Oakville Zen Meditation

#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.

But if I do not understand how can I practice properly and progress?

Zen has nothing to do with thinking, analyzing, reading and listening. No idea, no judgment, no concept. No question, no answer, no word. Words are the instruments of the mind. They are poisons trapping us all the time in our illusions, concepts, ideas, opinions and judgments. You may listen to hundred talks and read million of books on Zen without going anywhere except becoming a Zen scholar. The more you know about Zen the farther you are from its core. In fact studying Zen will boost your ego creating illusion and delusion. Practicing Zen is to be mindfully at the present moment.

I don’t get it ...I am more and more confused. Please can you explain more clearly?

OK...OK... Zen is 1) Practicing meditation 2) Being not by thinking but by doing 3) Seeing things as they are and not as you want them to be 4) Not being deluded by your ego centered mind source of most of our suffering. By practicing Zen you will discover your true self also called True Nature that is hidden deep inside your self. Our True Nature common to all of us is always inside self. It can be found only from experience and not by thinking.

Thank you teacher but...I still don’t understand it very well.

I told you already. Do not use your analytic brain to grasp Zen. No understanding, no concept, no talk, no reading, no words. Just be. Your thoughts are not what you think they are. Don’t believe in all of them. They are just part of your mind and your True Self is not your mind. If you identify yourself with your thoughts and words you will never discover who you are.

How can I discover my True Nature without my thinking mind and words to describe it?

OK. Too bad. You are still thinking too much. Let me use a metaphor. They are great tools to explain things. A chemist can talk hours about the taste of an orange and you can read many books about it but unless you eat one you have no idea about its taste. Zip, zero...impossible. Right?

Yes obviously.

So we are discovering and experiencing the taste of an orange only by eating it! It cannot be otherwise. Same thing with Zen practice and the discovery of our inner True Nature. Our True Nature and inner wonders are the orange juice and practicing meditation is eating the orange. You and the orange become one. No thinking mind, no word, no idea, no concept, just the action of eating. Just being is to be mindful to the present moment. It is Zen. Thinking is needed but not all the time.

What has meditation to do with my True Nature?

Back to the orange stuff. Meditation is helping us to peel off our ego created by our deceptive mind. Our ego mind is the main source of our suffering, dissatisfactions, and unhappiness, caused by of our illusion, preconceived ideas, judgments, desires, attachments, and our negative emotions. Once our ego mind is controlled most of our suffering is reduced if not disappearing. You have to peel your ego mind to taste the beauty of your True Nature like peeling the orange to taste it.

I GOT IT. Finally.... I UNDERSTAND.... everything.... Thank you ...Thank you so much...Great teaching!

If you understand everything then your ego self is even bigger than before and you are far more away in your quest to find Zen. Again Zen is not about understanding but about doing. Zen is to be mindful moment-to-moment reflecting things as they are like a mirror and not as your mind wants them to be. Doing is the only reality the rest is illusion.

Then.... what should I do? It looks that I am hopeless... I am very frustrated now!

Go and get an orange peel it off and eat it. You and the orange will become one at once.

This is the Zen way. Being not by thinking but being mindful moment to moment.


Ven. Ji Gong Sunim. 2014