that point directly at the nature of mind written by such masters as Lama Shang, Tilopa, and the third Karmapa. If you have never read them I can only recommend it.

    As for praying, we leave that to the christians, we make wishes impersonal wishes for the benefit of all.

    I love you writing keep it up.

    QP

    1. Thank you for commenting, QP.
      I’ve heard the sentiment before that practices like bowing to statues and making offerings to spirits are really metaphorical in nature, as a way of relating to ourselves. I understand that view and I’m sympathetic to it. But at the same time I wonder if we are, at some level, projecting our modern sensibilities onto an old tradition when we assume these things aren’t literal.
      In any case, I don’t think the same can be said for things like tulkus. Can it?

      1. Daniel, all the tools of Tibetan Buddha Dharma are metaphorical in nature. It is a path, albeit a complicated path, that one follows and at certain points, one must even let go of an old understanding in order to realise the next one. Perhaps metaphorical is not the best word as we are not just suggesting a resemblance of two concepts but actually seeing the inseparability or co-emergent nature of ourselves and said, statue, picture, or Lama. This is not an easy subject to explain in a few words, but if I can see something outside it must originate from within, might do.
        Of course, we are projecting on to everything we perceive. So did the Tibetans on the teachings of the Indian Mahasiddhas, and they on the teachings of the Buddha. Our projections are the result of countless aeons of impressions in mind that arise at any given point in time.
        As far as assuming that these things are not literal, I would argue that we try to see them as literal as possible. This is the horseshoe in the boxing glove so to speak. The core of most Tibetan Guru Yoga practices is to keep putting on the buddha mask every day until one day it is just part of us. If the Buddha could do it so can I.

        I am not entirely sure what you meant with “can the same be said for Tulkus as I have no direct experience as to how a Tulku might perceive something. Is that what you are getting at?

        Do you see similarities between Zen and Vajrayana Buddhism?

  2. This is what I’m trying to get at. We can certainly hold the view that when we make offerings to spirits, there aren’t literally spirits coming and consuming the offerings.

    But we can’t really view belief in tulkus that way. The 14th Dalai Lama was taken from his parents and raised as a monk because people believed he was the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. If that’s a metaphor and he’s not an emanation of Chenrezig, it does seem bizarre to take him away from his parents and raise him in a monastery. Right?

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