Monday, September 3, 2012

The Purpose of This Blog

In the first 30 Zen Snacks posts, I've hit on some big topics: sexuality, attention-seeking, egotism, the meaning of it all, fear, happiness, livelihood, quantum mechanics, wannabe filmmakers, and that most persistent of problems--The Blahs. These posts in particular do a good job of expressing my spin on Zen practice.

While feeling out the purpose of this blog, I've realized that most of the posts are clearly written for one of two audiences: my friends who have tried Zen or my friends who haven't. Posts written for my Zen friends, aka the "believers," tend to discuss topics that commonly come up in a visit to a Zen Center or in discussions about Buddhist values, beliefs, etc. Posts written for my friends who have little or no interest in Zen, aka the "skeptics," tend to be psychologically or scientifically themed, avoiding explicit discussion of Buddhist ideas. Some of these posts are philosophical, but many are intended to be down-to-earth observations that could be useful to anyone interested in understanding human nature a little better.

In almost all of the posts, my take is to present nebulous spiritual or ethical ideas in practical terms and remove the mumbo-jumbo that makes Buddhism seem impractical or exotic. I personally believe that the teachings of Buddhism are purely practical, and mystic interpretations are largely made in error. I also believe that Zen has nothing to do with rock gardens or robes or lotus flowers; in one sense, the most sincere practice of Zen is to take a good look at what's right in front of you, whatever that is.

At the same time, I feel like some of these posts were just written to justify myself in the face of friends who know me to be a (usually) rational person and wonder why I'm messing around with "spirituality."

At the end of the day, I point to the empirical outcome of Zen practice: it helps me feel good, act kindly, connect with others, and manage responsibility.

Every once in a while, it also helps me realize something that I find cool.

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