Zen is a kind of revolutionary path?

In my old age, I think I have met enough people to see that they harbor the not-so-apparent-belief that when they were born they were supposed to be born into a near-perfect world which had no problems and no one would ever become poor, get sick or die. 

While they have physically grown into adulthood they’ve also grown in the amount of resentment they have as a result of their expectations not being true.  They are eager to do something about it while they are still young.

Some have decided to wage war against the more fortunate (the bourgeoisie?) on behalf of the world’s downtrodden. At the same time, they have failed to see that the only way to live in a world that is not of one’s dreams or fantasies, is to live open-eyed by compassion, which they can’t do.

Affected by the same youthful egoism I decided to become a student of Zen Buddhism in 1965 rather than participate in the great leap forward, becoming a revolutionary on behalf of the downtrodden.  By that time I figured out that the human heart has both good and evil within it.  This means we can either choose to feed our hearts the food of goodness or evil.  But we can also at the same time delude ourselves, eating at the trough of evil getting full-on pleasures in the belief that all that feels good, is good.

The difficult thing for any youthful person to accept, wholeheartedly, is Buddhism’s noble truth of suffering.  And what exactly is suffering?  In practical terms, it is our psycho-physical body that is suffering and will suffer greatly as we grow older.  The degree to which we cling to our psychophysical body is the amount of suffering we will have to bear when it comes time to let go of it.  To refuse to let go is to fall back into the avidya of the womb. 

On the other hand, to have stopped clinging to our psycho-physical body, having transcended it by awakening to absolute spirit, is the end of suffering.  But this is almost impossible for any youthful person to realize.  Nevertheless, I took it upon myself to realize absolute spirit which is beyond the world of suffering.  But like most in my generation, they chose to become, in some way, revolutionaries going so far have to rebel against everything (nihilism?).  Some, even believed that Zen was a kind of revolutionary path.  It is not.  It is a path of intuition that leads to where suffering no longer exists. 

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The Zennist

Author of The Zennist blog since 2007.

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