Learning

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to discover it in himself. —Galileo Galilei

“The mind of the beginner is empty…ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind that can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything” (pp. 13-14). —Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Zen Buddhism is not a religion, thus it has no doctrine or dogma. Zen Buddhism provides no system of accolades; it is its own reward. It is a tradition of using meditation, mentors, and a set of metaphorical writings to obtain insight. Its teachings are not to be accepted based on the authority of the teacher, but to lead to your own insight and experience. Many Zen masters have little to say, because they understand the limits of language. They understand that a concept that you do not reach on your own may answer your curiosity but will rarely transform your life. The benefit of a teacher is to be pointed in the right direction. Zen practice and insights do not necessarily require years of study or meditation; what is needed is awareness. It requires discipline to make a concerted effort that prepares the mind for insight, yet it can be a light-hearted journey.

“We take so many things for granted. Much of what we accept as truth is actually hearsay. We haven’t experimented and demonstrated the truth for ourselves. We confuse inner knowing with the knowledge we learn in school, a series of memorized facts. We might find a spiritual teacher and be so eager for guidance and feel so lost that we accept, without questioning, whatever the teacher says. We don’t work with the teachings, test them, and see if they work for us. In my own Buddhist practice I find in the teachings a map I can follow and discover truth for myself” —Diane Mariechildechild

See the related topics Enlightenment, Mentoring, and Limits of Language.