On Saturday, August 12, 2006 Donald wrote:

>I was often asked this question in the US, "Is there spirituality in Zen?
If so, what is your experience?"
>Chinese do not ask such question, because there is no word equal to
"spirituality".  I suspect this is an English >question or a cultural
>What can you share with me?

You don't need to know what 'spirituality' means to respond to these
questions.  You don't need to know anything.  The response should flow from
you like water flows from a spring.  In fact the more you 'know' about zen,
and the more you think about these questions, the farther from the mark you
will be.

Let me rephrase the first question to illustrate my point:

"Is there spirituality in zen?"
Is there logistic regression in zen?
Is zen blue?
Does zen have a flat bottom?
Is zen smooth like peanut butter?
Is zen crunchy like peanut butter?

How would you respond to these questions?  They're all the same as the
question about zen having spirituality.  They are attempting to have you
define zen by asking you to confirm or deny that zen has some specified
quality.  They are exactly the same as what might be the most famous zen
question of all: Does a dog have a buddha nature?

You response would be a part of the entire situation which only you would
know, and would change from moment to moment: Who is it that is asking?  How
serious of a question is it? What is your relationship with the questioner?
What is his perception of you?  Does he think you are an expert in zen and
speaking for all zen?  ...and so on.

I'm not saying you run over all these scenarios before you respond, in fact
it is just the opposite.  I am saying that you are immersed in that setting
and all of these things come together to create the moment - and the
response is just an effortless continuation of that moment - like a gust of
wind coming through an open window.

The second question is a conditional follow-on question; but in English the
conditionality of the question is not expected to be acted upon and demands
a response unconditionally.

"If yes, ..."  This is the conditional part.  Ignore it unless this question
is followed with another question starting with "If no, ...".  Then these
two question-pairs are truly conditional and you would respond only to the
appropriate one.  In this case neither would be appropriate since you are
HOPFULLY not going to answer 'yes' or 'no' to the first question.

"...what is your experience?"  Alright!  He's opened the door wide open and
invited you in.  He's thrown you in the briar patch! (A reference one of the
wonderful fables of Uncle Remus.)  He has now asked you to share your zen
experience.  In other words he has invited you to demonstrate your buddha
nature.  What a nice thing for him to have done!

The first question is like shaking up an unopened bottle of soda water.  The
second question is like popping the cap!  Whooosh!  Buddha nature is

As for the sharing part of my post, following is my attempt (with some help
from some online dictionaries) of defining 'spirituality' for you:

Spirituality usually refers to a connection with God or the supernatural;
although it can also refer to a connection with a universal force - like the
tao.  It usually refers to the 'spirit' as opposed to the 'body' or
something 'physical'.

It is important to note that Western culture has always seen man as having
two separate and in fact opposing facets:  physical (the world; humans; our
body; material goods like money, food, cars; bad emotions like greed, hate,
fear; etc...) and spiritual (heaven/paradise; God or Universal Force; other
supernatural beings; spiritual goods like blessings; good emotions like
fulfillment, love, courage; etc...).  Spirituality is the link or conduit
between the physical and the spiritual. 


See you later, alligator...Bill! 

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