If you prick me, I bleed zen buddhist.

Here’s how I understand it:

1. Buddhism

Buddhism is an ancient belief system based around solving life’s problems by realizing that most of them originate from inside your own brain.

It’s critical to realize there is no right way to approach buddhism. It’s just a set of ideas to consider, and you’re totally encouraged to think about them all, apply the ones that seem to stick, and disregard the ones that don’t.

2. Taoism

Taoism is an ancient belief system based around not struggling against the flow of events.

Personally, I found the Tao Te Ching to be well-balanced by reading the Art of War in parallel. The two books originate from around the same time period, and between them I found very strong female and male themes of seeing the same world.

3. Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism is what happens when father buddha and momma tao love each other very much and nine months later we’ve got wee lil’ babe.

There’s a saying that’s stuck with me: “Zen is not thinking about the buddha while doing the laundry, zen is simply doing the laundry.”

Tao and zen are both filled with sayings like that.

In both, wisdom is communicated by sayings that sometimes flat-out-contradict themselves. Like, the first principle of taoism is: “The Tao that can be Tao’ed is not the true Tao”

Seriously, what the serious fucking fuck?

I would try to phrase it this way:

  • Buddhism gives us tools to reshape our own instincts.
  • Taoism says to try to tumble with the flow of the universe instead of against it.
  • Zen buddhism is where you train your instincts so that you can tumble with the universe towards situations that you actually want to be in.

The whole idea is training your instincts. One little tiny step at a time, you bring yourself into alignment with your own goals. As you progress on this, you get to the point where you can do it, and keep making progress on doing it, without thinking about it.

What’s the hard part here? It’s the point of having goals.

You have to have goals before you can bring yourself into alignment with them.

That’s where all the fluff of buddhism can come in, if you want it. You know, the whole reincarnation stuff, which logically flows to don’t harm other life forms, which becomes don’t eat meat.

I personally am going to enjoy a cheeseyburger today, in honor of all the buddhists out there who can’t.

Clearly, I do not buy into any of that, or I wouldn’t call it fluff.

Clearly, I also have an innate aggression that’s not been worked off, or I wouldn’t belittle it as I do.

Truly, I hold it’s important to maintain a certain innate aggression.

The total passifist is like the author of the Tao Te Ching – at the total mercy of the author of the Art of War. But in the study of Zen, we, like the buddha, should hold to a middle road.

My own zen is: Know and maintain enough aggression to win where I need to. Maintain enough peace to choose for myself where to win and how much I want to win by.

Related reading: Musubi

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