What Good is Zen?

What good is Zen? What can we expect from our practice? Is Zen about transformation?

We do expect a lot, of course, and that’s normal and healthy. When we tie ourselves up in knots of pseudo-no-gain, hiding our gaining ideas even from ourselves, we betray our simple humanity.

Our gaining ideas are dreams, or course, and are equally the real deal. As are all the sights, sounds, smell, tastes and touches of this dream life.

Yes, dream life. Sometimes even on a sunny day, it inexplicably rains so hard we still need an umbrella.

Clearly, life doesn’t always fit our ideas and awakening seems quite happy to follow suit. We might expect our great enlightenment to be a shattering “Ah-ha!” but it comes instead as a quiet, loving “ahhhhhh.”

The in-the-flesh Wild Fox group concluded our study of “Expressing a Dream within a Dream” on Monday night. The passage that we returned to again and again, the passage that seems to summarize the whole chapter, is this little Dogen nugget:

“The dream state and the waking state are respectively the real nature: no largeness or smallness, no superiority or inferiority applies to them.”

Now that’s something that we can sit quietly with for a long time.