When I can see Zen, it’s not Zen.

Some in Zen say the ideal is to be unattached; but is there not an attachment to certain Zen ideals themselves? Is there not an attachment to unattachment? When it is said to wear the castaways of society, rags rather than silk, is there not an attachment to rags? Is there not an attachment to immaterialism? There was a time when I was rabidly anti-materialistic, and my brother told me I was a “slave to anti-fashion”. He was right. When I can see Zen, it’s not real Zen. The ideal is to be undetected and undetectable – like a flaneur in a city crowd.

Zen needs to change along with the world. Zen needs to be the world, to reflect the happenings. Of course it’s a balancing act, as in when the world gets out of balance, Zen needs to be a counterweight, but even here it needs to shift along with the world and society. It shouldn’t be roiled by every wind, but it should acknowledge and understand when real things change. Because things do change. Stagnation is death. There’s an argument about the United States Constitution – whether it’s a “living document” or not; if it’s not a “living document,” is it then a “dead document”? I’d like to think it’s not dead, that it’s not merely a fossil preserved under UV-protected glass in a Washington gallery, but that it is a living, breathing thing that can acknowledge changes in values. I’d like to think the same of Zen, too.

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