Monday, March 28, 2011

Learning more and less, day by day.

I've recently (read as: over a period of probably about half a year) gotten back into Zen practice, in a big way. Or a little way. That's the thing. Zen is suppposed to be a transmission outside of scripture, without letters and words. That's what makes it fascinating to me when people write about it. How can you use any kind of language to describe something that by the Buddha's own account exists outside of the influence of words? People try to do it anyways, and it usually ends up in a confusing jumble of non-words and gibberish. The idea of no-thing instead of nothing and concentrating on awareness without using thoughts seems absurd to most people, even moreso when you only read about it.

I've read the koans, and tried to meditate on them, tried to concentrate on them without thinking. Tried to exist without outside influence, tried to sit and just "be". I think I'm at a stage where I need to find a good teacher. I've exhausted my book resources. There is nothing left to learn about Zen, only to do. This is kind of hard for me. I'm such a scientific-minded person that it feels really strange for me to not try to study something objectively. But there are no theses or scholarly articles about Zen. Sure, there are articles about experiences with Zen, but nothing concrete, because it's impossible to study from the "outside", as it were.

As much as I would love to be able to objectively study Zen, I am always reminded that in a monastery, doing such a thing would inevitably result in a swift whack to the head from a master. It goes against the very nature of the thing.

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