Because Zen makes sense

Archive for the category “Buddhism”

Riding the Wave of Change

SketchGuru_20140130080307Mindfulness is understood as «being in the moment» in some way or another. And for an everyday use of the concept, “the moment” may be a practical approach. I often emphasize the moment when I teach about mindfulness, and the audience feel at home with that way of thinking, knowing that the usually hasten through the days without actually being present in their own life.

Trouble with the concept of “moment” is that the moment basically never can be grasped. Whenever we come close to it, it has vanished. It is like trying to catch a shadow. The moment is both real and unreal, both at the same time. That is one of the big paradoxes in our existence. We like to think of time as a series of moments, defining another difficult word, “time”, in term of a word that in itself has no fundamental existence. It has to be this way, because our language is not constructed to go beyond what can be expressed in language itself.

This is philosophy, as we find it in Zen, but it is also science, as in the quantum field theory of physics. And to understand the more fundamental characteristics of mindfulness, we may perhaps turn to Tao, and its huge implications for our way of living. Tao is never still, it is always process and change. Wu wei, doing by not acting, is the radical consequence of the truth of a never ending change. In this changing reality, the only way we can come close to what resemblance a moment, is to be part of the change. By accepting the change, and float with it, we become the moment ourselves.

Becoming the moment is the only way be in the moment. Mindfulness is therefore fundamentally not about grasping the moments, but to be the moment. And the only way to be the moment, is to ride the wave of change, simply because there is no other reality than change. Reality is process. Mindfulness is though not standing still, but a process where past and future meet and converge into movement.

Mindfulness is to be awake, be part of, and conscious aware of, the change that the existence is all about.


All those reflections


When I went for a walk with an old camera today, in a Norway with diminishing hours of daylight, I became aware of these reflections in a window. I stood in the shadows watching the houses upon the sunny hills, as they were mirrored and framed in this window.

The finger that points to the moon is not the moon. 

(Buddhist quote)

I could turn around, and actually watch the hills, the houses, the sunshine. That was all real. In the window it seemed real, but was nothing more than reflections. If I did not know better, I could have substituted the reality with the reflections. That sounds ridiculous.

Still, that is what I think we often do. We confuse reality with its mirrored image, and act like that what we then experience is both the truth and the only possible reality. Awareness is the opposite. Awareness is to not be fooled by what we see in the mirror, but instead to grasp the reality behind the reflections. While awareness is the endpoint, mindfulness is the way.

For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.

(1. Corinthians 13.12)

Because behind the reality, there is another reality. And behind that one, yet another….

By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.
Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.

Yet mystery and reality
emerge from the same source.
This source is called darkness

Darkness born from darkness.
The beginning of all understanding.

(Tao Te Ching, translation: McDonald)


grenerSince Taoism, Buddhism and Confucionism is so interrelated, and still quite different, it is sometimes hard to sort of draw the borders between them. And it is for some even more difficult to define themselves in this mingle of thoughts, philosophies and religions.

I came across a very thoughtful article about the topic. The main point is that the Easternes, opposite to our western concept of religion, not are restricted to follow only one. And the second important point in the article is that humans are multidimensional, and that our lives are lived in different domains. So when Buddhism offers peace of mind, Taoism offers a more bodily approach in a natural framework, and Confucianism offers a framework for the organisation of our social and occupational lives.

So why choose, if all of the thought-systems can be of benefit? Then the guidance of our lives would be more like it is expressed in the Wayism.

The article is anyway well worth reading.

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.

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