Tuesday, 26 March 2019


298. Master Wakuan's reference to Bodhidharma as 'the Barbarian from the West' suggests something of the threatening and unruly character of Zen. For what is at stake in the practice of Zen is the disturbance and overthrow of our habitual patterns of egocentric thinking and acting. Long established attachments and certainties need to be relinquished if we are to open ourselves to the emergence of the True Self. Our practice can feel like an encounter with a barbarous other that would break in upon the comforting certainties of our 'civilised' lifestyle. And so we can be greatly puzzled, even disturbed, at the claim that the True Self doesn't have a 'beard', that is, doesn't conform to our preconceptions of what constitutes Enlightenment-Realization. We find ourselves clinging with an extraordinary tenacity to our 'beard' even as we persist in 'doing Zen', that is, 'doing Zen our way'.       

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