Finding Our Balance

Scales.png

What we do when we lose contact is we go up into our heads. In our heads, we try to figure things out and try to understand things. We try to find a way to make sense of things, and what we hope to do is to find our balance. But what I am suggesting is we're finding our balance in the wrong place. Because if we go into our heads, we go into concept, and we go into understanding. We just take what we believe and know and try to find some way to make ourselves feel better. In that process, we totally lose connection to what actually is going on in the moment. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Finding Our Balance

What we do when we lose contact is we go up into our heads. In our heads, we try to figure things out and try to understand things. We try to find a way to make sense of things, and what we hope to do is to find our balance. But what I am suggesting is we're finding our balance in the wrong place. Because if we go into our heads, we go into concept, and we go into understanding. We just take what we believe and know and try to find some way to make ourselves feel better. In that process, we totally lose connection to what actually is going on in the moment. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

Right Speech

Question: As far as keeping that open mind, that Don’t-Know mind, how does that relate to our preconception that it is good for me to have right speech?

Zen Master Bon Soeng: It would raise the question, “What is right speech?” It’s a nice idea to have right speech, but right speech this moment may not be right speech this moment. There isn’t a formula that you can fill in. There are ways that you can talk about right speech in general, but in specific, it depends on the moment. Zen is not theoretical. 

So all of these ideas play out in the very moment that we’re alive. It doesn’t matter what we say about right speech. In this moment, what is right speech? Everything is concrete and actually alive in the moment, not our understanding about it.  

 

Understand Yourself

The basic teaching of the Buddha was that if you want happiness, don’t go chasing after the things that you want or like, and don’t push away the things that you don’t like. It's chasing after what you want and the resisting of what you don’t want that causes suffering. The very simple truth, the Buddha said, was if you can stay present in this moment and accept what’s here, happiness actually arises. In a way that’s counterintuitive and a little bit preposterous. Happiness is not about getting what I want and not getting what I don’t want. If I just chase after that, I will actually suffer rather than be happy. That’s the basic Buddhist teaching. 

The strategy we usually have to find some semblance of peace and happiness actually makes the situation worse, not better. Don’t take the Buddha’s word for it, don’t take my word for it. Investigate your own life. What happens when you chase after what you like? It’s not about understanding this teaching, it’s about finding out in your own life what works and what doesn't work. What brings love, peace and joy? What brings hate, suffering and despair? That’s all. You find your own way. The investigation that we do for ourselves is where the real gem is. You can do it from a Buddhist perspective, you can do it psychologically, you can do it in other religions, that’s all fine. It doesn't matter which way you do it. But the point the Buddha taught was “don’t take anything for granted or on faith, find out for your self”. What distinguishes Zen and Buddhism in general is that it gives a practice to actually find out your own truth. You don’t have to accept anybody else's idea. But to do that you have to understand yourself. 

By Zen Master Bon Soeng