On Fri, 28 Dec 2007 ZenBob wrote:
>It is neither correct nor incorrect to
>state that if one "practices Zen" that one does not "make choices." As
>humans, we make choices, and practicing Zen is a choice.
>If we then choose to practice Zen, then our Zen Mind, and Zen Bones,
>follow that perspective, if we remain in that state of
>being. However, being human, means to drift in and out of states of
You are either practicing zen OR you are making choices. You are not
practicing zen AND making choices. That is clear to me. Perhaps we are not
using the term 'practicing zen' in the same way. The way you're using it
sounds more like 'trying to practice zen, or 'learning to practice zen' to
me. Yes, I do drift in and out of states of consciousness; and when I've
drifted into a state of consciousness where I create a separation between
myself and my environment (discrimination), then I do make choices, because
there is then an 'I' to make choices. But then I would not say that I am
>we must remind ourselves
>that the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon, and that the moon is
>actually unknown..the image of the moon on the retina is
>no more "real" than our sketch of the moon on paper. Yet, there is a
>world, even if only intuited, and we must find ways to
>function within it.
Actually, the image of the moon on our retina is a lot different than our
sketch of the moon on paper, but that's not important to the analogy of the
'finger pointing to the moon'. The analogy is important because of the
emphasis in NOT MISTAKING the finger for the moon; NOT MISTAKING the
teachings for the Buddha mind. And, contrary to what you said above, once
you've actually found the moon, knowing it is easy.
>.the Zen approach is Buddhist at its foundation,.
There is a Buddhist approach to zen, but zen does not have Buddhism for its
foundation. If anything, I'd say Buddhism has zen for its foundation, but I
could say that about almost any religion.
>.so right thought, etc., is a starting point first, and not trying to
>force the world into a preconceived illusory set of rultes is the next
A preconceived illusory set of rules such as 'right thought, right action,
etc.'? Thoughts are thoughts. Action is action. As soon as you
discriminate between 'right' and 'wrong' thoughts, you are already lost!
>We can agree that a door is just a series of info-packets and
>spinning electrons, etc., but it hurts to run into one, nonetheless. So,
>we refine our knowing of the world, moment by moment,
>until we begin to "ride the bicycle without thinking...without conscious
>choosing" and this gets us close to Zen for a bit. Then we
>"fall off the bike" and scratch our sore heads and try to get back on and
>ride again...hoping that we learned enough to understand what
>caused our fall and do not repeat the mistake.
Okay, this paragraph helps a lot. You are using 'practicing zen' like
'practicing riding a bike', and not like 'riding a bike', or better yet just
'wind in face, cars in and out, etc.'.
>A lot of Zen is conveyed in far too mystical terms, I think...and yet, it
>cannot be explained, nor simplified to the point of absurdity...
>this is most correct.
I agree wholeheartedly. Zen cannot be conveyed using mystical or rational
terms. Simplification is a good thing. I'm not sure how you can simplify
it to the point of absurdity. Zen is the most simple thing there is. It's
just THIS! How much more simple can you get?
>Both of us, I think are pointing at something we
>share in common to our experience, and seem to share a common
>foundation with...we must allow Zen to happen, we cannot force it...but we
>also cannot expect it to occur without some choices of our
>own day by day.
I think we are pointing at something we share in common. I too have
practiced zen for a long time, since the mid-60's under both Soto and Renzai
roshis. Now I'm living in a place where I do not have access to a sangha.
I enjoy participating in this e-sangha. I enjoy your posts.
>Allowing the tea to taste great still requires that we
>brew it in some "right" fashion, even if you or I brew it by
>different methods! In the end, we each must be satisfied or enjoy the cup
>of tea that we end up with.
Tea refreshes, ahhh! Wash cups. Tea is bitter, phwew! (spit out) Wash cups.
>When I use the word "choice"
>of choosing, I mean to suggest not the process of "choosing a specific act
>with the intent of making Zen occur" as that is silly, but
>I mean the aspects of the Eightfold Path, as I began with in my earlier
>post. I am also not trying to be doctrinaire or absolutist with
>that, only, again, suggesting a basis for developing a broader foundation
>that leads to "better results." What else can one do? :)
One can just sit. No choosing. No 'better', no 'results'. Just zazen.
>Our own inner transoformation is gradual and often surprising. Zen does
>just happen, but it never happens to the person who
>has not cultivated the nature of Zen within his or her own mental garden
>first. The mental reminders are the gentle rain that
>allow the seeds of Zen to germinate and eventually blossom, seemingly
>without any "choice" or "action" of our own. But we
>have been instrumental in their creation, nonetheless.
No transformation. What is there to transform? No cultivation. What is
there to cultivate? Rain comes, seeds germinate, flowers blossom. You were
not instrumental in this. All this is you.
>Really enjoyed the discussion, recently! Thank You!
Me too. Thank you for becoming active (again?) in the Zen Forum and for
posting such thoughtful and sincere insights.