Tuesday, December 28, 2010


“Real practice has orientation or direction, but it has no purpose or gaining idea, so it can include everything that comes.” Shunryu Suzuki.

That is to say, if there is no intention or point, real practice can include everything that comes.

That is a fulfilling thought.

The other day I came across an interesting bit of non-news. It had nothing at all to do with such real news as body scans or political leaks.

Also, it had nothing to do with Zen.

It was about a British man who, at age 70, has logged 15 million travel miles and visited 138 countries.

That’s a lot of travel.

His name is Fred Finn, and most of his travels have been financed by corporations that have hired him as a license manufacturer, what ever a license manufacturer is.

Evidently it pays well.

I hope ol’ Fred enjoys his journeys as much as I do mine.

Most of you know I travel a lot.

In my rambles I tend to spend most of my time in places where there is nothing.

No, I’m not referring to some mystical state of mind. I mean earthly places where there are no condominiums, no fast-food joints, no gas stations, no motels, no traffic noise, no exhaust fumes.

In that nothing, there are trees, rivers, mountains, birds, clear air, and blue skies.

In that nothing there is everything.

And yes, there are such places in the world. You just have to have purpose in finding them.

Beaches in New Zealand. Mountain tops in Austria. Jungles in Ecuador.

Many people believe that Zen practice is doing zazen. That is, regularly sitting on the floor and not thinking for a designated period of time. And many people believe that will lead to awakening to one’s own true nature.

Oh, zazen is important for awakening. No question.

Zazen is one thing, awakening is another.

But as Dogen maintained, zazen is awakening.

This is a classical Zen example in which one and one don’t make two, but one and one make one.

Zazen is Zen practice, but real practice goes beyond meditation.

Real practice lies in living one’s Zen. Living it day by day, each instant of every day.

One book I recommend to everyone is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living, by McClain and Adamson. It’s a basic sort of book, easy to read and easy to understand. It is predicated on the notion that Zen isn’t just meditation.

Zen is everyday life.

Here are a few Zen stories from antiquity.

A master said, “There is Buddha for those who don’t know what he is. There is no Buddha for those who know what he is.”

During a conference of religions various representatives got up and said their religion was great. When the Zen spokesperson stood, he said: “Zen is Zen. There is nothing great in Zen.”

One day Chuang-tzu and a friend were walking alongside a stream.

Chuang-tzu said, “How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves.”

“You aren’t a fish,” his friend said. “How do you know the fishes are enjoying themselves?”

“You aren’t me,” Chuang-tzu said. “How do you know I don’t know the fishes are enjoying themselves?”


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