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Zen, Part two

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Zen, Part Two

One day the Buddha gathered together hundreds of his most promising followers around him for a talk. They all settled in and waited for the Master to speak. He just sat there with a smile on his face. He sat there and sat there. Finally, he picked up a flower and held it up, silently. One of his followers, and only one, looked at that flower and gained enlightenment right there on the spot.

As we discuss Zen in the future, various old stories will come up. These stories are called koans– tales or ideas that when meditated upon and considered may lead to enlightenment. Some of these stories sound very wise, others will make no sense whatsoever. As we briefly discussed yesterday, the Master comes to know the student very well, and will assign koans to the student that he feels will bring about Enlightenment. In the story above, Buddha knew that one student would understand the meaning of the flower, but the lesson didn’t help the others at all. A particular koan may have been made up by a specific Master for a specific student, and led to that student’s enlightenment, but the same koan may sound just plain asinine to you; everyone is different. The important thing to know is that these koans worked for someone at some point in the past, which is why they were written down. So yes, even the stupid-sounding ones helped someone, and could help you as well if you’re lucky.

You see, the thing about Zen is that it’s all very intuitive and individual. Zen Buddhists don’t spend a great amount of time studying Buddhist scriptures. They prefer to spend their time meditating or experiencing life. For a Zen monk, working in the garden is as productive as meditation. Going about one’s life with right mindfulness is important.

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