Thursday, November 8, 2012

proprietary Zen

An email note from a friend this morning was a bit cranky about a Zen Buddhist forum that was practicing what he called "proprietary Zen" in its efforts to head off certain discussions.

What a good word, "proprietary."

An Internet dictionary defines "proprietary" as meaning

-- owned by a person or company and sold under a trademark or patent
-- relating to owning something
-- typical of an owner
What is treated in a proprietary manner is what can be owned or controlled ... meaning it is limited in some way.

I don't imagine anyone has been exempt from exercising proprietary behavior in his or her life, in little things or large. And perhaps that behavior is warranted.

But I do think, for those who take their spiritual adventures seriously, the exercise of proprietary behavior within that spiritual adventure is an excellent warning sign, a red flag that signals a wrong turn. It's just a mistake -- an oops -- and mistakes can be corrected. But perhaps you have to make a mistake before you can recognize it adequately.

Anyway ... how useful could a spiritual persuasion be if anyone could claim ownership of it or limit its applications? The sort of spiritual persuasion that can be controlled and limited strikes me a second class citizen ... comforting, perhaps, but really pretty thin ... and let's not mention, stupid.

Sorta like a fart in a wind storm.


  1. It's probably Dennis Mertzel aka Genpo trying to market his BIG MIND® line of life changing retreats on the beaches of Maui for $10,000/week.

  2. Someone probably coming from a deific background once asked on e-sangha "who's in charge when you die in this religion". It was suggested he ask who's in charge while he's alive. To whom does this spiritual pursuit belong? A good teacher's a wonderful thing, but who's butt's on the cushion?