Giving Space: Winning and Losing

In zazen today my mind became occupied and challenging...

I could see quite clearly that competitiveness is a function of the ego that only wants to win. And what if I do win? I may feel smug for a while, but then that would just be more ego stuff. At the end of the day, winning and losing...   It doesn't matter. I am what I am and my choice is just to go through life looking within myself in meditation, for that is where all my answers truly lay.

Tut, tut!!!  I may tut... But that's just another form of judgment!   Give space to what emerges, even the tut-tutting if it arises..  It is not about winning and losing...  Giving space is about transformation.

What's It Like to Be a Zen Practitioner - #3

Apart from instruction on how to do zazen, there is no instruction in Zen. True Zen masters never claim to be masters and rarely teach. They ask their students to question themselves. They give questions in the form of koans.  The presence of a master saying nothing, often has profound effect.

There is no right way or wrong way, for how can there be when it is one's intent to walk through a gateless gate, going nowhere.

My journey is unique, as is everyone else's. Currently I am working through my own karma, that is truly ancient and huge. Listening to another Zen practitioner sharing his/her experience can be inspiring and trigger insights in myself, but it is still my journey, and whilst listening to the other practitioner, their shared experience becomes my unique experience - so listening without judgment and with total focus is valuable, whether or not I realize it.

Past life karma?  How can it be when the past is an illusion? Intelligent cellular memory?  Maybe, maybe not. This is all irrelevant anyway when all there is, is now.

If you wish... Please share you experiences... 

What's It Like to Be a Zen Practitioner - #2

Zazen is the basis of Zen practice. One can say that zazen is Zen. My zazen is usually mentally "busy" with thoughts flying here and there. But as the years have gone by I have gotten the hang of watching and accepting the thoughts in mindfulness.

Anyway, I have realised that mindfulness is not the same as focus. Mindfulness is where I observe without interference whatever is going on in my mind. I am being a witness. Focus is like concentration and concentration suggests force. Zazen is the achievement of a subtle balance between mindfulness and focus, and it helps to make the distinction between the two. The two! Dichotomy? I just love the paradox of Zen where the aim is to realize that all is one and that there are no "two"! But also, there is no "shouldism" in Zen either. So the balance of the two (mindfulness and focus) is very subtle where both states realize an at-one-ness and simply exist together. But that is just an explanation about it. It is trying to make sense of it, and Zen transcends sense.

The experience of zazen is very different! Experience! Now there's word. Just a word that points to the fact that experiencing is constantly in a state of flux, and an experience is already gone! An experience can only be thought about and therefore is not an experience at all, but the experienced! Past tense. Tense being the operative word when I try to nail down what the experience of an experience is! But that's how we grow… through tense (tension). In-tensely... The never-ending story.. The never-ender wrestle?

Looking at what the distinction between the two (experiencing and experience) is, can be very frustrating and annoying. Bah! Oh! I was wondering why Zen masters uttered that word in so many Zen writings. Bah! is Zen..

On occasions, I have been asked if I am a mystic. Mysticism is an illusion that doesn't really exist, because as far as I am concerned, the profound comes from the mundane - or better still, probably is the mundane. That to me is mysticism. Right there in front of my nose in every consecutive moment of now.

Zen really messes with my head sometimes! But that's what it is meant to do and I invite it to do so. Zen wants me to get out of my head and into my experience! Oh, I had better say experiencing to be semantically correct, but still… Experiencing what it is like to be in the head? Probably. Again the one and the other merge and disappear into each other, becoming one.

So this is the journey. A journey-less journey. There is only one destination and that is now and I am arriving and leaving here and now constantly. I won't be back in this moment again, but my head will try and drag me back here to this moment that is fast becoming an illusion.

What's It Like to Be a Zen Practitioner - #1

Probably need to change the title there to What's it Like For Me to be a Zen practioner.....

 I was asked the other day what is was like to be a Zen practitioner. My answer had to be no different to being a non-Zen practitioner I guess. I do the same things. I have the same desires now as I had before I "met" Zen some 30+ years ago. In the beginning I thought that I would become all-knowing, all powerful, but that is not the case at all and most Zen practitioners I talk to have similar tales to tell.

Zen meditation (zazen) can be painful as I uncover more and more of the barriers that have been erected by my conditioned mind.  Not that Zen is a method of changing that conditioning, it's more like a matter of choosing the way rather than having it chosen for me by society's "rules and regulations". I get to choose what the "right and wrong" of things in a natural way, rather than feeling them to be a "must".

Is to have desire is so wrong?   Ah… No… I didn't say that. Buddha discovered that desire is the source of all suffering. To desire not to desire, is still desire. Nothing wrong in desire. Nothing right in desire.  I do desire, and I am a witness to the karma of desiring as it unfolds.   More to come on  What's it Like to be a Zen Practitioner later… or not.