a zen buddhist monk's blog about things almost zen and telling it the way it is - zen or not (yet)

March 20, 2010

pass me my sunglasses please

I just read the most incredible blog/rant against Japan! What's incredible about it is the length and the depth of negativity - even I can't rant that well.

What it made me aware of was that old sales pitch about so many people can't be wrong, you know; "20 billion people can't be wrong - eat red meat!" or this one about bowling.

So, this guy has been living in Japan for years and now hates so many things about it that he felt the necessity to vent his frustration and dislike (well done for doing it in writing and not any other way) - but what about the other 120+ million people who live there? The majority, I imagine, love it with the same fervour - just take a moment to check out my favourite Japanese bloggers Muza-chan - asia images - Gaijin Life

I understand him though, I really do; I had fantasized for 20 years about living in Italy; I loved everything Italian - the food, the language; the clothes; streetside cafés - you get the picture. Anyway, a few years ago my wife and I made the dream come true and for the first six months I thought I was in heaven on earth. The following six months; a hell I couldn't wait to leave!

What happened?

My mind came back from vacation, that's what happened!

Dreams and fantasies are just that; dreams and fantasies - the mind's way of going on vacation - taking a break from all the "real" stuff. Vacations/breaks are very important as anyone who never gets the chance to have one will tell you. It's that time when you can leave the stresses of your job behind; eat whatever you fancy; sleep as late as you want; forget about that neighbour who's always nagging at you. But for many, this only happens in their minds. For many, when they physically go on vacation their mind is on vacation somewhere else!

The reality of what's actually happening around us is sometimes less exotic than the place our mind can take us to. The sunglasses our mind packed are so dark that we don't see what's really happening around us. We don't notice that the people living in our vacation spot DO have to cope with the stresses of their jobs, CANNOT sleep late and DO have nagging neighbours! We don't mind so much that the line in the post office is so slow we could have done the grocery shopping in the time it takes to get to the window. We've got time and our sunglasses are so cool! How many vacations have you been on when you've thought how wonderful it would be to live there all the time?

Well, all the time is a different story if your not a native and have generations of built in sun-block! I love Japan and each time I've been there I've wanted to stay forever - but whilst I think the article I read was rather harsh, I understand where the emotions came from (I've seen the ticket stubs). That's not to say that we can't ever adapt to our new environment because some of us can, in some environments; we've just got to find the one we really feel at home in. Remember the story of the monk who searched everywhere for the truth of zen only to return, after years of searching, to the place where he started!

- seiun hosei joza

March 17, 2010

So righteous; so wrong, us!

It's so easy to be righteous, isn't it?

Someone says something about someone that somehow makes us angry... or sad, or embarrassed or etc. etc., so we slam them in our gossiping at the water cooler, or in emails to the boss or...

Our feelings about the "something", someone said are just that; our feelings. No-one forced them upon us, no-one makes us feel the way we feel; it's entirely our doing! So we should look at ourselves first when we feel affronted. Admittedly, without this social construct we would fall irrevocably into chaos, but, perhaps we could try a little harder to make sure that our feelings are not for nothing! We all feel terrible about what happened in Tahiti and the like, and that's good because we leap into a collective action to help! BUT, there is of course the downside.

This "someone" posts "something" on the net; a blog, a tweet; and we jump into action to criticise, to condemn, to attack! OK so there are two sides to every story and everyone has the right to be "right" n'est ce pas? But why is it that negativity is so much more appealing to us? The story of a famous couple splitting, or a man's indiscretions, or a film failing at the Oscars, or someone's opinion that doesn't tally with ours?

There's someone I know who scours the net for information about his work colleagues so that he can use it against them to advance his sorry little life. Just another free-loader sucking on the breast of society's inexorable thirst for negativity; a low life that only exists through others' hard work and dedication and waits for them to make a mistake; a self-centred little parrasite that needs validation - I hope he's reading this! I know who you are and your worm friends who propigate your negativity. Take a close look inside and think about what values you bring to the world; this world that's falling apart around our ears - Oh! And don't forget your fiddle!

- seiun hosei joza

March 14, 2010

who moved my zafu 座蒲 ?

Oh how we hang on to things - talk about "who moved my cheese" - indeed. 

So many people I've worked with or studied with, desperately try to protect and hide what they have or know and they get terribly jealous if someone else has a similar idea/plan/goal/ etc. etc. "Incredible" you cry out, justifiably, "isn't buddhism about letting go?". Oh yes - it is, but how few of the practitioners of today actually achieve this. How few can truly drop off body and mind (shinjin datsuraku) ; detach themselves from possession - and remember, thoughts are possessions also. 

Why oh why, do so many people feel the need to hide what they've gathered or only share it with a chosen few? Instead of hanging on to stuff, what if we let it go?' Once we've attained something, it has been attained. Why then, do we insist on hanging on to it? Maybe someone else out there would like to have a go!

Joshu was asked,
"When a man comes to you with nothing, what do you say to him?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"

A close friend and mentor told me; when you catch the fish, throw away the net; when you've understood the sense, throw away the words!

晴 雲 法 声 seiun hosei _/|\_