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Posts tagged ‘zen’

Essentially Zen

This is another of my religious ‘articles’ that I wrote when I was 17 or so – it’s still very thought-provoking. Also, my main computer has died, so all my pictures and writings are in data limbo at the moment. So expect some old and random stuff!

These are some of my core (non-theological) beliefs. I think that most of these are actually derived from Zen teachings, others are appropriated from various philosophical and theological works that I have read over the years (and there have been many). I’m not saying these should be your core beliefs; everyone has their own perspective, and you should always think for yourself and work out what your own are. But maybe these will give you something to think about.

  1. There is no past and no future, there is only this moment, here and now.
  2. Do not hold onto the past – learn from it what you can, then release it to the universe.
  3. Nothing in life is fair or unfair, it simply is. Do with it what you can.
  4. The cost of free will is a conscience and sense of responsibility.
  5. People change; do not continue old and obsolete behaviours because you feel obliged to act consistently with your past. Every moment you are – and can become – a new person.
  6. Always think for yourself; question everything, including yourself.
  7. Accept emotions as they come, reflect on them, learn from them. Then release them and move on.
  8. Melodramatic lives or emotional imbalances garner attention, it’s true. But ask yourself; is (self-imposed) unhappiness is really worth that attention?
  9. Be helpful and polite where possible, but remain true to yourself first and foremost.
  10. Friendship is based in contradiction; once you realise that you don’t need friends, you’ll find true ones, based on actual respect, rather than clinging to the empty need for a friendship that isn’t there. It may not be instant, but it’s better than poisoning your life with empty relationships.
  11. Appreciate the beauty of everything that is around you.
  12. The more you realise the worth of the simple aspects of life, the less you’ll care for the convoluted or trivial ones.
  13. Find your values, then question and evaluate them. Stay true to them.
  14. Nothing is permanent, good or bad.
  15. If a problem is worth worrying about, do something to change it. If it isn’t worth worrying about, then don’t.
  16. Taking the ‘moral highground’, or walking away, may feel like losing the battle, but in the long run, you’ll be a better person for being able to sacrifice the trivial (the need to ‘be right’ or ‘win’) for the important (realising that being recognised as in the ‘right’ doesn’t matter). Never feel the need to point out that you are walking away; just do it.

Thus ends the ramble.

Physical vs. Spiritual – The Great Divide?

Within NeoPaganism, and within the majority of world religions, major or no, emphasis is placed on the desirability of cultivating and developing the “spiritual self”, irrespective of whether this is referred to as the soul, atman, spirit, higher self, etc. Obviously this is a large part of most religions, as religion (as opposed to a belief system or world view, e.g. secular humanism) by definition incorporates “a belief in a transcendent and/or supernatural dimension to existence.”

However, a major issue that I have with this is that it proposes the furtherment over this spiritual self, often at the expense of the physical self, or in the immediate world. Consider, if you will, the perspectives of a Christian (for simplicity’s sake I’m using it as a generic term) monk and a Buddhist (particularly Zen or Mahayan) monk:

The Christian monk focuses on spiritual development for the prospect of the life after the one on earth, and therefore sequesters themselves in a monastery, focusing their energy entirely on the spiritual/mental plane, rather than their current physical actions (except where those actions facilitate the aforementioned).

By contrast, the Buddhist monk (in the Zen school particularly) focuses on the immediate incarnation – the philosophy is, to express it in an extremely simplified manner, effectively “don’t concern yourself with what was or what might be, but only with what is.” As such, they place large emphasis on what is referred to in the dharma as “right actions”, “right words”, etc.

I’m of the belief that both of these approaches to religious living have arguments for and against them, but personally I think that a truly spiritual life is created through the syncretisation of the above. That is, yes, spiritual development in preparation for the afterlife is important, but that should also be manifested on earth, in this incarnation, through your words, deeds, thoughts, etc. After all, that is really do the Gods’ work, to my mind.

Of course, as someone who believes in reincarnation as the process by which we develop as a spiritual individual, it’s logical that this progression occurs when we demonstrate our development and growth in a tangible manner; try to be a good person in this life, and it has an impact on the spiritual plane too.

Just a thought.

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