--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, kahtychen <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Thanks for your reply, Bill! I enjoyed the paint-by-numbers analogy.
> Dear Everyone (or two),
> Here's a question about knowledge.
> :-)
> How do you study the dharmas with non-attachment? How do you decide
> what knowledge to hold dear, and which to consider with equanimity?
> On what basis do you decide whether it's more important to know who
> the 6th Patriarch is or what the 6th Ground is? To read a sutra, or 
> avoid texts?
> If we vow to master the dharmas, we're putting a lot of investment 
> them. How would we find equanimity to release them as easily as hold
> them?
> Can we just sit, as Bill suggested, and find all our knowledge, 
> inside? Can we do this with no training or guidance? One of the
> central aspects of Zen practice is having a teacher. What is their
> function, if not to pass on knowledge?
> The best I can make of it, today, is to consider Right Effort, 
> skillful qualities. The moral and philosophical tenets of zen
> (Buddhism, the Tao) are objects that provide pivot points for our
> attention, and hold little value outside of that function. (Yes, it
> logically follows that Playboy Magazine is just as useful a text as
> the Diamond Sutra.)  Zen, zazen, is practicing awareness, of dancing
> such pivot points. To me a fruitful sitting isn't the one in which
> I've had an easy and tranquil mind, it's the one in which I've
> struggled on my pivot points. When I exercise my capacity for
> equanimity through observing my thoughts, it works much as 
> in the gym, which build a muscle by first tearing it: dancing my 
> points breaks my habits and I get to build new, more aware mental
> formations to dance with another day. :-)
> I've also read the analogy that it's like fine tuning an instrument,
> which is why we're always practicing and never performing.
> So, what do you know?
> Regards,
> Kahty

Surprising little, which makes me both happy and sad.

I never let studying zen, or the dharmas interfere with my living 
zen. The simplicity of zen is that you are never out of touch with 
it, never unenlightened, always in balance, always following your 
path, always performing even when you practice. At this moment, as 
these words touch you, you are alive, you are not practicing for a 
life to come, right now you are on the stage, right now and every 
now, every moment of time ticking away, is your now. Zen is now, no 
matter what you are doing.

Finding importance in knowledge is like throwing wads of wet paper at 
a wall. What sticks must have been important, what does not, wasn't. 
No one can decide for you. Even the choice to follow a particular 
teacher is still your choice. But a teacher can do nothing for you 
except to try and explain their own path, which would take a 
lifetime, you'd have to live their life, from the beginning, to truly 
understand where they have been. A teacher provides a road map, tells 
you which diners had good food and which bad, which movies they 
liked, which books, which partners gave them the most pleasure or the 
most fulfilment, but honestly, wouldn't you rather find out for 
yourself? Do you want someone to tell you what a hamburger tastes 
like or do you want to taste it yourself? Do you want to have someone 
tell you what love is like or do you want to experience love 
yourself? Life is the best teacher, experience. Still I like to have 
someone tell me that the bridge is out, or the power is still on in 
garbage disposal before I stick my hand down there to unclog it. 
Teachers have their uses, just watch out for anyone who likes to be 
called 'master' rather than teacher. Watch out for someone who wants 
to live your life, have your experiences, so you don't have to, 
unless of course that is your thing, your way to fulfilment.

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