Sunday, June 17, 2012

Steve's question

Steve came over this evening for dokusan. Here he is.

When I was walking him back through the compound to the main gate he asked me a question. He said that he had taken up Zen when going through a difficult time - and had found it most supportive. However, how should he view it now that life was going well?

How would you have replied?


  1. Practice, practice, practice as in
    breath, breath, breath.

    "Difficult times" will come anyway. It is better to have a base of practice.

    With proper training there is the zen mind, that is not dependent of easy or difficult times.

    "Be heedless, do not later fall into regret"

  2. Although Zen practice can be used as medicine in difficult times, it is better to practice regularly to stay healthy. Regular Zen practice is our way of maintaining our mental health.

    The Buddha said: “With our thoughts we create the world.”

    With practice we cultivate a healthy mind, a healthy mind fosters healthy thoughts, and healthy thoughts create a healthy world.

    When we maintain our health, difficult times are more easily endured.

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Shojin,

      With Zen types one never knows whether a question is meant straight or as a metaphor!

      Metaphorically, he's the banana tree in my garden; however, the Kenya Revenue Service sees him as a Nairobi resident and, if they felt the urge to dig deeper, would discover that he's a pharmacology student who get sent to me by the guy who runs Zen Kenya.

      But the more pressing question is - who is Shojin Yushi?

    2. Incidentally, your question is very well times as Steve's koan on Sunday was, "What was your original face before your mother and father were born?"

  4. Bruce Springsteen has a song in his new record called Wrecking Ball, really good. At one moment in the song, he states: "Hard times come, and hard times go, and hard times come, and hard times go...only to come again".

    You are never free from hard times. Zen gets you prepared for that.

  5. Hi guys,

    thanks very much for your input. I'll share it with Steve.


  6. Who is never free from hard times? How can Zen prepare anyone for anything? What could anyone possibly be prepared for? Zen is not something that is there for support in difficult times. If it could, it would seem a limited view and experience of Zen, and make it yet another crutch of a handicapped, shackled mind. Zen is looking directly and seeing who we are. Hard times are easier for practice because they challenge our sense of identity and self-clinging. When things are going well, it can be all too easy not to look straight into our very own eyes. When we suffer consciously we grow in faith. Obstacles and hardship are an overlooked gift, though life doesn't go well or otherwise, we do.

  7. Hi Shojin,

    Yes, Zen is looking directly. By doing that, it helps you deal better with life. Thus, when hard times come, you "are prepared" for them, that is, you are able to deal with them more efficiently.

    Understanding hard times as gifts or as easier for practice is just an effective way to look at them. To challenge our sense of identity and self-clinging is just an effective way to deal with life. Zen helps you do that.

    So, yeah, I agree with you ;)

  8. If you have a banana tree
    Why not just eat one
    Then it is easy