Saturday, May 03, 2008


I want to ask something of all of you.

Is there anything in Zen you would like me to address? What in Zen would you like to discuss?

You needn’t answer right now, but think about this and give me some ideas of your interests.

As you know, Zen is a question-and-answer exercise. Or it can be a discipline in which a master challenges those who listen.

I could think for you, but I don’t want to do that. Nor, I believe, do you want me to think for you.

I believe none of us wants to be given answers. If all we wanted were solutions, we’d be following some formal, organized religious group.

In saying that, I am not belittling anyone or any group. What they are, they are. What you are, you are. What I am, I am.

There are some things that I, and you, do not care to talk about. Not that they are taboo or embarrassing or obscene. It’s that they are pointless to state and pointless to listen to.

For example, I am not in the least interested in the indiscretions of celebrities. I do not need to hear from men or women who announce publicly they are gay. You know how, periodically, some public figure decides to bare his or her soul and proclaim their moral bent.

Nor do I give a hoot about a celebrity’s religion, theology, or philosophy.

If Richard Gere considers himself a Buddhist, or Jerry Lewis a Jew, or Alice Strifely a Baptist, good for them and for whatever they believe in. I really do not need to know about it.

I am wearied when people push their creeds and convictions on the world.

You are not here because I am selling Zen and you are buying Zen. Nor am I here to spill my guts about Zen.

Enough of that.

One day a Zen master began his lecture by rolling a ball from the platform. All the monks but one silently sat there and watched the ball.

That monk retrieved the ball and placed it on the platform.

The master smiled.

What’s going on here?

When the monks saw the master roll the ball, they were fascinated, wondering what the deeper meaning was.

One monk picked up the ball and took it back to the master.

Where is the hidden meaning? What is the message?

There is none of either.

If someone drops something in front of us, we pick it up and hand it back.

If we are outside and rain starts falling, we go inside.

Things are as natural as that.

If something comes up that you think of as an obstacle, don’t attach to it. Don’t look for some hidden meaning.

Observe it, see it. Really see it.

Recognize it for what it is.

A ball is round. A banana is curved. That is their nature.

A square has four sides. A straight line does not curve. Who is to say one is better than the other?

The master rolled the ball. The monk picked up the ball.

The first action has a beginning but no end. The second action has an end but no beginning.

Neither is more important or more significant than the other.


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