Now and Zen

Dark Zen writes:

What is lost sight of in the modern day practices of Zen, is that Zen’s traditional goal is the realization of Buddha Mind. Consequently, any and all forms of meditation must be subordinate to the goal at hand, namely, enlightenment. Meditational forms can never become the goal itself. Historically speaking, many Zen priests became enlightened during work, rather than during seated meditation; or from reading, as was the case with the great Hakuin (1685-1768).

This is a very interesting observation. In this age of commodified spirituality it is so tempting to fixate on meditation forms and never question our meditation focus. After all – forms are easier to pre-package. Yet this is almost a complete reversal of the emphasis in the ancient Judeo-Christian scriptures. There you will find orientation and attitude emphasised to the almost complete exclusion of tools and techniques. What does this say? I think it is particularly important to note that seated meditation is merely one form of meditation. It is not essential. In fact as a professional and a parent I find it relieving that it is not. I don’t have the luxury of running off to a quite monastery for a few hours each day. A significant proportion of my epiphanies occur when Im walking and working. What is essential for Christians is immersion in Christ – his way and his life and his living presence.

The extreme emphasis, in modern Zen centers, on seated meditation alone will not advance a student of Buddhism to the level of wisdom the Buddha attained under the Bo- tree. Without extensive Sutra study and proper instruction in Dharma, no actual advance can be made to the other shore of intuitive wisdom.

Now if this is true for Zen Buddhism it is doubly so for Christianity. For us – stillness, silence, solitude – they’re aids to worship only. They are not essential to worship. And they are certainly not the essence of worship. So we are advised to approach meditation with a relaxed attitude – with out attentiveness directed towards Jesus, the window to the living God.

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