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The Interplay of Spirituality In Zen

I have used “interplay” before in Dharma Notes. The term reflects Thick Nhat Hand’s use of the term “Interbe” in referencing that everything is interconnected with everthigelse. Interplay is the energy flow of: bumping into, seeing into, passing-thoughts, overhearing, whiffing, and unexpected taste.

Interplay is the wave (spirit) and particle (form) of being. Another view of spirit is that which flows through us. For example QI is described as the life-force flowing through us. Unobstructed flow is freedom. Hence a needle at the right place pinpoints the blockage and opens the flow.

The story of the Ox Tamer or the Ten Ox Pictures represents this search for, finding and allowing or unblocking transcendence of ego. In his book Riding the Ox Home (London, 1982), Willard Johnson helps come to grips with the relationship of the psychologised ‘self’ to spirituality using the ancient Taoist parable about the ox tamer on the Zen path to enlightenment. Self, Spirituality, and Zen – Journey of the Ox-Tamer – ARCHETYPAL ASSETS

Playing his flute, the triumphant ox tamer rides home on his ox. Having tamed his ox (i.e. his need for self-gratification) he is free to express his creative energies in the celebration of life. He has won the battle for self-knowledge; he knows that he himself created his ox through his thoughts. After taming his ox, the ox tamer hears his inner voice – he has found his true home.

But the ox tamer is not yet finished. In the next part of his journey he must say goodbye to his ox and leave it behind.

In both Zen and Western mystical traditions, the goal is not just to tame the self but instead to transcend it. This is the essence of spirituality in the ultimate sense. I suggest this requires more time, space, and personal commitment than most spirituality seekers are able and willing to devote. Instead, I suggest that their goal is more like that of the first part of the ox tamer’s journey – the taming of their egoist ox.

Yet we can suggest openness-unbounded, is awareness as undefined flow. Going with it, that is flowing. We are the spirit, the unformed Zen. Searching for and finding what we are seeking is not the answer we thought we would find. The Ox is the Raft.

In the phrase a breath of fresh-air, we celebrate the beyond. Breathing in we experience a strength of being of interplay with the universe.

Join us Tuesday night, May 3, 2022, as we explore spirit



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