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Zen Is Nothing Extra


Nani mo tsuika shinaide kudasai

Do not add anything to what is.

When I was a tween, sitting at the breakfast table with my bowl of Cheerios or Wheaties, I'd put so much sugar in it, that the milk would turn grey. The dentist didn't appreciate me doing that. As a teenager, reading comic books, I would lay on my bed and fantasize about being a super hero, because my head told me I was a super zero, having a narrative that I was insufficient when compared to my brother.

When I was finally getting clean of drugs, and the fog was starting to clear from the chemical coma I'd been in... cocaine, opiates, marijuana and alcohol... the disease got in my ear... telling me... you're gonna do this so good, you're going to be "Addict of the year!" Ahhhh did I fail to mention I probably did too much LSD?

As an adult, with two kids... I was going to be 180° from what my father was... as he was so physically abusive and turning meanness into an art form, and I was going to be the "Perfect dad." Talk about delusion stacked on top of delusion. At the time, I didn't understand what it meant to simply be my authentic self, that quite honestly had nothing to do with my dad, and everything to do with the relationship that I have with my values.

Each of us, in our own way, has spent a lifetime turning things into what they're not. Artificial sweeteners to cover over the reality of what is. It's not entirely our fault. We get a lot of unhelpful help from each other, overlaying personal narratives onto each other, not understanding or respecting a person for who they are, seeing people as a "Fixer-upper," from the "Dented can aisles" of the places we're shopping in, turning them into what they're not. Ruth my sponsor used to say... "If we're approaching people as projects, we're in trouble." Soren Kierkegaard, wrote "Once you label me you negate me."

These days, when I stop at a coffee shop, offering to put all kinds of stuff in it, I decline and have it black. I ask them, "What would make me want to mess up your beautiful work?" I've never seen someone not smile when I said that. When I have tea, I have the tea... not all the shit that I can stuff into it. When I have zazen... I have zazen, as it is without running around with all the spaghetti the mind likes to throw around to see what sticks to land the hook. When I'm hanging out with people, I'm listening to who they are, instead of making up narratives of who they ought to be, and what they should be doing with their life. No additives. No preservatives. No intellectual, and emotional GMO. It's crap!

People ask me all the time about Zen and/or recovery. Most claim they are looking to an alternative to the "Guy in the sky," that people run after like they did when they were chasing the dope, to help them feel better or more whole. More times than not isn't true, based on the actions. Too many times have I heard people say they love themselves, but what they're really doing is obviously defensive driving against the so-called "Monster," within that's just lurking beneath the surface, waiting for an opportunity to leap out, kind of like in the movie "The Shining..." Yelling "Here's Johnny!" The mind has a lot of convincing movie scripts it's attempting to promote. Sadly 99.9% are shit!

Too many times I've heard people literally describe or call themselves "Damaged goods," or "Stupid," or a "Piece of shit," or "Not deserving" of "Good things;" without understanding those narratives describe the locations of where we might have been wounded. It's like having a sore spot from being hit in a specific place over and over. It's kinda neat how society and the related conditioning consistently places the solutions or truth being on the outside, rather than the inside, discouraging us not to trust ourselves and our authentic nature of Universal Loving Presence.

People tell me they want to be "Free," or "Enlightened." I inform them that I'm sorry to ruin the movie of being a "Damaged," person. I like to ask, "Instead of turning ourselves into what we're not: what could happen for us if the truth is that we're people that when misaligned with our authenticity and integrity that we can do damaging things, instead of being damaged goods? What then?" I'm honest. We already are so-called enlightened AKA completely complete; and that Zen... or the Twelve Steps... etc... doesn't give us anything that we already are not. They help us to recognize the reality, so that we stop traipsing through life as a delusional person; causing harm to ourselves and others. Quickly I'm usually discarded! I didn't match the story in their mind, or what they read in a book. Bummer! Zen practice is a discipline of not turning things into what they're not.

As a practice, there are moments, in each day that I take periodic vacations, FROM turning things into what they're not. Sometimes it's the time span of eating a hardboiled egg as the egg, with nothing added. It's as I mentioned before zazen as zazen, without contemplating *ANYTHING!* Just sitting, breathing, and paying attention to what actually is; without reading anything into the present moment. When I'm with people, I'm noticing who I'm with, without being judgmental about their personhood. People are who they are in this moment, and will not be precisely the same in the next... could that reality apply to ourselves? As I said... we could take a temporary vacation of a few minutes or hours and see. Experience truly is the best teacher. This is why for those who participate in Twelve Step recovery, we only care about direct experience. Opinion, philosophy, advice, are not valued as they're oftentimes conjurings of addiction mind. Now Now Now! This This This! Here Here Here! Without adding or subtracting! Please confirm for yourself!

一We Are the Practice Itself

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