The Central Point of Zen Practice.

December 31, 2015 § 5 Comments

Dreaming Abstract Impasto

The central point of Zen practice is to cease clinging to all forms of thought. Enlightenment cannot be realized through logic, inference or conceptualization. It is not a this or that which can be known by thinking. Thought is the barrier to enlightenment.

Most of us cannot function without thought. We depend upon thought, our beliefs, ideas and strategies to get us through the day. The very notion of self rests upon such supports for its existence. Take away our career roles, those as mother or father, our religious or philosophical beliefs, etc., and we would lose who we are and fall into crisis.

We cling to thought to avoid the loss of self and give to it the status of reality to lend the self the same sense of permanence. Thought, however, is illusion. No thought can accurately contain every truth or represent every aspect of reality. Even the most mathematically perfect theories of the physicist fall short of fully comprehending the universe. Over time, one theory gives way to another then the search is on again to find a more inclusive theory. On and on it goes. If even the best minds of today’s science cannot find complete understanding through thought then how less so can our ordinary minds?

Not just ordinary thought is an illusion but so is every conceivable idea and as such are hindrances to enlightenment. Even the idea that life’s ultimate meaning can be known through enlightenment is an illusion that must be relinquished if one is to be truly free and independent. It is therefore an important part of Zen practice that we see through the illusion of thought. We must teach ourselves that thought is not real but just thought and that ultimately even the thought of self is an illusion.

If you cannot pass through the barrier of thought you will be like a ghost that clings to trees and grasses. This barrier is one of your own making. To know your true identity and realize pure enlightenment cease believing that every thought that enters your mind is true. Learn to let go of the belief that your thoughts represent something real in your world. Remember. Even the most abstract notion merely approaches reality and can never encompass it. No object of thought can become Light.


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