Daily Tao

The Tao in Everyday Life

Zen: The Art of Asking the Right Questions

It seems many of us have a yearning need to find the answers to some of the most pressing  questions our thinking minds can conjure, to discover the meaning behind every one of our experiences…It seems that without these questions our lives become utterly meaningless:

  • What is the meaning of life ?
  • Why am I suffering ?
  • What was the purpose of God in creating mankind ?

In many ways these questions are understandable. But they can also become totally overwhelming because these questions are a product of our thinking mind and our thinking mind, even though exquisitely impressive on its own plane (that is the world of relativity) is sadly also the cause of much of our own suffering.

Zen is a very peculiar spiritual discipline, so unique in its approach that there have been numerous attempts to discredit it as not even part of the body of Buddhist teaching…True and False.  Because if Buddhist teaching is merely conforming with everything that is taught without the vaguest attempt at self questioning or self enquiry then that is true, it cannot be part of the Buddhist Canon. But if true Buddhist teaching is putting an end to all relative concepts, including indeed concepts of Buddhism, Zen or Buddha, then it most definitely is Buddhism !

For me Zen is really a form of psychotherapy (it is simply a corruption of the Sanskrit word dhyana which means meditation). Zen is a shift in perspective, seeing things not from the personal perspective anymore but from the impersonal, which, ultimately speaking,  is the Universal Self common to all living beings. Questions such as the above may only lead to more confusion and suffering (if not properly understood for Zen does make use of questions in the koan teaching technique)  so perhaps the only right question to ask is: “Why worry about questions ?”

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