by Kerry Thornley
Zenarchy - Chapter 2
The Birth of Zenarchy
During the days at 77th Street, I didn't write much about Zenarchy, but I contemplated the notion of a periodical by that name. I was experiencing considerable frustration over lack of editorial freedom as managing editor of the libertarian newsletter. My fascination with the counter-culture was not shared by the publisher. But then nearly everything was getting on my nerves by the middle of the summer.
Degenerating under police pressure and media hoop-de-la, the hip culture was becoming steadily more difficult to defend as my enthusiasm for promoting it increased. Smog-ridden Los Angeles with its maze of freeways kept bringing to mind Timothy Leary's advice to "turn on, tune in, drop out". (Or as Camden was to phrase it: "fly up, freak out, fuck off".)
Everyone was saying urban existence was not for heads. I was turned on and I fancied that I was tuned in, so I began making jaunts to the woods to see what smoking a number there was like. A whole new drug experience seemed to result in nature's universal living room - both overwhelming and comfortable.
As did many before and after me, I searched for a place to live in the outskirts of Los Angeles - only to discover there were none. Expensive hill property or desert comprised the major alternatives to the megalopolis. So my wife, Cara, and I decided to sell our Volkswagen and use the money to move to Florida. Our ultimate aim was to purchase or build a houseboat and plunge into the Everglades.
As it happened, we never got any farther in the direction of unspoiled wilderness than a cottage on a farm near Tampa, Florida. Then, I got a job across the bay and we moved into town. At least there was no smog.
After becoming immersed in the writings of Chuang Tzu - the only person in history besides Diogenes whose reincarnation I would care to be - I began publishing a sporadic newsletter in flyleaf format called Zenarchy. Principally this was to keep in touch with my California friends.
Usually I would type up a page or two when the mood suited me, paste a dingbat or two swiped from another publication between blurbs, and then pay the local offset printer to run off two or three hundred copies.
My original ambition in California had been for a monthly or quarterly journal, but the sparse format proved serendipitous. Most of my friends were inspired to begin issuing newsletters of equally simple design, stimulating their friends in turn to do the same. In the early Seventies there emerged a whole network of one-person journalistic efforts, most of them well worth the reading.
Following are portions of the Zenarchy broadsides, beginning with the August 19, 1968 issue published in Tampa:
ZEN is Meditation.
ARCHY is Social Order.
ZENARCHY is the Social Order which springs from Meditation.
As a doctrine, it holds Universal Enlightenment a prerequisite to abolition of
the State, after which the State will inevitably vanish. Or - that failing - nobody
will give a damn.
"Having said that zen study is knowing yourself, the roshi went on: In
America you have democracy, which means for you government of the people,
by the people, and for the people. I in my turn am bringing democracy to Japan.
You cannot have democracy until people know themselves. The Chinese said that
government was unnecessary and they were right. When people know themselves
and have their own strength, they do not need government. Otherwise they are just
a mob and must be ruled. On the other hand, when rulers do not know themselves,
they push the people around. When you do not know yourself, you busy yourself
with other people. Zen study is just a matter of getting your own feet on the ground."
(from Matter of Zen by Paul Wienpahl, New York University Press, 1964)
Having as little as possible to do with the powerful - that was Dogen's splendid Way
of Buddhas and Patriarchs. So when one of his followers accepted for his Zendo a gift
of land from a grateful Regent whom Dogen had instructed, the fool was driven by the
master from the monastery.
STONED SERMON #1:
Moreover, Dogen ordered the portion of floor where the erring monk customarily sat in
zazen torn out - and in the earth beneath it he had his students dig a six-foot-deep hole.
Zenarchy is new in name alone. Not only is it the Bastard Zen of America which has
grown to flower over the recent decades in nearly everybody's pot - it is the heretofore
nameless streak that zig-zags back through the Zen Tradition, weaving with delirious
defiance in and out of various sects and schools - slapping the face of an Emperor here,
rejecting a high office there, throwing a rule-blasting koan at a bureaucrat elsewhere -
and coming to rest finally in the original true words of Lao Tzu (from a translation in
Laotzu's Tao and Wu-wei by Dwight Goddard, Thetford, Vermont, 1939):
"When the world yields to the principle of Tao, its race horses will be used to
haul manure; when the world ignores Tao, war horses are pastured on the public
Nevertheless, there was never a greater Zenarchist than old Dogen Zenji - for in that
astounding hole of his can be found a monument to Freedom as enduring as the very Void.
Such gentle tolerance as he displayed is a rare thing, too, in the world of men and
Buddhas. But then his Compassion for the foolish monk was no doubt boundless, as
befits an Enlightened One.
That was followed by a September 4, 1968, flyleaf titled "QUOTATIONS FROM CHAIRMAN LAO" containing these statements from Lao Tzu:
"It is taught in books of strategy: 'Never be so rash as to open hostilities; always
be on the defense at first.' Also: 'Hesitate to advance an inch but be always ready to
retreat a foot.' In other words, it is wiser even in war to depend upon craft and skill
instead of force."
"When well-matched armies come to conflict, the one which regrets the need for
fighting always wins."
"The good commander strikes a decisive blow, then stops. He does not dare assert
and complete his mastery. He will strike the blow, but will guard against becoming
arrogant. For he strikes from necessity, and not out of a zest for victory."
"Both arms and armor are unblessed things. Not only do men come to detest them -
but a curse seems to follow them. Therefore, the True Man avoids depending upon arms."
"I am teaching what others have taught - that the powerful and aggressive seldom
come to natural deaths. But I make this wisdom the basis of my whole outlook."
"If one attempts to govern either himself or another, he is sure to become frustrated.
For it will seem that whatever he tries to grasp, slips away. The Sage makes no such
attempts, makes no failures, has nothing to lose - is therefore at peace with himself."
"He who wants to take over the country and remake it under his own reforming plans
will fail. 'Mankind' is an abstract concept that cannot be remade after one's own ideas.
Under any system of reform, a ruler must make use of different, real-life people - some
as they seem and some not, some who will assist and others who will resist, some strong
and some brittle and unsafe to rely on. That is why the Sage never tries to take over
things and reform man, but is instead content to reform himself - letting others follow
his example, but never forcing them."
"Nothing is more fragile, yet of all the agencies that attack hard substances nothing
excels water. Likewise, the powerless can wear down the mighty and the gentle survive
the strong. (Everyone knows this but few can practice it.) So the Sage accepts the
disgrace of his country and in so doing becomes a true patriot; he is patient under the
misfortunes of his cause and is therefore worthy to lead it."
(Translated from the Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tzu by Ho Chi Zen.)
Appearing promptly on September 16, 1968, the next Zenarchy began with a verse from a poem I had written just before the 1967 Easter Love-In:
Come and play the poet game with me!
Let's call out the cries of anarchy!
Let's be happy; let's be soft, and free;
Come and play the game of liberty.
"Totalitarian states, however, know the danger of the artist. Correctly, if for the wrong
reasons, they know that all art is propaganda, and that art which does not support their
system must be against it. They know intuitively that the artist is not a harmless
eccentric but one who under the guise of irrelevance creates and reveals a new reality.
If, then, he is not to be torn to pieces like Orpheus in the myth, the liberated artist must
be able to play the countergame and keep it as well hidden as the judo of Taoism and
Zen. He must be able to be 'all things to all men', for as one sees from the history of Zen
any discipline whatsoever can be used as a way of liberation - making pots, designing
gardens, arranging flowers, building houses, serving tea, and even using the sword; one
does not have to advertise oneself as a psychotherapist or guru. He is the artist in
whatever he does, not just in the sense of doing it beautifully, but in the sense of playing
it. In the expressive lingo of the jazz world, whatever the scene, he makes it. Whatever
he does, he dances it - like a Negro bootblack shining shoes. He swings."
(from Psychotherapy East and West by Alan Watts, Random House, 1961)
Spin your inhibitions off and see
Flowers in your heart and let them be.
(Come and play the poet game with me!)
It is no coincidence that the cultural currents of Zen and Anarchism immediately joined
when Zen came to the West. For nowhere in recent Western history is the life of the
Eastern renunciate more closely paralleled than in that of the dedicated revolutionary,
forsaking all attachments for a single goal. And no Eastern sage comes closer to the zestful
life sense of the Anarchist than the Zen Master.
STONED SERMON #2:
The Way of Play
But the deeper fruits of this union, speaking at least with reference to the Anarchist, are
yet to be realized. What Zen has most to offer Anarchism is freedom HERE AND NOW.
No longer need the Anarchist dream of a utopian millennium as he struggles to outwit the
State - for he can find freedom in the contest, by simply knowing that freedom is
everywhere for those who dance through life, rather than crawl, walk, or run.
For if a man has renounced inward ownership of property, renounced possessive
attachment to his loved ones, and is cheerfully detached from time, with no fear or hope
for what the future might bring - he is immune to all threats and pleadings of any State in
the world. On the streets or in prison - indeed, on his very way to execution - he can play!
That is, he can become aware of his true nature as a player in the cosmic maya game, and
can therefore openhandedly let his karma play itself out. He can blend with the life forces
around him, as a dancer to his music, and prance boldly into the collage of events - with
no fears, no regrets, and no compromises - turned on, tuned in, and made One.
Come and cry the cries of anarchy!
Running through the streets of history,
Let's be happy; let's be nice, and free.
"In the year 326 the persecution of the Christian ceases. Emperor Constantine becomes
a Christian and raises the Christian Church to become the State Church. Christianity,
which for three hundred years had borne a shining fruit in the darkness of the catacombs,
could blossom on the surface. The Christian is liberated from the permanent fear of death.
The church of the early community, whose power lay in prayer and the formation of the
ascetic personality irradiated by Christ, becomes now a power which also carries weight in
the world. Dogma is fixed, wonderful churches are built, the magnificent liturgy develops.
But the face of the Christian alters. Where formerly a Christian was a Christian, now he is
Everyman. Where formerly there had been a community of saints, now saints become more
and more rare in the community. They flee into solitude, to prayer, meditation and need of
union with God. Thus in the fourth century ends the wonderful experience of a closeness to
God, a bringing down of heaven to earth, a general spiritualization of the cosmos with
healing divine forces, a joyousness and peace which we can no longer imagine, because the
organs to understand and experience these conditions are blocked."
(from Meditation and Mankind by Vladimir Lindenberg, Rider and Co., London)
Come and play the childhood game, and be!
Oh the peace you'll know, the ecstasy!
Spin your inhibitions off and see!
Come and play the poet game with me.
As you can see, in spirit I was still issuing invitations to Love-Ins. That was my gospel, and in no way was it intended to be taken the least bit esoterically. Authoritarian psychology was also of interest to me, for it was our failure to make appropriate psychological warfare against the bureaucratic mentality that was our undoing in California. So I addressed myself to that issue in the October 5, 1968, Zenarchy, briefly, as follows:
"Hold up!" said an elderly rabbit at the gap. "Six pence for the privilege
of passing by the private road!" He was bowled over in an instant by the impatient
and contemptuous Mole, who trotted along the side of the hedge chaffing the other
rabbits as they peeped hurriedly from their holes to see what the row was about.
"Onion-sauce! Onion-sauce!" he remarked jeeringly, and was gone before
they could think of a thoroughly satisfactory reply. Then they all started grumbling
at each other, "How STUPID you are! Whey didn't you tell him --"
"Well, why didn't you say --" "You might have reminded him--"
and so on, in the usual way; but, of course, it was then much too late, as is always
(from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, The Heritage Press, 1944-66)
HOW TO REASON WITH THE AUTHORITIES
Shun proposed to resign the throne to Shan Chuan, who said, "I am a unit in the midst
of space and time. In winter I wear skins and furs; in summer, grass-cloth and linen;
in spring I plough and sow, my strength being equal to the toil; in autumn I gather my
harvest, and am prepared to cease labor and eat. At sunrise I get up and work; at
sunset I rest. So do I enjoy myself between heaven and earth, and my mind is content:
--why should I have anything to do with the throne? Alas! that you, Sir, do not know
me better!" Thereupon he declined the proffer, and went away, deep among the
hills, no man knew where. --Chuang Tzu
(from Volume II of The Texts of Taoism, translated by James Legge,
Dover Publications, 1962)
In the October 21, 1968, edition of Zenarchy I followed this thinking a step further, stressing now the positive aspects in this way:
"What is really being said is that intelligence solves problems by seeking the greatest
simplicity and the least expenditure of effort, and it is thus that Taoism eventually
inspired the Japanese to work out the technique of judo - the easy or gentle Tao (do)."
(from Psychotherapy East and West by Alan Watts, Random House, 1961)
THE ONLY SOLUTION
IS A YIN REVOLUTION
"The True men of old waited for the issues of events as the arrangement of Heaven,
and did not by their human efforts try to take the place of Heaven." --Chuang Tzu
(from the Texts of Taoism by James Legge, Dover Publications, 1962)
"It is interesting in this connection to recall Dr. Reich's distinction between matriarchy
and patriarchy, as given in The Mass Psychology of Fascism. According to Dr. Reich,
work-democracy and self-regulation of primary drives were characteristics of primitive
matriarchy, and both were destroyed by the rise of authoritarian patriarchy. Recent
anthropology has cast doubt on the existence of the 'primitive matriarchy,' but, as
G. Rattray Taylor shows in his Sex in History, there can be little doubt that
cultures do show more Matrist tendencies in some periods of their development, and
more Patrist tendencies at other periods. Patrist periods are characterized by sexual
repression, limitation of freedom for women, political authoritarianism, fear of
spontaneity, worship of a Father God, etc. Matrist periods, on the other hand, are
characterized by sexual freedom, high status for women, political democracy,
spontaneity, worship of a Mother Goddess, etc. This agrees with Dr. Reich's picture
of the distinction between Patriarchy and Matriarchy.
The valley spirit never dies
She is called the Eternal Female
CHAPTER 6 OF THE TAO TEH CHING SAYS:
"According to Needham, Blakney and other Sinologists, this Eternal Female is the goddess
of pre-Chou China forgotten by the conventions of the Patrist Chou State and official
Confucian philosophy. Blakney considers the early Taoists to have been recruited from
peasants who remembered the Shang State and its Matrist orientation."
(from "Lao-Tse and Wilhelm Reich, Prophets of Inner Freedom" by
Robert Anton Wilson in the September 1963 issue of A Way Out,
School of Living, Brookville, Ohio)
"The True men of old did not reject (the views of) the few; they did not seek to
accomplish (their ends) like heroes (before others); they did not lay plans to attain
those ends. Being such, though they might make mistakes, they had no occasion for
repentance; though they might succeed, they had no self-complacency. Being such,
they could ascend to the loftiest heights without fear; they could pass through
water without being made wet by it; they could go into fire without being burnt;
so it was that by their knowledge they ascended to and reached the Tao."
— Chuang Tzu
(from the Texts of Taoism by James Legge, Dover Publications, 1962)
This was followed by a portrait of the archetypal counter-cultural woman drawn exclusively from my old New Orleans French Quarter friend, Loy Ann Camp. Therein I compared her to the woman in Bob Dylan's song of whom he says, "She's got everything she needs; she's an artist; she don't look back..." For in the most literal sense Loy, like so many of the hip females of the early Sixties, was an artist by profession who was "nobody's child" and who never stumbled because she had no place to fall - a perfect balance of gentleness and strength. Like a waiter I once met who acquired a reputation as a karate expert because he slipped and kicked his opponent just as he was beginning to get in a fight, I inadvertently gave the impression that I knew what I was talking about - at least in relation to what I have since gathered about intelligence community secret societies based upon matriarchy, etc. Since, in order to add a sense of universality to the image of the modern-day Eternal Female, I did not mention Loy by name, many people seem to have assumed that I understood the deeper levels of Dylan's lyrics, up to and including who he was really singing about. As a matter of fact, I assumed it was Joan Baez. Here is what I had to say:
So Follow the Way
Of the True Men of Old:
Find Shade in the Summer;
Grow Fur in the Cold.
"And upon this day I say unto you: Each Sentient Being is an Incarnation of Me, and
whosoever upon hearing this Truth shall come to know it, is blessed; and twice-blessed are
they who shall be unable again to forget it; but thrice-blessed is that Man or Woman who
needed never to be told." --Visitations 13:5
The Honest Book of Truth
INCARNATIONS: Everything She Needs
You know her. We all do. Anyone who has ever lived in the Haight or North Beach or
Taos or Old Town or the French Quarter or the East Village or anyplace like that has met
her, because that's where she belongs, and she knows it from childhood.
She has a horsey angular face and long straight hair and is dedicated to her art, whatever
it may be. Bob Dylan had to be thinking about her when he wrote that song about how
"She's got everything she needs; she's an artist; she don't look back..."
So serene is this chick that everybody wants her - for friend, lover or just to have
around - and it is that serenity which so transcends her features (that on everyone else
would be homely), making her the center flower in every bouquet of Beautiful People.
Usually she hangs out with heads. Not because she is necessarily a head herself, though
she may or may not blow a little pot, but because she has that thing about her - that cool.
And she never goes around boasting about not needing a crutch to get there (and thereby
revealing a far greater dependency than anyone ever develops for drugs). But you know
she's turned on by her ways - just watch her pet a cat!
I used to sit up all night with her once in awhile. She'd sketch and I'd write. Maybe
between us we'd have a dime and so we would buy a coffee or Coke and relax in a place
where they didn't care how long we sat around. When our asses got numb, we'd go for a
walk and go up and sit on her balcony in the summer night air.
No matter what her name is, her voice is always soft - except when she expels that hyena
laugh. And then it doesn't matter because what she is laughing about is really very funny.
She is so thin and frail, and you think her blood must be ten degrees cooler than yours.
You worry about her because you know that she is a poor judge of character, accepting as
friend everyone who comes along, no matter how bad their scene. This gets her into an
occasional creepy situation and sometimes puts her through some drastic changes. But
when it is all over, you feel silly that you got uptight, because she'll be the same
Maybe some night when you're talking, she'll tell you that the squaw boat, made from
hide stretched over a light wooden frame, is the safest way to go - because in a storm
that'll sink the mighty battleship, the little saucer-like vessel just rocks up over the
biggest waves and down again on the other side.
In the next Zenarchy newsletter, I decided to be cute. Here is the entire content of the November 25, 1968, edition:
Our text for today is a quotation from Chun Chou which appears in The Zen Teaching
of Huang Po (Grove Press, 1959): "Stepping into the public hall, His Reverence
said: Having many sorts of knowledge cannot compare with giving up seeking for anything,
which is best of all things. Mind is not of several kinds and there is no Doctrine which
can be put into words. As there is no more to be said, the assembly is dismissed!"
STONED SERMON #3:
The Dharma Made Simple
There followed a page and a half of blank paper.
As Christmas was nearing, I decided with the December 1, 1968, issue that it was time to say a thing or two about Jesus. What follows continues to this day to seem to me an accurate representation of the personality that comes through when I read the Gospels:
In his book, Zen Catholicism (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963), the Benedictine
monk, Dom Aelred Graham, says: "The word 'Buddha' means simply the
'Enlightened One'; so understood, there have been many 'Buddhas'. As Dr. Edward
Conze points out: 'In the official theory, the Buddha, 'the Enlightened', is a kind of
archetype which manifests itself in the world in different personalities, whose individual
particulars are of no account whatsoever.' From this point of view, Jesus of Nazareth
would undoubtedly be accorded the title 'Buddha', since He is revealed, according to St.
John, as both uniquely 'Enlightened' and the 'Enlightener'."
STONED SERMON #4:
Laughing Buddha Jesus
Moreover, the Edgar Cayce readings (quoted in Many Mansions by Gina Cerminara,
New American Library, 1967) inform us that "Those who walk closer with the
Creative Forces should indeed be full of joy, pleasure, peace, and harmony within," and
that "the principle of the Christ life is joyous!" "Remember," they
urge, "He laughed - even on the way to Calvary - not as so often pictured; He laughed."
Yea: "This is what angered them the most." So: "Cultivate the ability to see
the ridiculous and retain the ability to laugh."
Wow! Can you dig that Jesus was a Buddha? Can you grok a laughing Savior? A Zen Buddha
Nothing is more heretical. Nothing is more treasonous. Jesus had a sense of humor.
That idea will destroy Western Civilization as we know it.
Come, brothers. Come, sisters. Let's all join hands and enter the Church Invisible of the
Laughing Christ. Let's all join hands and find the Hidden Temple of the Happy Jesus. Let's
all join hands and giggle.
Another Zenarchy flyleaf did not appear until May of 1970. By that time we had moved to Atlanta, but it concerned an experience in California in 1967. One night as I sat in the half-lotus position stoned on grass and listening to an Indian raga, my eyes rolled up behind my eyebrows, the images I saw enacted the following drama, which I now titled "BUMMER":
He looked off in three directions at once. His four arms flew out. Time to dance!
A display of Divine Majesty - lightning steaks, planets on His fingertips - a Cosmic Juggler,
moving so fast He became a still pattern, humming. (Like a rock whirling on the end of a
string becomes a ring or a fast-spinning wagon wheel turns into a disc.)
Then -- disintegration! A skull-headed machine gunner popping people open.
I fear. Drop out - down into the body. Into a cell. Cell. With rats underneath! Or worse -
reptilian rats, gnawing upward.
Fangs of steel break through the floor.
The floor is a door.
And I am a poor Jew, clinging to the wall.
The door gave way.
The drum was silent.
Outside was Nothing, the Void.
Hung Mung, laughing madly, turned my way and said:
"There is no enemy - A N Y W H E R E."
A Character from Chuang Tzu, Hung Mung was just an embellishment. But the rest of it actually happened with the plot resolving itself precisely at the final drum beat of the raga. In those days I was doing a lot of LSD and, as any head will attest, acid heightens the marijuana experiences that occur immediately afterwards. Rolling the eyeballs back enhances your ability to perceive internal images in psychedelic states of consciousness, as simply pressing them with your fingers - applying pressure against your closed eyelids - will also do. Such images are a natural phenomena of consciousness and are to be seen, albeit less vividly, in ordinary states of mind. But that was the only time they ever enacted a drama for me as well plotted as a nocturnal dream!
In July of 1970 I published a parting shot before turning my attention as a Zenarchist to politics. Aimed at the excessive seriousness that by then was transforming the open-minded spirituality of the hippies into a regular occult reich of competing and increasingly fanatical cults, this Zenarchy was titled "LILA YOGA", meaning: the discipline of play:
Laughter is the Universal Salute of the Cosmic Mind. It is how the Mind greets
Itself in Ten Thousand new Incarnations every moment. IT IS LOVE'S LOUDEST
"Humor and cheerfulness not only do not interfere with the progress of
meditation but actually contribute to it." --Meher Baba
"Humor is not sinful, unless it be cruelly directed against one who is helpless,
honest, and sincere. When directed against hypocrisy, stupidity, and error, humor
can be a flaming beautiful weapon in the cause of light and beauty.
"We must learn to love so deeply, widely and purely that our instincts for
laughter will always be true ones, and our capacity for humor another facet of our
joyous sense of power and being." --Gina Cerminara
"I shall be a tornado of laughter, toppling the timbers and towers of sorrow.
Zooming over endless miles of mentalities, I shall demolish their troubles."
"Cultivate the ability to see the ridiculous, and retain the ability to laugh."
"It is time to come to your senses. You are to live and learn to laugh. You are
to listen to life's radio music and to reverence the spirit behind it and to
laugh at the bim-bim in it. So there you are. More will not be asked of you."
"In the year 1166 B.C., a malcontented hunchbrain by the name of Greyface
got it into his head that the universe was as humorless as he, and he began to teach
that play was sinful because it contradicted the ways of Serious Order. 'Look at all
the order about you,' he said. And from that, he deluded honest men to believe that
reality was a straitjacket affair and not the happy romance as men had known it.
"It is not presently understood why men were so gullible at that particular time,
for absolutely no one thought to observe all the disorder around them and conclude just
the opposite. But anyway, Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life
more seriously than they took life itself and were known even to destroy other living
beings whose ways of life differed from their own.
"The unfortunate result of this is that mankind has since been suffering from a
psychological and spiritual imbalance. Imbalance causes frustration, and frustration
causes fear. And fear makes a bad trip. Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now.
"It is called the Curse of Greyface." --Malaclypse the Younger
LAUGHING BUDDHA JESUS
STILL LOVES US ALL!
Unfortunately, the Meher Baba people and the Edgar Cayce enthusiasts and the Hermann Hesse fans of my acquaintance, as well as the Hare Krishnas and the Jesus freaks, not to mention the Paramahansa Yogananda devotees, were all victims of the Curse of Greyface. Worse, my Zenarchy about lila yoga did nothing at all to expand their personalities.
In this chapter I have used some words with which some of you maybe unfamiliar. So I'll explain what those terms mean as I also relate what I learned from publishing the Zenarchy newsletter.
Rational arguments alone, together with quotations from the arguments of others, are insufficient to transform "the human mind and everything that resembles it" - in the words of Andre Breton, the Surrealist - so in Zen there is zazen (sitting in meditation). As Gary Snyder points out this is a natural function of all higher mammals except for humans of the civilized variety. We might gather that it is therefore a manifestation of, as well as a means of attaining, unconditional consciousness. Cats and dogs are excellent examples, readily at hand, of animals who practice what the Zenji (Zen people) sometimes translate as "just sitting". Zazen is usually practiced in a Zendo (Zen center), and is particularly emphasized in the Soto sect.
Within the Rinzai sect more attention is paid to the koan (a paradox or riddle of sorts for contemplation), designed to stop the student short of a superficial understanding that goes in one ear and out the other without affecting the nervous system.
Nothing is less inclined to cultivate spontaneous gifts, of which humor and intellectual generosity partake, than pointing out to anyone their lack in that department and advising them to correct it. All it does is put them on the psychological defensive. For as Alan Watts said in Psychotherapy East and West, an essential ingredient of the countergame is tact - and I must admit that I am as tactless today as I was then, especially when it comes to lecturing and scolding those who do not display tact. As Watts also observes in that most valuable book, the one condition where spontaneity becomes next to absolutely impossible is when one person puts another on the line and orders them: "Be spontaneous!" Zen masters understand this, but they do it anyway - for the poor monk is likely to be in their clutches for a good many years and when he finally aquires the knack of responding unselfconsciously to an order like, "Show me your freedom!" he is absolutely free forever.
Another word I have used in both this and the first chapter is raga, a form of Hindu music that illustrates the balance of spontaneity and discipline, of chaos and order, that we are talking about very much as jazz music attains the same effect.
As propaganda, the Zenarchy flyleaves were very successful in preaching to the converted. And for that reason I guess they served a purpose in raising the morale of the people who already knew what I was talking about. After a student of Zen attains satori (enlightenment) it is necessary to undergo further training to become a master skilled in the art of transmission.
Zenarchy: Next Chapter!
Zenarchy: Table of Content
Copyright 1991, 1997 Kerry W. Thornley, IllumiNet Press and Impropaganda.