Scott Be Positive

Zen: The Mind of No Mind

 By Scott Shaw
Throughout the evolution of Zen Buddhism, understandings have emerged that help to define this pathless path. From these detailed ideologies, the practitioner may come to more clearly understand what is expected and what may be encountered on this pathway of paradox.
“Ku,” translated from Japanese means, “Profound spiritual emptiness.” Ku is not an unconscious mental void. In fact, Ku is in complete contrast to any lack of awareness. Ku is a consciously encountered emptiness, achieved through acute mental focus. This conscious emptiness is the source point for the experience of Nirvana. 
Ku is not a state of consciousness associated with the thinking mind. The mind of the average individual randomly travels from one thought onto the next and the next.  Most people do not even choose to develop the ability to stop the thought process of their mind long enough to truly define why they are thinking what they are thinking, feeling what they are feeling, or experiencing what they are experiencing.  Instead, they travel blindly through life, allowing something so temporary as a thought or an emotion to dominate their mind and the occurrences of their life experience.
Desires give birth to thoughts. Thoughts give birth to emotions. Emotions give birth to actions.  Actions give rise to Karma.  Karma is the law of cause and effect—as you sew so shall you reap. By consciously pursuing the understanding of Ku, Zen leads one away from the worldly path that ultimately culminates in the creation of Karma. Thus, the practitioner of Zen becomes free from the constraints of this worldly existence and is able to interact with the Buddha-Mind.
Ku is a state of consciousness where the mind is no longer dominated by unnecessary thought patterns. In order for an individual to experience Ku, the foundation must be laid with the techniques designed to focus the mind. Ku may be achieved through the practice of Zazen.  From Zazen the practitioner of Zen embraces the thoughtless mind, which is the essence of Ku.
Being and Non-Being
Zen accepts the existence of Being. Being is all that one sees, experiences, feels, and knows while the physical body binds one to this place we call life. Being is a human condition.
Zen also understands Non-Being. Non-Being can only be expressed in the state of Ku.  Non-Being is present when the mind has been silenced and thoughts cease to exist. 
Non-Being is not the thought of no-thought. The thought of no-thought is the illusion many people who meditate encountered when they train their mind to think that they are not thinking. 
The practice of mantra meditation, taught in many schools of yoga, replaces the random thoughts of the practitioner with a single word or phrase. Though this style of meditation focuses the mind, it does not stop the mind from thinking. It simply replaces all thoughts with one thought. Though this style of meditation may be seen as beneficial, it does not lead to the essence of non-being.
Non-Being is at the heart of the paradox of Zen. Non-Being is defined by living in a human form but not being bound to the limitation of that human form. Again, this understanding presents the essence of Ku.
The Japanese word, “Sesshin,” means, “The collecting of the mind.” Sesshin is commonly linked to the practice of Zazen. 
Any physical or mental technique that focuses the mind can be used as a technique to achieve Sesshin.  This is where the large difference between Zen Buddhism and the schools of Theravana Buddhism differ.
Zen embraces the necessity of all activity. No activity is more or less worthy than any other physical or mental activity. This remains true as long as the activity is performed consciously and is used as a method to focus the mind in order to encounter cosmic consciousness.
The Japanese word, “Mushin,” means, “Original Mind” or “No Mind.” Mushin witnesses a mind not bound by the desire for anything to be different than it currently is. 
Mushin is a mindset that is not lost in judging life experiences or in judging other people. For this reason, the individual who embraces Mushin is like a mirror reflecting the perfection of the world.
At the heart of Mushin is the acceptance that things in this universe are perfect. With no desire for things to be any different than they currently are, the individual who embraces Mushin exists in a state of constant acceptance.  From this, they are not bound by the likes and dislikes of the common individual.  Thus, they are able to interact with the enlightened Buddha-Mind.
Ushin is the opposite of Mushin. Ushin describes a mind fixated upon the temporary nature of this physical world.  Ushin witnesses an individual believing that what he or she believes is the only right answer and that all other perceptions are incorrect. It also describes a person who is bound by desire. This is due to the fact that an individual with a mind fixated upon living and feeling a specific way is willing to do whatever it takes to maintain a specific lifestyle. From their actions, negative Karma is crated.
The mind locked in Ushin is based in ego and desire. It is argumentative and confrontational. As such, this person is constantly attracting unnecessary battles, both external and internal.
Mushin, on the other hand, is freedom. It allows an individual to pass from moment to moment with no confrontation. The individual who exists in a state of Mushin can blend in among all people and experience the true glory of an enlightened life.
Prajna is the universal unmovable wisdom available to all people who seek its essence. Prajna is not unmovable in the sense of being stagnant, but unmovable in the firmness of a defined one-pointed wisdom.
Prajna is not a thought. Prajna is the instantaneousness of mastered action.
 If the Zen Buddhist practitioner must contemplate his or her actions, then they are lost in the realms of the thinking mind and they will never understand the spontaneousness that exists in the state of Prajna.
Prajna is evident when one lets go of individual ego. Individual ego is lost by coming to understand that your physical actions lead to nothing more than a movement in this transient place we call life. One’s spiritual actions, on the hand, lead to enlightenment.  Therefore, by letting go of personal self and embracing the enlightened Buddha-self, one is allowed to leave behind the constraints of the world and experience Nirvana.
“Maya,” is the Sanskrit word for divine illusion. In Japanese this understanding is known as, “Mayoi.”
The concept of Maya teaches us that all of life is an illusion. What we see, feel, and experience is not real. It is simply a projection of our own thinking mind.
This is where the perplexity of Maya is born, however.  What is the thinking mind and how is it able to make us perceive a seemingly very-real reality if, in fact, it is all an illusion?
To the Westerner the concept of Maya is immediately dismissed as being an esoteric philosophy not based in empirical fact. To the practitioner of Zen Buddhism, however, this Western belief would immediately prove the existence of Maya; as the Western proof that there is a standard reality is based simply upon the consensus of unenlightened beings.
To come to understand the foundations for Maya it must be initially understood that everyone perceives this physical reality somewhat differently. This individual perception is based upon a person’s own individual mindset that was formed by social, cultural, economic, educational, religious, and psychological events.  This gives credence to the fact that there is no one absolute reality.  The only reality is one that has been decided upon.  Thus, physical reality is debatable.
The concept of Maya goes much deeper than this, however. It goes to the root of human consciousness and the basis of Zen Buddhist enlightenment. 
Zen teaches us that each person is already enlightened.  It is simply the veil of Maya that keeps us from recognizing this fact. Therefore, those who enter onto the path of Zen do so because they believe that they are separated from supreme consciousness. Thus, they begin the practices of
Zen hoping that at some point they may finally remove the veil of Maya and reach enlightenment. This, however, is understood to be the ultimate example of Maya—that you must do something to reach enlightenment.
It must be understood that Nirvana is not based on a linear scale of higher and lower beings. Zen teaches that we all are already enlightened—some of us simply do not choose to realize and embrace this fact.
If you choose to embrace the essence of Zen and remember your original nature, you instantaneously achieve enlightenment. Though this may seem like a perplexing paradox, this paradox is the essence of Zen. And, to break through this veil of confusion, unleashed by Maya, is why people refine their mind through the practice of meditation and other Zen based techniques.
The ultimate illusion of Maya is that there is no illusion at all.  We are all enlightened, we simply separate ourselves from this fact.  Additionally, we are all locked in this physical form we call a body, which is a tool that we have been given in order to raise ourselves to clearer levels of mental, physical, and spiritual understanding. 
Simply by embracing the paradoxical essence of Zen, all things fall into place and all things are understood. The veil of Maya is then lifted and in an instant this universe is understood and the Buddha-Mind is encountered.

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