This is it

It can be difficult to see things as they are. Most of us, upon looking at anything within our sensory perceptions, do not actually perceive our environment but only our thoughts about the environment or our perceptions. This kind of thinking surely falls into some form of (post) existentialist philosophy, but what I’m concerned with is how to drop this kind of perception, how to drop this mistaken association with our thoughts and perceptions.

Without lines of thought distracting our awareness, our perceptions become clear and even lucid. The universe is only composed of a handful of ideas and elements. It is not so complex when taken apart. But therein lies the mystery and the beauty — the way these simple ideas evoke so much, cause so much color and experience. The world ripples as foam on the cosmic sea.

You can study biology and medicine, but unless you actually sit and contemplate your body on a regular basis, you will never truly live in your body. “Living in your body” is an interesting concept. It sounds like a Zen mantra (which it kind of is) or maybe a tenet of real martial arts practice. But to live in the body means to intimately know the nature of the body — its impermanence, ability to heal and function; the way it came from the earth and one day will disappear; the way it reacts to emotions and mental phantasms. And what remains after the body passes away?

Zen is interesting as a Buddhist doctrine which (apparently) strove to separate students from attachment to ritual, idolatry and dogma. Which is an admirable goal, though certainly this has led a number of modern Buddhists to disassociate themselves with traditional Buddhist ritual. But the reason I like this “Zen idea,” and surely it has appeared in other religions and sects, is because it reminds us that a religion is just another filter imposed on top of our perceptions. It is another layer of complexity preventing many from seeing reality as it is.

Perhaps many people need religions or ethical philosophies which they can put their efforts into and thus use to achieve a more lucid or painless awareness of the life experience. This I can understand. But many people think religion is some kind of Masonic lodge that can be worked through, or something that has increasing levels of awareness. But the levels of awareness actually work in reverse, stripping one of levels of mental complexity.

Not that a person should no longer think. It’s just that thinking has more to do with the ego’s desire to entertain itself. Thinking is a little fantasy or pleasure we create for ourselves, a ripple of insecurity against the threat of something we don’t want to look at. It’s all very flowery and nice, but ultimately it means very little in terms of actual awareness.

A naturally talented artist or musician or fighter or businessman is able to see things in their fields of ability as they actually are. This is what makes them experts — their amazing ability to see things as they actually exist. But it is not an adult-like, profound, learned expertise. It is seeing the potential of things before they take place, seeing them arise and pass away before they actually do. It is the most unpeeled layer of the mind. I would like to extend this “natural vision” or ability to the root of existence, revealing what things originally are.


One Response to “This is it”

  1. My dharma teacher has often told us that Zen is not about Buddha, and Zen is not a religion. In Zen we do not pray or worship. Zen is about your self — “your true self,” is often how it is said. Yet Zen is not about being selfish or focused on your own good. “Stripping” — a word you used — is very central to Zen practice. We are stripping off the layers of all the things that have obscured that true self. When we have traveled far enough, we will see that all of us (not only people, but everything, all beings and all things) are interconnected and interdependent. We won’t be just saying that — we will actually know it, in a constant and unforgettable way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: