Thomas Cleary translated several teachings from the Zen master, Foyan. The book, Instant Zen – Waking Up in the Present has an ISBN of 1-55643-193-7 and it is a splendid read.
In the book, the reader not only gains insight directly from Foyan, but the teacher shares knowledge that he learned from many other Zen Masters.
That is a term that is brought up several times in the book. Why do people seek insight? Why seek at all? Isn’t Zen supposed to be some sort of instantaneous awakening and/or transmission of knowledge?
This is a tricky subject. Sometimes learning can be difficult because we are presented with mirrors. As one’s eye becomes more clear, the filth on the computer screen becomes easier to see. So we are compelled to clean that screen. Yet when the screen is finally turned off, even more grime remains.
Too many Zen Masters.
It is so funny how applicable the knowledge from this old compilation of teachings truly is in our current and modern day. It’s a testimony to identifying truth. The more one is exposed to truth and basic patterns, the easier it is to spot truth and basic patterns in one’s own speech, environment and culture.
In the case of Zen Masters, Foyan warns against labels and self-titling.
Paradoxes, hippocracy, oxymorons, non-sequiturs.
Zen is confusing. Get used to it. If anyone feels lost while learning, take refuge in the fact that people have felt lots for thousands of years while studying this material. Maybe studying Zen isn’t a good use of one’s time?
Can you learn.
Before I forget. Please read the notes by Thomas Cleary at the end of the book. It is interesting how many Zen gems are often left in glossaries, footnotes endnotes and appendixes. Instant Zen is no exception. Cleary’s notes add context for the Masters that are discussed in the book by Foyan. Also, some of the political landscape is discussed for Zen of that time. If you read more than one Zen book, these notes will add a sub-context which seems to make the information easier to absorb and digest.