“Zen is not about being a saint.” I tell people who ask me what Zen is about, and I also say, “and, it is not about being a devil either.”
This path of Zen, as I explain to people, is about the middle way, to not abide in the extremes. This actually interests many people, for they have tried the ‘Saint’ path and found it unworkable and it creates suffering. I explain that Zen is about who you are right now, with what you are doing right now.
So, I personally am not a saint. I don’t try and be one. I don’t practice vegetarianism mostly because any dietary practices that claim to ‘make one Buddha’ is absurd, and that the Suragama Sutra in which this practice is emphasized is most likely a fake sutra (see my earlier article on this), and the mentions of this practice in the Lanak sutra are most likely edited in well after the fact.
Though I don’t drink alcohol or smoke anything (tobacco or otherwise) out of personal choice, I do not criticize others who choose to do those things.
I also don’t view altruism as a Buddhist practice. A belief or action to: Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves.
This sort of view always creates suffering, always!
Many misguided westerners interpret Buddhas teachings as altruistic, and will say things like ‘Loving -kindness”, yet when one really looks at how the person who is misguided behaves we find such people to be extremely selfish in creating the illusions about themselves that ‘They are loving-kindness’ for others to see. For, as an example, if you ask a person to do something of a monumental effort of self-sacrifice, and nobody will ever know it is them who did it: the result is that they never do it.
Buddhism is not about deeds of altruism, or about those who are ‘seen doing altruistic deeds’. For those who engage in this misguided view only embark on a path of pain and suffering, that only leads to disaster.
I really do not have ‘Religious Rules’ or such that I follow. Many believe that the Precepts are like Mizvas or Religious Law, but they aren’t. Precepts are viewed as guidelines or wise suggestions and often left to the individual to interpret. There is no Buddhist council that decides what action is right or wrong, or dictates to the discipleship how to live and in what style. There is no successor to Buddha, there are no Buddhist Pope or Holy See, or prophets.
Many Zen Preist mistakenly views themselves as ‘successors of the Buddha’ through the ‘holy transmission’, though this has been proven to be a Chinese creation and any sort of mind-to-mind transmission claimed has been well documented as broken. Misguided Zen students, especially western students, bring in this ‘ex-cathedra’ view into Buddhism that is simply never taught by the Buddha or any of the Pali or Mahayana Sutras.
Many Zen students try and interpret the Eight-fold path as a moralistic code. That is a totally wrong-view approach to the eightfold path and one that is not only laughable but based on utter ignorance to what the Buddha taught. The only ones that speak like this are the Zen students who are illiterate, under-read, and are just following what spoken teachings of some delusional person who is spouting nonsense.
I am not a con-artist or running a scam, for that action creates suffering. I could certainly brag about being in a line of successorship that goes all the way back to the Buddha. But why? Its a lie, I know its a lie, and anyone who hears this will eventually find out it is a lie. To say such a thing is only creating suffering, and thus saying such a thing should be totally abandoned.
Zen has nothing to do with foreign culture, praying to various deities and gods, heroes, and wise priests. Has nothing to do with ancestors, or mythic stories. Zen is about your mind right here and now, and about the WRONG eight-fold path you are on!
When Buddhism is talking about RIGHT view, it is meaning to ‘cease creating suffering’. Wrong view is creating suffering.
Many people sort of demand that other people ‘follow rules’, as a way to control others. The truth is: There are no rules. There is only what you do right now, and you have to ask yourself:
Is what I am doing creating suffering for myself and others?
That is the contemplation that the wise Zen masters are asking you to ponder. What is it that you are doing that is creating suffering? What is the delusions that prevent you from seeing that you are already in the Pureland? What is it that you cling to that festers in your soul, creating torment and laments?