I read "the zen commandments" by dean sluyter, it's not just for buddhist or based on any doctrine, it was more of how to be zen/practice zen in any religion, lifestyle, or believe. and i greatly feel that, in certain ways, applying zen to your standing religious believe has the potential for extreme spiritual growth. anywho, these were my thoughts i threw down whilst reading it, there's a lot, and they most likely make no sense at all, but that's life, innit? i suggest everyone read the book for themselves. i'm not suggesting everyone agree, but at least be open and choose what best makes up the kind of belief and practices you want in your existence. because life is only what you think it is.
freedom of openness is within you. and it is within you, not will be someday or if you can find it.
happiness is the nature of life itself.
"there's no such thing as a wave, no such limited,self-existence object.
"we can say it's not not anything that is but the is-ness by which all things are.
so the way to boundless experience is to not seek boundless experience beyond whatever presents itself"
stop pushing or pulling.
no need or point in waiting around for some transformation or revelation, doing is the revelation.
when we are not focused on filling our cup, our cup runneth over, if any spiritual progress or revelation doesn't increase our compassion for all beings then it doesn't mean a thing.
compassion is not pity, it is knowing and sharing. saints are merely humans as well, they are not higher beings sent from above, that lets the rest of us off too easy, saying "oh, we weren't made to be that way." saints are just average humans who point themselves in the direction of goodness and keep putting one foot in front of the other. it's not essentially about whether you give money to the beggar but the fact that you don't avert your eyes.
you must create your own perception of kindness, it is different for all, you can not simply reason an action with "the Bible tells me to", every person perceives it differently, everyone chooses their own path of direction and kindness, the honest thing to do is to acknowledge it.
we want someone with some appeal of higher authority to tell us right from wrong, tell us where to apply our kindness, where it matters and where it is pointless, it is a safety, and that sense of safety and comfort, and that can lead us to sleep.
a good exercise is to made a list at the end of the day of all your actions that you felt were positive. this will help you pay more attention to the intention of your actions and help you decide whether they really need to be done at all, or if they are done with the wrong intentions or have no intentions at all.
for instance, if you do something good but with the intention of being praised or even thanked, then you need to reassess your reason for acting. instead of seeking thankfulness for your actions, you should be thankful that the opportunity to be kind existed.
the most common image of buddha is that in which he holds a begging bowl in his left hand, passively open to the sky while his right hand touches the ground, actively engaging in the world of doing.
dean sluyter tells a story of his neighbor, whom he would hear laboring up the stairs as he attempted to practice zen through meditation. he would grow annoyed with being interrupted by his neighbor loudly carrying his groceries up the stairs that he would go help, but grudgingly, at being interrupted in his practice. finally he realized that this WAS the practice. no doctrine, religious practice, or enlightenment of any kind does any one any good if you keep to your room and practices and forget to share kindness with the rest of humanity, your fellow ocean.
there is samsara- life's basic chaos, and nirvana- boundless, indescribable freedom. enlightenment is not going from samsara to nirvana, but realizing that they will always coexist.
it is not a path of changing yourself and your life into something different.
but finding understanding within yourself to live in the chaos that is your life.
much like the wizard of oz can not give the classic group the things they ask, simply because they already posses them, but he can put them into the situations to bring forth what they desire. so our God has already placed in us the fruit of the spirits, our spiritual gifts, our tools for spiritual survival, we just doubt ourselves, and so we ask for God to supply us with "patience", "courage", "hope", even. while we have this to begin with, God can place us in the correct situation to bring them forth in front of our own eyes.
a lot of times, the turmoil of our life is within ourselves, not outside forces. when we realize that it is our reactions and feelings about life that define each moment, we can settle the storm within and realize that even while certain events are indeed tragic, we can weather them and recognize that it is just an event in life and many others, both great and tragic, will follow. our life can only be in shambles when we feel that it is in shambles. further more, realizing this can save much trouble. you can not run from how you feel about life. if you feel your life is terrible in one town, you will feel your life is terrible in a different town, with different people and different events. because those things do not make your life terrible, you thinking it's terrible makes it terrible. i may have gotten repetitive there, but it's a point i feel strongly about, being an avid optimistic myself.
feelings are things we feel, hence the name. they are spontaneous and there for simple. what isn't simple is the thoughts about what we are feeling. that's what makes us so beautifully and dangerously human. it is a wonderful thing to recognize why we feel certain ways and how feeling certain ways can cause us to act certain ways. however, if we focus on the reasons behind feelings, we can cause ourselves to suppress such feelings, which is physically painful, which leads to the assumption that such feelings are painful and should be suppressed. it's a cycle, see? the best thing to do with feelings is to feel them, not think on them, not act on them, but feel. this does not mean write a long blog entry or act out in anger by screaming or punching something, but by taking the time to let feelings run their course, you may find that the urge to act on them or even analyze them has disappeared. fully feeling "negative" feelings instead of dwelling and letting it consume, leaves open room to experience "positive' feelings. if that's how you want to see it, but really, there are no "negative" or "positive" feelings, there are just feelings. there can be feelings that erupt in response to positive or negative experiences, but feelings are just feelings. we can not BE happy or sad, we can only experiencing the feelings, but they are not us and we are never them. and there is extensive freedom in that.
if the bible says to not bow down to idols or "graven images", in some translations, could this not mean that holding onto how we believe things are, setting our believes in stone, is wrong? if we hold onto the way we believe things are, when the way things are is always beyond our understanding, we will surely be idolizing our own believes. i have seen people make the Bible an idol over God, as well as church. we can hold so steadfast to the image of our own God, refusing any other idea of Him, condemning others for alternative thoughts on Christ, when our image, idea, thought, belief of God is really just what we make of Him through personal experience and how can we logically expect anyone's personal experiences to be the same as ours, if you get what i'm saying?
there was a whole chapter on expectations, or the lack there of. basically saying, when you expect anything in life to be a certain way, it won't be and you will set yourself up to be disappointed. this doesn't just mean big plans for the future but every casual moment, every relationship, every action, we have have deep seated expectations on how each intimate moment with a loved one will happen, based on how they have happened in the past, we expect our gadgets to work as they have worked in the past, we expect our pets to love us as they have in the past, we expect ourselves to continue being alive as we have in the past. people are like rivers, you can stare at one part of a river, but it is never the same river each moment you look at it, the river you were just looking at is long gone. so, humans are as the rivers, ever-changing. titles such as "republican", "christian', or "feminist" are seen as a collection of things that a person is, but they are only ideals that a person holds at one time, and a person changes with each moment, so to expect a person to always hold the same believes or "be the same person" is a sure way to disappointment and disillusionment. the significant other you kiss in the morning is not the same significant other you have dinner with that night, people are like rivers.
another thing to avoid is anticipation, well, avoidance is rather difficult, maybe acknowledgment is better. you can anticipate confrontation, a busy work day, a kiss, getting home to your welcoming bed, an exciting party, as long as you realize that you are anticipating it and not focused on making it happen sooner. impatience is an incredible waste of time. when you are late for something, worrying about being late will not make you any less late. once i was late for a work meeting and had to wait for my brother to walk to our mother's work to get the car, i realized that i was anxious, my body tense, constantly alert for the car to pull up, then i realized that this was pointless, i was late, i was going to be late, and wishing the car to appear would not make it transit any faster, so all i could do was just to sit in that moment, and just be in it, instead of wishing for it to be another moment.
there is no path to enlightenment, you do not work toward it, it just is, in every experience.
there is enlightenment in enjoying the breeze, there is enlightenment in your lover's touch, there is enlightenment in chasing your messy toddlers around, there is enlightenment in being stuck in traffic, there is enlightenment in experiencing loss. and it is in the experiencing of the moment, not the end. starting a task is not to finish it, driving somewhere is not to get there, reading a book is not to finish it, closing your eyes is not to open them, each action is it's own, not a prologue for a coming action.
wishing ill and holding onto resentment for someone does nothing to the person you're resenting, but does terrible danger to yourself. let go.
bless everyone, that is not to say to stoop down and bless them with your benevolent enlightenment, but to recognize them as equal beings of light and energy and that they bless our own chaos with their being and presence, blessing is simply acknowledging that and wishing all their existence, whether in that moment of your presence or any moment outside it, is well. blessing is simply directing positive energy into the realm of another being, but not just any being, every being. which may seem difficult, and it is. for we are only small and the universe so vast, we can not give shelter to every homeless , but we can bless the one's we see. we can not feed every starving child, but we can bless them. a vegetarian in the hopes of stopping animal slaughters by refusing to eat meat will fail both in results and in the animals. sometimes the best you can do is bless the animal and thank them for existing and recognize that their life was forfeited to help continue yours. it is like the movie avatar, where the Na'vi thank every animal they must kill for food, because they recognize what that animal does for them, and that they are not so much greater and that the animal wasn't made for them, but that they need the energy of that animal and are thankful to have it. the same as you should bless each fish you catch for food, the wheat that makes your bread, the trees that form your paper and bed.
"all we know is all we know."
just as the Big Dipper is only stars that, in space, are vastly expanses away from each other and have no relation, but in our viewpoint, they are connecting as a picture of a dipper. everything is only as we view it. history is a completely different story, depending on who's telling it. i imagine that in japanese history classes, they do not teach the bravery of the american soldier in world war 2. life is what we think it is. death is what we think it is. the problem with defining everything only as we see, is that we don't see very much. we, as living creatures, see death as the ending or exiting of life. which, in our relation, is true. but on the other side of death, it would appear as something entirely different. as being "human", we see ourselves as the highest beings on this planet, and there for, to give anything else personality is to give it "human characteristics", when, beyond our sights and understanding, each existing thing could have it's own personality and will do very well without a human one, thank you very much. we are only as we see ourselves, we are holding up the stars that make us the constellation we see ourselves as. and in time, in life, our arms must grow heavy, and to drop the stars and let the constellation fall into chaos, and allowing ourselves to just be, is every peaceful. as attached as i am to the idea of a self, my own personal being, if i live always seeing my life and experiences through my self, i am only seeing a very small portion of my existence, or only seeing my pinhole version of the universe.
"be human and laugh", neither zen nor enlightenment is about taking things too seriously, or taking yourself or any situation that you experience too seriously. you should have goals and you should work hard, but doing anything without joy or meaning is a waste of time. treat everything you do as the last thing you could ever do, so, if you're with loved ones having the time of your life, be human and laugh, find joy in that experience as if it's your last, or if you are doing your taxes, cleaning, running errands, walking your dog, be human and laugh, enjoy that moment, find joy in the experience, and give every errand or chore meaning, otherwise they are not worth experiencing at all. [and obviously, chores are a necessary and unavoidable part of life, if you're a stand up, responsible person, so might as well make them as enjoyable as possible.]
always give thanks, there is never a reason not to.
if people could relax, be human, humble, and thankful, war would not exist. "enlighten up"
humans seem to think we have every right to exist, but the fact that we do exist [with thoughts, feelings, spirits, and souls] and get to experience existence is nothing but a miracle.
in the entire universe, in the entirety of all existence, each human is less than a speck, our experience of existence is of monumental occasion to us. the point being, it is only significant to us, ourselves, and that in it all, we [and our politics, laws, technologies, media, etc.] are of no significance. to realize that is freeing, to live your existence as significant as it is to you, but to be free of the burden to mean so much to existence. i guess, to sum it up, it can mean something to you to exist, but it means nothing to existence.
"no matter what we do, it will be completely unimportant but it is vitally important that we do it." life may be a dance that goes nowhere, unnoticed, and disappears, but it is here and it is happening, and if we can dance with joyous abandonment and passion, then it is the most beautiful and worthwhile dance of existence, even if it's only our existence.
"the unlived life is not worth examining."
enlightenment is less about the finding of your own great light or contentment, but the realization that everything exist and everything deserves your love, respect, and selfless servitude.