Zen & Dharma

What’s so zen about Zen?

What’s so Zen about Zen? I think, what makes Zen uniquely Zen is its insistence that everything is innately perfect and complete, with no need for adornment or improvement.

Those stock-photo images of a smooth stone, a bamboo stalk, a dew drop on a leaf… they are zen clichés, but they do tell a story. The story is of what makes the rock worthy of contemplation—which is, not its roundness or its gloss, or its symbolic patience or solidity, or its charming asymmetry. What makes the rock beautiful and worthy is its rockness. And even to say ‘rockness’ is to make an adjective out of a noun, thereby missing the point. The point is, that words and concepts cannot describe what is already perfect and far beyond words.

What I see as particularly Zen is its deep respect for the innate nature of all things. Respect is key, and it applies equally to lumpy imperfect people as to river stones. What makes us buddhas is not our kindness or intelligence or learnedness or beauty, nor our skills or accomplishments. There is nothing we need to do and no one we need to be. What makes us buddhas is just the fact that we are—and that, in itself, is awesome and complete and totally, deliciously, delightfully Zen.

4 Comments on “What’s so zen about Zen?

  1. ojisan grasshoper, you understand the blanket (as explained by Dustin Hoffman): everything you want and want to be, you already have and are. gassho.

  2. In playing around with words, i like to make verbs out of nouns. So i would praise the “rockingness” of the rock. This reminds me that even a rock is a doing, a process, if rather a slow one from my perspective.

    But in my wordplay i refuse to make Huckabees references!

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