February 24, 2011

Becoming Zen.

I don’t study Zen to become Zen. I study Zen to become myself.

There seems to be a some debate about how one should or should not behave when they start studying Zen. It may possibly come from the eightfold path.

Wait. Allow me to back up a second here. For those who don’t know, Guatama Buddha come to a certain realization which states that:

  1. life is suffering,
  2. suffering comes from attachment,
  3. suffering can go buh-bye,
  4. the eightfold path is how you give suffering the bird.

Or something like that. These are called the Four Noble Truths. The fourth truth mentions the Eightfold Path which is:

  1. right view
  2. right intention
  3. right speech
  4. right action
  5. right livelihood
  6. right effort
  7. right mindfulness
  8. right concentration

I realize that most of you have probably, at least once, seen or heard about these. But considering I had to look them up, I figured a good number of you wouldn’t have it memorized (although I have no doubt that some of you spent a good amount of time with your Good Buddhist flash cards studying these lists).

So there it is, in black and white. There are “right” things to do which necessitates the fact that there are “wrong” things to do. Do the right things and you will alleviate suffering. Do the wrong things… not so much.

So what are these “right” things? I have no doubt that there are tons of books and blogs written on the subject. I have no doubt that if we sat down here, we could come up with a list for at least 1-5. And as fun as that might be, it would be missing the point.

All of these “rights” aren’t pointing to some great law or rule that one, as a Buddhist, must follow. What is meant is that in each interaction, in each moment, we must fulfill our roll. “Right view” isn’t the view that a Buddhist should have. It’s the view that you do have. “Right speech” means your speech. “Right livelihood” means your livelihood.

You will notice that, when you look at it this way, the goal isn’t to become a Buddhist. The goal is to become you. There really is no need to study what a Buddhist should or should not do. What is of utmost importance is you discovering you and your function in this world.

Zen is about becoming who you are, the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s not about becoming Zen.

Or not. I could be full of shit.

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