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May 22, 2016


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Back in my christian days I ready a book "The Cost of Discipleship" by Deitich Bonhoeffer, an protestant pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazi's for subversion during WW2.

In one section he talks about what he defined as "cheap grace".. absolution without confession, forgiveness without repentance, and it occurred to me that zen, especially as "practiced" in the West, has fallen into the same trap.

We have Zen without (real) Zen Masters, the gentle effetes preferring to call themselves "abiding teachers" or some such to avoid offense. Zen without Satori, which has been defined down to "any intuitive insight".. whatever that means.. because Satori isn't easy and we wouldn't want anyone to feel left out. Zen without meditation, because transcendent states sound a might too risky, so we'll do "mindfulness" instead and call it satori so everyone can have it all the time. Zen where the traditional disciplines have been replaced by militant veganism, pacifism and liberal politics, and a few hours of ersatz monasticism a week.

And we get all this because that is all most "teachers" or "masters" have to offer from their vast storehouse of pretension, arrogance and spiritual poverty.

You don't need to consider this situation for long before you began to understand why some of the old masters occasionally used stout sticks for things other than walking!

I feel that lately I have seen 2 key signs. I am hoping that soon they mean I will be visited by more (maybe a 3rd and 4th as was Siddhartha Gautama)?

The first was when I was pondering why the historical Buddha sent the monks into the forest, while I was reading a book by Ajahn Chan. And then it hit me: The forest is the perfect metaphor for the mind. The mind made manifest. Some thoughts are like the crawling ants which go by quickly and disappear, eg "My nose itches." Others are like the trees, also impermanent but last a long time, eg "My parents love me." So maybe in a sense it is the mind.

The second is a bit more risqué, but I was thinking of orgasm and how all the pieces involved in having the orgasm, the nerves and the muscles and all the little things, are going to be dead one day and rot. In this sense the human body is just really like, you know, a car or a mobile phone. It gets used up then ultimately it just rots away. It's imperfect. It has viruses or clogged arteries, or it has a rattle or a dent in the fender, or whatever. It is imperfect and then it goes away. Nothing special or magical about the orgasm.

So I'm looking and waiting for these things, seemingly unrelated, to hopefully add up to some realization. Till then, I just keep my mind open to seeing these things. I hope this is the right path. It seems you can't force it, but you just hope and hope and watch and watch and it finally comes unbidden.

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