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The power of souls is beyond any artifice. We are made from and by it, and we rise or fall in part by that power in others.

Zen Practice in Zen


Ever see Zen art? They use simple ink and they refuse to draw from memory. They seek to trap the sense impression, so the images are very impressionistic. Suggesting the image of say a bird, because in fact as we move about in our normal consciousness, how vividly does anything register on us? Usually not very, and like Taoist thinking they also tend to illustrate humanity as a small part of any scene.

As you practice Zen you begin to see that the ‘what’ you think is doing all of this, is actually sort of being done by the world. Most people are very reactionary and aren’t truly present. The you isn’t free from all the stuff you think isn’t you. So in fact, we all think me, and I, and my problems, and get very upset about these things that happen that we think we don’t want to have happen. But we don’t actually see ourselves in the undesired event though we have identified with it, and likely perpetuate it because it comes from an idea that we consider truth (a.k.a belief) and we aren’t consciously choosing to shape that factor of our minds.

A lot of my personal practices are very Zen, but I have to differ from their doctrines because of a personal “disability”. Flesh can vary and thus so can mind. Which in fact emphasizes the concepts of Zen even more. To transcend, which is really just growth. Any growth is transcending a formally static state. We have to own and move beyond our previous condition. Use words and not be used by them. Use ideas knowing that they are just ideas. Not mistake seeing the moon for seeing the finger pointing at the moon.

We don’t need to contrive a mysticism. The world has plenty of very concrete experience to support these truths. We need convince ourselves of nothing. To use Christian language the word of God is written upon the human heart and it’s written in everything else also. Zen isn’t so much a system of beliefs, as it is a focus on a set of skills and a body of experiences that come from practicing these skills. The various Zen masters differ some and yet that difference doesn’t refute Zen. Supports it, because it’s what the actual system says will happen. So many Zen stories are actually recollections of discussions between students and masters. Masters just being experienced practitioners.

In one Zen story, a university student and self styled philosopher go to a Zen master. Nominally to ask about Zen. The Zen master asks him to sit so they can have tea. They do and the student goes on and on about all he heard and knows, and as he talks the master pours the tea. And he keeps talking and the master keeps pouring tea. After a bit the student notes the master has filled his cup and is overflowing it. He is startled. When he responds the master stops and explains. You are like this cup. To truly receive something new you must first be empty enough to receive it. So Zen is about that. Not about learning, but about being free to learn. Not about belief, but about being aware of belief. They are nominally Buddhist, but they practice Zen on the sutras.

Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.

Travis Saunders
Dragon Intuitive


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