Tagged: Zen

No Room for Form

The Zen teacher says, “The secret is in you.  You are the secret.” What does it mean? The truth offered in these two short sentences is cryptic, and almost tautological. The meaning of my search for truth is in me. If I have found myself, the secret is gone, because I have realized that it was in me all along. In order to find it, however, I need someone to help me, and in this case it is the Zen teacher. Furthermore: The truth is not conceptual. the secret is not a thing, and it is never something that can be found. It is right here,...

What is Zen?

Thomas Merton describes in his 1961 book “Mystics and Zen Masters” how the tradition of Zen resonates and overlaps with mystical traditions worldwide. He also examines various Christian monastic traditions in order to show us the similarities and differences in the search for mystical experience across cultures and religions. The following comments, based on quotes from his book, illustrate that he understands the Zen insight as a direct grasp of being in itself, not an intuition of the nature of being. It is not an intellectual act, and also not the result of contemplation or other meditation practices. Merton also...

Merton: Life, Death, and Zen.

Tomas Merton writes in the foreword to his book [amazon text=Zen and the Birds of Appetite&asin=081120104X], 1968, shortly before his own death: “Where there is carrion lying, meat-eating birds circle and descend. Life and death are two. The living attack the dead. to their own profit. The dead lose nothing by it. They gain too, by being disposed of. Or they seem to, if you must think in terms of gain and loss. Do you then approach the study of Zen with the idea that there is something to be gained by it? This question is not intended as an implicit...

Instructions to the Cook

Even when confronted with poor ingredients, there is no negligence whatsoever; even when faced with scanty ingredients, one exerts oneself. Do not change your mind in accordance with things. Whoever changes his mind in accordance with things, or revises his words to suit the person [he is speaking to], is not a man of the way. That you still do not grasp the certainty of this principle is because your thinking scatters, like wild horses, and your emotions run wild, like monkeys in a forest.

Dogen Zenji

Dogen (1200-1253) is the founder of Soto Zen. He was a Japanese Zen monk and teacher, and he received his training in China from Rujing. The Life and Thought of Dogen (quoted from Prof. Masunaga: “Soto Approach to Zen,”  p. 203-214) “It was Dogen  who first brought Soto Zen to Japan. Keizan (1268-1325) made possible the popularization of Soto Zen, thereby laying the foundation for the large religious organization, which it is today. Dogen, born in a noble family, quickly learned the meaning of the Buddhist word “mujo” (impermanence). While still young, he lost both his parents. He decided then...

Genjokoan – The Actualization of Enlightenment

By Eihei Dogen Written in mid-autumn, 1233 Translated by Kosen Nishiyama and John Stevens (1975). When all things are the Buddha-dharma, there is enlightenment, illusion, practice, life, death, Buddhas, and sentient beings. When all things are seen not to have any substance, there is no illusion or enlightenment, no Buddhas or sentient beings, no birth, or destruction. Originally the Buddhist Way transcends itself and any idea of abundance or lack–still there is birth and destruction, illusion and enlightenment, sentient beings and Buddhas. Yet people hate to see flowers fall and do not like weeds to grow. It is an illusion...

Zen Koans

 From: Zen Koans by Venerable Gyomay Kubose. The Flag Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said: “The flag is moving.” The other said: “The wind is moving.” The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng happened to be passing by. He told them: “Not the wind, not the flag; mind is moving. A Philosopher Asks Buddha A philosopher asked Buddha: “Without words, without silence, will you tell me the truth?” The Buddha sat quietly. The philosopher then bowed and thanked the Buddha, saying, “With your loving kindness I have cleared away my delusions and entered the true path.” After the philosopher had gone,...