Bad Analogies

You ever find yourself trying to explain something to someone who has no background in what you’re talking about?
I think that Zen Masters feel your pain.
Today, in Zen we spent a fair bit of time trying to come up with analogies for the Sudden school’s view of gaining enlightenment. And, none of them work. Because most of our analogies dealt with learned skills, etc., we could not come up with a good one.
That might be one of the reasons Zen is so mystic. You can’t really explain it.
Still, the basic explanation of attaining enlightenment, in Zen, is that you are already a Buddha or Buddha-like. And, because of this, you don’t need to work on karma or practice anything in particular. You merely need to realize somehow.
If you ask a Zen monk what to do to become enlightened, he might say ,”Do nothing.” So it goes something like this:

1.Teacher says do nothing
3. Enlightenment
Other forms of Buddhism are more like this
1. Teacher says meditate this way
2. Meditate
3-100. lives pass in meditation
102. enlightenment

Zen argues that the middle steps are not necessary, but that makes becoming enlightened a much more difficult preposition. It is like the difference between Go and Chess. In Go, there are fewer rules, so it is easier to begin, but harder to become proficient. Chess is easier because choice is limited, but the rules take more time to learn. Go can be more intimidating, because of the number of choices available.
For some reason, talking about Zen reminds me of the paradox of choice. The idea that it is easier, less stressful and generally better for choices to be limited. But I digress.

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