27 January 2012

"Just This"™

Last weekend I had the pleasure of having coffee with the ino (I've heard conflicting reports on what that translates to, so I'll leave it as is) from another local Zen center.  It was the first time we had ever met, and we whiled away a couple of hours talking "Zen shop": membership demographics, ceremonies, forms of practice, teachers and sanctioning, koan work, our paths to practice, etc.  Fun times!

Somewhere in the course of the discussion, my confrere made some mildly snarky comment about Zen and psychology.  I perked up.  I'm inclined to the same level of snark myself when it comes to that!

Part of me thinks it's a generational thing.  Sixtysomethings tend to be those who go for, have developed, or find unproblematic the alliance of Zen and psychology.  I'm not a sixtysomething.

Part of me thinks it's reflective of a latent anti-religiosity among some who want to be associated with Zen but don't want to buy into the devotional, spiritual and – yeah, I'll say it – mystical dimension of the practice, so they focus on the mental talk instead.  I'm not anti-religious.

Most of me thinks it's a way for Zen teachers wanting income to turn a buck with their Zen.  (Why else the trademark, as in Psychodynamic Zen™, or Private Zen Counseling at the Zen Life & Meditation Center™?)  I'm not interested in turning a buck with Zen.

I don't have anything against psychology and its kindred disciplines.  I certainly don't have anything against Zen.  Putting the two together, though, seems to me not unlike advertising "Christian plumbing" or "Muslim dentistry;" the word combo doesn't of its own accord create something different (except, maybe, confusion).  Therapy is therapy; plumbing is plumbing, dentistry is dentistry.

The beauty of Zen is that is as close to something without an abiding self as anything of its kind can be.  How many koans slap us down as soon as we want to make it into something "special," "precious," or "distinct"?   Insight is utterly worthless in every sense of the word.  It adds no value to anything we might want to tack on to it.  

It is most assuredly not to be trademarked!

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