Free Chapter: Zen Soup
If Zen is telling us anything, it is to be here now, to live in this moment. Simple enough. So what stops us? To live in the moment, we must go out of our minds. The mind, with its guilt and resentment about the past and its fears and hopes for the future, the mind that confuses thoughts about people, things, and events with the people, things, and events themselves—must be transcended. Out of the mind and into direct, immediate experience—this is the message of Zen.
Zen masters have often used dramatic techniques, including verbal insults, physical violence, and absurd theatrics, to jolt students out of mental preoccupation and thrust them back into the moment. Zen is forever shouting: Wake up! Wake up! Wake Up! Stop the mind already! Be here! It helps to sit still and meditate. Yet Zen is even more concerned with being “here now” in the midst of activity. Again and again, Zen teachers exhort the principle of mo chich ch’u, or “going ahead without hesitation.” Just do what you are doing without thinking about it. Just be where you are without holding on or running away. Give up judging and spectating and dive into this moment. If you can’t find it here, where will you go to find it? And when?
This time, like all times, is a very good one,
if we but know what to do with it.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Paradise is where I am.
In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don’t wobble.
If you want to be happy, be.
—Henry David Thoreau
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it,
move with it, and join the dance.
I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive,
so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have
resonances within our own innermost being and reality,
so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
The Tao is near and people seek it far away.
Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.
May you live all the days of your life.
I exist as I am, that is enough.
The present is great with the future.
When one is engaged in a favorite pursuit or a subject absorbingly interesting, the normal conception of labor or time and artificial social distinctions disappear from the mind.
Is not life a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?
What you see is what you get.
We look backward too much and we look forward too much;
thus we miss the only eternity of which we can be absolutely sure—
the eternal present, for it is always now.
To be where we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming,
is the only end in life.
—Robert Louis Stevenson
Copyright © 1997 by Laurence G. Boldt
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt from Zen Soup may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.