College of the Mind
(School of New Zen)
While Zen has traditionally been viewed as a Japanese (Zen) or Chinese (Ch’an) experience, its emphasis on mindful acceptance of the present moment concept of “no- mind” corresponds to a globally recognized and embraced practice of meditation and mindfulness. It cannot truly be defined without destroying its essence. This is inherent in many different schools of spirituality and different religions and is referred to by many other names. Zen is associated with its founder, monk Bodhidharma (approximately 500 BCE) who is credited with teaching of the ideas embodied in the phrase: “A special scripture outside scriptures. No dependence upon word or letters. Directly pointing to the human mind. Seeing into one’s own nature and attaining Buddahood." In essence, its foundation is actually based on the hybridized principles of Taoism and in many other practices and spiritualities, its emphasis is on meditation. This is referred to by different names and different similar practices in different cultures. At its core is mystical transformation of consciousness and ultimately, enlightenment.
Many practices can promote and foster this state including sitting meditation, self hypnosis, prayer, and spiritually – based Eastern practices such as Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi, and other forms of martial arts. They are universally accepted practices considered by many to be a component of “The Way,” an all-perfect, all-pervading means to achieve the state of enlightenment. Health must be maintained and reclaimed on all levels; the mind, the body, the spirit and the emotions, which help bridge them together. In order to achieve inner spiritual cleansing and open the door to spiritual growth and connection with the Divine, these practices should be done on a regular basis. You can choose to look at these as a form of “surgery from the inside out.” With implementation of these, we can choose to act as a surgeon, constantly cleaning out the physical, psychic, emotional sludge which makes us age faster and become sick with time. We cannot rightfully call ourselves teachers of health and spiritual sciences if we ourselves are not in harmony.
Gaining mystical knowledge and creating harmony in the elements of our own lives is created if we are indeed the torch bearers delegated the responsibility to pass this on to others. This type of knowledge can never be obtained by detached, objective observation or intellectualization. Rather, it must always involve the full participation and immersion of one’s whole mind, body, soul and being. Classical physics describes the observer and the observed. Quantum physics goes much deeper by no longer being able to separate the observer and observed. Spiritual and Zen-based practices involving some form of meditation or higher dimensional immersion break down the delineation between observer and observed completely, whereby the subject and object fuse. Time, space and mind disappear. Eastern based practices provide a sound foundation for this harmony since they all work with breath and support personal transformation. These mirror shamanic type practices used indifferent parts of the world. We must remember that proper breathing regulates the mind, the mind directs the vital energy (called Qi or Prana) to the rest of the body, and this energy ultimately governs our body. It is one thing to academically study anatomy and physiology, but we must have an experiential knowledge of these through coordinated movements fused with intention and meditation, so that we can learn to be in tune with our own bodies.
This means being in the present and not being plagued by the demons of anger, guilt and remorse associated with living in the past, or of fear, anxiety and worry from dwelling on the imagined future. The desired state of no mind, or “no-mind state” of Zen thus necessitates the adoption of the “no-time state”. An Eastern philosophy doctrine states “when the mind is disturbed, the multiplicity of things is produced, but when the mind is quieted, the multiplicity of things disappears”. Time is manmade; space and mind are divinely created. By learning to be in this state, the illusion of time, which traps the mind, is removed. Mind, space and time are inseparable, and by integrating these effectively we learn to be in the present. One does not necessarily have to embrace the cultural elements, nor convert, to benefit from the practice or teachings of Zen. Neither do we need to repudiate other spiritualities. Zen, like everything else in our universe is in a constant state of evolution, given to humanity in different times in different forms and appeals to many on different levels. With such practices a mutual experiential awareness is developed regarding the unity and mutual inter-relations of all things and events – in other words, a basic oneness. Parts of the same reality can only be achieved through the essence of experience – a shared experience made available for a growing number of individuals seeking enlightenment and growth.
At the end of the day it all comes down to a matter of not only perspective but perception – where and how you are perceiving at the event or issue. With recent advances in technology and science, the global community is ready to embrace the “New Zen,” or that into which is incorporated the new science, technology and math. Zen has been incorporated into our university since it offers a unique bridge which serves as liaison between different components of existence, wellness and wholeness, and forms the practical foundation for our journey. There is ample reason for this since the three attitudes of Zen are: great questioning, great faith and great courage. Through these we can attain the correct attitude which forms the core for "the Way." How? Through great questioning we ultimately arrive at the great answers, even if in a roundabout way. Once we have attained these answers, there is no cause for lack of faith since we know the truth. And, since we have the truth, there is no reason for doubt. It’s eliminated. On this faith, we can act with great courage, unhindered by doubt. Our Way is clear. The way embodies the principles of the right thought, right intention, right speech, right action which naturally leads to the right livelihood and of course the right lifestyle. This of course will lead to peace, and hopefully with the right numbers, world peace. This is the core, representing the foundation of our school. Demonic blades are no match for a well attuned, spiritually sharpened Zen mind. Thus, even Zen, like the founding principles upon which it is based, is in a constant state of transformation and change. When authority stops being the truth, and truth becomes the authority, true peace can be attained.