Thursday, June 9, 2011

Raison d’etre

Zen has nothing particularly to offer as its own; for its raison d’etre consists in its being a spiritual experience and not in its being a special system of philosophy or of certain dogmas conceptually synthesized. We have Zen only when the Mahayana Buddhist speculation is reduced to actual things of life and becomes the direct expression of one’s inner life.

D.T. Suzuki in his 1927 essay, History of Zen explains a little about Zen as well as the differences between the Chinese beliefs about Buddhism and the Indian concept of the religion. As Suzuki points out Zen is not a religion or for that matter a thing; it is the expression of nothing as we untangle our thoughts about spiritual experiences and physical reality.

The expression of nothing or what the ancient monks call ‘no-thing’ is a burst of awareness that grabs the focused self and deposits it into a vat of emptiness where all things exist. That emptiness is not empty; it is filled with energy that changes the psyche so it vibrates with the silence that connects the music of being. The psyche we recognize as significant is scattered through the emptiness of Zen and when we allow a fragment of it to bleed through we automatically sense our multiplicity.

When we get to a point where we simply begin to allow this bleed through to occur amazing changes develop in this reality. Men of Letters who cared less about carpentry suddenly begin to do their own home repairs. Doctors become farmers, and politicians discover their spiritual presence. The creativity of the psyche allows us to connect worlds that we say are not real, and we sense the Zenness that swallows the ego.

The direct expression of one’s inner life is a menagerie of expressions that manifest as we awaken to the Zen in all of us. On the tip of every eyelash sits a cell waiting to express itself in order to experience the excitement of being physical. That is the true raison d’etre.

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