Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for April 8th, 2017

Pulling the cart

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However high and soaring to the sky our ideas may be, we are firmly fixed to the earth; there is no way of escaping this physical existence. Whatever thoughts we may have, they must definitely be related to our body, if they are to have the power to influence life in any way. The Zen monk is asked to solve highly abstract metaphysical problems; and to do this he devotes himself to meditation. But as long as this meditation remains identified with abstractions, there will be no practical solution of the problems. The Yogin may think he has clearly seen into this meaning. But when this does not go beyond his hours of meditation, that is, when it is not actually put to experiments in his daily life, the solution is merely ideational, it bears no fruits, and therefore it dies out before long. Zen masters have, therefore, always been anxious to see their monks work hard on the farm, in the woods, or in the mountains. In fact, they themselves would lead the laboring party, taking up the spade, the scissors, or the axe, or carrying water, or pulling the cart.

D.T. Suzuki, The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk

Written by nevalalee

April 8, 2017 at 7:30 am

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