The Daily Life Is the Dojo

The Daily Life Is the Dojo

Once upon a time some novice monk went up to a great Zen master and asked the question, “Where is the best dojo?”

To which the master snapped, “Your daily life is your dojo.”

This answer appears to be terse and dismissive but there lies a buried wisdom which is the essence of Zen: the ordinariness. Or better said, the extraordinarily ordinary daily life. Zen says, if your ordinary life becomes extraordinary, only then are you spiritual.

The Simplicity of such statements is mind blowing. People are normally in search of something extraordinary, the supernatural. And to get that they deny the natural, and the human. In the clutter of spiritual paths that try to allure seekers with other worldly temptations, Zen is one of the few systems that emphasize human dignity. This is the dignity deriving not from the ego but from the “original face” we all have. We gain vital freedom by becoming aware of this “original face” and living in terms of it. Zen returns the human being to this original wholeness and introduces him to his real creative being .

Man, surrounded by machines, mass-communication, and organized systems, has become alienated from freedom and spontaneity. Zen has the potential of breaking the deadlock facing modern man. Science seems to have become all-powerful and destructive. In contrast Zen is highly creative, penetrates to man’s true self and helps him live it in daily life.

Much of Zen’s appeal today stems from its uncompromising view of the whole man. Many Western thinkers are drawn to Zen because it promises fulfillment without the supernatural. In an increasingly complex and mechanized world, perhaps there is need for a teaching that helps man toward being himself. Zen seems well suited to restore the sense of life to many who have lost it. The business management is highly inspired by the principles of Zen and try to inculcate them in their training as well as in their work situations. Four basic qualities of Zen –simplicity, profundity, creativity, and vitality are immensely useful in business as well as in daily life.

Zen has great respect for the physical. Otherwise who could make simple acts like drinking tea a profoundly meditative affair? For Zen what you do is not important, all that matters is how you do it. It is a common experience that meditation rejecting the body becomes sterile and cerebral.

Osho holds Zen highly as he feels it is  the greatest flowering of human consciousness yet achieved and it is one of the fundamental revolutions: it cuts the very roots of the so-called religious structure of the mind. It is not religion, it is pure religiousness. It is not religion in the sense of being Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Buddhist. Hence to call Zen, “Zen Buddhism” is wrong: it has nothing to do with Buddhism at all. It is not oriented in the past, it is not inspired by the past – it has no goal in the future either. It is living your life passionately, intensely, ecstatically this very moment.

The very idea of this very moment is shattering to the mind because the mind lives in the past and the future. And Zen is a tremendous blow to the mind: it cuts it in a single blow, it destroys it, it takes you beyond, immediately. Zen is a device of sudden enlightenment.

By Amrit Sadhana

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