Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Zen" and "awakened"

Elsewhere I was reading the words of someone who said that it was hard for would-be Zen students to find the circumstances in which to interact with someone who was "awakened."

I have a lot of sympathy for this longing -- to keep company for a while with someone who has cleared the weeds and planted a little peace. For a time things can be so confusing, so unprotected, so lonely. Crossing the threshold and deciding to give spiritual endeavor a serious try is not for sissies. Everything that went before needs a more careful attention and anyone can find him/herself in a widening pool of regret. The old stuff is impossibly heavy and the new 'Zen' stuff is impossibly bright.

What I wouldn't give for a teacher! Please, please, please!

I too have squirmed and yowled and praised loudly as a means of trying to subjugate an ineffable brightness. I have wept with joy ... literally. I have found myself in places that are impossibly impossible and been scared to death or dancing.

An "awakened" teacher or chum would be an incredible blessing... someone to be "Buddha" to my stumbling efforts.

Everyone works through this at his or her own pace, framing the issue in a way that seems to make sense from wherever "here" is.

I think Zen is a lucky endeavor in this realm. It is lucky because while it makes room for people who insist on speaking of "enlightened" or "awakened" individuals, still it does not fall prey to such bright lights. Go ahead, imagine what you like; turn "Zen" into some feel-good gimcrack; worship and weep and laugh; seek out an awakened teacher; be a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Jew ...

But Zen offers to right the foundering ship with the practice of zazen or seated meditation. It's not sexy or monastic or awakened -- it's just seated meditation. Sit down, sit straight, sit still, shut up, and focus the mind. Just do it -- don't praise it.

Yes, supports like "awakened" may be cozy and psychological analyses may cuddle up to "Zen." Go ahead. Knock yourself out, but practice and see what happens.

How the hell could you designate an "awakened" person as "awakened" if you weren't awakened yourself? This would amount to a public-relations form of spiritual practice ... you better, me worse, without ever examining the premise of the conclusion. Zazen is a real benefit in this regard.

It sure is nice to have company, but it's also nice to get down to the most factual common sense.

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