There is lot of talk at the moment about mindfulness and meditation, taking time out of our everyday lives to reflect and consider the consequences of our actions and the interplay with society. Mere knowledge is not enough, appreciation of the outcomes and the way that outputs have been achieved appears to be behind this latest trend which has its roots in Buddhism and hence the word Zen comes into conversations.
Zen in its purest form allows a stream of consciousness to flow through your mind, It can be done singly or in groups, at the extreme end you may find yourself the victim of a stick should your mind wander from its contemplative mode
Like with all spiritual offerings there are variations on the theme, ranging from enlightenment at birth to a journey to enlightenment over time and the discovery of a self-eureka moment .
The latter accomplishment takes practice to attain enlightenment, whereas the former requires practice to maintain it.
Either way it seeks to attain a level which requires practice and meditation. Such practices are therefore to gain further insight into the nature of Zen.
Modern Zen teachings follow a strict process and have almost become institutionalised.
To understand Zen is to fundamentally understand Buddhism and the role of suffering which is to be endured to reach Nirvana .
Whilst not wanting to go too deeply into the ways of the Buddha, in modern day parlance this would be called ‘ deliverance’ or ’letting go’, an acknowledgment that the cause of the suffering is put into perspective and salvation has come.
There is therefore a school of thought that says such practices become habits over time and that the conscious mind lets go of control and such mental and physical exertions become second nature. Many sportsmen will tell of repetitive muscle memory and playing backhand winners from instinct rather than thought.
The broader assumption here is that regular practice almost becomes spiritual and that it is necessary to do so because only then will you reach Nirvana, or in more mundane terms, be at the top of your game.
To be able to do this it is necessary to continually concentrate on the job at hand and not let yourself wander, hence the connection with Buddhism and the discipline needed to stay on task.
There is also a modern idea that positive mental conditioning should be repetitive and that the mind should be reminded of the behaviours and values that got you to the present position.
So, not only to reach the top, or zenith, but also to maintain your position at the top , the practice of contemplation, mindfulness or reflection should be continued.
It is a case of not resting on your laurel because a) you will lose the ability to meditate and b) there may be someone else come along who re defines the zenith and takes it to another level.
In one definition of zenith it is translated as ‘path above the head’ so there is a directional feeling about zenith and a process to attain it.
The message from this post is twofold 1 never forget the habits that made you a success and keep practicing them and 2, make sure that your current definition of success ( or zenith) doesn’t hinder any future success through lack of contemplation as to how you got there.