Zen has been called “the religion before religion,” which is to say that anyone can practice, even those committed to another faith. And the phrase evokes that natural religion of our early childhood, when heaven and a splendorous earth were one. For the new child in the light of spring, there is no self to forget; the eye with which he sees God, in Meister Eckhart’s phrase, is the eye with which God sees him. But that clear eye is soon clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions, and simple being becomes encrusted with the armor of ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise…. That day we become seekers without knowing that we seek, and at first, we long for something “greater” than ourselves, something far away. It is not a return to childhood, for childhood is not a truly enlightened state; yet to seek one’s own true nature is, as one Zen master has said, “a way to lead you to your long-lost home."
(From the Foreword to Zen Meditation in Plain English; John Daishin Buksbazen; Wisdom Publications)
(DSH Photo: Early Morning Light; 2007)