What is Zen?

Twenty years ago I became intrigued with the idea of Zen. It would not be long before I realised there is no need to understand anything about Zen (meditation). At the most basic level, we sit on a cushion and enter into a thought. I spoke to a Buddhist of his views on the subject. I asked if I could use his image and name. He refused, and the reason is explained in the next paragraph.

Enjoy my friend’s words:-

‘My words are only an opinion, they are not accurate, fixed or ‘the method’. The reader will make their interpretation and find their method. If I give my name or face to the essay, then the ideas may be referred to as ‘John’s method’. There is no one ‘Master’ some will become master in a week another will be novice until the last breath. My thought is we are neither master or novice, because, a basic guide is, Zen asks us to accept we are always novice’.

So what is your opinion?

‘Zen is to some degree a paradox. The idea asks for every day to become anew. The concept asks you to accept that finding different ways of viewing and reviewing any situation, is the way of better-assessing one’s world. The paradox is there are teachers and those who practice the method who believe they possess sufficient wisdom to guide others to a better awareness of the practice. Indeed, the discipline is passed down from one so call master to a novice. The novice becomes master, and the cycle continues. And with each subsequent rebirth, there is a subtle enhancement to the technique’.

Does Zen (meditation) works for all humans?

‘Of course, it does, only remember, the Westerner has a different lifestyle to those who can dedicate specific times to the mediation. I can find two or three hours; you may only have five minutes. Nothing is fixed, a minute of thought is better than a day without silent meditation. Many people believe the ultimate mediation is to find stillness, calm, silence and peace. The closest to actual mental silence is within sleep; there is no better place than sleep for mental and physical repair. Meditation helps still the mind before sleep.’

What can we learn from Zen?

‘Zen is the Japanese word for mediation. I can pass on my way of understanding, my method of Zen. We cannot see into another humans mind. One may say he can reach a mind of stillness when he is thinking about a Sumo bout. Another may say her mind is full of ideas and thoughts and in fact is exercising a focus on a subject, and the focus is allowing different ideas to rise into consciousness. Those who imply they have an understanding of Zen, have failed to grasp the essence of the idea.’

What is your understanding of Zen?

‘There is no understanding. From my meditations. I am directed to find an inner calm which is transferred to my actions and thoughts. From, tending the garden, to walking, eating and being with my family. I know the ways I can make my daily work easy and efficient. For example, being fair, working hard and enjoying the difficult and boring tasks. We can either give our very best or give the worse. The worse, moaning, complaining and finding fault ruins our relationships. Love is easy, hatred difficult. You chose to write; I chose to have a trade. In essence, Zen is a method of discovering the ‘self’ and self-awareness’.There is no difference what a person does, provided whatever is done is worked with to the best of the person’s ability. My son disliked his university studies and when I said ‘Do something else’ he replied ‘I need my degree to get a good job’. He is now in a job he dislikes, and this is his choice. I love him as a son, although his choices make his life difficult. He asked me what I would do, and I answered ‘Do something else, every day we are a novice’.

My final Question: Has God anything to do with Zen?

‘Explain to me: what is God?’ He laughs.

I am out of my depth: the conversation is over.

I practice a form of Zen when taking photographs, the camera is the meditation mat. I am a novice, knowing nothing. Every day my ‘Zen’ is writing two to three thousand words and reading one-quarter of my chosen book. My work rewards on many levels, The Community, the growth of the Shows, the growing awareness of LizianEvents by hundreds of people. Can I offer further insight into Zen?

Not a chance.

See You Soon



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