WHY ZEN? A Living Zen Master Shares Why Turning to Those ‘Spiritual Options While Recovering Works.’

WHY ZEN? A Living Zen Master Shares Why Turning to Those ‘Spiritual Options While Recovering Works.’

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With So Many “Spiritual Options and Paths”
Why Zen?
by Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi

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Social media, Internet, bookstores and large numbers of coaches, trainers and teachers offer countless recipes for the “right” path to happiness and different formulas for “reaching” the Kingdom of God. In this seemingly endless universe of “spiritual options”, the question sometimes posed by seekers, or people aiming to lead happier and more fulfilling lives, is; “Why Zen?”

Let it be mentioned right up front that Zen does not claim exclusivity, nor does it thrive on missionizing people to “convert” them, making fun of or criticizing other practices. In fact, throughout the ages,  Zen Masters have respected and revered great teachers and enlightened ones who pursued other spiritual practices.

Zen is not an institution one “belongs” to. It has evolved to become inclusive, and as such has room for those preferring to worship or practice the rituals they choose.

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This text will not overly focus on emphasizing all the ways in which Zen is “different” from other spiritual paths, as this goes way beyond the length of a short blog. Suffice it to say that there is hardly a spiritual path which is comparable to Zen. In itself, Zen is only a concept or word and cannot be easily described.

It goes beyond conventions, ceremonies, and confessions, even if Buddhists may claim it as its own because it goes back to Buddha. Zen transcends fundamentalist beliefs, scriptures, specific steps and rituals, and focuses on the spiritual dimension underlying all Existence.

The Underlying Basis of Zen

Zen sees no duality, no selfhood apart from that which is unspeakable, indescribable, and boundless in us, the One Self, God, One Mind. The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death. You already are and embody what you seek, have always been and will always be this way. Divine awareness or God-consciousness is the ever-presence that will never leave us. God-awareness is Self-awareness. Nothing can take away from your inherent nature of Oneness, the Buddha Nature in all of us.

This is what Zen says in a nutshell. However, let me say that Zen is also down to earth and practical. It gives us one of the most natural and simple approaches that exist to accompany us along the boundless and pathless path as these ultimate truths are revealed.

It enables us, with grace – and not because of what we “do” – to unfold our own inner teacher, master, and guru. There is nothing to “grasp” or understand. The Kingdom of God within us, though not describable in words, can be directly “experienced” – and can lead to what is referred to as salvation, enlightenment or clarity.

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Self-reliance

The age-old Zen parable, “If you meet the Buddha, kill him”, admonishes us not to depend on anything or anyone outside of our-Selves. As such, Zen is definitely empowering and makes us Self-reliant and self-less instead of self-important.

But do not make the mistake of thinking that Zen is a “customized” spirituality adapted to the individual ego and reflecting our modern-day desire to “go our own way”.  This is because you are not the doer. Instead, grace leads us. Progress can be made when the “seeker” gives up the fallacy of being a separate individual, that his or her actions are the basis for enlightenment.

We may search, diligently practice spiritual techniques such as meditation and be guided by others, but the decisive moment is when we can put all pre-defined commandments, tools, seeking and procedures behind us and stand in truth – as if struck like a bolt of lightning out of the blue.

Enlightened Beingness

There are many examples of individuals who “stand in the light” or are in “enlightened Beingness” or awareness – representing their awakening to a seemingly new state of Beingness which is inconceivable yet has always existed. In realizing what you have are, there is nothing to do except to be humble and thankful, abide and BE in the Oneness, Suchness, Isness, which naturally encompasses truth and wisdom and all that you need.  I AM – that in itself is sufficient – because it IS.

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However, as long as people are imprisoned in their egos, they will suffer, create suffering for themselves and others and also destroy our planet, and have to continue living with this suffering.

Zen has the potential to enable us to penetrate to the Last Things, and possibly – when the right time has come and one enjoys the grace of something higher which is intangible and incomprehensible – to awaken us out of a kind of slumber to our natural state of bliss that we are and have always been. This is not an empty promise. Nothing is promised or held out as a possible which is not experienceable.

The “Challenge” of Zen

In essence, Zen may seem challenging and daunting, because it throws you back upon yourself, calls upon you to let go of your thinking and past, asks you to unlearn what you were brought up to believe in, says you ultimately do not need any teacher or texts, steps and goals, and that there is nothing to achieve.

I am aware that this is not easy for many people to swallow. There may be a long list of reasons you have to reject what has been written here, and the dualistically-minded among you may consider all this to be humbug.

However, you are free to take the pathless path of Zen and consider it on its merits.

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Truly hope my Special Recovery Guest, Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi’s wisdom and words have been of help to all my recovery friends and visitors as it has been to my recovery!

You may learn more within his amazing book on sale on AMAZON and titled Find The Seeker!: The pathless path to fulfillment and happiness” Now 99.cents on Amazon as a Kindle and Paperback on Sale!

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You are invited to visit Master Genro and Co-Author Clifford Stevens on their Official Website of “Find The Seeker – Meet Master Genro.”

 

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Special Featured Guest Article by Author, Dr. Jane Galloway~The 12-Steps Work!

Special Featured Guest Article by Author, Dr. Jane Galloway~The 12-Steps Work!

A Door That is Open to All-The 12-Steps As Spiritual Path.

by Dr. Jane S. GallowayAuthor of “The Gateways- the Wisdom of 12-Step Spirituality- Dynamic Practices That Work”  

“Your Bottom – It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning”  ~Rev. Dr. Jane Galloway

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It seems that almost everyone who has a deep spiritual conversion through the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, at one time or another says, “I wish everyone could have the spiritual experience of this universal spiritual path!”

More than a few have tried to translate their excitement into books or articles too.   I don’t know how many who aren’t already on the 12-Step journey ever read these things, but I never have, and I have been on that path for a long time.

My interest is in how people thrive, not in the study of illness.
Working for years with young children, I studied the ground- breaking work of Jean Piaget on the four cognitive stages of child development, so it makes sense that I understand the work of 12-Step recovery through a developmental lens.  The Steps do, after all, provide a template for growing up, albeit as adults.

It is true that many who find themselves in treatment for addiction have missed some crucial stages of foundational growth along the lifespan, often accompanied by trauma. The Steps begin with an admission of powerlessness over whatever source we have chosen as artificial fuel. Step 2 introduces a Higher Power to the conversation.

It is also true that the working of these Steps is designed to connect us to a lifelong, integrated connection to both a solid foundation and “god as we understand god.”… The 12th Step actually presumes that an awakening is the sole result of this process, and begins with “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps…”
And they work. The Steps…they work. And that makes them pragmatic, practical and qualifies them as a path that deserves some deeper inquiry.

 
Over the years of my own recovery, I doodled brightly colored grids comparing the 12-Steps, the 7 Chakras, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, The Kabbalah Sephirot (Tree of Life), Chinese Meridians and the basic teachings of the Jesus Path from the Nagg Hammadi Scrolls book of Thomas. Something was at work there and knew I would get around to figuring it out one day, but in the meantime, I doodled ladders.

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Believe it or not, as a former agnostic who was really, really mad at God, after I got sober I actually left a rather successful acting career to formally pursue both the study of religions, and ordination as a minister, and to look at AA, William James, and American Pragmatism as “The Growth of a 20th Century Pluralistic Spiritual Movement”.

At the same time, I studied and worked in the Human Services, The humanistic psychologies of Maslow and Carl Rogers, and found some links between both of the above areas in the Human Potential Movement and Positive Psychology movements in Post WW ll America. But it wasn’t until a member of a spiritual community I led in New York City cornered me and said that while I was great at teaching a lot of things, they wanted to know what worked for me.

And my instant answer, after many moons of study, practice, attending seminary and 12-Step meetings, chanting circles, having my aura drawn and doodling ladders, was immediate. “Oh, that’s easy. It’s the 12-Steps, and all of this other holistic psycho-spiritual stuff I have done along with them.” And then she said, “Write that.” So I did.

The Gateways- the Wisdom of 12-Step Spirituality /Dynamic Practices That Work (Sacred Stories Publishing Sept. 2016) includes all of those brightly colored ladders, plus a lot more. In describing my work as “a development model,” I have consistently met with a sort of puzzled silence from both recovering people and spiritual folks. So I finally began to get at the core of the thing.

The following, describing developmental psychology (from the website of the American Psychological Association) says what the 12-Steps do, minus the spirituality: “Developmental psychologists study human growth and development over the lifespan, including physical, cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality and emotional growth. “ apa.org  American Psychological Association Science in Action.

In “The Gateways”, I prioritize the spiritual, go into the basic essence of each Step, then create a technicolor system of practices and possibilities for exploring a lifelong path of deepening, growth, and expansion along spiritual lines using the 12-Steps.  Along with that is some history and a couple of personal stories to show how this has all worked in my life, a juicy Resources section, a Bento-Box of Mind/Body/Spirit tools and a suggested 12-week program for leading a spiritual growth group using the method.

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The actual book is gorgeous, and the psycho-spiritual, holistic, hands-on work in it creates a resource for all of those people who may or may not be on a 12-Step path per say, or may not be addicted to anything, but desire to go back and build a strong spiritual foundation for a life that works.

And the book is so pretty you could eat it. Truly. But don’t. Use it! And enjoy.

It is my hope that the resource I have created in this work is a practical companion for the beautiful channeled wisdom of the AA founders when they described the spiritual path of the 12-Steps in Chapter 4 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, We Agnostics:

“To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive, never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open we believe, to all.”

 

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Please visit my website at Jane Galloway.com
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