« U.G. Krishnamurti and Zen have quite a bit in common | Main | Know that you know a lot less than you think you know »

October 25, 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

>> ..... the right posture ....

Reading, reading, following the flow of thought smoothly and then there was that tumble stone .... the word "right"..... typical japanese. Bowing and sitting has to be done in the "right" way, the Japanese way.

Zen can be approached, and is approached in the same way, by the same people, as described in this contribution.

A visit to the many Zen schools in the american western and eastern schools and reading what is available about their origin and development over the years, will make it clear.

Wherever humans come they act as humans.

But it is certainly true ....there is a "right way" of sitting and another way of "rtight sitting". To know the difference is what is the outcome of all spiritual endeavors.

We all know what it is, we all experience it, many a time, we also recognize it, at least the body does, but we are not trained to recognize it and value it and certainly not how to pronlonge it let alone create it, or have it happen at will so it passes by, the attention slipping away, to more important issues as ... right sitting.

And ....

The beginners mind ... as described in this contribution, is a striving mind.

How did that strive was born there.?
What is the functional goal of that strive?
Why do most if not all humans have that strive irrespective their culture?
Why is it so difficult to let go of that strive?

Have a look at the crows and find out what their strive is.
Can they let go of that strive if you have formulated it?
Why not?

When does strive starts in human beings?
Are they born with it?

Why do humans want to bypass that strive?
What is the state they want to "return" to?

Can it be done and should it be done?

Follow the questions further and further ... go after them.

And ... just on TV was an issue about asian [south Korean] culture and their obsession with "perfection' of even the slightest detail .... Zen, ZA-zen ... is no exeception.

Limiting our activity to what we can do now is a wonderfully elegant instruction.

To illustrate have a look at twhat the Japanese Gentleman has to say ..for example at 13:00 about what is rude and polite..... the RIGHT [japanese] posture

And of course that holds for all martial arts, Tai Chi and name it ... the chines are less strickt than the Japanese, the Koreans ....

RIGHT posture
RIGHT posture

Religion seems to run in degrees; there is the fanatical religious beliefs of groups like the Taliban and Isis and not far along the religious scale are the potentially dangerous mix of those countries who fuse religion with patriotism or nationalism. This often goes with the idea of being peoples that are the chosen ones. At the other end of the scale are the genteel folk who run tea and cake stalls to raise a bit of money for the church roof fund.

Zen or Chan (Chinese Zen) is a movement quite dissimilar from the usual religious belief systems. Being contemplative religions (or rather philosophies), they seem to me to be in a position of being able to help with the issues of identity that cause much of the personal and national conflicts and suffering that affect the world today.

Of course, it is difficult to embrace something like Zen, not least of all because of the religious and cultural conditioning we receive from childhood, but also because it requires a degree of courage to inquire into the very structure of ‘who I am’. It is so normal (if not natural) to invest in a sense of being a separate autonomous individual. Any serious inquiry into such mind structures carries with it the very real fear of losing what I conceive of as being ‘me’.

@ Brian JI : [ There's a better way, though... Zen and Taoism, in their non-religious forms,
come the closest of any organized philosophy to that simple better way.
Mindfulness, also -- which really is Buddhism expressed in a different modern
fashion. This way actually is better described as a non-way, since it doesn't
involve any steps, any path, any destination, any goal. ]

I agree about the value of mindfulness but channeling a desire is "better"
initially for all. We're immersed in "desire" endlessly anyway until there's
great progress within. At that point, specific steps, goals, etc will fall
away, I believe, hollowed out by mindfulness which will see them as

But there's a desire for change, less pain and self-deception perhaps,
or greater mental acuity, or more positivity, or, for the religious, even
aspiring to more "church-worthiness" in the beginning. The desire has
to be there. None are better or lesser. But there must be something
to provide a mooring until you float free in that in pure mindfulness.
It takes care of the rest.

Great article. That "greatness" basically lies in the simplicity of the message. Just do what you're doing. Mindfulness, in other words. Nice. Great.

I do have some doubts, though. Questions. Basically those doubts and questions tie in with something I'd asked you a long time back, Brian, about the purpose of Taoism, the 'why' of it.

I'll try to formulate my questions here basis some things you've actually said here, or quoted Suzuki as having said:


"In our practice we have no particular purpose or goal ..."

..........So why do you do it, if there's no goal at all? More to the point, why should *I* do it, if there's no goal?

This quote of Suzuki's sounds to me, frankly, like some smart-ass prevarication and/or half-truth-half-lie. The fact is no one but a madman or a fool does something without any goal, without any purpose, without any reason. Of course, the "goal" need not be some long-term fifty-year plan, it can be as simple and as immediate as experience an orgasm (reason why people go in for emotion-free sex), or experiencing a high (why people do drugs or alcohol), simply tickle the taste buds (why we eat or drink stuff we like), or simply feel good in the moment. This last, feeling good in the moment, even that is a goal, a goal right here in the present.

When Suzuki says his kind of Zen has no goals, either he is unable to clearly articulate that goal, or else he is mistaken, or else he is lying --- or else, if that's literally true, then he's peddling something that only a fool would 'buy'. I mean, if he's simply 'selling' something as simple as 'ease of mind in the presence moment', well then, man, just articulate that clearly, why don't you. That's your "goal" right there.


"just attending to life as it appears to us at every moment."

..........Why exactly? What for?

This is not to say this is a pointless exercise, just attending to life as it appears to us ever moment. But I do think it is important to think through, and clearly articulate, exactly why we're advocating doing this, and what exactly we expect to gain from doing this.


"Genuine spirituality is very simple. Not like religion at all."

..........While at one level I agree with this whole article, as encapsulated by this title, I do have to ask, how exactly are we defining spirituality.

Like I said, this ties back to what I'd asked you some years back, Brian, about the purpose of Taoism. With all other religions, we know why we're being asked to do something, as well as the premises underlying the system. We're free to test those premises, as well as evaluate the promise, and, having done that, to accept or reject the system.

So what is the end result of Zen? We need that clearly articulated. To say "There's no goal", that's just a cop-out, and a lie. No one does things for no reason at all, no one other than a fool or a madman. That's just a lazy answer. (I don't mean on your part, Brian, but I do mean it is a lazy answer on the part of people like Suzuki, who're explaining their system of spirituality here. They need to clearly explain why they do it, and why others would want to do it.)

And yes, if truly "it's nothing like religion at all", then why are we even comparing this with them? Two entirely separate things, surely?


And finally, and arising out the question that first needs clear articulation ("What exactly is spirituality?), there's this:

On what basis, exactly, are we saying this mindfulness thing is spirituality? (I say this as someone who practices mindfulness myself, or tries to. It's part of the Theravadin routine I follow, or try to.)

If all this mindfulness gets you is simply getting centered, simply dealing with things well, then why is this "spirituality" at all?


I'm in a rush, and I've hammered out the above by speed-typing through in maybe five minutes' time. I haven't read through what I've typed, which is something I generally do, and I suspect the end-result is probably less than fully entirely coherent. For which my apologies, afraid I'm traveling and in too much of a rush for a more careful effort at this time. But I do think these are important questions that need addressed.

To be clear, I'm in full agreement with what is being said and advocated here, both in theory and in practice. To summarize, what I'm questioning is:

(1) We need it clearly spelled out what the goal of Zen is. Suzuki says there's no goal, but that's a load of bull. If truly there's no goal, then no sane person would do this at all. We need it clearly articulated what exactly the goal is (or goals, plural, are) --- even if it is something like "You'll be more centered in your decision-making, and your general mental well-being will go up." By not stating anything, Suzuki's playing the conman's wink-wink-nudge-nudge game of explicitly promising nothing but implicitly hinting at a great deal, at all times keeping the door to plausible deniability open.

(2) Why exactly are we conflating this mindfulness and do-what-you're-doing-fully-in-the-moment thing with the kind of thing religions offer? Where's the connect? We're mistakenly conflating two very different things, methinks. On one hand is the religion question, that we may either accept or reject (or, I guess, sit on the fence over). And that question has nothing at all to do with whether we'll do the mindfulness thing or not, whether we'll do the do-what-you're-doing-fully-and-in-the-present-moment thing or not. Two separate quadrants there, giving rise to four separate options.

It's like: You're rejecting smoking cancer sticks, and are advocating taking up exercise. There's two wholly separate things. That is, they're both directly related to health and wellbeing and longevity, but they're not directly related to each other. Two separate quadrants, four separate options. Makes no sense to conflate the two like this.

Unless there's implicit assumptions here that are not being clearly and honestly articulated. I know there are such in Theravada, absolutely and without a shadow of doubt. There well might be in Zen as well, I don't know that, because I haven't studied Zen in any detail.


Again, apologies for the rushed and less than fully coherent post. I think these points are important, and needed to be raised ---- and hopefully answered, which is why I didn't want to keep this off for till when I have more time (because often enough such things, that appear important in the moment, end up getting shelved for good a few days down the line).

Desiring simplicity and structuring one's life to BE simple follow one another, hand in glove. One simply needs to foster that desire, see the value of simplicity, nurture it and then act to recreate one's life. There was a period of time from 1980-1982 when my wife and I specifically worked towards "simple living, high thinking". Lo and behold! - our lifestyle changed and the desire manifested beautifully.

I believe that "desire rules"...we get that which we want the most. This places the responsibility of our life squarely in our own hands.

I am reminded of the great mathematician/philosopher, Arthur Eddington. Some memorable quotes of his still linger today amongst the intelligentsia, especially scientists who frantically try but cannot create life or even measure the life-force of any living thing.

"Something unknown is doing we don't know what." - Arthur Eddington

Another great scientist penned the Mathnawi (Song of the Reed) five hundred years ago. The opening twelve lines throws open the heart of a receptive reader and describes the deep lamentation of the soul which has been separated from its Beloved and its Home. According to Rumi, every soul (the reed) pines for re-union with the "reed bed", its true Source. Rumi is the most widely read poet in the world today. He was a mystic and reduced to writing his own deep experiences with "God".

I would never call Rumi a quack, crackpot or uninformed.

Appreciative Reader, I'm pretty sure that what Suzuki means by not having any goal is not making anything more of an action than the action obviously entails.

A Zen practitioner is sitting in meditation That's an action, not a goal. Sitting is the action. If the action was intended to attain enlightenment, that would be a goal.

You ask, why is the person sitting in meditation? Well, why does anybody do anything? Because they feel like doing it. This is different from having a "gaining idea" that accompanies the action. Like, becoming enlightened.

I realize this can sound illogical. And in a way it is. If Suzuki's words are parsed too closely, the meaning of what he is saying can be lost in that linguistic dissection. Experiencing what he's talking about leads to understanding of his words, not thinking about them.

It's a lot like the familiar idea of being in a "flow state." This is clear when watching a sports event, like basketball. Obviously the purpose of a game is to win it. At least, usually it is. Sometimes people play just for the fun of it.

In the course of a basketball game, free throws are attempted. The player wants to make the free throw. That's an action. When the player tenses up and really, really wants to make the free throw because their team needs the points to win the game, often the free throw is missed.

That extra gaining idea of winning the game screws up the simpler action of making the free throw.

Likewise, if I reply to your comment with the idea that I'll change your mind about Suzuki, that adds an unnecessary layer to what I'm saying. I felt like replying because I want to share how I view what Suzuki said. That feeling led to the action of typing out this comment.

But if you don't agree with what I said, that won't bother me. I don't have that gaining idea. So this is how I see Suzuki's words. Keep actions in life as simple as possible. Do the things that need doing. Don't add layers of expectations and analysis to those simple actions.

Brian to differentiate between different ways of throwing / sitting, a goal is set.
All Za zen training comes with an instruction as how it has to be done.
There is a goal to be reached.

To master a form In tai chi, too is goal
To perform it in a described way as a flow, is another goal, that can be reached

and what can be reached is what is looked for. .. the path towards it.

Words like senzei etc tell the story, black belts etc

Brian, thanks for the response.

"Keep actions in life as simple as possible", is what you say. Should I ask "Why?", then I guess the obvious answer that suggests itself is because 'Simplicity is good', or "Simplicity agrees with what we humans are wired as'. And you know what, I agree with that implicit answer, both in terms of the fact that it makes sense, and also in the terms of my agreeing that simplicity, in that sense, is "good".

There's a second answer that you forward, which makes even more sense. Going for the flow state. That's a great answer. If I were asked, why do I work out, absolutely, the "flow state" would be one of the answers I'd put forward. And I agree, doing one thing at a time is the only way to get at that. Multitasking and flow don't gel, no sir.


Which still leaves unanswered the other question I'd asked, what has any of this to do with religion --- in the sense of striving for divinity, or for some supra-mundane state of being, or whatever. (Or, what any of this has to do with rejecting, by using reason and rationality and science and/or first-hand experience, such things as divinity or supra-mundane states of being.)

You see what I'm saying, right? You say (that is to say, Zen says, Suzuki says) be mindful, and just do what you're doing in the presence. Why? He doesn't say, but *you* say --- and I agree --- because, (a) Simplicity agrees with us, and (b) It gets us to the flow state, which is good and fun and enjoyable and something we can cherish. But isn't that entirely unconnected to the fact that there's no God, or that there's no supra-mundane state of being? I mean, you may as well have suggested that we start working out (to which proposal also I'd have agreed).

Why on earth are we even comparing this with the God quest (or the rejection of the God quest) at all? What has the one to do with the other?

"not having any goal is not making anything more of an action than the action obviously entails"

Simple and elegant.

I have an interesting example of this.
I'm often hired to help improve the functioning of a department.

The traditional consulting approach is to identify specific initiatives and then to set metric goals for improvement, such as 12% reduction in delay, errors reduced by 15%, patient satisfaction raised by 20 percentile points.

Then the consulting project manager creates update reports where departments are responsible to report their progress every month on each initiative. Each initiative has metric goals.

Of course I don't work that way. Specific initiatives become obsolete when teams actually look at what is going on in detail. They come up with better ideas, and I don't constrain them to the original initiatives or milestones, only the necessity to act on what they see.

The result is that they can't report on those original initiatives. But their metric results are typically 5-20x greater and faster.

For example, working for a health system currently where the target for labor cost reduction in a handful of areas was about $2M in one year. It's been three months and they have exceeded that, on their way to $15M, on a labor cost per treatment basis.

Why? We tossed the idea of labor savings out the window and went with better bottom line by increasing volume, by providing better patient access.

Turns out patients were tired of delay and going elsewhere. A little attention to their situation, to getting them on the schedule sooner, and eliminating delay during their visit to the hospital resulted in volume growth no one believed was possible or sustainable.

This approach of looking and seeing, and acting on just that, simply outstrips the fixed goal-and-progress update against that fixed goal way of managing.

The problem is its nearly impossible to explain exactly what action caused the change. Because it's many changes people invent every day as they look, see, think and act.

Spirituality is simple I totally agree.

It's only freak shows like RSSB and Gurinder Singh Dhillon that make it so complicated. They create a following. You get thrown into a dogma , an initiation where you repeat satanic mantra , and like cause and effect you call demonic low vibration entities forward just like you summon spirits on a wigi board.

These so called gurus fear the truth of keeping it simple, they fear the day you realise that you are truly free.

App reader and Brian. On starting meditation there are always goals and purpose. I think Susuki may be talking from the perspective of someone who has practiced meditation for some time and has enquired into the mind/self phenomenon to the point where the self or ego influence no longer 'runs the show'. There is no longer a why or what for. Things just get done.

And, defining spirituality. In Zen, such terms as spirituality are recognized as just concepts and do not reflect reality.

Sorry, but that's the best l can come up with!

Everything that exists has purpose as it is part of an functional greater whole.
Humans are part of nature.
Humans are part of culture
Humans are part of society
Whatever they do, think and feel has purpose.

Even what they call "not to have purpose", has purpose.

Whether one is consciousness aware of each and every action ... is another question

Oh, and here's a story that illustrates this:- Sekito came upon his student Yakusan sitting in meditation.
What are you doing? Sekito asked.
Yakusan replied, "l am not doing anything".
"Then you are just sitting idly". said Sekito.
"If l were sitting idly," said Yakusan, "then l'd be doing something.
"You say you are not doing anything. Then what is it that you are not doing?" asked Sekito.
"Even Buddhas do not know," said Yakusan.

@ Brian Ji : [You ask, why is the person sitting in meditation? Well, why does anybody do anything? Because they feel like doing it. This is different from having a "gaining idea" that accompanies the action. Like, becoming enlightened.]

I realize this can sound illogical. And in a way it is. If Suzuki's words are parsed too closely, the meaning of what he is saying can be lost in that linguistic dissection. Experiencing what he's talking about leads to understanding of his words, not thinking about them.]

Very insightful. Comments by Ron E and Um also.

The only thing I'd echo with Um is there is a deeper layer of intentionality
for simple actions. The "feel like doing it" often hides a fragile motivational
goal that will remain submerged. It can quickly becomes angst, frustration,
and/or regret at non-fulfillment of a tacit goal.

The "flow" that's achieved experientially must embrace and process this
"mental blip on the flow meter" to advance. I watch TV serenely in my
"Zen state" until Oklahoma beats Texas... again!


See what this Chan master has to say about PURSUITS at 4:00

Hello, Ron. Sorry for the late response, hadn’t been able to log in here the last couple days.

As far as you comment addressed to Brian and to me:

See, that’s exactly what I was getting at. So far as it goes, I’ve no quarrel with either Zen or with Suzuki’s methods, in fact I think they make a great deal of sense. The problem is, they go only so far --- which again is all fine and good, except they in effect attempt, not directly not honestly but via hints and innuendo, to pretend to go well beyond their actual reach.

You’ve given three interpretations, and all three I think are excellent, in the sense that they seem entirely plausible as far as interpretations of Zen. Except: There’s no evidence at all that any of these three actually obtain in reality, and far less that the methods of Zen let you attain to them. So that, it would appear that, while directly stating only very commonsense things, Zen might actually be implying -- not stating directly, but hinting at -- all kinds of unevidenced things.

Sure, I agree, the self is chimerical, essentially an emergent property of the brain and nerves and the rest of it. But it’s a big leap from that to going beyond the ego, and to the state where “things just get done”, with “no longer a why or what for”. We don’t know that such a state is possible at all, outside of psychosis that is, or that the methods of Zen help us get there.

Again, if Zen recognizes that “spirituality” is just an empty concept, then that’s again all well and good. Except that doesn’t explain how we go from there to claiming it is Zen that is true spirituality. (Like I was saying, whether spirituality is a thing or not, whether the God quest makes sense or is a nonsensical idea, that has no relation, one way or the other, to being mindful or being in the present.)

And finally, that Buddha story. Nice story, but if you try to tease out actual meaning from it, then it makes no sense. It basically assumes Buddhahood is a thing, and that is, much like Zen, much like mysticism, ineffable, beyond the understanding of us plebs. BS, in other words, in as much as no such thing is established at all, far from it.

That’s my quarrel with Zen, even while I agree fully with its methods. Suzuki grandly claims Zen has no goal, but that’s just a load of bull. Brian could clearly explain those (fairly commonplace, albeit extremely useful and important) goals. So why couldn’t Suzuki himself do that? After all he’d set out to actually explain this system, isn’t it?

(Of course, it’s quite possible, I realize, that he may have actually clearly explained all this somewhere else, and that the comments excerpted here are supplementary comments; in which case of course none of what I say will apply. In that case it will be a case of us, all of us, taking him out of context.)

That, all of what I’ve argued above (the nudge-nudge-wink-wink routine that keeps hinting at all kinds of grand depths, that actively encourages people to [mis-] read into Zen all kinds of far deeper meanings) ; and the fact that Suzuki also, in places, quite directly hints at depths that are simply not there, or at least, haven’t been shown to be there. Where, for instance, he says directly, Suzuki I mean, in Brian’s excerpts, that “if you do this, the universal nature is there”. That sounds so overreachingly grand. Universal nature of what, for god’s sake?

For a more balanced discussion of all this, see the discussion Brian’s presented in his next post. (Link: https://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2021/10/know-that-you-know-a-lot-less-than-you-think-you-know.html.) That clearly describes the end-result of Zen, not by claiming there are no goals, but by clearly explaining both the goal/s and the method/s; and also by scrupulously keeping away from these absurd nudge-nudge-hint-hint pointers (never honest-to-goodness claims, always these coy hints) at some overreaching ultimate-state/Buddhahood/enlightenment/whatever.


I’ll try to clarify my exact position some more in this comment that I now intend to address to Brian, right after I click “Post” on this one, where I try to clarify some more why I’m objecting to the otherwise entirely reasonable message that Zen holds out for us. Perhaps that comment might interest you, both in general, and also as extension of this comment, and especially given the somewhat extravagant interpretations that you draw from Suzuki’s message (and, let me clarify, I find your interpretation entirely reasonable, given the kinds of things that were said --- that is, that you should interpret it as such is entirely reasonable, even as the extravagant implications themselves are unsupported and, IMO, uncalled for --- which is kind of my entire point).

Brian, the last time I was here I’d very quickly glanced through your comment addressed to me and responded to it in a rush. Rereading your comment more carefully now, I’m afraid I find myself in complete disagreement with two aspects of what you’ve said to me here. In one case in very emphatic disagreement to what you yourself are saying here; and in the second case it seems you may not have understood (that is, in my rush last time I may not have been able to properly convey to you) the actual basis of my gripe with Suzuki and with Zen, as they’ve been presented here. I’d like to discuss both issues, if I may, at some length now.


The first of these would be the part where you say to me, “If Suzuki's words are parsed too closely, the meaning of what he is saying can be lost in that linguistic dissection. Experiencing what he's talking about leads to understanding of his words, not thinking about them.” I’m afraid I disagree with this approach in the strongest possible terms.

I was astonished, and frankly disturbed --- given the esteem in which I hold both you and your Churchless platform, and the no-nonsense rationalism I’ve always seen you espouse --- to find you of all people, and Churchless of all places, taking this line. This is mystical obscurantism, pure and simple, that we’ve always spoken out against in others. Why on earth are we suddenly changing tacks now and backing this kind of nonsense?

I mean, this is no different than what people keep saying here about nonsensical mystical statements: The experience cannot be put in words, someone who’s never tasted the sweetness of sugar cannot with mere words be made to understand what sugar’s like, wah wah wah wah wah wah wah.

As you’ve yourself argued in these pages, more than once, and argued very correctly and very persuasively: sure, every experience is in a sense ineffable, unique, and not directly transcribed into words; but that goes for any and every experience we have, including the most mundane and commonplace experiences. That doesn’t mean that words cannot be used to approximate what we mean.

For instance: We’ve been talking of “flow” here. One of the things going for Zen-ic focus is that it sometimes helps bring about this “flow”. Now I know directly what you mean, because I’ve experienced this flow myself, as have many/most of us. In my case, with running, and working out, and also while meditating, and even, at times, in something as mundane as working with especial focus on a difficult piece of analysis/report at work. However, even if we’d come across someone who didn’t know this flow thing at all, we could still, I’m sure, have explained to them what we mean by using words, and explained it closely enough, even if not necessarily entirely perfectly. To simply say, as you’re doing here in defense of Suzuki, that, in effect “Words won’t suffice, look for the underlying experience, nothing else will do to convey what this is about”, while technically correct, is basically just a cop-out, and is no different than the obscurantist nonsense that “mystics” so love to spout.


And the part where you seem to have missed the point of my objection to Suzuki and to Zen, as represented here (that is, the part where I seem to have been unable to get across my actual view to you in the admittedly less than fully coherent posts that I’d hammered out in a rush last time), is where you say this: “ … this is how I see Suzuki's words. Keep actions in life as simple as possible. Do the things that need doing. Don't add layers of expectations and analysis to those simple actions.”

I myself agree fully with those words and that approach, as I’ve said already (albeit not very coherently, I admit, given that I was in a tearing rush when I typed in my comments the other day). Absolutely, it makes a great deal of sense, that approach, both at an intellectual level, as well as the actual experiential level.

What I’m quibbling with are, and let me enumerate them separately now in the interests of full clarity, these two (inter-related) things:

(1) Suzuki’s clearly saying Zen has “no goal”. Given that what he’s out to do here is to explain to us what Zen’s all about, I’d say he’s doing a piss poor job of the one thing he’s set out to do here, which is explain Zen to us, by saying that. Sure, and as you say, “Zen has no goal beyond simply getting you to be present in the here and now”, but the question was, why would one do this at all, this present-moment thing? Suzuki’s answer apparently is, there’s no reason, there’s no goal, just do it.

Sorry, Brian, but I have to disagree squarely. To say that there is no goal and no reason, as Suzuki is doing, is plain wrong. And to be unable to put that goal and those reasons into words, when what you’ve set out to do is to explain Zen, is inexcusable laziness and/or ineptitude (on Suzuki’s part, I mean to say). Why, you’ve done a great job yourself in explaining (some of) those reasons. As have Brooks and Langer, very clearly and without resorting to any mystical nonsense, in the article (that I enjoyed reading) that you posted subsequent to this present thread. And I’m sure I could put it to words myself if I tried, perhaps not as well as you have, or Brooks and Langer have, but still passably clearly. I don’t see why Suzuki shouldn’t be able to do that, and why we must make excuses for him when he substitutes obscurantist nonsense in place of clear discussion and explanation.

(2) In not explaining directly and clearly the down-to-earth goals of Zen-ic methods, what Suzuki’s basically doing (perhaps deliberately, else inadvertently, but either way that’s what he ends up doing) is this: He’s encouraging all sorts of people to come to all sorts of extravagant conclusions about Zen. No wonder people, in practice, often end up reading all kinds of deeper meanings into Zen. (For instance, check out Ron’s entirely reasonable comment addressed to you and to me, and also my response to him, that I’ve posted just now, and just above this comment.) Some clear discussion, in clear non-mystical words, might very easily prevent misunderstandings of that nature. (Provided of course this “misunderstanding” isn’t intentional: after all Suzuki does, as you quote, say things like “If you do this, the universal nature is there.” What does that even mean, what universal nature? That’s just an impressive sounding but basically nonsensical string of words put together just for the heck of it. Words that you wouldn’t really blame some gullible reader for reading some deep mystical meaning into.)


TLDR version:
I agree fully with the short message/description about the system of Zen, as you present it in this comment of yours addressed to me. What I disagree with is how Zen literature typically presents that commonsense message, and how Suzuki himself seems, basis your quotes, to have presented it. Intentionally or otherwise, the way he presents it encourages extravagant mystical readings into this apparently down-to-earth commonsense system. (And also, I’m afraid I disagree with you directly, Brian, for making excuses for Suzuki by saying weird things like “Experiencing what he's talking about leads to understanding of his words, not thinking about them”. That is the kind of unreasonable weirdness that you yourself criticize others for hiding behind, and I see no reason why must make especial allowance in this regard for Suzuki’s nonsense.)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.