Because Zen makes sense

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Zen is not Buddhism

Zen can never be Buddhism. Neither can Zen be any other ‘ism’. But there can be Zen in Buddhism. Likewise there can be Zen in any other religion, philosophy or way of life.

The concept of Zen is often used as an abbreviation of Zen Buddhism, and for good reasons. Zen is so important in Zen Buddhism that it almost is synonymous. But still: Zen is Zen, and Buddhism is Buddhism. Just like Zen is Zen and Taoism is Taoism, or Christianity is Christianity. Zen is an awareness of the moment, and basically emptiness of everything else. Zen is a method for training this awareness, for training mindfulness. Zen is focused meditation, nothing else. The moment we fill Zen with anything else, it is no longer Zen.

Zen is an universal way of quieting the mind from what’s disturbing. It is an universal method for training insight and awareness. The reasons for doing Zen can be varied, like enlightment, reaching contact with Tao or God, or just to find balance in life. But in practicing Zen, Zen is only Zen, and nothing else.

I agree that we hardly manage to create the silent emptiness when practicing Zen (or zazen), and that our awareness often is disturbed by other thoughts. These thoughts can be of many qualities, including religious, philosophical or existential character. But this intriguing thoughts are basically not Zen, even though our awareness of these thoughts is part of Zen.

Each time we practice there is nothing but Zen, not Buddhism, Suffism, Christianity or Taoism. The core is Zen, anything else is ad-ons. Happily we are free to add.




Looking back on my life, I sure have made many mistakes. And each day I struggle with consequences of earlier bad choices. Some of my mistakes hurt others, some hurt only myself, and some hurt both others And myself. Some consequences seem to have been glued yo me for the restvof my life, some have been transitional, but never the less both quite serious and unpleasant.

But do I feel regrets?

In a.mindless life I sure don’t feel good about my mistakes. And I wish they could have been undone. I guess most people grumble about earlier mistakes. Most people bear on a bad conscience, shame and.a.hurted pride when thinking of mistakes that could have been prevented. And when our actions have hurt others, most of us will feel the burden of bad conscience. That is natural.

But apart from the fact that I have hurt others, do I have reasons to regret?

Well, first of all what’s done is done. Nothing can be undone, even though some of my mistakes can to some extent repaired. That is a fact that must be accepted, and acceptance of reality is fundamental for our wellbeing. So energy used to grumbling about earlier mistakes is a thief of energy that should be used here and now to do right.

Second, I have learned from my mistakes. My mistakes have contributed to my wisdom. Besides that, my mistakes have made me more tolerant towards the mistakes and faults of others, my mistakes have indeed made me more compassionate. Wisdom and compassion are no bad qualities. I don’t think neither shall protect me against doing new mistakes, and I don’t think my experiences have given me a moral superiority in any way. But my mistakes have surely made my mind more open and accepting.

Thinking of it, even my mistakes and their consequences have become a valuable part of my condition. Apart from what sufferings my.mistakes have brought upon others, which I feel deeply sorry for, my own sufferings have been beneficial to me. I have got opportunities for learning, and I have learned. Besides that, I get more aware of my blessings when I experience the opposite.

Is it possible to be grateful both for ones mistakes and for their consequences? Thankful for my suffering they have created in my life? I am not sure. It has always been better being well and rich than sick and poor. And I don’t embrace my sufferings. But all taken into account my situation always have something to teach me, and even suffering offers me an opportunity for personal growth. If I had got the opportunity to live my life once again, I probably would have avoided some of the mistakes I have done. But I also believe that I would have done others. Mistakes and faults are all part of human existence, and I am not sure that a life without any mistakes would have been all beneficial to me.

Yes, I do regret my mistakes, and I am sorry for the consequences, both on my behalf and on the behalf of other. But I am thankful as well, with an accepting attitude, a sort of self-compassion. I accepts what is done, and I am grateful for all wisdom I can get out of it. Then I try not to do the same mistakes over and over. That is a question of mindfulness.

Illustration: Wikimedia commons: Les regrets d orphee  Charles Paul Landon.

Christianity, Science, Eternity, and a Funeral


I attended a funeral yesterday. It was not any funeral. My father passed away some few days ago. The priest talked about the eternity within each of us, and with God as the eternal ruler of this eternity. A traditional Christian funeral it was.

Also in the memorial afterwards the speakers talked about my father now living forever with God. In heaven, in eternity. I myself, being an agnostic, listened to all comforting words, to all that saw hope in the eternal life. People are kind to each other in front of existential questions of life and death, and the believe in eternal life with God is comforting, both soothing the loss, and creating hope when we ourselves ultimately shall die.

My speech was a bit different. I talked about the fact that the energy of life don’t disappear with death, it only transforms. The energy of my father is still there in one form or another. That’s a law of physics. There is an eternity in this fact. The energy shall always last.

And I talked about the little blue dot, in a small solar system, in the periphery of a galaxy among billions og galaxies is where we ar born, where we live and where we die. On this tiny plane is all our history, this is where we strive, where we make love, where we have our losses and our victories. So small humans are, so negligible our problems are, how unimportant we are in this vast cosmos.

But w are all made of stardust, we are made of this vast cosmos, and we are living parts of the great universe. And therefore we are all related, with each others, with all living beings and with the enormous cosmos with all its energy and power. We are united. So while we may seem small, we are at the same time not only part of, but we are, one and each of us, the cosmic infinity and eternity.

A different speech? Perhaps not, after all. If I omit God, or perhaps God is this energy, I fundamentally expressed the same thoughts as all others. Christianity and science met in an almost logical way.

I was not the only in the gathering who recognized the similarities. Christians, as well as atheists and agnostics talked to me afterwards of not only how we all felt connected, but also of how we are eternity either way we approach our human existence.

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