If I had Buddha nature, then this sentence would suffice as an explanation. Indeed, it is not Zen to think about Zen. Zen actually means not thinking at all. Rocks and trees are masters of Zen. We rational human beings have to strive to be Zen. We think too much!
Particularly condemnable is thinking of the future and the past, and at worst negative speculative thoughts. The Zen Buddhist tries to avoid worry and regret. He wants to live in the here and now. The moment deserves our full attention. We should live life to the fullest, without thinking.
Therefore Zen is not really a philosophy. Philosophy tries to fathom existence and the world by thought. Zen rejects thinking: Zen is an anti-philosophy. In Zen there are no limits or tensions between different concepts. The universe is one.
As mentioned above Zen means meditation. The mindfulness meditation called Zazen is essential in Zen. During mindfulness meditation, one should consciously live in the here and now and in particular disregard thoughts. Thoughts should be like clouds passing by the meditator.
Zen is humorous, refreshing and shocking. My response was roughly in that order:
- But my thoughts is all I am!
- Isn’t it impossible to think about nothing?
- Isn’t it awful to think about nothing?
- Isn’t Zen just as offensive, as the experience machine?
- But I am so curious!
Zen is not for me. Zen is irrational. I try as much as possible, to improve my rational thinking. (think Spock) We rationalists believe, that you can’t think too much. “Stop thinking” is an insult to every rationalist. Of course, being offended is irrational, so we try not to be.
Why then do I write about Zen? To joke about it? Quite the contrary, Zen attracts me like a magnet. This is among other things due to the parallels with stoicism:
- Do not cling to things
- Do not rely on other people
- There is nothing to win or lose
- The solution to all your problems can only be found within yourself
- Do not waste thoughts on something beyond your control
- Live according to nature
Zen is thus a good alternative to stoicism. We will soon see, how good Zen Buddhists and Stoics get together. Greg, my world tour mate has been trying mindfulness meditation for some moments already.
Finally, a few quotes about Zen:
The more you study [the true Way], the further from the Way.
If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
– Dogen Zenji
I’d like to offer something to help you but in the zen school we don’t have a single thing!
Life is the only thing worth living for.