#41.Our main poisons against serenity and happiness

When Zen literature speaks about the  “walls or gates” blocking access to our inner serenity and happiness it uses the word “poisons” since these walls are, most of the time, like poison pills that we swallow continuously without being fully conscious of their effects. Of course many sources of our suffering, sadness, sorrow, grief come from outside self such as loss of a loved one, accident, war, loss of job, verbal/emotional aggression, disasters, etc. However we shall see that most of our hindrances against achieving serenity and happiness are self inflected.

The Buddha 2500 year ago talked about causes of human suffering  many times during his 50 years teaching. The term “suffering” is now better translated as dissatisfactions/ unhappiness You will see that the main source of our suffering and dissatisfaction is our ego-self controlling our mind. Suffering and dissatisfaction are caused by numerous poisons. The list of our poisons is endless and varies greatly with each individual. The following is a short one.


#40.Traditional vs. Zen mind


Statement Traditional Mind Zen Mind
Life can be better Yes Life is what it is
Life is unfair Often Life is what it is
I am unique Yes What is this?
Happiness is found Mostly outside ourselves Mostly inside ourselves
Success is happiness Happiness is success
I control Almost everything in my life Almost nothing
Most things are permanent Yes Everything is transient
Time is Past – Present – Future Only the present exists
I am Unique, Separate, Independent with my self-entity We are all interconnected.Our uniqueness is only molecular
My ego is A source of power and success The main cause of my suffering
The Source of suffering is Outside self Mostly Inside self
Most of the time my mind is In the future or the past Mostly in the present
My mind is full of Ideas, concepts, illusions, etc. My mind is open & receptive
My mind is Always analyzing Is a mirror reflecting things as they are
My mind is Distorting reality Reflecting reality
My mind is A wonderful instrument Useful but also a deceptive beast
My mind makes me Smart A slave
The more I know The better I feel The more confused and anxious I become
Thinking a lot is Necessary Dangerous
I think therefore I am (Descartes) I am not what I think I am
I think therefore I know Know what?
My Thoughts I am a thinking zombie I observe them
Knowledge The more the better The more of it the more confused I am
Knowledge The more the smarter I am The more of it the bigger my ego
My thoughts I believe in them They are not necessary the truth
Serenity is How much I have How little I need
Meditation is A relaxation technique A mind control exercise
Meditation is Boring Neither boring nor exiting, just as it is
Meditation is Difficult Neither difficult nor easy
Nirvana is Only for Guru Everyone has it
Nirvana is Outside self Inside self
Enlightenment A divine state to get from outside Inside self
My way of thinking is Always dualistic & discriminative Non dualistic, things are what they are
Judging is Important Only to make decisions
My negative emotions Control me I contemplate them
Zen is Esoteric Down to earth


Ven. Ji Gong Sunim.


#39.Our starving ego mind.30MAR15

Have you ever noted over the years that your ego mind is in starving mode all the time, always complaining and crying like a spoiled baby: “I want more, I want more, I don’t have enough, I am not happy, give me that, give me this, why me, it is unfair”? Its requests are endless: comfort, money, pleasure, sex, power, control, fame, love, recognition, security, understanding, more stuff and so on.


#38.The six perfections (Paramitas) of Zen Buddhism

  1. Dāna pāramitā: generosity, charity, kindness, giving oneself
  2. Śīla pāramitā : virtue, morality, righteousness, discipline, proper conduct
  3. Kṣānti (kshanti) pāramitā : patience, tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance, endurance
  4. Vīrya pāramitā : energy, courage, diligence, vigor, effort, will
  5. Dhyāna pāramitā : meditation, concentration, mindfulness, contemplation
  6. rajñā pāramitā : wisdom, insight, comprehension, common sense, balance


Ven. Ji Gong Sunim.

#37.The wave & the sea are One

Thanks to our deceptive mind we have this illusion that each of us is has a unique, independent, separate self-entity. As far our DNA we are unique but in fact we are all interdependent and interrelated since we are the transient byproducts of the first living molecule around 3.5 billions years ago. All living beings are 100% dependent of the Earth environment and the Universe to survive.

“The wave lives the life of a wave & at the same time the life of the sea” said Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh 


#36.Are you riding a bull in a rodeo?

When life is rough and tough it seems that we are riding a bull during a rodeo. Especially when events are very hard to swallow, the temptation to let go and fall on the floor is great. The wild bull can be financial pressures, health issues, work, aging parents, difficult child, love relationship, etc. The bull will keep kicking and toasting us up and down. These events acute or repetitive will induce significant stress related medical complications such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain and many more.

It’s easy to get off the bull by engaging in comfort behavior which may be detrimental such as overeating, over drinking, using drug, addiction to sex or to gambling or being in front of the TV or computer screen for hours. If you fall off the bull, the challenge is to get back on the beast and keep riding. Remember Life is what it is. It has its good days and bad days for all of us. Life does not care too much about each of the 7 billions human beings living on this planet. It will go on whatever and it is up to us to adapt to it and not vice versa that is expecting Life to adapt to each of us.


#35.Pragmatic Zen

Statements made by someone and the reply from a Zen talking mirror.

Nothing changes around me.

Nothing is permanent & everything is transient including you, your friends, your pet, the clouds, this planet, the sun, and me. Everything is changing all the time, every second, non-stop within an endless circle of new beginning and new end. Without ongoing birth and death life and evolution will be impossible. Thinking otherwise is an illusion coming from our deceptive ego centered mind.

Quite bleak & depressive.

Just as it is…remember Zen mind is like  a mirror: simple, realistic & pragmatic.


#34.Eating an orange is Zen

This is a dialogue between a student and a Zen teacher.

Can you tell me what Zen is all about? I need to understand Zen in order to progress in my quest.

NO….NO I cannot explain Zen because there is nothing to explain and you cannot understand because there is nothing to understand. Words and too much thinking will confuse you.


#33.The 4 seals of Zen Buddhism

They are called seals because there are the landmarks of Buddha 50 years verbal teaching. They are SUFFERING, IMPERMANENCE, NO-SELF and NIRVANA. They represent the 4 standing blocks of his philosophy. Everything else rests on them.These words seem weird, complex and esoteric but we will see how logical and useful they are in our daily life. Meditation will help you to discover and experience them. We will see also that they are deeply related and interconnected.


#32.Individual & Collective consciousness

We all have an individual consciousness (IC) that is a state of awareness even if most of the time we behave in our life on an auto pilot mode with our mind wandering around continuously and usually not been in the present moment.

In addition to our individual consciousness we are also part of a collective consciousness (CC). In our very individualistic society CC is not mentioned very often and yet this global consciousness is very important and probably is affecting us probably far more than we think or want. Just as Internet is made up of millions of individual sites and as the universe is composed of billion of individual stars CC is made up of billion of ICs from all living beings. There is no Internet without individual site and there is no individual site without Internet. The same can be applied to consciousness: there is no CC without the individual ones and vise versa. Furthermore CC contains all IC components and IC contains all elements of the collective consciousness.