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The Way of Zen by Alan Watts: Summary, Notes, and Lessons - Nat Eliason

Considerations For Zen Practice

  • Understand that nothing is grasped or gained from life. To succeed is to fail, as the more one succeeds, the greater the need to go on succeeding. 
  • There is no “myself” apart from the mind-body which gives structure to our experience.
  • There is never anything but the present, and if one cannot live there, one cannot live anywhere.
  • Zen practice must not have a goal. To have an eye on some end is to have a lack of concentration, lack of sincerity.

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The Way of Zen by Alan Watts: Summary, Notes, and Lessons - Nat Eliason

The Way of Zen by Alan Watts: Summary, Notes, and Lessons - Nat Eliason

https://www.nateliason.com/notes/the-way-of-zen-alan-watts

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Key Ideas

Zen In The Arts

Zen has no goal. A world that focuses on destinations, that only cares about getting somewhere as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance.

Zen is a liberation from time. If we open our eyes and see clearly, it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant, and that the past and future are abstractions without any concrete reality.

Satori And The Koan

  • Satori, enlightenment, is not a sudden complete awakening, it is the sudden and intuitive way of seeing into anything. The satori is not a feeling of relaxation, though, it is letting go but not feeling it.
  • The koan is a way of stressing the mind into having to relax and release itself. Like increasing muscular tension to give yourself a feeling of what not to do. 

Of Zen And Focus

Zen spirituality is to be in the moment and do only what you are doing without giving in to fleeting thoughts.

When a human is so self-controlled, that he cannot let go of himself, he dithers or wobbles between opposites. The effort to remain “good” or “happy” necessitates such strenuous balancing that it will surely induce mania and anxiety.

Considerations For Zen Practice

  • Understand that nothing is grasped or gained from life. To succeed is to fail, as the more one succeeds, the greater the need to go on succeeding. 
  • There is no “myself” apart from the mind-body which gives structure to our experience.
  • There is never anything but the present, and if one cannot live there, one cannot live anywhere.
  • Zen practice must not have a goal. To have an eye on some end is to have a lack of concentration, lack of sincerity.

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The Zen View Of Morals

Evil cannot be destroyed, any more than good can, because they are polar opposites of the same thing. Destruction and creation, chaos and order; opposite aspects of reality, in tension with one ano...

The Zen View Of Life

For Zen practitioners, life is transitory and insubstantial. There is no security and thinking otherwise is a waste of time. 

They also don’t believe in an afterlife. Reincarnation can be more accurately thought of as a constant rebirth, of death throughout life, and the continual coming and going of universal energy before and after death.

The Zen View Of The World

The word 'Zen' means emptiness or void. This is the basis of Zen — that all that exists is based on a dynamic emptiness. Which is also what quantum science says.

In this view, there is no difference between matter and energy. Look at anything closely enough and you will see that it is an event, not a thing. Furthermore, there is not a ‘multiplicity of events’. There is just one event, with multiple aspects, unfolding. 

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The History Of Zen
  • 1500 years ago, the founding of the the Ch’an (Zen) school
  • 12th century C. E. , the concept arrives in Japan
  • 1, 300 years ago Zen reaches Korea and Vietnam.
  • Late 19th ...
Being Zen

It's essentially a state of being at peace with your own thoughts, and being self-aware of your place within the universe, inconsequential (and simultaneously essential).

The word Zen is both the acceptance of everything and nothing, the realization that Zen encompasses and is encompassed by everything. It also centers on a relationship with your own mind, and a higher, undefined entity outside of yourself.

The Practices Of Zen

The most common ways are sitting meditation (Zazen) and walking meditation (Kinhin), where direct noninteractive observation of breath and mind is practiced. The ideal scenario is to clear your mind and allow thoughts to organically rise and fall, without interacting or affecting them in any way.

There are also group sessions of intense meditation, often taking up to a week of silent, disciplined focus, interrupted only by short periods of sleep. Other forms of practice include the use of koans (stories practitioners meditate on), and Zen chanting (repetition of sutras followed by silent meditation on them).

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Nostalgia

It is the sentimentality of our past, usually for a particular time and place associated with positive emotions, etched in our memories. Historical texts state it was termed as homesickness ...

A Time Machine

The feeling of nostalgia is like traveling in a time machine. The activities that were once cherished are no longer done, and the world that is remembered no longer exists.

Nostalgia can be a form of self-deception, giving a rosy tint to the past, creating a paradise out of the moments of our lived lives.

Deep nostalgia fosters a sense of serene melancholy and spiritual longing.

Suffering

The deepest form of suffering is a feeling of extreme dissatisfaction about the impermanence and the insubstantiality of everything around us.

Buddhism mentions suffering as inevitable as long as there is desire, lust and a sense of coveting/craving in our lives. Once we grasp this fully, we stop craving and struggling in hope and fear.