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Zen Zicht op Ziekte: visie van Man-An

lotus.jpgMan-an was een Zenmeester, die leefde in de periode 1591-1654. Hij is vooral bekend geworden door een korte en krachtige tekst, dat wel eens vertaald is met: "een elementair praatje over Zen". In deze sutra van Man-an is een passage over hoe met ernstige ziekte om te gaan.  

....ziekte is in feite een leraar. Sinds oude tijden hebben veel mensen grote vermogens ontwikkeld en leerden de essentiele aard van alle dingen zien door hun worsteling met het lijden door ernstige ziekten. Vrees de dood niet, noch kijk terug op uw leven als u ernstig ziek wordt. Hul u in de wapenuitrusting van geduld, bestijg het ros van de stoutmoedigheid, omklem de zweep van de ijver en hef het vaandel van de weg naar Eenheid, roep onthechting en onzelfzuchtigheid uit tot uw legerscharen, benoem aanhoudende juiste aandachtsconcentratie tot uw generaal, versterk de burcht van de koning van bewustzijn in de oceaan van de vitale energie en het elexierveld, sla de voedende elexer op en breng de strategie van vrijheid op basis van de vermogens tot denken en zich voorstellen in de praktijk.....

Deze tekst is kort en gecondenseerd en geeft de essentie weer van hoe vanuit het Zen perspectief om te gaan met een ernstige ziekte. Allereerst zegt de meester, kijk niet terug of vooruit, leef niet in verleden of hoop op een betere toekomst. Centreer je hele aandacht in het NU.  

Beoefen de aandacht voor dat Hier en Nu geduldig, " Hul u in de wapenuitrusting van geduld" en keer elke keer als je afdwaalt weer terug met de aandacht in dit moment, in dat gebied van het bewustzijn, waarvanuit alles ontstaat. 

"…benoem aanhoudende juiste aandachtsconcentratie tot uw generaal", de aandacht kan elke keer weer terug gebracht worden in het heden, door de ademhaling als anker te nemen, of de neuspunt. Houdt de ogen wel open bij deze meditatie, anders zakt je bewustzijn langzaam weg, en is er geen sprake meer van:.. versterk de burcht van de koning van bewustzijn"  Terwijl de aandacht in het lichaam is, bij de ademhaling, en in het bewustzijn zelf, daar waar de gedachten nontstaan, in die lege ruimte van bewustzijn, kan het bewustzijn zich uitbreiden naar de onderbuik, daar waar zetelt: de oceaan van de vitale energie en het elixerveld. Door daar met de aandacht heen te gaan kan je je als het ware verbinden met de energie die daar gevoeld wordt.

Daarbij kan je gebruik maken van "de vermogens tot denken en zich voorstellen in de praktijk….." Dat wil zeggen het denken kan behulpzaam zijn elke keer weer in te zien dat de aandacht verdwenen is in een vlucht van gedachten. Dan kan de aandacht weer terug gebracht worden naar het eigen lichaam, de ademhaling of het deel onder de navel, ook wel het elixer veld genoemd door de Taoisten en de Chinese scholen van meditatie waaruit de Zen kwam. Het elixer veld heet zo, omdat door de aandacht daar te brengen, veel energie behouden wordt, en het elixer van het eeuwige leven ontstaat. Dat is een archetype voor de totale aandacht in het Hier en NU, waar het tijdsbesef en alle andere gedachten en voorstellingen verdwijnen. Dan wordt het moment een eeuwig NU.

We citeren hier enkele andere delen uit de toespraak van Man-an. 

An Elementary Talk on Zen

Although the Way of Buddhahood is long and far, ultimately there is not an inch of ground on earth to travel. Although it is cultivated, realized and mastered over a period of three incalculable aeons, the true mind is not remote. Although there may be five hundred miles of dangers and difficult road, the treasure is nearby. If people who study Zen to learn the Way mistake a single step or stir a single thought, they are ten trillion lands and a billion aeons away.

You should simply see your essential nature to attain Buddhahood. The scriptural teachings expounded by the Buddha over the course of his career are instructions for seeing essential nature; when it comes to seeing essential nature itself and awakening to the Way, that is communicated separately outside of doctrine and does not stand on written symbols.

In this there are no distinctions between the sharp and the dull, the rich and the poor, mendicants and lay people, Easterners or Westerners, ancients or moderns. It only depends upon whether or not the will for enlightenment is there, and whether instruction and guidance are mistaken or accurate.

Even if you get directions from a thousand Buddhas and myriad Zen masters, if you yourself do not continue right mindfulness with purity and singleness of faith, you can never see essential nature and awaken to the Way. This is why you realize your own essential nature by means of your own mind and understand your own life by means of your own insight. If right mindfulness is not continuous and concentration is not pure and single minded, your efforts will be in vain.

As long as our concentration is not purely single minded in both activity and stillness, it will be hard to attain even a little accord. Concentration of right mindfulness should be cultivated most especially in the midst of activity. You need not necessarily prefer stillness.

There is a tendency to think that Zen practice will be quicker under conditions of stillness and quiet and that activity is distracting, but the power attained by cultivation in stillness is uncertain when you deal with active situations; it has a cowardly and weakly function. In that case, what do you call empowerment?

Concentration of right mindfulness is a state of absorption that is in oneself twenty-four hours a day, but one does not even know it consciously. Even though you work all day, you do not get tired out, and even if you sit alone or stand silently for a long time, you do not get bored. To search out enlightenment with principle and fact unified is called genuine study.

If you want to quickly attain mastery of all truths and be independent in all events, there is nothing better than concentration in activity. That is why it is said that students of mysticism working on the Way should sit in the midst of the material world.

The Third Patriarch of Zen said, "If you want to follow the Way of Unity, do not be averse to the objects of the six senses." This does not mean that you should indulge in the objects of the six senses; it means that you should keep right mindfulness continuous, neither grasping nor rejecting the objects of the six senses in the course of everyday life, like a duck going into the water without its feathers getting wet.

If, in contrast, you despise the objects of the six senses and try to avoid them, you fall into escapist tendencies and never fulfill the Way of Buddhahood. If you clearly see the essence, then the objects of the six senses are themselves meditation; sensual desires are themselves the Way of Unity; and all things are manifestations of Reality. Entering into the great Zen stability undivided by movement and stillness, body and mind are both freed and eased.

As for people who set out to cultivate spiritual practice with aversion to the objects and desires of the senses, even if their minds and thoughts are empty and still and their contemplative visualization is perfectly clear, still when they leave quietude and get into active situations, they are like fish out of water, like monkeys out of the trees.

Even people who go deep into mountain forests, cut off relations with the world forever, living as ascetics long ago cannot easily attain pure singleness of concentration. Needless to say, it is even more difficult for those who are mendicants in name only, or shallow householders, who are so busy making a living.

In truth, unless you have definite certitude of overwhelming faith, or are filled with overwhelming doubt or wonder, or are inspired with overwhelming commitment, or are overtaken by overwhelming death, it is hard to attain concentration that is pure and undivided in principle and fact, in action and stillness.

If you are wholeheartedly careful of how you spend your time, aware of the evanescence of life, concentrating singlemindedly on Zen work even in the midst of objects of desire, if you proceed right straight ahead, the iron walls will open up. You will experience the immense joy of walking over the Polar Mountain and becomes the Master within the objects of sense. You will be like a lotus blooming in fire, becoming all the more colorful and more fragrant in contact with the energy of fire.

Do not say that it is harder for lay people living in the world of senses and desires to sit and meditate, or that it is hard to concentrate with so many worldly duties, or that one with an official or professional career cannot practice Zen, or that the poor and the sickly do not have the power to work on the Way. These excuses are all due to weakness of faith and superficiality for the thought of enlightenment.

If you observe that the matter of life and death is serious, and that the world is really impermanent, the will for enlightenment will grow, the thie
ving heart of egoism, selfishness, pride, and covetousness will gradually die out, and you will come to work on the Way by sitting meditation in which principle and fact are one.

Suppose you were to lose your only child in a crowd or drop an invaluable gem? Do you think you would let the child or the jewel go at that, just because of the bustle and the mob? Would you not look for them even if you had a lot of work to do or were poor or sickly? Even if you had to plunge into an immense crowd of people and had to continue searching into the night, you would not be easy in mind until you had found and retrieved your child or your jewel.

To have been born human and heard true teaching is a very rare opportunity; so to neglect meditation because of your career is to treat the life of wisdom of the body of truths of the Buddhas less seriously than worldly belongings. But if you search for wisdom singlemindedly like someone who has lost a child or dropped a gem, one day you will undoubtedly encounter it, whereupon you will light up with joy.

People in all walks of life have all sorts of things to attend to; how could they have the leisure to sit silently all day in quiet contemplation? Here there are Zen teachers who have not managed to cultivate this sitting meditation concentration; they teach deliberate seclusion and quietude, avoiding population centers, stating that "intensive meditation concentration cannot be attained in the midst of professional work, business, and labor," thus causing students to apply their minds mistakenly.

People who listen to this kind of talk consequently think of Zen as something that is hard to do and hard to practice, so they give up the inspiration to cultivate Zen, abandon the source and try to escape, time and again becoming discouraged. This is truly lamentable. Even if they have a deep inspiration due to some cause in the past, they get to where they neglect their jobs and lose their social virtues for the sake of the Way.

As an ancient said, if people today were as eager for enlightenment as they are to embrace their lovers, then no matter how busy their professional lives might be and no matter how luxurious their dwellings may be, they would not fail to attain continuous concentration leading to appearance of the Great Wonder.

Many people of both ancient and modern times have awakened to the Way and seen essential nature in the midst of activity. All beings in all times and places are manifestations of one mind. When the mind is aroused, all sorts of things arise. When the mind is quiet, all things are quiet.

"When the one mind is unborn, all things are blameless." For this reason even if you stay in quiet and serene places deep in the mountains and sit silently in quiet contemplation, as long as the road of the mind-monkey’s horse of conceptualization is not cut off, you will only be wasting time.

Zen wordt steeds meer omarmt, zelfs binnen het moderne zakenleven! 

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  1. doc schreef:

    Super dat jullie orginele teksten rond mindfulness vinden en op het web zetten. Deze zentekst geeft direct inzicht in de essentie van mindfulness!

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