Sunday, January 11, 2015

Religion is just another thing to let go of

I don't consider Zen--or at least the Zen I practice--to be a religion. Religions entail beliefs and doctrines; I'm not interested in either of those. People argue, hurt, and sometimes kill one another over those issues.

Emptiness or impermanence can sometimes become arguing points for Buddhists, when they allow it calcify into a doctrine. But I don't view emptiness or impermanence as statements about reality as much injunctions to relinquish our attachment to things. In this light, it's not that things are empty; the Buddha is saying, "Empty yourself of your views about, and attachments to, things."

In other words, the Buddha taught impermanence because engaging life with impermanence in mind encourages us to let go and stop expecting unrealistic outcomes from reality.
Things change so let go of them. 
Buddhism can then be understood to be a series of instructions: Do 'this' and 'this' and see if it works.

Religion, on the other hand, insists; it declares. It circumscribes and reifies. So I don't see Zen as having anything to do with religion. My head hurts right now--that's real. I directly experience that.

The fire burning in the fireplace at my side is hot. There is no room for God or even Buddha in this moment. It is already complete by itself.

No one argues or kills one another over the experiences that haiku point to: frogs leaping, the smell of horse manure, the crunch of snow underfoot.

Religions dig their toes in the doctrinal sand and say, "Well, according to so-and-so....and anyone who believes differently is wrong!"

I've never been fond of belief systems. We chant the Heart Sutra at the end of our evening practice as a reminder--Don't get attached to anything.

Least of all Buddhism. Let go of God, let go of Buddha. Any ideas we hold onto become our masters.

My head still hurts. The fire blazes even hotter.

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