The Practice of Zazen in Words

I would say that nobody really teaches the practice that is the heart of the Soto school; mostly, they just stagger around mumbling “I encourage you to practice zazen wholeheartedly” to the walls.

That is probably why the teachers who brought the teaching West had to be impressive. They had a mouthful of marbles, and could not express the true Tao in words because Lao Tzu clearly ruled that out. Of course, the cultures that embraced Lao Tzu, Ch’an, and Zen wound up stuck in a medieval world, until the materialists demonstrated that it actually is possible to describe some subtle relationships in words that can be communicated and as a consequence manufacture heavy arms, after which these cultures raced to embrace the description of relationships for the manufacture of heavy arms.

We in the West, not seeing any need for Eastern wisdom when in fact we could overcome many of the sources of suffering through the description in words of subtle relationships of nature and when in fact we could pillage the natural resources of the countries that embraced indigenous traditions or wisdom traditions to abet our material addiction, never applied our ability to describe in words the subtle relationships of nature to the relationships at the heart of the Eastern wisdom traditions.

Now I would say a description of the practice of zazen can be made in words. This was the first thing that Dogen tried to do when he got back to Japan, and to me the high point of the civilization of China that occurred just prior to Dogen’s arrival there.

Right now my description is that the pulmonary and cranial-sacral respirations cause consciousness to take place where the feeling and impact that result “…(can cause) physical anxieties to decrease, and mental anxieties to decrease, and bodily torments… and mental torments… and bodily fevers to decrease, and mental fevers to decrease… (so that such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind.”

Very similar to balanced ANS-PNS and very much the heart of the practice of zazen, to me. I’m impressed that Houdini knew how to be one with the unconscious processes of the body and mind, until his balance and his breathing could be one inside that coffin. Kids, don’t try this at home, and here comes the stick if you try this at the zendo- whack!

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