Purity is the most damaging concept that has ever been invented
There is a huge misunderstanding of what Zen truly is.
It is most definitely not simply “peace of mind”. In fact, it is can be quite the opposite.
Having “peace of mind” can sometimes mean being totally closed off to reality, and the only purpose of practicing Zen is to become completely open to all things, and to experience the true boundless nature of reality.
That is what trips most people up — what the fuck does “the true boundless nature of reality” mean? Don’t we all experience reality every day?
Practicing Zen teaches us that we do not. What we think of as reality is really a distorted lens that we have created, internalizing our individual experiences of life. In other words, we’re fucked up by our past, present, and future ideas of what life is, and we need to get rid of these ideas in order to be alive in the eternal now.
Each religion or philosophical tradition always exudes a branch of itself that deals with what some call the “ecstatic” nature of being, or what I like to call the “wonder” of being alive.
Mystic Christianity, Kabbalah, Dzogchen Tibetan Buddhism, Yoga, Sufism, Shamanism and so on — all of these traditions seek to find the true nature of experience, rather then relying on a handed-down set of rules.
In other words, being in the presence of god is much more awesome then praying to a fictional being.
That is the what the mystical aspect of Zen teaches us — that we don’ have to go anywhere or do anything to find pure and total wonder in the world — it is all around us and permeates our very being.
We are living creatures, not made of pure light, no, but made of bone, muscle, blood, and organs. As physics points out, in the end we are all made out of the same basic elemental stuff.
So we are actually made out of light and stardust, but so is everything else.
There is no such thing as purity whatsoever. All religious ideas that have to do with purity are 100% wrong — we can’t be pure because purity doesn’t exist. In the end we become worm food, and the circle of life and death goes on and on. Nothing is pure.
Purity is the most damaging concept that has ever been invented.
If I had to pick one religion or philosophy to practice for the rest of my life, if I was forced to make that choice by some evil alien overlord, I would go ahead and pick Zen.
The beauty of the path of Zen is that it allows everyone to find and follow their own path, without any reservations or restrictions.
Life is far too vast and complex and beautiful and devastating to cultivate a narrow mind. Zen opens the mind.
There is a problem with picking a religion though. When we start labeling things we start to have various gaining idea and start to pick apart the threads of interconnection and try to figure out which thread is the most important, when they are all equally as important to the nature of the fabric.
So, even in Zen we see many if not most practitioners obsessed with their own little closed-off worlds of Zen, and that is a big problem. What good is Zen if it lives in a monastery or convent or in a clean “pure” light filled room but not in the dirty mudroom, or in the mechanics greasy overalls, or in the heart of an acne-ridden teenager?
Zen is all those “impure” things, what I like to think of as the “holy normal”. Good sex, tasty food, four-wheeler rides, walks in the dusk, playful fights, and flat tires are all Zen.
Here is the thing: We have to get rid of any “purity” idea before we can move on from a childish understandings of Zen. Nobody is special and yet everybody is made out of light and stardust.
Constellations aren’t beautiful because of one single star, they are stunning because of the broad brush stroke of stars that span the the infinite blackness of eternity.
God is the idea of purity personified into the idea of a supreme immortal being, and yet he does no exist outside of our minds. When we cleanse them, we find that we are all a thread in the same fabric of the universe.
The stillness of our minds can be found beyond the noise that we create in our search for meaning in the tapestry of life. Instead, we can simply appreciate it for what it is.
A beautiful, complicated thing.