Zen Reflections From Our Sangha
Zen Is . . . What?
Writers have attempted to define Zen in a myriad of ways. A quick Internet search for definitional statements regarding Zen turns up the following:
It would be difficult to judge or reconcile these statements. As with the ancient story of the blind men and the elephant, all of these descriptions hold truth, and yet all fall short of the complete truth. Not that profound things cannot be said of Zen. According to Dr. Alan Watts,"Zen is a method of rediscovering the experience of being alive." Zen scholar Dr. D.T. Suzuki said that “Zen is life”. Trappist monk Thomas Merton opined that "Zen is consciousness unstructured by particular form or particular system, a trans-cultural, trans-religious, transformed consciousness". Other Zen teachers, when faced with the question of defining Zen, say “Zen is very simple. What are you?”
Thoughts From Our Sangha
Our sangha members have also had many thoughts about Zen and what it means to them. Here are some reflections graciously shared by various members:
I'm drawn to the silent, ego-less dignity of the Clear Mountain community. Carl's darma talks are inspiring and I carry what is said (as well as what is not said) with me through the week. I have only been able to attend sporadically, but I am always welcomed.
Zen practice at Clear Mountain has given me the opportunity to tune into
my own thoughts and find out for myself on how to sit with them when they
come up and sometimes go astray. It is teaching me that it is okay to
learn to be calm and centered. It is teaching me patience and how to be
in relationship with all people without , hopefully, the judgement and
the evaluation. I hope to get to a point where I can show deep
appreciation for the lives of other meditators and compassion for their
path that led them to Clear Mountain Zen Center.
Zen is never having to say you’re sorry [ OK, maybe that's a stretch ]. Nevertheless, at the start of the Tao Te Ching it is said that the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. And so with Zen.
Perhaps the best definition of Zen is “I don’t know”. In our technical-scientific culture, ‘not knowing’ is a very bad thing. But the ancient Zen teachers remind us in a koan, case 20 of the Book of Serenity, that “not knowing” can also be a state of honest wonder and direct encounter. In a nutshell:
Jizo asked Hogen, "Where are you going?" Hogen said, "I am on pilgrimage." Jizo said, "What is the purpose of your pilgrimage?" Hogen said, "I don't know." Jizo said, "Not knowing is most intimate".
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Clear Mountain Zen Center
7 Oak Place
Montclair, NJ 07042