Coming out of sleep I lay in bed
The fan blowing a gentle breeze across my body
I kicked off the covers and stretched
I cleared my mind from monkey dreams
And listened to the quietness of the house
I have been to a Zen sangha – a Buddhist teaching community – and have read extensively; and one lie that is promulgated throughout, is that it is necessary to have a physical teacher in order to achieve enlightenment – to become a Buddhist.
Buddhism, and in particularly Zen, in its most basic teachings is not about teachers or chants (Koan), not about robes, bells, whistles, icons or timed meditation. Buddhism is simply a path to help a person achieve contentment by appreciating every conscious waking moment; and Zen is a path to achieve that consciousness through meditation.
The Buddha found enlightenment by himself and each of us have a Buddha nature. When we are seeking a more contented nature me can distill Buddhist writings and lectures to a basic path that fits our own individual needs.
Christianity became a religion in 325 AD at the council of Nicea (Nicaea) when men decided that Jesus was a god, and what writings would compose the bible, and what the laws and teachings should be.
Likewise after the death of the Buddha, men who had been explaining the simple concept of achieving contentment through focusing on the beauty of the Now, began adding trappings and rituals and requirements that was not the intent of the Buddha. Teachers venerate themselves, they set themselves up as somehow superior to us – again not the intent of the Buddha.
If you are interested in alleviating stress and living a more conscious life I would suggest you read Buddhist materials – but not take them as gospel.
In my opinion, the best Buddhist (Zen) teachings, the most distilled and easiest practiced and understood can be found in two books by Steve Hagen: Buddhism Plain and Simple and Buddhism Is Not What You Think.
“Buddhism is not about beliefs and practices… it is not a religion. It is about the teachings of awakening – about examining the world clearly.”