Posted inBasic Buddhism, Introduction to Zen, Other Teachings

Four Motivations for Taking up the Path of Zen

May 9, 2022
Traveling and traveling,
I arrived at the mountain of treasures,
Only to realize it was none other than
My own temporary dwelling.

~ Ryokan

Once, two monks were traveling together on pilgrimage. Caught in a sudden snowstorm, they find a room in a small inn to wait it out.

One of the monks has long since arrived at the “mountain of treasures” Ryokan describes. The other, a close dharma brother, struggles to find his way. “My heart isn’t at peace,” he says. “I am truly anxious.”

The exchange leads to a turning word: “Haven’t you heard the old saying, ‘The family treasures don’t come in through the gate?’ When you realize that treasure for yourself, it will flow out from your own breast and cover the whole great earth.” At this, the monk awakens.

The mountain of treasures is right here: this path, this step, this breath – your own temporary dwelling.

What puts our feet on the path of practice, an exploration and discovery that can bring us to a deep realization of intimate belonging? 

Traditionally, SanboZen identifies four motivations for taking up this practice:

  • Curiosity – What is Zen all about? What happens when we sit in silence, rest in the breath, and tune into present moment experience? How might this practice touch or shape my life in the world?
  • Seeking wellbeing, peace of mind, and more agency in how I relate to self and others
  • Cultivating a spiritual path, a practice and way of life that attunes our hearts and minds to what truly matters
  • Asking fundamental questions: Who am I? What is this life? What is this moment? What is awakening?

Whatever motivates this practice – this traveling, that’s where the path unfolds. And, with it, endless possibilities of finding ourselves fully at home exactly where we are.

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

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