Wednesday, October 15, 2008

beats me

I've been trying to figure this one out for three days, and I can't...so now you guys get to take a crack at it.

It's a quote that appears at the beginning of a chapter of a book about buddhism I am reading right now.

The secret of Zen is just two words:
not always so.
~Shunryu Suzuki Roshi


My spins so far?
1) it's gotta be a typo
2) or a mistranslation
3) maybe you pick the two words?
a) not always ...?
b) not so ....?
c) always so ....?
4) I'm not a very good student.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The book, by the way, is "The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron.

7 comments:

Steven said...

I hit you thirty times!

This is very similar to a sentence like "Every rule has an exception, except this one". That's a standard paradox, but in your case the sentence is more fun: it is simultaneously a rule and its own exception!

Here is another explanation:
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said "The secret of Zen is just two words: not always so."

Buddha said all beings have enlightenment-nature, but Zen Master Joju, when asked if a dog has enlightenment-nature, said "No!"

Zen Master Joju's speech and Shunryu Suzuki Roshi's speech are high class mistakes pointing at the same truth. What is it? Tell me! Tell me! Quickly!

Anonymous said...

My answer is that there is no answer. Because it's a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Karen TDL

Dragonfly7673 (Vicki) said...

I think, that the point is that we can't control that sentence anymore than we can control life and that when we understand and accept that lack of control and accept that life is not always made of solid rules, we will be closer to being at peace.

But I have never studied any of these things, it's just the way my brain interprets....

Anonymous said...

I think it means that you can't just expect a simple secret revelation, things are more interesting/complex than they appear... even the simple things. But I honestly know nothing of Zen teaching, so I could be full of shit on this. :)

-J

Carol said...

Yep, what they said.

carleigh said...

This lovely quote is true to the Buddhist foundation of "impermanence." Buddhist philosophy centers on ending suffering. They believe that suffering happens because we cling to things. The belief is that if we accept and live by the rule that nothing is permanent, therefore we can never count on, cling to or assume anything. We have to take every moment as it comes and only be in that moment (knowing it is impermanent). It is truly a beautiful philosophy.

Bottom line, like so many Zen Buddhist "riddles"... you have to stop clinging to the words. You will find your answer when you let it go and just let it be. Can you be with the words without clinging to the words?

I love Pema, btw.

Anonymous said...

Was it two words in the original language? Or am I also not a good student? :)