ALSO GO TO THIS POST : The 7 pillars of a Zen Mind march 10th 2015
What is a Zen mind ? Quick sum-up: Having a Zen Mind is being mindful moment to moment to what is REAL and being indifferent to what is not. What is REAL is what we see, hear, touch, smell and taste …with no though, no judgment, no concept, no idea, no opinion attached since most of them are either an illusion or a deceptive trap created by our ego-centered mind.
“The stillness of the lake reflects perfectly well the beauty of the moon”. Old Zen saying.
Zen mind is also called “beginner mind”, “don’t know mind”, “no mind “, “empty mind”. But what is exactly the meaning of these 2 words: “Zen mind”? Probably the best way to describe Zen mind is to compare it to a mirror (see above quote). With diligent Zen meditation practice our mind becomes like a mirror reflecting mindfully moment to moment and without any preconceived idea, concept, opinion and judgment (that is the “don’t know mind” or “empty mind” or “no mind”).
The following 8 very important points defines the mirror mind.
1) Reflecting on what is real and what is not: a Zen mind is mindful to what is real and let go what is illusion, fiction and imagination (most of our thoughts are).
2) Reflecting on living beings, events, things and ongoing surroundings as they are and not as we want them to be or should be without questioning why?, what?, where?, whom? and how?
3) Reflecting on what we think knowing that most of our thoughts are the product of our ego-centered deceptive mind source of our unhappiness, illusions, delusions and negative emotions. Meditation is key to learn how to be mindful to our thoughts.
4) Reflecting on what we see, hear, listen, touch, taste and smell around us.
5) Reflecting on what we are doing at the present moment.
Obviously this mirror mind cannot be applied when we have to make a decision which requires thinking and judgment (see below).
Beside this mirror metaphor Zen mind is also mindful to the following:
6) Our ego-centered mind is the main source of our unhappiness caused by anger, desire, etc. (see #3)
7) No living being has a permanent, independent, separate and unique self entity. We are all interconnected and interdependent. The opposite is called “ignorance”.
8) The present moment (that is now) is the only real component of time since past and future are virtual. (see Post “Past-Present-Future: a Zen view “)
Does that mean that we should get rid off our analytic, judgmental cognitive mind?
Of course not. At any moment we need to think, analyze and judge in order to make appropriate and relevant decisions: at home, at work, with friends, when planning, etc. This is our functional rational mind.
So how to reconcile our cognitive mind with our Zen mind? Is there a contradiction?
No there is no contradiction but rather a perfect complementarity. When daily decisions have to be made we turn on our cognitive analytic functional mind. When no decisions are required we turned off our analytic mind and switch on our Zen mind. Moving back and forth required practice and only meditation will bring this skill since meditation is a reflecting exercise on our focus point. Having a Zen mind is a wonderful skill in our hectic and stressful day to day life since it brings serenity and peacefulness. Anxiety evaporated. Being your “GPS” the teacher will guide you to achieve this wonderful skill
“Things are what they are”
” When there is no solution, there is no problem”
This is the Zen way.
Ven. Ji Gong Sunim.