Benefits of Zen Meditation
Meditating on Non-Self.
Trying to explain or define Zen Meditation, by reducing it to a book, to a few definitions, or to an article is impossible. Zen is not a theory, an idea, or a piece of knowledge. It is not a belief, dogma, or religion; but rather, it is a practical experience.
Zen is not a moral teaching, and as it is without dogma, it does not require one to believe in anything. A true spiritual path does not tell people what to believe in; rather it shows them how to think; or, in the case of Zen - what not to think.
Rather than offering temporary solutions to life’s problems, Zen and other forms of Buddhist meditation look to address core issues. Because there are always opposites: happy➿sad; calm ➿nervous; asleep ➿awake; sun ➿moon and so on. The spiritual path is never one of achievement; it is always one of letting go. And not only bad things, but good things as well.
Now there is another thing that we do: we are interested in becoming something or somebody. Interested in becoming an excellent meditator. And becoming something stops us from being. When we are stopped from being, we cannot pay attention to what there really is. All this becoming business is, of course, in the future. The only reality we can be sure of is this particular moment right now; and this particular moment as you must be able to be aware of — has already passed and this one has passed and the next one has also passed. See how they are all passing!
That is the impermanence of it all. Each moment passes, but we cling, trying to hold on to them. Trying to make them a reality.
Trying to make them a security. Trying to make them be something which they are not. See how they are all passing. We cannot even say it as quickly as they are doing it.
To experience it, one needs meditation. An ordinary mind can only know ordinary concepts and ideas. If one wants to understand and experience extraordinary experiences and ideas, one has to have an extraordinary mind. An extraordinary mind comes about through concentration.
Concentration comes from meditation.
And when the mind can concentrate, then it experiences states which it has never known before.
At that time the mind understands the idea of impermanence to such an extent that it sees itself as totally impermanent.
Then you experience non-self. Non-self is experienced through the aspect of impermanence, through the aspect of unsatisfactoriness, and through the aspect of emptiness. Empty of what?
The word “emptiness” is so often misunderstood because when one only thinks of it as a concept, one says “what do you mean by empty?”
Everything is there: there are the people, and there are their insides, guts and their bones and blood and everything is full of stuff — and the mind is not empty either.
The only thing that is empty is the emptiness of an entity.
There is no specific entity in anything. That is emptiness. That is the nothingness. That nothingness is also experienced in meditation.
There are three doors to liberation: the signless, the desireless, and emptiness. If we understand impermanence, anicca, fully, it is called the signless liberation. If we understand suffering, dukkha, fully, it is the desireless liberation. If we understand no-self, anatta, fully, then it is the emptiness liberation.
Which means we can go through any of these three doors. We are no longer creating kamma. A person who has been completely liberated still acts, still thinks, still speaks and still looks to all intents and purposes like anybody else, but that person has lost the idea that I am thinking, I am speaking, I am acting. Kamma is no longer being made because there is just the thought, just the speech, just the action.
There is the experience but no experiencer. And because no kamma is being made any longer, there is no rebirth. That is full enlightenment.
But till now we are not arahats, we still have greed and hate. It isn’t a matter of blaming oneself for having them: it’s a matter of understanding where these come from. They come from the delusion of me. I want to protect this jewel which is me. That is how they arise. But with the continued practice of meditation, the mind can become clearer and clearer. And when it does understand, it can see transcendental reality. Even if seen for one thought-moment, the experience is of great impact and makes a marked change in our lives.