Is Zen The True Way?

wisdom zen

Question: I’m curious about your opinion on Osho. I know there were problems with his community in the past, but I also think he had many interesting things to say. At the end of his life, he declared Zen as the way.

Jason: I don’t know if I would ever say that, because there’s no such thing as “Zen”, and there’s no such thing as “the way”. Those are just words pointing to something. The Buddha said something very interesting in a sutra: all the different teachings are like fingers pointing to the moon. The problem is people attach to the finger so they cannot perceive the moon. What is the moon? That is our enlightened nature, our true self, the absolute, however you want to define it.

But the most important question is, what do these words point to? “Zen” doesn’t exist. So if there’s no Zen, what is there? Sitting here in this chair, answering your question. That’s it. The name for that, the word we give it, is “Zen”. The words for that are “the way”.

I know nothing about Osho. I remember hearing some of his teachings before I started practicing Zen, and they seemed to resonate with me, but I don’t know if that's so important. There are a lot of teachers who have wonderful words, which are helpful, right? Because hopefully, a teacher inspires people to practice. If a teacher is just giving you new ideas or filling your head with a belief system or anything like that, it is not so helpful. But if a teacher’s words are helping or inspiring us to meditate, meaning to sit on a cushion and investigate this life closely, then I think that’s a wonderful thing.

What is challenging, not only for Zen teachers or meditation teachers, but for all of us, is our actions. There is a teaching in Zen that states, “one action is better than a thousand words”. People can say many wonderful things, but what are they doing?

I can tell my kids I love them and say nice things. But what's most important, and the thing they actually remember, are my actions. How are my actions expressing this love? How do we express “Zen” or express “the way” or express all the teachings in this moment? I think it’s better to have clear actions in your life than it is to say wonderful things or have some good understanding.

We talk about a few points in Zen practice. First is the experience of the mind before thinking. We call it this Buddha nature, or your enlightened nature. This point is before “Zen” and before “the way”, before any kind of philosophy. Your mind and the universe are not separate.

The second step is really important. When we experience the mind before thinking, then we can see the truth of this world clearly. We’re not projecting some idea or seeing this world or other people through some filtered view; we are seeing things for what they are.

When we do that, we can respond with wisdom. But sometimes wisdom takes some time because it’s very challenging to be skillful in this world. Why is that? Because there are many situations appearing in front of us. There are many people appearing in front of us who may have different views, different ideas, and opposing beliefs. If we separate ourselves from everyone and this world, then there is no way we can do anything in a clear way. So, wake up out of our dream, connect to the moment, see the truth, and respond with love and wisdom.

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