For many years now, I have practiced at zen.
By practice, that has included anything from reading about & listening to lectures by monks, gurus and the like describe their interpretations of spiritual enlightenment, to making an active effort at a daily yoga meditation discipline.
None of this makes me any more knowledgeable than you or the next person when it comes to being a “good person”, knowing a power greater than us, or understanding the human condition with any more clarity. If anything, it may very well be that I have only clouded my head with more ideas and thoughts that lead me astray by even hinting that I am somehow wiser than I was the day before. Who knows?
But still, I practice at zen, in the moments of finding a mindful breath to ground my spirit, in reminding myself to not place any more merit in the beliefs of friends than of enemies, in simply seeing that Life is all a game and that this is my casted role to play.
Zen is not a belief system, a political party, a foodie lifestyle, a moral dogma, a code of ethics, a theology doctrine, nor any kind of ideology.
As such, I write words about zen with no intention to convince you of anything, to sell you something, to offer a cure for a pain, or to appear as though I have some sense of clarity that you could not acquire, or do not already hold within you.
Rather, my current taking of zen is to be a spiritual-political practice of accepting the chaos of the Cosmos (and all its overwhelming realities of indifference, suffering, oppression that we have been born into) while continuing to remain aware of the raw, imperfect beauty in each moment (with acts of self-expression and self-realization that bring new meaning, purpose and hope for the benefit of all beings that we share this existence). Zen is a practice of being committed to the daily struggle for collective mind-body-spiritual liberation, but still remaining present and awake to witness our universal existence beyond the definitions and expectations that we attach to it.
“Zen” originates from the traditions mahāyāna Buddhism (specifically, as a Japanese variant of the Chinese “chán”), which is itself a school of philosophies & rituals for practicing the non-theistic religion of Buddhism.
For the sake of not appropriating any cultural elements of how the Japanese practice zen or the Chinese practice chán, I continue to only relate to “zen” as a practice concerned with meditation (dhyāna) (zazen) intended to cultivate concentration, awareness, and balance in ourselves.
Nevertheless, I will try to actively acknowledge that most of the insights and wisdom – that I learn from still and plan to share here – exist through the labors and knowledge of living or remembered teachers, yogis, monks and nuns throughout the continent known as Asia.
My intention in sharing my spirituality of zen is not to claim any idea or truth as my own, but only to share freely insights and wisdom in hopes of helping ease the suffering of any curious to read these words.
Ultimately, I continue my effort with intention of opening my mind & heart to more liberated ways of existing – here, now. And that is all we can ever ask of ourselves.
It is both the most difficult and most loving opportunity we can ask for.