Zen, along with Buddhism in general, teaches that nothing is permanent, everything changes.
So even though right now I feel like I can't stop sharing quotes from my re-reading of Barry Magid's book, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide, clearly I will at some point.
Like maybe tomorrow, not today. Here's more passages from the book that appealed to my churchless consciousness. Which follow a Zen cartoon.
"Karma means "cause and effect," which is another way of describing interconnection and change. Enlightenment is the realization of our being the ongoing product of interconnection and change -- it is not the cosmic equivalent of the Monopoly card, "Get Out of Jail Free." We transcend nothing and nothing lasts, no matter how much we'd like to believe the opposite."
"There is nothing permanent, not even 'enlightenment.' As soon as we think we have achieved some new, perfect, permanent, and invulnerable state, we have betrayed the very essence of our realization."
"We have to kill off any notion we have that there is something to attain, something to hold on to, something special we can become once and for all. Enlightenment is not a 'thing' we 'get' from practice. Anything we think we've gotten -- even if it's made of gold -- can only get in the way. Only when there is nothing and nobody left to obstruct it will the clear breeze blow freely in every direction."
"Now Buddhism has given an altogether different answer to the question of what we essentially are. And Buddhism's answer is 'Nothing.' There is no essential true, inner nature at all."
"Although zazen is often described as a spiritual practice, 'spiritual' is not a word I like very much. Too often, 'spiritual' is explicitly contrasted with 'material' as if it represented another separate (usually higher) order of reality. In the Christian tradition, the spiritual is the realm of the soul, which is believed to have an existence separate from the body, and because the soul is not material, it is not subject to change and death like the body. This idea of a separate non-material soul is regularly conjoined to the idea of a soul that is likewise immortal."
"Yet no matter how illogical, humankind has a long history of fantasizing a separate, ethereal inner essence and imagining that, in total contrast to bodies that are all mortal, this disembodied breath or spirit is somehow immortal. It is a fantasy that exists across cultures, even persisting within Buddhism, which would seem, by the law of emptiness, to insist that there is no personal essence that could be immortal. It is hard not to conclude that a universal fear of death gives rise to an equally universal fantasy of spiritual immortality that denies its finality."
"In our daily practice, we must discover and express for ourselves the fundamental truth that this mind, this body, this moment is all that we have, is all that there is. We come to practice believing that our minds as they are, our bodies as they are, are the problem. Who wants a wandering mind or aching knees, let alone a body that is growing old or has a serious illness? But practice will never teach us to exchange this mind for another one or to substitute this body for someone else's."
"We want to escape something we believe is wrong with who we are, to escape whatever lays us open to suffering. We don't realize that the attempt at escape is itself an engine of our suffering."
"Be careful what you wish for. Only when our hopes are completely smashed will we be free. It's not the 'freedom we started out looking for at all."
But it sure sounds like something Janis Joplin sang about.
(I could listen to this song a million times and still want to hear it again. Janis Joplin was one of a kind. I got to see her perform in 1966 and will never forget that moment.)