one good word

Zen appears to me following me around lately, so of course I will share some of it with you. It has been interesting and good for me, as I have moved into exploring more of it that I am learning about why I have not liked Buddhism or Zen previously. It would be like…someone who professes to not like Christianity and its practices – really, you can’t say that, because there are so many sects and practices involved it is just kind of one of those global dismissals. Like my own “I don’t like this,” it reveals both what I believe and also, what I am ignorant of. As I become less ignorant, I am becoming fascinated. But also, oddly enough, confirmed in my opinion that there are sects and practices of it that I really, really don’t like.  But I am also discovering that there is much within the sects and practices that is very worth while.


I think, because the majority of my exposure to it has been with followers who – how can I say this? Are not much trained in their own professed belief or even practice is with diligence – it was easy for me to form my opinions. I have begun to think that the source of most of our prejudices stem from our receiving education or having encounters with the people we develop a prejudice against who are ignorant of their own beliefs. I am not talking about the prejudices of the body but of the mind and spirituality. I can think of many people who hate Christianity because they have only encountered “Christians” who are wildly naïve and ignorant when they were trying to find out about that. That is the case with me and Zen and Buddhism. I have only recently been encountering people who are active and faithful adherents, and it has encouraged me to be open to it again. I am reading a great book that I highly recommend, it is old and out of print but you can find it in the public domain, it is called “The Religion of the Samurai.” I forget who wrote it but it really presents a clear picture of the evolution of Zen and Buddhism into the two basic sects – those that use the words to excuse their own failings and those that seek enlightenment. Those two sects, I have discovered, are the basic dividing points of any belief umbrella.


Here is something I have just understood. And it may explain why I am now starting to appreciate this discipline. Zen etc uses a lot of Koans or puzzles that can come in the form of a story or a puzzle. The challenge is to discover the answer. This appeals to me of course because I like puzzles but also because they are both self-revealing and make sense in a broader aspect.


Here are three common ones – and I will give you the answer to them. They are meant for beginners. I will write the puzzle first and then provide a little space and give you the answer.


1. For people who do not know, there is Buddha. For people who do know, there is no Buddha.


2. When the world began, was there a creator?


3. (puzzle story) Nansen saw the monks of the eastern and western halls fighting over a cat. He seized the cat and told the monks: `If any of you say a good word, you can save the cat. No one answered. So Nansen boldly cut the cat in two pieces. That evening Joshu returned and Nansen told him about this. Joshu removed his sandals and, placing them on his head, walked out. Nansen said: `If you had been there, you could have saved the cat.’


Here is a space

Here is a space

Here is a space

Here is a space

Here is a space

Here is a space



1) For people who do not know what spirituality or enlightenment is and are seeking definite answers, there is Buddha to follow and look at and guide them, they must have symbols outside of themselves to believe in as being better than what is within them. For those who have realized that spirituality or enlightenment only provides questions, there is no Buddha, for all symbols are realized to be unnecessary to the process of realizing enlightenment. The trappings are not needed – no chant, no mantra, no symbol, no words, no text.


2) If I am here now and have things to do, and being able to do them doesn’t need an answer to that question, why waste the energy to ask it? Questions must provide a means to action, if not they are distractions from being present and able.


3). Joshu removed his shoes and put them on his head as a sign of grief. For shoes are removed when we enter a sacred space, removing us from the world. What would have been the good “word” was for someone to realize that the world needed to come into the space to save the cat through action – not through right or wrong, but because of a respect for all life that supersedes all rules. The sacred space is necessary, but cannot be constant or we become ineffective. Our very faults in life are what make the sacred living.


Duality. Presence. Connection. Balance. Within all things there is good and bad. Within all things there is no good or bad. Judgment and opinion stems from the self, we must lose the self to be in harmony with all but cannot also survive without the self.  We, in our incarnation must live with that balance, duality and contradiction to fulfill our meaning. That is the beginning of enlightenment, that all things exist in simultaneity and to hold to one choice is to create death.




c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.


About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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