Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What is Zen?

Zen can take a lifetime to understand.  But Zen is meditation; there is no ego in Zen.  Being in Zen is not easy for most, especially when living in modern society.  The society is based on ego enhancement, the society is anti-Zen.  Sports, music, and dance can be play, when it is play, it can be a pathway towards Zen.  But in most cases, sports, music, and dance are corrupted by money and ego.  Any sport, music, or dance that is corrupted by ego is not Zen.  Money corrupts sports, music, and dance b/c it forces you to have an ego.  You are no longer “playing” sports out of joy, you are playing to win, b/c you are paid to win, when you are playing to win, you are no longer in Zen, your Zen has been corrupted by ego.  When you are playing out of the pure joy of playing, you are in Zen. 

Music is severely corrupted as well.  All commercialized music is music produced to make money to meet the demands of the audience.  When you are producing music to meet the demands of the audience, that is not Zen.  Zen is musical expression as is, it comes from within, it is not to satisfy the audience, it is to satisfy your inner being, it is a truthful expression that is not corrupted by the audience or money.  When you start creating music to make others happy, you are no longer in Zen, the ego has stepped in.  Now you are changing your expression for others, it is no longer an honest expression from within. 

Dance is corrupted in the same way music is.  When you are a paid dancer, you are paid to dance how “they” want you to dance.  The audience will only pay you money to dance to entertain them, that is not Zen.  All entertainment businesses is not Zen.  When you are being paid to entertain others, that cannot be Zen.  Zen is an honest expression from within.  When others pay you to do something for them, now you are just a robot paid to serve others, that is not Zen. 

Cage fighting cannot be Zen.  These fighters are paid to fight how the audience and cage fighting organizers want them to fight.  It is not an honest expression; it is a severely corrupted expression.  Now if you are fighting on the streets, not to entertain, but to survive, and you are honestly expressing yourself fully during this fight, with no rules, that can be Zen, you are not restricted in your expression, it is totally honest. 

When you are fighting to entertain, that cannot be Zen.  The fact of you having the desire within to entertain others already proves it is not Zen.  Cage fighting cannot be Zen, the same way that prostitution cannot be love.  The act of allowing somebody to pay to have sex with you already proves it cannot be love.  Money corrupts natural expression.  Zen is natural expression.  You fight because you are in the moment to fight, that is Zen, you do not prepare to fight to entertain others, that cannot be Zen.  You become intimate with another because you are drawn within to become intimate with another, not because you are paid to be intimate.  Money corrupts honest expression. 

Vincent Van Gogh did not paint to make others happy, he painted to express himself honestly within.  He did not sell one of his paintings while he was alive, people hated his paintings, but yet he kept on painting, it was not until after his death that the people started to appreciate his paintings.  Michelangelo on the other hand, painted for the churches, he was paid to paint what his audience demanded for him to paint.  Yes he was a talented painter, but he was not in Zen while painting, like the way Van Gogh was in Zen. 

It is hard to be in Zen while in modern society.  In most cases you are paid to do what you do, it is not an honest expression.  Money and fame corrupts our honest expression.  So my state of mind is, if you are not going to be in Zen, then at the very least, have your corrupted ego expression be guided towards something healthy and positive.  If you are going to practice something to entertain others, then at least express yourself in a healthy way physically, mentally, and spiritually for yourself and the society.  It is better to breakdance than to cage fight.  It is better to participate in a rap battle than to enter a boxing ring.  It is better to sing and dance than to be physically violent towards others in order to “show off” your skills. 

I promote a safe and healthy expression.  Basketball is safer than football.  Baseball is safer than Boxing.  Gymnastics can be safe if practiced in the right way.  Martial Arts can be safe is practiced in the right way.  Combat sport can never be safe, just as real fighting can never be safe.  We shall put our greatest efforts in never having to result in engaging in a real fight unless we are pushed to our absolute limitations and we have no other way out.  If we are armed with a real gun, we shall only use the gun to defend ourselves when we really are placed in a dangerous situation, we should not use the gun to hurt others for our own pleasure or to entertain others, that is not being responsible.   

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, Sifu. I think at this point I am able to live mostly in a very near-Zen state. I had the wisdom earlier in life to sacrifice certain comforts and finances in order to pursue my passions, and that investment led me down a path where today I have an extraordinary amount of creative control over my life, and I've been able to pull everything together so synergically that there really is very little if any differentiation between my professional work, my family life, and the various activities I enjoy like martial arts, or my engagements with nature. It is all one, and I manage to make a living just being me, and so there is no corruption of my interests. My life is very meditative. And yet, I would describe it more as 'near-Zen experience' because, as you indicate, true Zen is without ego. I can't say that my experience is that way. When I was listening to Allan Watts describe Zen reality using the example of a tree, and being unable to identify its 'purpose,' both because it is constantly going through these cycles of seeding and becoming a tree, and because of the vast living network of relations that the tree itself is merely an aspect of, I understand that. But still I would not conceive of the tree's life cycle activities and relations as being without purpose, nor would I suggest that this tree is just playing a game (knowingly or not). When I think of human beings, on the other hand, it is easier to understand that many are unwittingly gaming, in a sense, because so many are blind to the cultural pressures determining their behaviours, imagined constructs that have little to do with our wider sphere of ecological relations in the life system. Yet for me, to observe that even (or especially) the serious people are merely acting is different than proposing that their lives are without purpose. What that purpose is... well, that's one of the great mysteries we'll never have consensual agreement about, but I would say it has to do, at least in good part, with supporting life - by our own growth and development, by the reproduction we engage in, and by the energy exchanges we participate in when we feed ourselves and others, even in our own deaths. I think that the more life we are able to support in all of our undertakings, the more we are fulfilling our purpose. Conversely, the more death we deal in our undertakings, especially when wasteful, the further from our purpose we have strayed. So in this sense, as long as I maintain there is purpose, then I am also maintaining ego


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