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The Incredible Lightness of Being: Buddha Nature 

Updated: Jun 24


The concept of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," popularized by Milan Kundera in his eponymous novel, explores the existential dichotomy between weight and lightness in human life.



Through the lens of Zen principles, this philosophical idea can be interpreted in a manner that aligns with the Zen pursuit of enlightenment, detachment, and the profound simplicity of existence.



Zen Buddhism emphasizes the present moment, encouraging practitioners 

  1. To let go of the burdens of the past and the anxieties of the future. This aligns seamlessly with the notion of lightness in Kundera's work. 

  2. To live lightly is,

  3. To embrace the here and now, 

  4. To float above the weight of accumulated sorrows and fears. Zen teaches that our attachment to material possessions, societal expectations, and even personal ambitions can weigh us down, preventing us from experiencing the true essence of life. 

  5. In this way, the lightness of being is achieved by practicing non-attachment and mindfulness, allowing us to navigate life with a sense of ease and freedom.


This concept dovetails with Kundera's exploration of lightness as an escape from the heavy meaning imposed by societal constructs and personal narratives. By embracing Mu, individuals can transcend the illusory weight of existence and find liberation in the acceptance of emptiness of fixed form and more like “Potential.” It is in this acceptance that one finds what I call the incredible lightness of being.


Zen also encourages a direct and intuitive understanding of reality, beyond intellectualization and rational thought. This principle can be likened to Kundera's portrayal of characters who seek to live authentically and spontaneously. 

Zen practice helps strip away the layers of complexity and mental clutter, revealing the simple truth of existence as an unencumbered being (the true self or person of no merit).


Lightness and enlightenment can be explored through other senses: hearing, touching, seeing, tasting. Awake as clarity suggests seeing through the haze (illusion) of clinging to which we get boggled. As we lighten our load we become airy, more nibble, so clarity of sight and sound, soft touch, refreshing taste, along with mindful clarity is the experience of Dharma (Buddha nature).


I have always seen what we do as subtraction. Taiun Elliston tells the story of talking with a Catholic priest about Zen and when Roshi was asked about Zen canonical edicts indicated as practitioners, we are more about subtraction than addition.  


108 Bows,

Sangaku 


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