Why Won’t the Idol Deliver?

Oh why, oh why won’t the idol deliver?

That phrase is from an astute Viner student. And by the way, if you think that Zen work cannot be done via online processes, think again. I see it every day. Click here for more information.

But back to the “idol” in question – the idol is whatever we’re worshiping and relying on to magically fulfill us. It could be a relationship, exercise, money, job, or some material possession.

Or it could be the spiritual path, specifically for Zennies, our zazen or our kensho.

Even though the teachings tell us again and again that this life just as it is, is it and even when we see it through, we find our propensity to externalize and idolize runs deep. Ego has this nasty habit of reconfiguring.

What to do? Throw out the idol? Bash it to bits?

And then we might find ourselves down on our knees worshiping the chasm or the broken bits.

In the Ten Oxherding Scenes (a visual presentation of the path), we are encouraged to glimpse the ox, to see our true nature. And after diligently following ox traces – poop and all – then finally we do catch a glimpse. After long-yearning to glimpse the ox, we might be really frustrated to find that the journey isn’t over.

“It should be! Why won’t the new idol (our little kensho) deliver?”

My friend, your kensho is not Domino’s Pizza. It won’t deliver if you don’t.

The Ten Ox system offers us some pointers – after glimpsing we have to catch it, tame it, ride it home, and forget it.

However, it’s important to make a note to self – this is our agenda, not necessarily the ox’s. Our dear ox (our greed, anger, and ignorance) may enjoy the status quo and have little interest in being caught, tamed, ridden, and forgotten.

The path, in short, is to come closer and closer to our idol and worship-orientation. When we meet, we find that it is us.


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