Part I by Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi*

It is written at the Oracle of Delphi, “Know Thyself!” What this means and what this involves is the most fundamental, philosophical task that moves people.

To work, to love and to relax is also knowing who it is who is working, loving or relaxing. Most psychological problems arise from the fear of people not knowing where they come from, in which direction they are going, why they are here and what the very purpose of Existence is.

This is the basis for people’s search for the Self. If you take a look at the various spiritual and philosophical approaches, and also the world of art, you can see how many have expressed their opinions on this since time immemorial. Human beings have been concerned and burdened with these issues from the very beginning. The good news is that we can be freed from the burden of these mysteries, and from the fear of not knowing who it is that is here.

Quiet the mind and delve deep

The essence of the instructions and recipes given by various teachers, masters, poets, priests etc.  – despite the differences in the measures and procedures to be followed – is to explore, to investigate more deeply, to never stop asking – in order to uncover what underlies it all.

We are led to trusting our-Selves, letting go, yielding, because we ourselves cannot provide the proof. The blinded mind, with its indoctrinated consciousness, is not in a position to see clearly, delve deep and to get to the bottom of things. Many writings point out that this is only possible through inner peace and serenity of mind, in the stillness, enabled by meditation or contemplation.

This is similar to a mountain lake. To quiet the surface of the water is possible when the wind of our thoughts, worries, expectations and temporary interests is calmed, and we can look down to the bottom of the lake. However, we are overwhelmed by distractions, orienting our being to the outside instead of looking within.

Life full of distractions

This reflecting on the outside world is facilitated by so many technical achievements which make it easier and give us more possibilities for us to lead a “second life”. With an incredible meticulousness and inner intelligence, they discourage us from turning within. All computer games, long-distance trips, TV programs and Internet possibilities block us from looking within.

Therefore, we often view this search as hopeless if not a waste of time, because so little supports us in an effort to get to the bottom of things. Instead, huge amounts of money, for example in the form of political advertising and product commercials, are used to seduce us to focus on the material world and promote consumption and interest in worldly things. It is not easy for the few teachers, masters, enlightened ones, psychologists etc. to stand up to and counteract the huge resources being devoted to leading people astray.

Die before you die

However, people’s well-being is largely dependent on their realizing that, in essence, they are independent, whole, complete and eternal. A person’s happiness and bliss do not even depend on realization or awareness, as one become aware on the path.

Meister Eckhart spoke of the unknowable “groundless ground”, which will be realized when grace is given to those people who are ready for the ultimate Truth. This is the awareness of an indescribable, infinite formlessness of Being manifesting in our own consciousness and Being and as the original bliss that we all are.

In literature, we read about the need, as Goethe said, to “die before we die” so that we do not perish when our bodies die. Or as Jesus said, one has to give up his life in order to get it back. This means renouncing aspirations, possessions, including the striving for truth, because in the formlessness, the Tao, there is nothing to “gain”. It is all there.

*Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi, one of the few living Zen Masters, has also worked as a therapist, university lecturer, consultant and teacher of Zen, meditation, Qi Gong etc. He is co-author of the recently published highly-acclaimed spiritual self-help book Find the Seeker (Amazon link: http://bit.ly/find-seeker). More information is available on the Website (www.findtheseeker.com).