A reconstruction, to scale, of the Quetzalcoatlus Northropi, determined by paleontologists to be the largest flying animal that has ever existed on Earth.
When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming an archaeologist. I spent hours in bed with dinosaur books, and studied the various dinosaurs long, long before the cult of Barney and the whole popularization of dinosaurs in popular culture. I used to collect chicken bones after a family meal, bury them out in the backyard for several days, and then construct maps and investigative plans for digging up the “fossils“, arranging the bones forensically, and then drawing a “possible” schematic of what this animal might have looked like. I remember the disappointment in trying to describe my dinosaur fantasy-world to friends in school: there was not the ubiquitous recognition or understanding of the reality of these creatures, not yet. I think they hadn’t been made “cute“ yet, and the overarching culture had not found someway to simplify them for mass commodification.
In any event, what I have been doing with Zen is actually the carrying out of this childhood fantasy: the search for origins, the reconstruction of a psychological specimen from my past which might give answers to present behavior, the proto-scientific view into the endless roll of causes and effects. To a recent student here in the Zen Center, who has recently begun intensive therapy to look at the roots of her present behavior in past traumas, I told her “you are doing karmic archaeology.“
All Zen is archeology. That’s why we don’t rely on theory much at all – – it is all, 100%, the painstaking fieldwork of endless uncovering in the work of personal and collective evolution.