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Alan Watts and zen.

Comments on Alan Watts and zen.

Zenoplata
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Posted 02/10/11 - 11:17 PM:
Subject: Alan Watts and zen.
I'd like to discuss what it means to be zen. Particularly, Alan Watts' interpretation of zen. For anyone not familiar, he was a fairly modern philosopher that was popular during the cultural revolution of the 60's in the U.S.A.

He attempted to bridge Western philosophy with that of the East, incorporating many concepts from Buddhism such as zen into our worldview.

This video is my favorite of his. There are many on youtube.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UA...UAv9tJ-fVA&feature=related

So I pose the question. What does it mean to be zen? Is this a desirable state? Are we moving further away from the state simply be discussing it?
b.mellow
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Posted 02/11/11 - 1:49 AM:

Zen is a difficult subject to talk about because it is purposefully paradoxical. It is the most practical, everyday spirituality I've encountered, that can be as deep as a philosophical treatise or as simple as appreciating a bird's song. It's also constantly challenging in that as soon as you think you've found it, you've lost it. It is said that if you see the Buddha walking down the street, kill the Buddha! Simply put, it's about living your every day life in complete submission and admiration for what is. It has no bells or whistles, no dogmas or mantras, no heaven and no hell - in fact, no ups or downs. Just a steady, responsible simplicity. That's my understanding of the zen philosophy.

Now what is the zen state? The zen state is wholly in the moment, completely immersed in your surroundings. Have you ever been constantly distracted, mentally somewhere else, feeling detached from your surroundings. If you're on a philosophy forum, probably! haha The zen state is realizing the one moment that always exists. And talking about it is good, because it helps our rational minds understand it, but experiencing it is even better.
libertygrl
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Posted 02/11/11 - 10:49 AM:

b.mellow wrote:
Now what is the zen state? The zen state is wholly in the moment, completely immersed in your surroundings. Have you ever been constantly distracted, mentally somewhere else, feeling detached from your surroundings. If you're on a philosophy forum, probably! haha The zen state is realizing the one moment that always exists. And talking about it is good, because it helps our rational minds understand it, but experiencing it is even better.

thumb up

expounding on this, for me zen is about accepting the moment without wishing it was something different. philosophize if you like, cry or scream, or ride your bicycle, whatever the case may be, but do so without wishing it was something else - without wishing that you were something else. that, to me, is zen. and yes, i think of it as a desirable state.
Monk2400
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Posted 02/11/11 - 5:43 PM:

Zen is intimately tied to the Buddhist worldview. It was originally considered a hersey, interestingly enough. The Buddha taught that in his teaching he left nothing out, that the sum total of his teaching was taught during his lifetime and fully expressed in his various sermons. He explicitly said that there is no esoteric, secret, or hidden teaching.

The Zen tradition, however, stems from the idea that there was a wordless esoteric transmission of pure understanding passing from the Buddha to one of his disciples, and thence through a series of patriarchs on down through the ages. In other words, Zen continuity and teaching became something you could not understand from reading Buddha's teachings. It existed outside of the cannon.

The essence of Zen is the same as the essence of all Buddhism, however, and that is simply--

to see things clearly.

Clear, perfect insight is the fruit of all Buddhist practice, and Zen has its own traditions on how to do that.

Zen has something in common with phenomenology, but whereas the latter is intellectual, the former is (ideally) visceral (directly experienced). Phenomenology aims at this through its attempt to unearth the 'essence' and perceive essences directly. What this amounts to is witnessing the phenomenal manifold at the point before it is processed by the cognitive apparatus of the mind and transformed into perception. It is being aware of pure sensation without the limiting structure of cognition.

This is more or less what you get when, as Mellow said, you are "wholly in the moment, completely immersed in your surroundings"--where your 'surroundings' are the whole phenomenal manifold, not just the 'external world' as it were.

To see the world in its suchness, that is Zen.

8)
Thinker13
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Posted 02/14/11 - 9:39 AM:

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As usual Monk2400 has summarized it so nicely. I would like to remark on something in particular .As in case of Buddha, similarly in case of Muhammad or Jiddu Krishnamurty, there has been an attempt by masters to declare that their teaching was final and no evolution of any kind was possible or acceptable. Whether it was because of their effort to help others avoid following something which was not true in their experience or due to some other reason is not clear to me.

Again: Our talking about Zen is moving us away from Zen and so on is mental exercise and mostly hogwash. If you take too gingerly steps you will not dare talk about anything. So live dangerously and let Zen slip away. Talk too much about it and it will slip away sticking out tongue
b.mellow
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Posted 02/15/11 - 3:27 PM:

A student went running to his master. "Master! Master! I fear I will never find the way! Can you show me?" The Master said: "Did you eat your rice and soup today?" The student replied yes. "And did you wash your bowl and your hands afterwards?" Again the student replied yes. "There is the way."

A woman ran to the nearest monastery and cried to the eldest monk. "I fear I don't love God anymore! This is terrible! How can I live?" And the monk said: "Is there anything that you love?" "Yes," she said, "My sister died years ago and since I've taken her son as my own. He is sick and I care for him and love him more than anything." "There," the monk said. "There is your love for God."



Two of my favorite zen bits.
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