Monday, February 22, 2010

A Bucket Of Unawareness

Listen: a nightingale strains her voice, serenading the snow. Look: a tortoise wearing a sword climbs the lampstand.

Should you desire the great tranquility, Prepare to sweat beads.

Hakuin Ekaku was one of the most influential figures in Rinzai Zen Buddhism during 18th century. Hakuin was instrumental in integrating meditation and koan into training practices for monks. All modern day practitioners of modern day Rinzai Zen use practices that were initiated by Ekaku.

Trying to find some sense in Hakuin’s words doesn’t come from educated Western thought. Dissecting translated Japanese poems is a personal process, because Zen itself is personal energy. Zen can be described as spontaneous activity free of form. Zen flows from the formless inner self. We don’t need an education to experience that action; it is always present under our rational radar screen. We tend to filter unusual thoughts and then deposit them in a conscious mind holding area.

We consider the inner self a foreign place. We believe we are like the nightingale that strains and stresses in order to know the self. We act like the tortoise that slowly climbs the lampstand of awareness, but never turns on the light. We want tranquility and peace, but we look objectively for them. We sweat beads of emotions in order to sense what we already have.

We are never prepared to feel the action of Zen in its completeness. We fear and then ignore it and then call those actions sanity. Sanity is another term for complacent conformity. True sanity is knowing the nothingness of Zen, and frolicking in that awareness.

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