Thursday, August 23, 2018

Zennier Than Thou

Something I’ve noticed in Zen groups on line, is what Chogyam Trungpa called spiritual materialism. I don’t use that term, it sounds too dignified. I prefer to call it the need to feel superior. Either way, it manifests as “I’m Zennier than you.” I don’t write original content that much, instead I try to help “untie the knots” as Linji would put it. I also tend not to sound particularly Zenny when doing it. I don’t think it’s all that helpful in a social media setting for example, to sound too paradoxical or cryptic, or for that matter, clever.

When I do write, I try to err on the side of the reader being totally new to Zen, until I see that the reader might be a little further along the path, or at least ready for a bit of a challenge. I’m not fond of someone who thinks s/he is smarter or wiser jumping to teaching Z when the person with whom they’re engaging is at B. It becomes doubly troublesome when that person doesn’t have a good grasp on what Z actually is.

“Putting it all down” is perhaps one of Zen’s key teachings—discarding the raft when it’s no longer needed (although I’d add that keeping it around if someone else is floundering in the river, a Bodhisattva lifeguard if you like). Too often we come into contact with someone who has jumped to Z putting down the raft of teachings before they’ve even dunked their toe in the water of the teachings.

Before “liberating” oneself from the constraints of Zen teaching, it’s a good idea to know what the teachings are that you’re liberating yourself from. It may turn out that the teaching has lasted 1,500 years because it works, is valuable, and worth hanging onto. Zen is not a practice of convenience or comfort, it’s challenging. Pick up the Zen gauntlet, accept the challenge, fight with it if you need to. There’s nothing wrong with fighting it if that’s where you are in your practice. There’s nothing wrong with being there, none of us started out as a Patriarch/Matriarch, we all started out by getting our feet wet.
AndI suppose a “Zennier than thou” stage is where some are at in their practice too, and that’s equally OK.

I’ll get off the high seat now. May all beings be at ease, see their True Buddha Nature, and be liberated.