What is Zen?
Zen Buddhism is a way and a view of life which does not belong to any of the formal categories of modern Western thought. It is not a religion or a philosophy; it is not a psychology or a type of science. It is an example of what is known in India and China as a “way of liberation,” and is similar in this respect to Taoism, Vedanta, and Yoga. A way of liberation can have no positive definition. It has to be suggested by saying what it is not, somewhat as a sculptor reveals an image by the act of removing pieces of stone from a block.
– Alan Watts, The Way of Zen
If Zen has no positive definition, then everything is Zen. And if everything is Zen, then naturally every blog is Zen too. Right?
Actually, this argument is a perfect illustration of New Age rhetorical misdirection. While one can say that everything is Zen in its transcendent sense, such a statement cannot serve as the premise for an immanent logical conclusion. In other words: Zen proves nothing, by definition.
Applying transcendent or non-dual definitions to conventional worldly contexts is a popular tactic amongst false gurus.
This is Zen:
Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?
This is not Zen:
Tazo Zen Tea (24 bags)
An enlightening blend of the finest green teas and rare herbs available in this world.
A poem inspired by Billy Collins
The martial arts haiku tournament has officially ended. Thank you to all the participants. Here are some of my favorite haiku from among the submissions:
I hereby announce my latest group writing project, to encourage contemplation and discussion on the subject of martial arts.
Lao Tzu is perhaps the world’s most popular author. In the 2600 years since its initial publishing, Lao Tzu’s masterpiece, Tao Te Ching, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and reprinted more often than nearly any book in human history.
Lao Tzu was a great teacher, and a master of brevity. Though the Tao Te Ching is merely five thousand characters (less than fifty pages of English text), it conveys profound wisdom. His writing was potent, concise, and meaningful: all qualities which would prevent Lao Tzu from succeeding as an AdSense publisher.
No, Lao Tzu could never support himself on income from AdSense, or other contextual advertising systems. He probably couldn’t even earn enough to feed his water buffalo. Why?
Su Dongpo occupied a government post on the northern shore of the Yangtze River. Across the river at Jinshan Temple lived the Chan master Foyin.
One day, Su Dongpo, feeling proud of his accomplishments in meditative practice, wrote a poem and dispatched it to Foyin for approval:
I bow my head to the heaven within heaven
Whose light illuminates the universe
The eight winds cannot move me
Sitting still upon the golden purple lotus
When Foyin received the poem, he read it, wrote a single word in reply, and sent it back.