Mirror of Zen Blog

True Navigation

The opening page of the original text of The Compass of Zen, by Zen Master Seung Sahn is purest simplicity and clarity: eight words describe the entirety of the reasons “how” and “why” we do this. A master’s degree in comparative religions from Harvard emboldens me to say that there is no such terseness in the rest of the mass of so-called “religious” belief or practice, stated so clearly:

And yet, the misconception here, when we need to pass through these symbols on a page, to read from left-to-right, from top-to-bottom, is that there is some strict “order” or sequencing here. Actually, it is like the two wings of a bird: they flap together. Yes, it is much more “preferable” that someone has some insight into their True Nature before they open their mouth to “teach”. Yet even the act of letting things go for a little period sometimes in the midst of this busy life — a certain amount of time every day sitting in meditation, or the attending of retreats — already begins to “teach” those around us when we practice. It need not happen with the open mouth. The wings flap together: a first burst of power to get off the ground (“sudden enlightenment”), and sustained effort over time to reach the goal (“gradual cultivation”).

Excerpt from the video: “The Purposes of Buddhism”

The full video can be found here:

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