A favourite method of Zen guidance is the Koan exercise. The disciple is given a problem on which to meditate, a problem that is insoluble by conventional or intellectual means. With it the Zen pilgrim must struggle until either he gives up in despair or he gives in and is enlightened. A classical example is for the master to direct him to concentrate on “the sound of one hand clapping.”
Lao Tzu tells us that:
What is in the end to be shrunk
Must first be stretched.
Whatever is to be weakened
Must begin by being made strong.
What is to be overthrown
Must begin by being set up.
He who would be a taker
Must being as a giver.
This is called “dimming” one’s light.
……. “to a mind that is ‘still’ the whole universe surrenders” [Chuang Tzu]
Camus crystalised life’s absurdity when he wrote: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” There is only this life. Live it, or give it up! It does no good to choose to live it reluctantly hedging by whining that it's not sufficient, that someone must make it better for you.
No plain not followed by a slope.
No going not followed by a return.
He who remains persevering in danger
Is without blame.
Do not complain about this truth;
Enjoy the good fortune you still possess.
- I Ching
……… the disciple learns only that there is nothing that anyone else can teach him, He learns, once he is willing to give up being taught, that he already knows how to live, that it is implied in his own tale. The secret is that there is no secret.
…….. There are no hidden meanings……….
The Zen way to see truth is through your everyday eyes. It is only the heartless questioning of life-as-it-is that ties a man in knots. A man does not need an answer in order to find peace. He needs only to surrender to his existence, to cease the needless, empty questioning. The secret of enlightenment is when you are hungry, eat; and when you are tired, sleep.
The Zen Master warns: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” This admonition points up that no meaning that comes from outside of ourselves is real. The Buddhahood of each of us has already been obtained. We need only recognize it. Philosophy, religion, patriotism, all are empty idols. The only meaning in our lives is what we each bring to them. Killing the Buddha on the road means destroying the hope that anything outside of ourselves can be our master ……….
…… the Yaqui brujo answers: “……. any path is only a path ….. All paths are the same: they [all] lead nowhere.” The only important question you must ask is: “Does this path have a heart?” If it has heart for you, then dare to follow it.
…… “the Sage arrives without going.”
Once, in the Orient, I talked of suicide with a sage whose clear and gentle eyes seemed forever to be gazing at a never-ending sunset. “Dying is no solution,” he affirmed. “And living?” I asked. “Nor living either,” he conceded. “But, who tells you there is a solution?”
…… Allen Ginsburg ….. summed up his howling anguish in this way:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery
of the night ……
7. You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.