One Commandment: Go Meditate

“Zen concerns the true depth of life that is beyond the reach of the intellect. This “life” is not Eastern or Western, it extends through all humanity. I hope that as you read you will look at your own life with a completely fresh mind and apply what I have written to your everyday life. That is the only place where the real world of Zen is.” —Kosho Uchiyama

The idea of universalism should be avoided in concepts. We shouldn’t try to pretend that one idea applies to all people, or that we should force others to try to conform to our notion of “the good life”. The practice of meditation, however, is strangely transcendent in this sense. It is universal. It can be practiced by anyone and applies to everyone, regardless of their location, race, age, or any other broad human categorization. The only requirement for practice is that you are a human, capable of thinking about thinking, and thus capable of overcoming this tendency in order to access the truth.

The lessons that you intuitively learn during meditation can then be applied to your life in an individualized way that works best with your environment and circumstance. The lessons, contrary to what some people think, are not the same for everyone. Your path develops differently from someone else’s.

Mindlessness is similarly pervasive across all humans, and arguably even more common. As self-aware creatures, we all have the capacity to reflect and to discover the inner life. Do most people do this? No, because it’s difficult. But we also may find this inner-life in other realms, like work, religion, friendship, love, etc. Zen is not “zen” at all— when truly practiced it is label-less and language-less. Those who practice best often don’t even know they are practicing. The only requirement is that we remain mindful and direct our attention to cultivating inward spirituality. A man who reads nothing of Zen but acts mindfully and diligently every day of his life is more of a practitioner than someone who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.

What is beyond the intellect? Most often it is the simplicity we overlook in order to stimulate the intellect in the first place. Intellectualizing every bit of life leads to misunderstanding and confusion. This confusion wouldn’t occur without the complication that comes from thinking so much. In meditation, we go beyond the thinking mind, returning to a place of simplicity while simultaneously transcending mere conceptual thought. Meditation is neither dumb nor pseudo-smart. This is what makes meditation more than an intellectual activity and more than stupidly zoning out into space.

When we consider the benefits of using the intellect over the monkey brain, we can realize the vast cosmic impact of using the meditative mind over the intellect. Spirituality connects us with a reality of the highest order, the reality of truth itself. It cannot be conveyed through thought or language. It must be directly experienced. There’s no need for fancy schools, doctrines, or traditions. There is only one commandment: go meditate.

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