Love, Zen, and Paradoxes

Zen is not what you do, but who you become. In this sense, it’s eminently like love.

I write this because my friend proposed a paradox in Zen. The logic goes as follows:

  1. To practice Zen, you have to desire to be in Zen.
  2. People in Zen have no desires.
  3. Therefore they won’t desire to be in Zen.
  4. Thus, since you won’t be blocking out emotions, you’ll lose Zen.

My friend clearly has not been in Zen, but he’s interestingly wrong. Where he goes wrong is in thinking that Zen is something that you do, with the whole baggage of direct intentions and desires that comes with doing.

Zen is more a state of being that engulfs you. Think love. Do we fall in love by focusing our intentions on falling in love? With a “Hadouken!” and, Boom, love coming out the other side? Consider.

We “fall,” rather than “jump,” in love. We can’t force love, but only create the optimal conditions for love, and this is what makes it so magical. Love can fail even if we plan our dates super well, care a ton the other person, and do all we can, and love succeeds all the time without any external sign of its imminent arrival. Zen is the same. We enter Zen by creating the optimal conditions for Zen, and waiting for a Zen-happening. It is through altering our environments and conditions through prior intentions, rather than a brute force intention-in-action, that any significant alternations of the self happens. We’re more gardeners than gladiators.

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