Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Zen Doesn't Work!

Many of us are drawn to Zen for its qualities of calmness, serenity and peace of mind. In it we are looking to find relief from pain and suffering. What is weird about the process and practice of Zen is that if you try to get these things from it you actually chase it away. To use Zen to achieve any goal is to not practice Zen. Zen is Zen as it is...in our attempts to make Zen work for us we defeat ourselves, get frustrated and stop practicing.

Zen is one of those practices that can't be described by what it is or by what it is not. Zen is actually useless in accomplishing anything. Yet, its practice has many 'benefits'....but to try and get those benefits you actually lose those benefits.

So, how do you not practice Zen? Practice it...but don't practice it with an end in mind. Just sit. Watch the breath. When the mind wanders return to breath. If you feel comfortable or uncomfortable, scattered or focused, happy or sad...just acknowledge these sensations and return to breath.  Each day, each breath is different. Be with it as it is...no chasing after pleasant sensations or running from unpleasant. Be present...here and now....and watch. All is perfectly managed.

That's it.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. Nice and true. In fact this practice can collect some "internal medicine" and apply it to the injured parts of the body. Just by keeping attention and intention inside the body, getting rid of the mind dialog as much as possible, we allow the spirit to return to us and directly interact with the mind and therefore with the qi and the body. It is said that the spirit knows by itself where to travel inside the body and what to do to cure the injuries.
    Chinese also have "external medicine" that can be more or less effective depending on the lineage. I have seen such medicine and got myself treated of injured dantian. However there is no trade of internal medicine for external one. The latter only will amplify the effects of the first one.

  2. Excellent note Richard...allowing 'the unborn'or our spirit to do its work is the best medicine.

  3. Still if the body is too broken, it is very difficult to rely on the spirit power, especially if one never used it's real power. For beginners and even for intermediate levels if there is an internal injury then the external medicine is necessary for quick recovery.
    The most insidious effect of internal injuries is that they intoxicate the blood and blockages develop on meridians. Then a vicious cycle is started where the spirit become less and less effective to cure the body. One must exit the vicious cycle as fast as possible and at this moment a proper medication is necessary to cure the blood. Curing the blood it will increase, and qi can increase. Then the spirit can take over and use the qi to further cure the body.
    At least this I can tell from personal experience.

  4. A very nice and important note for many. Including for me. The end should be the way and the process themselves. Zen is Zen. Meditation is meditation.

    Looking forward your next inspiring post.


  5. @Rizal: Yep...Sitting is sitting. _/|\_

    @Richard: Good points on healing. Thanks.

  6. Shinzen,
    well said!
    just as with trying to define the tao...it loses its meaning when defined. It is merely existence in the present moment, each breath.
    Like trying to grasp a handful of water...it slips through the fingers.

  7. Yes, very true Shinzen, I certainly have nothing to add...another great post :-)