Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Who is This Jackass?

"Oh," you're thinking.  "A Zen Blog.  What makes this guy think he has the answers?  Where did he acquire this supposed insight?  Why would anyone even make a blog about sitting around and meditating?  And what makes him such an authority, anyway?"  These are all fair questions, and even if you weren't asking them, you probably ought to get into the habit of questioning anyone you get any of your information from. I'll start with the last.

What Makes You Such an Authority?

The simple answer is that I'm not.  I make no claims to authority, and you should not hold me to any lofty position.  I'm trying to provide some useful explanation and experience to help people reach an understanding of themselves and their own true natures (by the way, I hate trite terms like "true nature," but what are we gonna do?), but I'm just a dude.  I can't be an authority on your true nature any more than you can be an authority on what it's like to be grass, and if you find yourself starting to think of me as an authority, I wholeheartedly encourage you to dismiss those thoughts.  If you find my words helpful, they will be helpful to you even if you don't consider me an authority.  If you don't find my words helpful, they won't become helpful to you by considering me an authority.  No matter how you slice it, they're just gonna be some helpful or unhelpful words from a dude.

Why Would Anyone Make a Blog About Sitting Around and Meditating?

 I'm sure there's plenty of reasons someone might, and probably plenty have.  That isn't what I'm doing here.  While I encourage sitting meditation as a generally useful practice, it is not necessary for reaching a Zen understanding.  For many people, a structured meditation practice seems to be a helpful means of approaching their own understanding, and I'd never argue against anyone who follows that route.  Similarly, I'd never argue against anyone who opts to follow a rigid teacher/student dynamic, or who follows any of the many other traditional practices regularly associated with Zen.  However, those aren't my method, and they aren't a direct influence on what I'll be writing about.

My focus is going to be more centered on using koan practice to trip up the mind, and cause it to shake off its established delusions, and training it to do so more easily in the future.  Luckily, this and sitting meditation are not mutually exclusive practices, and indeed sitting meditation can be used as a means of allowing your mind to work with a koan.  Zen is a process, a methodology, not a religion.  It frequently comes packaged in a religion, but that's not what you're getting from me.  What you're getting from me is Zen minus the faith.

Where Did You Acquire Your Supposed Insight?

A few years ago, I suffered a disabling injury that changed the way I looked at the world in the most literal sense.  This made me unable to do many of the things I'd done previously, and as a result strained my own view of myself.  This is a very stressful situation to be in, and for a long time, I suffered under that stress, and those close to me suffered as a result of my stress, and some of my closest relationships became strained.  During this time I was also becoming more inquisitive about Zen, and while I found I could come to an intellectual understanding of Zen's goal, it wasn't until I reached a breaking point that the shift occurred in me, and I had a very sudden understanding of myself, my place in the world, and nature of reality. 

As I said before, by all means, feel free to dismiss this.  I'm not asking you to have faith in what I'm telling you; I just hope that you'll read on and find something useful to you. 

What Makes You Think You've Got the Answers?

I don't think that I have answers; I prefer having questions.  Questions are so much less invasive. 

I have methods to hopefully point you toward understandings.  Any answer you come across should be deeply considered and dismissed, no matter how convincing, no matter how useful.  If that knowledge is true, then it will still be there for you find again.  If that belief is worthwhile, you will come to it again.  If you cling to answers you've come to in the past, you are no longer free to examine that issue truthfully, and if things have changed, you are no longer in a position to discover that change.  Think of your understanding as a dance.  If you have props to make a set, your dance can can interact with them to make a great contextual performance, but if you don't set the props aside, they take up room on your dance floor.  Set them aside when you've finished with them, and you have so much more space to move.  Set aside your contextual knowledge and beliefs, and your mind has more room to move. 


  1. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate how well you're able to communicate the Zen cases/koans/stories. Hyakujo's Fox for instance. Your explanation of cause-and-effect really helped me understand a little more of what Zen isn't. It seems that is the only way to understand what it is a little more. I wanted to genuinely thank you for that.

  2. Thank you for sharing your insights. Your blog has been incredibly helpful to me.