Some more 'BIG" questions from that wonderful list ...
There is an old Koan that has a couple of versions ...[Is] reality one, everything one? ... Zen says that Zazen leads to the direct realisation of the oneness of reality/the universe.
... from my perspective human beings grasping reality is just God understanding God, Being understanding Being... The One waking up. ... For me, Zen practice seemed to be the finest way to re-gain direct awareness of The Source.
If all things return to the 'One' (or the 'Source'), to what does the One/Source return?'
Most human beings have an inner need to place a label and image on everything (together with imposing their small human ideas, judgments, prejudicies, ignorances, demands and the like on whatever is being so labeled, limited and defined). Thus, many people feel a need to call ultimate reality "God" or "Brahma" or "Allah", "Cosmic Buddha""The Universe" "The One" "The Source" or you name it! They demand that "He/She/It/Whatever" be 'Harmonious and Peaceful and Good, Just and Whole' to their liking.
But please understand the following distinction:
There is a vital difference between a vague idea that "All Reality is One" and experiencing "being At One with All Reality". In the latter case, one (you) feels no separation between oneself and reality (also you), and knows total harmony with reality, no matter what that reality should be ... be it One, Three, Seven, Infinity, Minus Gazillion or something altogether beyond count. No personal demands or petty expectations are placed upon reality. One can even feel "at peace", "in harmony" and "in union" with a world that is (to human eyes) anything but peaceful, united and harmonious all the time ... even pleased with a world that is (to human sensibilities) filled with both the pleasing and the displeasing.
Instead of demanding that "God" be "Fair & Just" to your liking (or even "God"), how about embracing "God" as "'just' the way things are" free of your demands? That is truly accepting God on God's terms! Instead of requiring that the universe be "whole" to your little liking, just be at peace with a universe that is wholly the universe. Do the rocks and mountains long for a world "Fair" to their standards? Does a tree think "This is where I, the tree, end and the earth and air begin"? Does the fish, snatched up by a hungry hawk, thus think that nature is "Just" or that nature is terribly "Cruel"? (Or, more likely, does the fish not think about nature at all, thus living out True Nature)? Yes, as the abundant nature imagery in 'Zen Art' attests: rocks, trees, birds and fish profess some things that humans (for all our so-called intelligence, and great analytical minds that divide up the world) so easily forget.
Do this, and the world is more fantastic than dreamed in your philosophy, Horatio.
To further understand this, let's return to that river I mentioned last time:
The river analogy was this:The river and boat analogy is beautiful and moving... So Zen lets you know that you are the river, but not what the nature of the river is, why it's there, or where it's going?? It shows you directly the oneness of reality, but not anything of the nature of that One??
Now, sometimes folks like to call that river by names like "The Tao", "The Way" ... 'The Source" and such. One is just paddling and paddling, sometimes drifting (sometimes falling in!). One (meaning you) can be in "perfect harmony" with River Tao just by knowing the very waters of the river where one is paddling. In fact, we might say that the "source" of the river is right where you are ... the river is right where you are here and now. It is not a matter of saying that the true river is located back up at its headwaters (somewhere up in the distant foothills) or down at its mouth in the Gulf. It is where your oar dips into the water.Our life is very mysterious, and to be born as a sentient being is very much like waking up suddenly & sentient, for no known reason, in a row boat in the middle of a unknown river. An oar is in your hand. No idea how you got there, but there you are. You may not know who (if any "who") made the boat, the river, you, the mosquitoes, the surrounding shore that stretches to the horizon. But, here you find yourself, in life's little boat, with a paddle, heading down that river. River runs before you, seems like it came from somewhere behind. You do not know why (if any "why"). What to do?
Just paddle paddle, sometimes drift drift.
And what's more, our Zen Practice allows us to see that we are the river, the boat, the mosquitoes ... In this way, we realize that where the river flows, is where we flow. What's more, the river's flowing is just our flowing. In other words, we may not know where (if anywhere) the river is going, or where (if anywhere) the river arose ... but we go with the flow! We ARE the flowing! Don't resist.
Shoot, that river's gonna take you where its going anyway!
In fact, where do the waters "go" when the water eventually returns to the waters, pouring into the sea? Where was the river before its headwaters, or even before the first rain?
If you want to know the river, just dip your hand into the cool and wet waters right here. It is here (and, if you experience it as such) is you too. Taste it here and now too. Taste its sweetness or saltiness right here, know for yourself its coolness on your own fingers and tongue. If you want to know "God", then that taste and touch is no other (and the tasting and touching is no other).
One version of that Koan goes like this ...
Ho ” If all things return to the one, to what does the one return?”
Basho “I will tell you after you have drunk up all the waters of the West river in one gulp.”
Ho “I have already drunk up all the waters of the West river in one gulp.”
Basho “Then I have already answered your question.”
If one falls in the river right here, drinks the waters right here, allows the river to carry one away, spreads one's arms and yields to the river, merges to the river, willingly drowns in the river ... one is "at one" with the river. One knows the subtle source right here and now.
OTHERWISE, ONE IS LIKE SOMEONE WHO HAS FALLEN INTO THE RIVER ASKING "WHERE IS THE RIVER" or ONE SOAKING WET AND UP TO HIS NECK IN WATER asking "WHY AM I WET"?
One other version of that same Koan goes like this:
Master Mang Gong was asked, 'If all things return to the 'One' (or the 'Source'), to what does the One/Source return?' Master Mang Gong replied, "The spring geese are flying north.''
It is just the natural way things are.
Yes, dip into the cold, flowing waters right here and feel the wetness and current for yourself. All is carrying your boat north.For me, Zen practice seemed to be the finest way to re-gain direct awareness of The Source.
Your questions continue ...
I believe that Zen Practice can let one perceive that all of life is sacred, from the great mountains to the smallest grain of dust. Whether it is all some "God" or not does not really matter ... for that dust would be sacred merely for being the dust. Each damn mosquito biting you on that river is divine.Would Zen agree with a statement such as, ‘There is only the divine, there is nothing else’?
I was attracted to Zen because I believed that it trancended 'faith' in the 'ultimate', 'divine', or whatever we call it, and made direct contact. No need for 'faith' after you've made direct contact... In essence, I have believed that Zen realistion is 'to see God', although I have not believed in any external, separate, divine being...
Stop seeing the dust grains and mosquitoes as smaller in size than your image of an infinite "God". Then, what is there to compare them?
Yes, you are Being waking up to Being, and "you" are the flowers, table, chairs and Dogen too.This is to say that one appears in a variety of forms, oneness manifests as diversity, "Look there's Being manifesting as a table, a flower, a computer, all the things Dogen said mind is no other than, you and me!" So why would it be beyond Being to wake up to its Being?
You are a drop of water of the river asking itself "Hey, buddy, where's the river"?
Whether it is coming from within you, or from somewhere without you, is it less a feeling of peace? In fact, where is it arising from when you drop all thought of "in" and "out"?One thing I do know is that ever since I've been sitting, more and more often, I've had the sensation of a subtle peace emanating from...somehwere... and sometimes it happens when the circumstances shouldn't (by conventional wisdom) yield inner peace at all. It's kind of like an inner grin And if this is all a big random, unintended don't know what, I wonder where that inexplicable peace is coming from?
And whether this is or is not a "big random, unintended don't know what", cannot you still be "at one" with that, at peace with that?
Does a sailor demand that the river give him the exact sailing conditions that the sailor demands? Does the sailor tell the weather what to be each day, or how strong the current? Does the sailor demand that the river have a certain source and end? Or does the sailor merely sail the river with what is, where he is, just as it is?
How dare you tell "God" that he must be "God"! How dare you tell Being that it must wake up as you imagine it must. How dare you tell The One that she cannot be random and unintended! Who are you to tell the universe how to be the universe?from my persepctive human beings grasping reality is just God understanding God, Being understanding Being... it's just Being re-gaining awareness of its Being... The One waking up. ... I've been surprised by the general, "Maybe it is all random and unintended / we don't know and Zen practice doesn't let you know" response.
It is like a child who demands that mommy and daddy be who he wants them to be.
Zen is for grown ups who can now accept their mother and father as just what they were, with all the blemishes.
GROW UP! Just sail your boat north.
Got my point?