Zen Self Inquiry

Why I Made This Website

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My peers in Zen have often asked me why I am bothering to do this. My only reply is that when I was looking for help, I found Dr Richard DeMartino and Dr Masao Abe—as did my peers—so I am returning my teachers’ kindness and graciousness. This site may not appeal to everyone, but to the few with whom it resonates, I will do my best to assist you.

I know there are many places to go to study ‘Zen’ and ...

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Modern Zen: Comforting, Palpable and Rife with Scandals

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It is human nature to make things more comfortable and understandable to ourselves. We like things to ‘make sense’ to us. I often hear people say when they like a belief system, “it makes sense to me, I understand it”. I think that, in this vein, Zen teaching has gone this path and given up its core. It is something palpable and understandable, the way it is presented now. There’s lots of grinning and ‘aha’ moments, and it has a ...

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Zen Without Bowls, Robes, Monks, Roshis and Rituals

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Somewhere in our past an individual became unsatisfied with his/her self.  They knew they were incomplete, somehow missing the whole picture, and sought something different.  Perhaps they stared at the night sky and fell into it, tearing down their ordinary conscious and awakening to a new one no longer at odds with their self.  Perhaps it was a bird or a babbling brook that opened their eyes to the world as it is unfettered by their individual consciousness.  Something happened ...

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The Problem: the Dualistic Aspect of Human Consciousness

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Both Dr DeMartino and Dr Abe were insistent on us understanding the problem of the self at the onset. It isn’t that we have a self that needs fixing but that the very self itself is the problem. It is not a matter of adding on to the self, reaching a level or enriching the self but knowing in the deepest manner possible that you, yourself, are the problem, and whatever you come up with to solve it won’t work. ...

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Realizing the Dilemma of Our Self as a Subject and an Object

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“We are the subject that only knows itself as an object”. Richard DeMartino

Normally when we talk about ego it’s referred to as something we ‘have’, it’s an extension of self or a characteristic of our psyche but in the Zen sense it’s not that we have an ego, we are the ego.  The ego here is defined as the separation of self from other; the act of becoming a self by the act of separation of subject/self from object/world.  As ...

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“The problem with Zen is that there is such a word.” Dr Richard DeMartino

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Though the entrance to this site warns that I am not here to teach ‘Zen’—and I am not—I must address what Zen appears to be today and some of its pitfalls. What Dr DeMartino was trying to express in the above quote is that once you have a concept of something called Zen you are already lost. Today Zen has become a ‘thing’, a way to conduct yourself, a series of rituals and even a vocation at which you can ...

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Anti Intellectualism vs. Right Thought/Right Understanding

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For centuries Zen has been known for its swinging cats, pointing monks and obtuse answers.  It is my understanding that when Zenkei Nishida founded the Kyoto School of Zen in 1913 he wanted to establish a platform from which Zen could be expressed in a rational manner that would stand the test of time.  From him to Keiji Nishitani  to Masao Abe they wanted to express Zen as something real and philosophically defensible as well as being an existential reality. ...

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Why Faith/Belief is Not the Solution

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Most religions, particularly the Abrahamic religions, present faith or belief in something outside of you as the answer to the great questions about life and death. It is beyond our capacity to know, so we are told to trust in a doctrine that is offered. Faith, however, is completely arbitrary; why pick one over the other if it can’t be proven? It is also contingent upon our location and era of living. Raised in a particular culture, you take what ...

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