Why is nothingness important?
Nothingness is the source of all good. Nothingness is the source of bliss, joy and peace. That is enough reason to try to go for understanding Zen. You won’t ever understand it, but to see the hopelessness of your quest will make the whole meaningless quest worth it. All for Zen and Zen for all.
The profoundness of Zen is that it is everything and nothing at the same time. Zen is what we are all looking for regardless of the form it takes. We are explorers of Zen even though we may or may not have a shaved head and live in a temple. I have a shaved head but that is only because my hair is so thin it looks ridiculous on me when I grow it out.
With each moment and every breath we take, we are at the heart of it on a Zen adventure. Of course most of us do not see life in this way. Some even appear to be off the mark, yet this is the Zen appearing to be off the mark.
Awakening Zen is based on the practice of exploring Silence, which is at the root of Zen.
As far as traditions go, the tradition I practice is supremely Zen, yet if you ran into it on the street you would probably not recognize it as such. The reason is that Buddha’s image is not being advertised in a traditional sense.
I sometimes use the image of Buddha to represent the Zen aspect of this teaching because to me, Buddha symbolizes being Zen. The Buddha image however is just an advertisement. This is not sacrilegious but points to the heart of Zen. “To see the Buddha, kill the Buddha” (the image not the actual Buddha) is the ultimate aim of spiritual seeking. We begin and end in Zen that is before and after the image of Buddha.
In other words all there is, is Zen. No matter how we shuffle around this topic it is all about Zen as it is. This is the Teaching of the One.
First, of all let me come clean. I do have a rich history with Zen and received intense training (in allowing, exploring the silence and not taking things seriously), yet please do not think that I am a Zen Buddhist. I know Paramananda sounds Buddhist, but my experience with Buddhism was probably more so in past lives, if you believe in that. So if you ask me questions about that topic I am likely to say, “I don’t know.” I am a fan of the Buddha, but not a practitioner of Buddhism and therefore I don’t know much about the theory or even types of Buddhist practices. I have heard mindfulness is good one. I play with “mind-empty-ness” or “no-mind-ness.” This one is easy if you don't have much of a mind to begin with.
I practice the Zen of nothingness. I belong to no school of Zen in the formal sense nor have I spent time with famous Zen Masters who wrote the “book” on Zen, so to speak. That being said, I have spent time with great masters of Zen, although the term “Zen” was rarely spoken.
The richness of the tradition and training that has continued to reveal itself is in the exploration of silence as it is, and nothing more than that. Sure there are a few external forms attached to the tradition, but the tradition itself points through them all. What it points to is called Stillness or Silence. By playing with the silence we come to see the joy that is the essence of Zen. This is the laughing Buddha that never takes anything serious.
Exploring Zen is about tasting this silence and not thinking about or analyzing it. Thinking leads to seriousness which leads to eating more cupcakes, even though that is also Zen.
The best gift is a gift that is empty. If you believe you will get anything out of this article other than the joy of Zen I apologize, as that was not my intention.
The Practice of Zen
There are a million types of practices and meditations. Meditation can mean so many different things to different people—it’s crazy. When you mention meditation it can conjure up images of effort, trying hard to still the mind, lotus position and chanting the Om. The aim of meditation is to see life as it is without distortion.
Did you know the Zen mind (no mind) is already still? It is already laughing like the Buddha because nothing is there to take seriously. Thoughts, emotions, and ideas come and go but the emptiness is unaffected and may even enjoy the show. Have you ever thought someone else's drama was funny? Living like the laughing Buddha is like this because all the energy of taking our world personal is viewed like someone else's show. It is hard for the silence of spirit to take us personally when it observes the circus in our heads.
To a certain extent everything is a practice of Zen, even breathing is a practice of Zen. Will the Zen practice of shopping and getting the latest shoes wake us up into our Zen nature? Probably not but fingers crossed—if you like shoes!
Everything can become a practice for Zen, however, having a practice such as being aware is useful since it gives one pointed-focus on Zen as it is. Otherwise, we can have the practice of scattered Zen. Scattered Zen is what most people in the world are practicing right now. I am not devaluing this practice or saying it is not Zen. It is also Zen.
Scattered Zen is Zen dispersed and unfocused. It is spread out over the many things and objects the world has to offer us. It is in this sense you can say, everyone in the world right now is meditating on something. The question is: what are you meditating on?
In the mind, scattered Zen is hopping from thing to thing. Obviously this can lead to a sense of being scattered, which is the whole point to scattered Zen.
Even though I acknowledge the Zen or meditation on the scattered-ness I don’t recommend it as a practice. Besides, most of us are already experts at this type of Zen anyway. Let’s try something different, something more one-pointed and enjoyable.
What I recommend is exploring the Silence, allowing and not taking anything serious as the path to Zen. It helps to have a practice that is direct to facilitate the inward dance to “no-mind” or Buddha.
The practice can help if it is direct, simple and obvious. If it isn’t simple, try something else, stick with shoe shopping or the Zen of cupcakes
Zen Being Zen
Would it surprise you to know that Zen is already being Zen?
Would it surprise you to know that you are completely irrelevant to the equation of this enlightenment game?
Would it surprise you to know that Zen does not care about whether or not you get Zen?
Not seeing Zen is the Zen of not seeing. Is it any less than the Zen of seeing?
What or who can say which is greater when it is Zen that is being both the seeing and the not seeing? Are you Zen seeing or Zen not seeing?
Perhaps you alternate between the Zen of Seeing and Zen of not seeing? Who cares as long as you enjoy Zen?
Find out what you are and you are laughing!
Give it all up until there is only one thing left. As long as you have a mind you can’t see what this one thing is, so all you can do is keep practicing. Even though I can tell you what this one thing to let go of is, you still will not see it because you think you are it.
It is called the mind. This is the last thing to see before Zen begins being Zen. Right now there may be a belief that there is a mind being Zen. The truth is, there is no mind! This is pure Joy!
Zen Thinking Zen
Zen is thinking and Zen is not thinking. Where is the complication for Zen?
The practice of Zen does not stop thinking but allows Zen to think or not to think.
Zen is seeking and finding. What purpose is there to think away or separate from Zen when there is only Zen? Where can the thinking go when it is happening in Zen? The funny thing is that we will think about all of this: Go ahead and think about it all you want! What do you get out of thinking? Think about it!
Where does thinking lead? Where does it take the thinker or the mind that thinks it? That is right, nowhere. This is it! There is no other alternative, and yet no one understands this. People actually believe that thinking is achieving something and getting somewhere. Thinking goes nowhere. Let me tell you a secret that will make you laugh: Nobody has ever gotten anywhere! Everyone is in an infinite ocean of love with their head sticking out thinking about something that will get them more love. No one has left the Zen of love.
All that happens is Zen appears to make things happen through aliveness. Thinking is one of the appearances of Zen. Sitting is an appearance, standing is an appearance, and feeling is an appearance. All appearances including thinking happen without a mind and in the ocean of love.
Zen Doing Zen
What are you doing?
What are we doing when Zen is doing it? When the result is Zen, what have we achieved from the doing of it?
Zen is busy doing something or nothing. All doing is for the Zen of it.
By approaching the Zen silence as we move and play in the world it becomes clear that what is moving is Zen. The mind has motives, intentions and a direction to achieve what it “thinks” it needs to do in order to achieve what it wants and therefore be a happy mind.
Zen (without mind) is already happy … Zen is pure happiness without a need for the mind to do anything to manufacture this joy. Buddha is already laughing, our being is already enjoying life while we are paying attention to something else. Cosmic joke Prehaps?
From this Zen silence all doing and action are for what purpose? What can we do that will make this Zen space of stillness more complete and content?
The joy from this Zen stillness is alive in the doing itself. The form does not matter to it. The end result is not important. It is a formless doing, a dance of Bliss.
Zen Never mind Zen
Zen has a mind. Zen does not have a mind. Never mind.
Do you have a mind apart from Zen? What happens to Zen with no mind at all?
Zen eternal Zen
In the end Zen is seen to be all there is. Once this is seen, Zen turns into the beginning that has no end. This is Zen eternal Zen. Zen is absent of time and space, which only appear in it as an image in the mirror of no-mind.
Buddha is what we are when we see this Zen of no-mind. It is seen in the stillness, absent of movement. This stillness is the heart of what we are and the path to it. There is only effortless seeing and the bliss of life dancing on as it always does even when we are a million miles away in the “fake” mind.
Zen unknowing Zen
Is Zen the art of knowing or unknowing? Or is it both?
How can you un-know your “self” unless that which you think you are is not you? This is Zen unknowing the illusion of what we think we are. If you don't know then you are very close.
Zen is the pure subjectivity of all there is. When there is only pure subjectivity and clear sight how can something else come to know anything separate. Both the separate subject and the separate object are nothing without the original Zen subjectivity. This is Zen pretending to be Zen.
All Zen can “do” is un-know what is not real or pretend to be something that it is not. Zen is unravelling the mystery of what it is not, to see that it is always only Zen unknowing Zen.
This Zen is absolute and pure without any separate thing to know. What knowledge could add to the totality of all knowledge, which is the stillness of movement or no-mind?
In this no mind we have nothing but total complete and undeniable Blissfully being. This is the Zen of laughing our way to freedom!