29 November 2007

Western Chan: A Concluding How-To

Buddhism is a complex religion, without a single voice, with many faces, and many representatives holding many different views. It's tremendously easy for a newcomer to get lost in the quagmire of beliefs, ambiguous language, customs, teachings, superstitions and myths that have produced a Matta-like painting of this unusual and expansive religion. Yet we must not allow ourselves to miss the forest for the trees. The Chan sect, as Master Hsu Yun repeatedly taught, is about discovering that inner light which is Buddha Nature. The effort required is not in the seeking, but in the letting go.

Follow the path and avoid samsaric involvement with groups and organizations. Follow that path to the Dharma that works for you. Each of us is unique in our own disposition, aptitudes, abilities, and interests - there is no single path to the Dharma to conform to. Recognize the institution of Zen as just that, an institution, and not the Path itself. Follow your life where love takes you - as a dancer, a writer, a teacher, an artist, a carpenter, a parent … every activity is an opportunity to live Chan. In the words of Empty Cloud, "Our everyday activities are executed within the Path itself. Is there anywhere that is not a place for practicing the Path? A Chan Hall should not even be necessary."

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