Recently, I reread bits of “Zen: The Path of Paradox” by Osho. The book provides a lovely description of Zen, and I was particularly intrigued by this passage, starting with the following sutra:
Like the empty sky it has no boundaries, yet it is right in this place, ever profound and clear.
Osho then advises, “Replace ‘it’ with ‘God’ and you will immediately understand — but Zen people don’t use the word God, they say it.
This reminds me of one of my favorite Zen parables (shared in a previous post: Where Is God?) :
A man walked into a temple. In the middle of the room was a stone. The man sat down on the floor and put his feet up on the stone.
The priest of the temple rushed in and asked, “Don’t you know what a sin you’ve just done? No one can put their feet on such a holy shrine! The punishment for such an act is eternity in Hell.”
The man, humble in his way, answered, “Please accept my apology, for I did not know that what I did was wrong. Can you please place my feet where God won’t be offended?”
Immediately, the priest took the man’s feet off the stone and threw them on the ground. To the man’s surprise, before his feet could touch the ground, another sacred stone appeared to catch them. Not believing his eyes, the priest again threw the man’s feet from the second stone to the floor. And once again, a sacred stone appeared to catch the man’s feet.
This time the humble man, with a glimmer in his eye, asked the priest to place his feet where God did not exist. At that, the priest bowed to the feet of this holy man and apologized. The holy man replied, “There is no place where God is not.”
Zen is often viewed as unreligious. But I do not know that it gets more religious than Zen, for Zen treats everything and everyone as holy. There is equality and there is freedom in the understanding that God is within us and all around us.
In Zen, meditation (zazen) is the practice used to create the stillness required to reach the Heaven within. If we are calm and clear, God comes to us. In this way we come to understand that life is now.
Photo source: Reflect On by Natassa Triantafillou