Zen Practice


Had a conversation with a friend on Zen today…

My problem with most Western reductions of the vision of Zen in zazen or praxis is that it is misleading and hinders most of those that might otherwise find it empowering. Zen is much more active than a “choiceless awareness”: think of the Koan… the point is to intensify one’s awareness to the point that thought and being as paradox are neither One nor Two, but rather unfold from both directions at once in a state of pure action, one that implies the full intensity of thought in movement and body in dance; a leaping. Even when practicing the repetitious forms of martial arts one can attain such intensive thought and physical movement that the tension between things awakens and one’s line of flight lures the world into the void to the point that one is the action while the act is happening. Yet, you are there in its unfolding…

“To stop your mind does not mean to stop the activities of mind. It means your mind pervades your whole body. Your mind follows your breathing. With your full mind you form the mudra in your hands. With your whole mind you sit with painful legs without being disturbed by them. This is to sit without any gaining idea. At first you feel some restriction in your posture, but when you are not disturbed by the restriction, you have found the meaning of “emptiness is emptiness and form is form.” So to find your own way under some restriction is the way of practice.” – Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Or, as Shunryu says: “Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself. We say, “It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, it is hard to have calmness in activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.”

Think of this: “If you leave a trace of your thinking on your activity, you will be attached to the trace.” The point is to leave nothing behind, to walk empty in the world. One is neither mirror nor lamp, but both at once: the traceless way of vanishing.