This post will comprise the first chapter of my upcoming book. I still haven’t decided on a definite title yet, but it looks very likely to be “The Road To Nowhere“, with the sub-title “Paradise for the ungodly“. I originally wanted to call the book “Zen For Cockneys“, the reason being that I wanted to aim it at ordinary down-to-earth people (like me), and cockneys* are generally regarded to be real “salt-of-the-earth” people. I changed my mind in the end because I felt that potential readers might take the title literally and think it wasn’t for them if they were not cockney. However, I have kept with the idea of a pocket-sized book that can be conveniently carried around; it’s something I’ve been thinking about for several years.
I have taken 20 parables that are mainly Zen in nature, but a few have their origins in Tao and Buddhism, and I have written them in my own words and interpreted them in accordance with my own understanding and influences. I’m sure there will be many armchair philosophers out there thinking, “who does he think he is?” “What a massive ego!” But wait…
In line with my “salt-of-the-earth” theme, ordinary folk like me don’t want to be blinded by philosophical ramblings. So, I came up with the idea of a small pocket-sized book of Zen-based parables written in a reader-friendly manner. I may not be a fully realised soul, but I have experienced several tangible awakenings; a sort of step by step awakening over a number of years. In other words, Zen has “happened” to me (which it does) so I feel able to unleash this book into the world in the knowledge that it comes from the heart.
Zen is not a belief system like other religions; Zen literally finds you, you are not required to believe anything. Now, I’m not one for stealing other people’s words, but I can’t think of any better description of what it means to be a Zen person than the one used on many, many occasions by Osho. He used to say you “drop” everything. But to elaborate on that, it is not dropping as in something that you do as a conscious action. It is the automatic dropping of things that no longer serve you; it happens, Zen finds you and it happens. You suddenly find that things, which have always been a big part of your life, no longer have any use or meaning; they no longer serve you so you just automatically drop them without even giving it much thought. This is the true meaning of renouncing and repenting. It is not a forced thing, as in Western religion, that you do out of fear. This is why so many Christians struggle; because they give up (renounce) things that they are not spiritually evolved enough to abstain from. They indulge; then guilt takes hold and they feel that they have to repent their sins. Nonsense!
Back in the 1980s I had a brief flirtation with the Financial Services Industry, and my old branch manager used to say that if you wanted financial advice, the last place you should go is to a bank. Because they don’t want to give you sound financial advice, they only want to sell you their products. The same can be said if you want spiritual guidance; the last place you should go is to the clergy/church. They are only going to perpetuate the delusion; they are not going to tell you the truth, that you are powerful beyond your imagination. They want to spin you a yarn; think about it… First the church tells you that you are a sinner. Then its preachers tell you that if you blindly believe in their imaginary friend, you will be saved and attain eternal paradise in the future. Now, read that last sentence again…
It’s going to happen in the future, not now. “Now” is all we have, whereas “future” is nothing more than a series of thoughts in the mind. When the future arrives it is not the future, it is NOW; this is why I referred to an imaginary friend, because the Christ that is pedalled by the church is a completely different Christ to the one who walked the earth. The real Christ would have nothing to do with the church if he was here in flesh today (except maybe to tell it a few home truths). It is also no coincidence that the clergy refer to their churchgoers as a “flock”, because you literally have to be a sheep, follow the crowd, be everything that Christ wasn’t, be an Anti-Christ. The real Christ was an agitator, an activist; he went against convention. Hence, feathers were ruffled. He did not advocate a God or deity that exists as an all-powerful entity, separate from the rest of creation; a God who was judgemental and angry. His message was very Zen, it was all-embracing. He spoke of our true nature of infinite consciousness, that “Ye are all Gods”, “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you”, not somewhere where we might be lucky enough to go to in the future if we are good.
To the church of the time he was a very dangerous man, and the establishment of today continue to use him and his name as the central character in a story that contains little, if any truth. But organised religion is very clever (and I can only really speak for the UK here). It is one of the richest, if not the most rich, organisation in the UK, but if there is a hole in the church roof they get YOU to pay for its repair! You have to admit, it’s absolute bloody genius!
All the great souls who have ever graced the earth all carried the same message; YOU are Divine NOW; not in the future and not by blindly following religious dogma and doctrine. The Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus etc; they all bucked the trend and all ruffled feathers. If you take Jesus as a prime example and the church’s line that, “the messiah is coming”, what if he did come? That would put the church into a bit of a predicament in that they wouldn’t be able to pedal the story of a future messiah. In all likelihood he would be accused of blasphemy!
It goes without saying that there are many good Christians in the world, but it does not alter the fact that the story is simply not true, and that the church is nothing more than a tool used by the establishment to control people. The paradox here is that it is only the ungodly that experience paradise (heaven), because until we drop all attachments to Gods, gurus and messiahs we will remain on the treadmill of birth and rebirth.
As you read the parables, you will gain a deeper understanding of Zen. You will probably find that some of them overlap and that some messages are repeated, but this should not detract from what I hope will be an enjoyable reading experience for you.
Remember, you are unique, you were meant to shine, so don’t be a sheep. Better to be one of the great unwashed than one of the great brainwashed. Flourish sweet soul!
*Cockney – A Londoner specifically born within earshot of Bow Bells, the bells of St Mary-le-Bow in the Cheapside district of the City of London.