“As far as Zen is concerned, experience is all in all. Anything not based on experience is outside Zen. The study of Zen, therefore, must grow out of life itself….”—Chên-chin K’ê-wên, circa 1024-1102 ad, from D.T. Suzuki, The Zen Koan as a means of Attaining Enlightenment, pg. 78
Ahh, but wasn’t I saying just that, last post? And, not to be tiresome… but then who cares if I am because it bears re-re-re-re-re-repeating: isn’t saying “The study of Zen…must grow out of life itself” another way of saying Life is All there is? If we’re not studying Life, and treating everything we see and hear and feel as an outgrowth of it, then we’re playing with ideas and no matter how far they take us a dead end lies somewhere ahead.
Yet we all go to school. Masters of idea manipulation stand before us and impart their understanding… of ideas. Replete with them we graduate and make our way into adulthood. They serve to gain a living, but in other pursuits they only serve to hamper, pursuits such as friendships and relationships, matters of the heart, soul and spirit if you will. A rift opens between what is required of us at ‘work’ and what is required at ‘home.’ For some, the rift widens to the point of collapse, of one or the other, or both. Years of therapy might follow, or perhaps a quieter, less costly personal quest for meaning. (Careful with that because ‘meaning’ is an idea and a saturation of ideas is precisely what is troubling us.)
Zen is now, here, or wherever you are, when the mind stops its incessant chatter, when you look out upon the world and the mental habit of delineating objects and giving them names is forgotten, overcome. When your own name is forgotten, overcome.
What a wonderful morning. Sun not yet up, crows cawing and smaller birds chirping outside, near and far away. They know what I’m talking about. They are wholeheartedly involved in life, as we often enough are not. Language and culture have lifted us up and away from being alongside them. Language and culture has lifted us, and encased us with their magic.
Zen, centuries ago, tried to break the spell.
Today, it seems as encased as everything else, and need be overcome too.
Life is ALL there is