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.

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