I have often thought of writing a book about the secret of Zen (yes, there is a secret to it). But my lack of Amazon Kindle skills makes this project difficult. (I stick with the blog which is all about this secret and besides that, it’s fun to do.)
I am still considering the project. Have no worries. Here are a few of the reasons for doing such a book which is rather unique given that most books on Buddhism and Zen have missed the core or secret of the teachings.
In my old age, my ability to simplify Buddhism and with it Zen has grown by leaps and bounds. During a recent party for a friend who was celebrating his 60th birthday I was able to explain Buddhism in a very straightforward and simple way to him and some other friends.
To explain what I did let me first begin by saying that all of us have been educated to take this corporeal body of ours as a self-generating bio-machine leading us to identify with it in such a way that we believe, “This is my self.” Well, if you’ve read this blog for a few years you know that I don’t find favor with such a view.
Simply put, what animates this body of ours is not this corporeal body but the higher atman or animative principle which is never other than unconditioned. It is by our ignorance of this principle that consciousness (subject/object mode) latches onto name and form (i.e., the embryo). We are eventually born, grow up and die then are reborn to repeat the cycle. By the way, this is what the 12-nidanas are all about, that is, how we keep getting reborn.
As far as proper training goes, we must always distinguish what actually animates us, which is unconditioned (e.g., pure Mind, atman, suchness, etc.), from the animated which is always conditioned. This is at the core of Zen and even explains the basis of koans, more precisely, Zen’s essence 體 and function 用. Mu, for example, which is conditioned, is the function/expression of essence or the unconditioned. Our ultimate goal is to directly awaken—face-to-face—with what animates this corporeal body (and says Mu) rather than always identifying with the body as in, “this is mine”, “I am this”, “this is my atman.”
These are just a few of the reasons which prompts me to think about writing such a book. They are very unique and sum up Buddhism in a new way. There is more to it, of course.
Back to my friend’s 60th birthday. I told this small group that what animates this old body of flesh is eternal and undying. It is who we are. But, in error, we have been clinging to the animated body which is now growing old. As a matter of faith all that we have to do is to believe that what animates us is our refuge. Well, we all had a five person hug! Some people were in tears. But there was the light which was also compassion. It was a lovely 60th birthday for my friend and the others who shared this moment.