Sunday, March 10, 2013


The term ‘art of sex’ might appeal to a teenager or a frustrated celibate; but I find sex as an art is not desirable.   Any time you move something to an art form you are becoming to cerebral: it speaks of planning and orchestrating and evaluating.   To be really enjoyed, sex - like life - should be spontaneous: a spontaneous melding of mutual desires that build to an emotional climax and leave both parties exhausted and elated.  

The teachings of Zen tell us to live spontaneously.   We are told not to dwell on what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, but to accept each moment and make decisions as they arise - and then move on.

The teachings of ZEN can be an enigma.   And to understand ZEN we need to understand Buddhism.  

I propose there are four distinct disciplines of Buddhism.  Without getting mired in difficult names, histories, double talk and rituals we can look at the divisions geographically. 

Southeast Asian Buddhism is probably the most popular.   This is the Buddhism of Compassion.   It is the belief that a person can not become enlightened (at one with the world) without being involved in humanity.   Compassionate Buddhist are concerned about war and human suffering and the welfare of all living things.   Meditation is a big part of their path to enlightenment. and they believe that true Buddhism can be achieved only through being involved in a community of Buddhist – they stress the need for a teacher. 

Tibetan Buddhism is the least understandable for our western minds.   Tibetan Buddhism is ripe with gods and demons and spirits.   The more educated Tibetans now living in exile say the deities are the personification of human conditions.    That may be true today; but from the earliest time through the twentieth century Tibetan Buddhist were fearful of the actual physical existence of demons.   Tibetan Buddhists believe in reincarnation and that human life is the top of the life cycles.   A person who lives an unselfish religious life may opt out of the cycle.   People who are evil and unwholesome and unworthy are doomed to repeat the cycle in a lower animal form (take four.)   Because Tibetan Buddhists see all non-human life forms as some step of reincarnation they worry about killing the simplest living creature  – walking on bugs.   Tibetan Buddhism, like Tibetan culture, has been practically eradicated by the Chinese government. 

The third is Chinese Buddhism, which no longer really exists as a viable religion.   The Chinese government now licenses the monks and the state controls the laity to make sure that the Buddhist monasteries don’t operate contrary to the People’s Socialist Agenda.   The government has even appointed a new Dali Lama.  

Japan was the last Eastern country to adopt Buddhism, and they modified the form to what is now known as ZEN.    They distilled the teachings of the Buddha to focus on the wellbeing of the individual.   The premise of ZEN is that by disciplining the mind through meditation an individual can come to understand the causes of his or her suffering and discontent, and lead a more full and appreciative life in each day and each moment.  

Buddhism was never a religion that moved in to replace other existing religions.   Because of the simplicity of the teachings we might view Buddhism as a chameleon:  able to absorb the existing tenets and offer a non-threatening combination.  

In India Buddhist teachings melded with Hinduism; In Tibet it melded with the mystic religion Bon. In China it melded with Taoism; and when it moved to Japan it distilled the teachings to adapt to that culture. 

Each of theses divisions, stemming from the Buddha’s teaching, added and subtracted and in doing so veered away from the simple enlightenment of the Buddha.    Each claims to be the pure belief, just as the Catholic Church claims to be the true Christian religion.   And though, in my opinion, ZEN is the closest to the Buddha’s path to enlightenment, even ZEN has cloaked itself in vestments and ceremony that the Buddha never condoned. 

In my next post I will discuss the actual practice of ZEN as taught in numerous Sanghas (Zen communities) throughout the US.  

An in the final post I will describe Buzzard Zen: the back to the basics that I fall into and out of like a fat person trying to diet. 

the Ol’Buzzard
Much of what is written here will not agree with the teachings available at sangha’s and the literature at book stores.  I have read and considered myself a Buddhist since the seventies.   As I believe all established Buddhist sects today have veered away from the simple basic teachings of the Buddha – I do not blindly accept the necessity of belonging to a group or of submitting my will and intellect to a teacher.

Believe nothing, no matter were you heard it or who said it, unless it agrees with your common sense. 
(attributed to the Buddha)  


1 comment:

  1. "Unless it agrees with your common sense" -- this is why I've never taken to any teacher who says how one should live life. It is difficult for me to imagine how an enlightened person would presume to say what is right for another when it comes to ideas which there are no words for.
    But then that's why they say Jesus spoke in parables.
    Zen makes the most sense to my mind but I don't see the necessity for group living or teachers. I suppose I've learned the most from the Greek Stoics.


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."