Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zen for April

Do you remember last month when I talked about my Zen calendar in my bathroom? Well, now that it is April I get a new Zen thought to contemplate as I spend time in the place of contemplation. April is "So whatever you do, just do it, without expecting anyone's help. Don't spoil your effort by seeking for shelter. Protect yourself and grow upright to the sky; that is all."

Something to think about and much harder to understand than the "Just sit and see what happens" of March. That led me last month to think about the Zen practice of detachment and mindfulness.

This is just a bit too obscure by my thinking. I went searching through the internet to find out what "just do it" might mean within the context of Zen thought or principles. This led me a merry chase through some writings of Suzuki-roshi whose quotes are featured in my calendar. It seems a lot of things we do are tedious and require endless practice. I concluded that the sentiment expressed could relate to the hard work of just getting on with the responsibilities of life, while trying to find time for the things we enjoy. We need self discipline to get on with these things, but being true to oneself and doing without help gives one a satisfaction which may seem like "growing upright to the sky".

The Chinese Chan master Baizhang (720–814 CE) left behind a famous saying which had been the guiding principle of his life, "A day without work is a day without food." Sounds like something my father would say! My Dad is one of those stoic, depression era personalities. All hard work and no play. Hmm, Zen Dad.

While I was rooting around in the web I found another of Suzuki-roshi's sayings which I liked. "So the secret is just to say 'Yes!' and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself, always yourself, without sticking to an old self." This is in the same vein as "Just do it".

One site I found, which was very helpful in several ways was "Zen and the Art of Remarkable Blogging" In that site, I discovered that "just doing" is very Zen. It was explained in this way:
Zen is more concerned with attaining wisdom through doing, in that daily life and mundane tasks will teach you more than any sacred text could. In this way, blogging and Zen are closely aligned—simply showing up and keeping at it will teach you more than anyone else can.

So "Just do it" can apply to blogging as well - and I have done mine for today.

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