Archive for kosen

Burn yourself out

Posted in Buddhism, Film, martial arts, Mysticism, Religion, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , on May 27, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I was watching this crucial documentary the other night, called Le Chant Du Dragon about one of Taisen Deshimaru’s French dharma heirs, Stefane Kosen. It’s really good (and free for download); you should watch it. It made me recall and laugh at how I was once so eager to have crazy esoteric experiences. As one martial arts teacher said, “you are so eager to jump into so much esoteric bullshit!” What can I say? I’ve always been something of a chump.

It’s true, that a lot of people want mysterious or magical or mind-blowing spiritual experiences. Whether they want them in some sort of crazed bliss-ninny, yoga context or some deviant, sinister magickal context, the desire for the mind-blowing mystery is all the same (albeit with different “flavors” of energy). But isn’t it true that, once you hit the big kahuna and break down all the walls of illusion or whatever, nothing is mysterious for you? Isn’t that what happens when we use desire to get to the end of desire? There’s nothing left that is curious or weird or unexplainable. It’s all perfectly normal stuff.

So I think that’s why historically in Soto Zen it’s always said not to search after anything, how we just want to come to the normal human condition, how zazen itself is enlightenment, etc. It makes sense in the ultimate context. We only pursue the things that still retain an element of mystery to us. Once we’ve fully understood something we move on to other things. That’s (again) why the most interesting romantic mates for humans are always the ones we don’t know anything about. Often the more you know about something or someone, the less you care.

That strikes me as something of a difference between Soto Zen and say, Nyingma or whatever branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Soto Zen seems like it’s imploring its practitioners to look at the world from this ultimate sense, or it’s at least passing it down in that way. It’s written as if it is conveying a conventional sense of things, but the conventional sense as perceived by one with the “ultimate perspective”. This strikes me as different from most religious teachings, which are inherently condescending and write of ultimate reality in the most romantic and other-worldly ways possible.

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