Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I would like to begin this talk with a few words about Sprong.
Does anyone know what Sprong is? Does anyone fully comprehend Sprong? Does the idea of Sprong feel comfortable? Well, even though I made up the word I don’t understand Sprong. To me Sprong is vague, murky, indistinct.
Sprong is something other than any of us.
“What is he talking about,” you are thinking.
Bear with me.
There are people who need an other in order to know themselves. To know themselves, some people go to a priest or a minister, others to a psychiatrist, others to a god. Some people feel more complete, more fulfilled to have an other.
Then there are people who are complete in themselves. They don’t judge those who look to an other, they simply don’t understand a need for an other.
Here’s a question: In most of the Western world, what is the purpose of life? I’ll wait for answers.

Isn’t the purpose of life in the Western world to acknowledge an other? To praise and to pay homage to something other than one’s self? There is nothing wrong in this. What some people feel strongly about is important to them, and ridiculing the values of others is improper and unbecoming.
Here’s another question: What is the purpose of life in most of Asia? Again, I’ll wait for answers.

In most of Asia the purpose of life is to realize the unlimited potential of one’s self and to work toward bringing out the very best of one’s self.
Here is one more question: With whom or what are we humans more familiar? Ourselves? Or Sprong? I won’t wait for an answer. You may think you don’t know yourself and would really like to know more, but who is better qualified to help you achieve that realization?
Confucius said, “The measure of man is man.”
In Buddhism, or in Zen Buddhism, the Buddha is not an intermediary. Self-knowledge doesn’t come from outside. It doesn’t come from a Sprong. Self-knowledge comes from self within. If there is no self within to start with, all the rites and rituals in the world will be as helpful as a pair of square wheels on a bicycle.
Self is concealed in the personality of an individual until that individual wakes up and realizes his or her true nature. This awakening is what Zen is about, and it is unique to Zen. It’s what makes Zen distinctly different from all other beliefs, even from Buddhism and from Zen Buddhism. Zen insight reveals the oneness of the individual and all of being, and it hinges on nothing other than one’s self.
Saying what Zen is not is easy. Zen isn’t a relationship shared by the self and a Sprong. Zen is the fully realized self.
A Zen novice asked the master, “What is Zen?”
The master answered, “It is this.”
So, what is “this”? This is what is right here, right now. It’s a glass of water, or a bare foot on the floor, or a breath of fresh air. It’s not something or someone else that is somewhere else. Straining to find “this” is like hunting for the eyeglasses that are perched on your nose.
Because most people take their role in society seriously, either they don’t realize who they really are or else they forget who they really are. By direct pointing, Zen helps people realize what Zen refers to as “suchness” or “isness.” That is what they really are.
Legend has it that when the Buddha became enlightened someone asked him if he was a god.
The Buddha said, “No.”
“Are you a saint?”
“Well, then, what are you?”
The Buddha answered, “I’m awake.”
He didn’t mean he wasn’t sleeping. He meant he was conscious of himself and of everything around him.
He recognized his own original nature.
Original nature is not attachment to the universe nor is it separation from the universe. It is harmony with the universe.
A Zen text states: “Do not seek for the truth, only stop having an opinion.” As far as we know, there’s no such thing as a unicorn, and, so far, there’s no such thing as truth. So searching for either is a waste of time and effort.
Forget truth. Disregard unicorns. Don’t worry about Sprong. To really see, look within your self.