Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Zen Buddhism, Revolt and Anarchy

Anyone reading my blogs should know I have a deep love for Philosophy, both Eastern and Western. In fact, my love for philosophy far outweighs my love for politics! Politics is only interesting for me because it is an application of philosophical findings. I think politics would be useless or even non-existent without philosophy itself, the mother of all invention (Science, Math, Politics, etc.).

Philosophy's my thing, and I've been reading, analyzing and discussing for years. Only currently have I started really digging into Eastern Philosophy, and Zen Buddhism is a doctrine I have come to deeply respect for its convention-shattering nature.

Zen Buddhists rejected the gradual steps of learning and gaining wisdom that Confucius put forth in his philosophy. They believed that enlightenment could happen at any moment, in or out of a meditative state, even doing something mundane or unrelated to wisdom. They found beauty in everything, from the simple to the complex, to no-thingness. Able to clear their mind and come to terms with what nothing actually means, the Zen Buddhists did not fear death, for what is death other than nothingness (or possible nothingness)? Death scares people because it is something we cannot relate to. We have no experience of thinking about the void, we have no experience of such complete and utter emptiness, and that's scary. The Zen Buddhists were fearless.

Rejecting the common Chinese philosophy of Confucius that had been the standard for years and years, the Zen Buddhists placed no stock in scriptural teachings or rituals. They believed anyone could become a Buddha, because Buddha-Nature was inherent in everyone and everything, which is also why enlightenment could strike during a trip to the latrine or while sweeping the floor. Instead of lecturing, questions could be posed to a Zen master, and his replies often bordered on the violent and absurd. The idea was that with a screaming response to a rational question, or a swatting with a walking cane in answer to an innocent query, the Zen master could shake a student to the point of abandoning his preconceived notions of what is real. To truly come to terms with what is undefinable through language, one must not even attempt to "rectify the name," or classify what is unclassifiable. You must know it on a more personal level, through means far more meaningful than dialectic or conversation.

The methods and ideas that the school of Zen Buddhism put forth were radically different than Confucianism, and even more distant from the oppressive totalitarian philosophy of Legalism. Zen monks built their philosophy on
thinking for yourself, abandoning the conventional, spontaneity, and challenging the common law of the day (anti-authoritarianism in the philosophical world at least). To me, they seem like Anarchists, and damn good ones!

With their willful disobedience to social norms and their rebellion concerning philosophy, the Zen Buddhists are another case of Anarchists existing before the principle was refined. They had their own Collectives (Monastic Temples), they farmed and supplied themselves without going to market, and they existed outside of the law of the Emperor. I'm going to implement a little Zen into my Anarchy, and I think you should too!



HalfCrazy said...

Another entertaining and informative read!

I guess I can't be one of them Zen Buddhists as I am not fearless. I fear death because like you said, it's emptiness and we don't have experience of it!

But I really like their idea of finding beauty in just about everything. Also their view on enlightenment!

Anok said...

Excellent post. I would like to add that the inherent simplicity in Zen Buddhism,a s well as Taoism can be applied to Anarchism because, quite frankly, if you bring everything back down to the simplest level, you can affect the greatest changes.

Monkey Wrench said...

Ahh thanks guys!

Half--The person best prepared for death is the philosopher. I've found so much solace in philosophy, I couldn't even begin to tell you! Thanks.

Anok--I agree completely. The spirit of revolt applied to their philosophy would have made them perfect Anarchists, and valuable assets to a post-revolutionary society. We can learn a lot from their method of radical reductionism. thanks for commenting.

Sweet! Two comments! Thanks again, both of you.


HalfCrazy said...

I guess you are a person prepared to death if you find solace in philosophy, then? :)

I say promote your blog more as it's really informative. There are a lot of bloggers out there looking for blogs just like yours!

Much Love,

HalfCrazy said...

prepared for*

Monkey Wrench said...

Man, thanks!!! Ha! I don't get complimented much, but you're right, I would love to promote. I'll have to figure out how to go about doing it, because I haven't really thought about it.

Thanks, I always love your comments, for sure.


HalfCrazy said...

I say start on Blog Catalog if you haven't already!