Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Zen of Contemplating God

I've been told that most Buddhists have happily and willingly moved away from Theistic religion. I've also been told that Buddhists do not contemplate what cannot be known – and God cannot be known.
I can't help but wonder this on a few levels. Firstly, I need to ask what does 'moving away from Theistic religion' really mean? I had always believed there are not only two positions. It doesn't have to be a question of either Theism or Atheism. I believe there is also Non-Theism.

I've also read that students of Zen concentrate for years on koans as a method attaining enlightenment. I wonder if Buddhists spend time focusing on koans too?

If so, I've come to wonder whether contemplating God could in itself act as a koan?

Personally, attempting to 'find' God, attempting to define God is a practice that has no solution. Attempting to understand the incomprehensible would seem to be a fruitless endeavor, but only if we are searching for a definitive answer. If we practice to understand the incomprehensible as a journey, it can become a koan of sorts.

Admittedly, I've never really looked at it from this point of view, but I think I've practiced it for years. A summation of my experiences could be to say witnessing the repeated death and rebirth of “God” - continually. Repeatedly shattering my images and concepts of God.

To-understand-the-incomprehensible is my koan.

The Zen of Contemplating God.

Interesting thoughts...

1 comment:

javalava said...

Stephen Batchelor (e.g. Buddhism without Beliefs) is a contemporary example of a Non-Theistic Zen Buddhist, who also rejects other theoretical doctrines such as reincarnation.

I'm not sure my Zen teacher would agree that contemplating God is a koan. But then, he doesn't believe in God anyway! Most koans seem to involve struggling with a problem that is superficially practical but really a theoretical issue in disguise. The breakthrough is achieved when we perceive the Reality there. Sounds very much like contemplating God, doesn't it?