Why Zen?

Wollmaus

Lately, I’ve been inspired to re-read an old book on Zen I bought in Japan. The book is bi-lingual Japanese/English, so I will post the quote in both languages:

禅は心の垢(あか)の掃除であり、心の垢のバスだというのである。例えば2、3日机の上をふかないと、知らず知らずのうちに白いほこりがたまっていることに気付くものである。私たちの心にも日々、いや刻々と様々な考えや感情が起る。つまりものごとに触れて、憎しみ、怒り、不満、嫉妬…などの思いが起こり、あるものは消えてしまい、あるものは残っていく。あまり溜まっていくと、気持ちが重くなって、掃除をしなければならなくなる。さもなければ、次第に生きる気力がなくなっていくからだ。

もちろん禅は心の掃除にとどまらない。いずれにしても確認しておきたいことは、禅は「心」を問題にしているということである。

And in English:

Zen is a way of washing away your mental impurities, a kind of bath to cleanse the mind. If you don’t clean your desk for two or three days, you’ll notice that a film of dust has accumulated on its surface. Day after day—in fact, moment after moment—all sorts of thoughts and feelings arise in our minds. In our daily interactions in life, feelings of hatred, anger, dissatisfaction, jealousy, and numerous other impulses and ideas arise in our minds, some of them fading away and others persisting. As these thoughts and feelings accumulate, we come to feel spiritually weighed down, and we need to clean ourselves. If we don’t, our vigor and dynamism will gradually diminish.

Of course, Zen is not simply a means of mental and spiritual cleansing. The point is that Zen focuses on the mind. (page 1-2)

Again, as the Buddha himself said in the Dhammapada (法句経):

183. To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one’s mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

For most people, they’re used to living live with a mind that is tired and weighed down by hatred, jealousy, dissatisfaction, etc. It’s like a fish in water. It never notices the water. But once you experience life without hatred, jealousy, dissatisfaction, etc, even for a short time, it’s hard to go back to your old way of life.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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