Thursday, December 09, 2010


I’m reluctant to give this talk because it deals with winning the Zen lottery. It has to do with the question: What’s in it for me?

Better to ask your self: What’s in me for it?

Newcomers inevitably want to know what all this Zen stuff is for. What’s the purpose? What can meditation do for them? What can they gain from sitting still and not thinking?

How about fringe benefits? What’s the payback?

Zen people generally avoid talking about fringe benefits because naming them makes them seem like rewards.

Zen doesn’t offer rewards.

Zen is about living fully, and living fully doesn’t promise door prizes.

An aside: Is anyone familiar with an early-1970 New Age therapy called “Primal Scream”?

It was a technique in which adult men and women rolled around on the floor and shrieked about the pain of childhood traumas that were supposedly inflicted on them by their birth and, later, by their parents. The therapy was claimed to cure participants of alcoholism, paranoia, depression, high blood pressure, cancer, sex difficulties, and other disorders.

Zen is not a form of physical or mental therapy. It won’t alleviate athlete’s foot, fallen arches, colitis, asthma, or arthritis.

However, against my better judgment, I will mention a few possible benefits of meditation.

Just remember, there are no guarantees.

1. Mental management. You learn to use your brain power effectively so your thoughts aren’t hopping around like kangaroos.
2. Stress reduction. By letting go of unruly thoughts, and by sitting still for regular periods, anxiety and worry diminish.
3. Exclusion of judgments. Preconceptions and misleading opinions go away. You perceive life as it really is.
4. Awareness. You live in the present, experiencing each moment for what it is.
5. Compassion. Compassion is a key word in Buddhism and in Zen. It means you understand and are empathetic toward all things, not just human beings.
6. Intuitive behavior. You act in response to whatever occurs, whether it’s a flat tire on your car or a tornado.
7. Recognition. You realize that all existence is interrelated.
8. Relaxation. By not clinging to things, you loosen up and lighten up, mentally as well as physically.
9. Appreciation. You comprehend seemingly insignificant things. A stone, a flower blossom, a human smile.
10. Self-reliance. You learn to trust yourself. Doubts about your capabilities go away.

Will self-realization make you a more prosperous individual? Will it make you a good student, or a first-rate spouse, or a better expert at what you are already good at?




Again, there are no promises, no guarantees.

Nirvana opens the way. The rest is up to you.

Question: I don’t want this to sound like a testimonial meeting, but does anyone want to offer a confirmation, or a denial, of any meditation benefits?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can confirm: I have categorically experienced all of the benefits of meditation cited in the list. I can't really think of any that were not listed, so it seems pretty complete.

Monday, March 19, 2012 7:50:00 PM  

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