state of zen teaching in america

i get the impression that many teachers are teaching Buddhism at a very low level. i don't disagree with what they're saying, but in my mind i'm thinking, "why stop there?" maybe the teachers are "dumbing it down" to reach beginners?

but then i thought, if that's the case, the students don't know that, and they may mistake this half baked teaching for the real thing. so even if the teaching is helpful in a way, i think it's bad in the long run.

once you start to understand the truth, things like the precepts fall into place on their own so why not start at the top and let the things that most teachers talk about, just fall into place without having to discuss the obvious?

and when i say "top" i actually mean "bottom" because i think our actions grow out of our understanding naturally. or that's the way it works for me. the roots and trunk of the tree feed the leaves. so fertilize the ground and the leaves (precepts, etc.) will grow healthy and green.

if it sounds like i know what i'm talking about - i don't think i know anything. i just think.

how to deal with bullshit


penetrate everything with your actuality.

people will try to bullshit you. don't let them control you, yet don't try to control them. don't fight their opinion, yet don't let them walk over you. allow them to be who they are. the difference between you and them is who you are. killing them will kill you.

act as you are.

when people act with hostility, they expect you to react one of two ways. they expect you to push back, or to get the fuck out of their way. but there is a middle path.

there is a way to neither act nor react. this can not be taught. it can only be experienced directly. you will only understand through practice.

when you act in such a way, they may be confused. they may not understand this mysterious confidence that you embody. this is ok. you are just yourself. you act and react in the moment with absolute compassion. and because of this, you don't expect a certain result our outcome.

follow your true self - and all, as it is, will be revealed.

zazen and the ego

intellectual understanding is one thing. it is important. zazen goes beyond this. i think to understand intellectual understanding is to know its limitations and as long as you are not deluded into mistaking it for the way, it is healthy and advantageous.

however zazen goes beyond this. and you can not be zen if you do not let go of the conscious thought that is merely a small part of the dharma. to go beyond is to be in the present moment fully. it is knowing that everything is perfect as it is and there is no need to change a thing, no matter how it is. this is difficult, because we think in terms of good or bad.

these are opinions and nothing more than that. they are not absolute. it is the ego that controls this attitude, which is why it is important, vital, to see that the ego is merely a manifestation of the present moment and is in no position to control or decide what is good or bad. how could it, if it is it?

when the floor drops out


if you haven't had a moment where you were just thinking, or doing, and the floor dropped out from underneath you...leaving you with nothing to hold onto, in the most amazing way...then keep questioning everything.

that may not be a popular perspective, but hear me out. some of you have had these moments of clarity, call them what you want, when everything just "is" and it all makes perfect sense. and while we are in that state of transcendence, it is just as it is. immediately afterward, when our everyday mind comes back to us, the contrast of "is-ness" and the way we've always just known it to be create a spectacular sensation. and i don't think that is something to downplay, though it often is.

yes, after some time passes, we realize it was really nothing special after all, because all we were seeing is us how we always were. but we'll always remember how we felt at that time. and whether we realize it was nothing, or if we cling to it, it exists just the same. and we should appreciate it, and encourage it. because it may be a small step, and perhaps even a mis-step, but it is none the less a step and without success AND mistakes we are destined to stay where we are.

and while it could be said we always are where we are, let's just understand that we all know that already.

suffering - ain't nobody got time for that


there is no this becoming that. there is just this and that.

we think that there is this period of transition, from one state to another. if you're hungry and you want to make a sandwich, you go to the store to buy bread, peanut butter, and jelly. once you get back, you make the sandwich and eat it, relieving your hunger.

now we tend to believe this action as transitioning smoothy from becoming hungry, to going to the store, making and then eating the sandwich. you may believe, due to this misconception, that the point of the exercise is to satiate your hunger.

however, each moment is its own, completely independent of the moments before and after. each moment is complete in itself. there is no need for the moments before or after to exist. there is no point then to any particular moment, and thereby no point to any series of moments, or as we think of them - our life.

and that is a beautiful idea. think about it. it is the freedom to be who you are - to be everything that you want to be. it may not be apparent, but we go through each day, carrying an incredible amount of pressure to "do the right thing." but we can relieve ourselves of "purpose" and we can see everything we do as the most important thing we've ever done.

and when this realization sinks in, we have nothing to fear. a life without purpose is not a scary thing, because we naturally act in every moment with complete sincerity and purpose. we naturally do the right thing.

drop a glass jar on the wooden floor. it shatters. in the moment before the glass shattered, what happened? think in almost impossible to measure increments. well, nothing happened. it was not broken, and then it was. that is how we live our lives, whether we recognize it or not.

we are, or we are not. there is nothing in between.

it is in this truth that zen's attention to detail arises. every thing, every moment, every action - is just as important as the other.

there is no need to rush home from work. there is only traveling between the two locations. there is no need to rush to cook your meal so you may eat it. there is cooking and then there is eating.

all of the time we spend in our lives doing things, is just like this. we may not realize it, thinking one moment is better than another. but this is not true. if we can see them as equal, we can appreciate every moment to the fullest extent! not just the moments we deem "better."

when we are in no rush to move from one thing to the next, we can slowly begin to let go of our pre-conceived opinions of the world, slowly begin to relieve the world of all the unnecessary suffering. if each moment is equal - each person, tree and animal we meet, are all our equals.

there is no time for hate or prejudice in a world that appreciates each moment, and each person for what it is, and who they are.