The 8 pillars of Zen philosophy & practice
The following are not in specific order.
1) Being mindful to the present moment and its content, the only existing reality.
That is to pay attention in a non-analytic and non-decisional way to the current and concrete reality of the NOW, the only reality that exists. In this space-time called NOW we experience true reality in many ways such as being mindful to our body, what we are doing, the use of our 5 senses to sense and scan our surrounding environment. Daydreaming in the past and future made of zillions of thoughts, feelings, regrets and expectations is definitely not Zen since they are the products of or restless mind and therefore pure virtual realities even if they exist.
2)Controlling our 3 mean poisons causing endless dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
They are desire, hatred and illusion also called ignorance.
Desires are endless and the satisfaction of achieving one is always transient so we seek a new one.
Hatred / anger: there are like swallowing poison expecting the other person to died from it
Illusions, delusions also called ignorance: our mind is full of them. Here are the most frequent:
1) Illusion that we control things/events/ people, 2) Illusion that things/people last,
3) Illusion that Happiness comes from what we have and will get.
4) That our thoughts /feelings are real and truthful. They do exist but only as virtual reality.
5) That past was better and future will be.
6) That each of us is a permanent, independent, unique, separate, self-entity with an self-intrinsic
3)Learning to observe, reflect & accept things/events/people like a mirror does
It is not easy to stop analyzing, judging and make decision. This is part of our ego and our Western education and culture. Use your analytic mind/brain in only 3 conditions: when requested, when you are in control and when you have to make a decision. Otherwise accept the world and its corposant’s as it is and not as you want it to be.
4) Always be suspicious of what your mind is telling you. The mind is a great yak-yak-yak storyteller and our own movie theater.
He will bombard you with regrets of the past, expectations of the future, feelings, etc.
Our mind is great instrument but also a powerful sneaky master and traitor in which all of us are trapped at different degrees. Once a while, click on the thinking pause button or put your inner voice on the mute mode.
5)Practice an open mind:
Having a mind-set full of preconceived ideas, judgments and opinion is a frozen mind in which we are trapped. It comes from education & experience and causes frustration, anger, resentment and the impossibility to progress in knowledge, tolerance, love and wisdom.
6)Discover and practice compassion & empathy to yourself in order to apply them to others.
It does not mean to be narcissist or lacking insight. It means that w/o self-compassion and self-acceptance it is impossible to express the same attributes to others. Angry people are, first, angry about themselves even if they don’t know it.
7)Realize that you are part of a global entity beyond our human understanding.
This entity has any names: God(s), Universal Consciousness, Global Energy, etc..
8)At last but not the least:
Practice mindfulness daily solo & weekly group meditation to learn to appreciate the moment and to control, as best as we can, our monkey mind, source of the 7 previous pillars.
Practical point ⇐
It will be a mistake to try to apply these “8 pillars” at ounce and altogether.
It is almost impossible for beginners.
The better way is to pick one of them and apply it for 1, 2, 3 days, then switch to an other one.
All combinations are possible according to training, disciple and will.
Oakville Zen Team