Seeking enlightenment? There is no door. There is no spoon, either. ;)
“True self appears when we actively practice in the present moment, not waiting for enlightenment to appear in some special way.”
~ Les Kaye, Zen at Work
There’s a scene in the movie, The Family Man, where Nicolas Cage is sitting in a chair and trying to stay awake, because he knows that when he falls asleep his “glimpse” will be over.
The moments just before passing out are like that. Assuming that you’re not panicking, you’re vibrantly aware of everything around you — colors, smells, etc., because you don’t know if you’re just passing out or this is Game Over.
The end of a lucid dream can also be like that. You can be in the dream, know that you’re dreaming, and then know that you’re starting to wake up. You don’t want to leave, but you don’t have a choice, so you pay great attention to the environment because you know that you may never see it again.
To the best of my knowledge, all of those are also the correct mental state for Zen and mindfulness meditation. As Shunryu Suzuki says, “The true practice of meditation is to sit as if you are drinking water when you are thirsty.”
“If we close our eyes (during zazen), the darkness may provide us some relief from visual distraction and give us a feeling of peace and calm. But in zazen, we keep our eyes open. If we want to close our eyes because we feel distracted by what our eyes see, we need to understand that it is our minds that are distracted, not our eyes.”
“Do not try to experience satori. Do not try to drive away illusion. Do not hate the thoughts that arise, and do not love them, either. Above all, do not entertain them. Just practice the great sitting, here and now. If you do not continue a thought, it will not come back of its own accord.”
“The power of karma is strong in everyone, stupid or clever. When that force is broken, it becomes possible to understand Zen.”
From the book, The Way of True Zen, by Taisen Deshimaru (pictured).
(A lot of Buddhist quotes remind me of Star Wars, and vice-versa.)
“During Zazen the ego-subject can look at the ego-object, and vice-versa. We can realize that we are not so wonderful, sometimes we’re even worse than other people, because in deep zazen our true desires are revealed and we can see them fully.”
~ Taisen Deshimaru, in the book, Questions to a Zen Master
A few weeks ago I learned about a text called “Fukan zazengi,” which contains instructions for Zen meditation (Zazen) practice. The image shown comes from this stanford.edu page. If you’re interested in learning how to meditate without the background material or Buddha references, just skip down to the fourth paragraph.