I am not a Zen master. Me saying that proves, of course, that I am one.
This isn’t about Zen Buddhism, about which I know virtually nothing. It’s about perception and the precision of language.
Substitute any of a number of words for ‘Zen’ in the quote above. Then what? Let’s use ‘self’ for an example. Are you trying to find yourself? Are you trying to find your ‘self’, in other words?
Where is that ‘self’?
- Does it reside in your career, if only you could get a promotion?
- Does it reside in your hobbies, if only you could be finish a project?
- Does it reside in your friendships, if only you could be worthy of them?
- Does it reside in your makeup bag, if only you would not age?
- Does it reside in your kids, if only they would not age?
- Does it reside in your golf clubs, in only you could reach par?
- Does it reside in your religion, if only you could be good enough?
- Does it reside in the future, if only you can find it?
- Does it reside in the past, if only you can recapture it?
Or does your ‘self’ reside right here, right now? If it isn’t here right now, how are you reading this? Is it someone else occupying your body doing the reading? No, it’s you, it’s your ‘self’ doing it.
So, back to the ‘precision of language’ I mentioned. What you pursue is not your ‘self’. Your pursuits are those things I listed and more. You may want those things better understood, better defined, better lived. And that is good, pursue them all with great passion.
But call them by their name and don’t be sloppy with your name calling. Their name isn’t ‘self’. You are named ‘self’ and you are here right now. Indeed that is the only place your ‘self’ will ever be.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote by Robert Allen, author of ‘Zen Questions’