Dark Zen

Mystical Zen Buddhism

The goal of Zen Buddhism is directed towards achieving mystical union with Buddha Mind because Buddha Mind is the basis of all existence. In so doing, the Zennist comes to see for himself that all things are born from this Mind; that in fact, all things are subjoined to Buddha Mind, having their true commencement and end in it.

The Zennist is one who faithfully strives to realize Buddha Mind, studies the Buddhist canon, and practices many forms of meditation. Ultimately, the Zennist perceives in a very real sense what the Buddha actually intuited when he became enlightened. It is the full and complete remembrance of the ultimate nature of existence. Intuitively identifying directly with this mysterious principle, which is uncreated, the Zennist discovers that he has always been one with this mysterious principle.

This intuitive perception, usually called by its Japanese name, ‘Satori’, is an indescribable mystical awakening that transcends both human thought and sensory experience. At once, the Zennist recognizes that from the very beginning he was never really separated from Buddha Mind. Further, the sleep of ignorance, the Zennist comprehends, was caused by his continuous clinging to all kinds of phenomena, from gross manifestations to extremely subtle manifestations, including even socalled religious experiences.

Realizing Buddha Mind, the Zennist eventually becomes, in a very substantial way, detached from his illusory body. In this sense, detachment in Buddhism goes far deeper than our ordinary understanding of the word can convey. In its fullest sense, detachment suggests disembodiment, such that the Zennist eventually comes to transcend his mortal body, as it were, abiding in another body more perfect and not liable to samsaric generation. Upon complete enlightenment, the Zennist comes to see the mortal body to be empty and insubstantial.

As for the unique path of Zen Buddhism which makes it possible for the Zennist to awaken to Buddha Mind, the pathway of Zen sets about to remove the illusion that Buddha Mind is not already attained. In addition, such a path is intended to free the Zennist from all path-dependency because a path exists on account of the goal not yet being attained. But when the goal is attained the former path, therefore, becomes unnecessary. With regard to path-dependency, many Buddhist practitioners mistake the path for the goal confusing the search for wisdom with its actual possession. Eventually, the one following the path and the one making the path, i.e., Buddha Mind, are realized to be one and the same.

To conclude, at a mystical level, just like the Buddha’s own mysterious body that he attained long ago after his own enlightenment, the Zennist likewise acquires a spiritual body of thirty-two marks of excellence analogous to a coat of mail which is bright like the moon in the month of Karttika (The Mahavastu).

Text by Zenmar, the Dark Zen mystic

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