Zen, Ideas, and the Zen Approach to Life

Zen says “don’t get caught in ideas,” but uses them. When ideas are seen to be none other than the One, what problem can they cause us? They are part of the human experience of this moment and are valuable and useful. But equally useful is calming the mind and tasting the food we are eating deeply, going to the bathroom deeply, talking and listening to one another deeply, living deeply.

“Deeply” means mindfully and with great attention, focused emotion, and direct insight.  It is the characteristic feature of the Zen approach to life and daily activity; even something that seems as small and mundane  as peeling potatoes is treated in Zen with the deepest respect and fullest attention.  As Alan Watts said, “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”

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