Enter Zen From There


A Zen master was undertaking a journey along with one of his disciples.  They walked for several hours before stopping for lunch and a rest.  They sat in silence under a tree as they ate their simple meal of rice and vegetables.  When they had finished eating the disciple said to the master, “can you tell me how I can find Zen?”  “I want to learn so that I can be like you.”  The master replied, “can you hear that?”  “Can you hear the sound of the water from the stream running down the mountain?”  The disciple could hear nothing, but he continued to listen until eventually he could just about make out the faintest sound of running water in the distance.

“Yes, yes, I can hear it master”, said the disciple.  “Enter Zen from there”, replied the master.

They sat in silence for a while as the disciple focused his attention on the sound of the mountain stream.  Eventually, he experienced a state of bliss, which remained with him as they resumed their journey.  After walking for several miles, the blissful state wore off and the disciple was back to his normal unrealised self. They carried on walking in silence until, out of curiosity, the disciple asked, “master, what would you have said if I’d been unable to hear the sound of the stream?”  “Enter Zen from there”, replied the master.

We can only awaken where we are, with the surroundings we have, in the present moment.  We can go on pilgrimages, we can undertake all kinds of spiritual practise and we can read spiritual texts.  But all of these are only relevant when we do not have the understanding to see beyond them.  Ultimately, they are all only stepping-stones along the pathless path that leads nowhere.

Nowhere = Now Here – Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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A Truly Delightful Soul – Part Two


It never fails to amaze me how things happen in this wonderful adventure we call life.  Within a day of me writing my last blog post, A Truly Delightful Soul, I received an insight; one that I already had but was ignoring.  I was reading (for the third time) an Osho book, entitled “Zen – The Path of Paradox”.  I was on the penultimate chapter when I received the aforementioned insight.  I had to laugh, because not only was this insight unashamedly brutal in its delivery, but it was 100% Zen to the core.  It was immediate, it took no prisoners and I was left in no doubt whatsoever that I was skating on thin ice if I was REALLY serious about this spirituality caper, but equally, and true to the paradoxical nature of Zen, it showed me that my experience had indeed served a relevant purpose.  I shall explain… But first, for the sake of continuity, I will post my previous article again below.

A Truly Delightful Soul

The plot continues to thicken with regard to my astral adventures. I have now had the pleasure of the company of a truly delightful female soul, not once, not twice… but three times! As usual, I have no clue what it is all about or what purpose it serves, but I have had much worse experiences in my life, I can tell you! Being an advocate of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Rupert Spira, I know that the development of attachments to relationships such as these will do my long-term spiritual growth no good whatsoever. However, it is also true that Zen teaches the importance of embracing the totality. So, if this experience has come my way in the last few months, I’m going to accept it.

At first, she seemed quite excitable and a bit too playful; to the extent that I was questioning it. But the two subsequent times we have astral travelled together she has been much more disciplined. I’m presuming that we know each other from way back, but I don’t honestly know. What I do know is that she is a really lovely and very affectionate soul. I’m looking forward to sharing more adventures with her, if that is how we are going to roll; in fact, I’m hoping that even as I type, she is perusing the astral travel brochures and planning our next trip!

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So… there I was people, knowing that embracing this kind of experience will do more to hinder me spiritually than to help me, but actually quite enjoying it; when the inevitable happened.  I would like to share here the full transcription of what I read, but if I do that I will be infringing copyright laws, so I’m going to use my own words and give you a condensed version.

It is said that when an individual is very close to enlightenment, that they may have visions pertaining to the particular pathway they have been following.  For example, a Christian may have visions of Christ or a Buddhist may have visions of Buddha.  The passage went on to say that a Hindu may start having visions of Krishna and the Gopis*, will then “fall in love” with the Gopis and forget Krishna.  There was also reference to the Zen master Hui Neng, who apparently said, “If you meet Buddha on the way, kill him immediately.  If you see the patriarch, Bodhidharma, on the way, kill him immediately

The above statements give us warning as to just how cunning the mind (ego) is.  Having such visions does nothing but perpetuate the illusion of duality.  The ego knows it’s on borrowed time and will do absolutely anything to prolong its illusory life; hence the spectacular visions to tempt us away from the inner reality.  Hui Neng’s instructions to, “kill Buddha immediately“, if we see him along the way, is our reminder that as long as we maintain attachments to Gods and gurus we are affirming the existence of the separate self and will remain on the treadmill of birth and rebirth.

But what a beautiful way for the totality to remind me of the importance of understanding this.  “Hmmmm, what shall I do?  I know, I’ll send Richard a delightful soul to remind him of the importance of not developing attachments to delightful souls”.  This is why I absolutely love the “pathless path” of paradox that is Zen.  The delightful soul may not have been in the form of a Buddha or a Krishna, but she was still representative of a separate self.  Also, just because the experience occurred astrally, it was still nothing more than a projection of consciousness.  What rises up out of consciousness must also dissolve into consciousness and is therefore ultimately an illusion.

The essence of Zen is simply letting go.  Our pathless journey is from No-thing-ness to No-thing-ness.  In the middle we pick up mind-constructed “stuff”.  Zen is simply giving up the mind-constructed stuff in order to realise the inner reality; that is in fact neither inner nor outer, but the ONLY reality.

*Gopis = The female cowherders who danced to Krishna’s flute in the Bhagavad Ghita.