California State University Channel Islands PHED 105. Zen of Surfing

What is ZEN?

Historically, Buddhism originates in the teachings of Siddhartha. Around 500 B.C. He was a prince in what is now Nepal India. At the age of 29, deeply troubled by the suffering he saw around him, he renounced his privileged life and went out among the ascetics to seek understanding. He became known as the Buddha (meaning "one who is awakening"). In a nutshell, he realized that suffering exists, suffering is caused by craving, suffering can be extinguished, and the way to the end of suffering (nirvana) is the enlightened path.

Zen begins with a Central Asian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma in Southern China (470-475 AD). He was interested with the study of the Mind, both its absolute nature and its evolved nature (what the mind really is and what the mind can become).

What is Zen? This question basically asks "What is the fundamental nature of Mind?" It appears in various guises throughout Zen literature. "The One hand clapping sound." The question penetrates into the heart of the matter and can only be answered in a flash of intimate intuition in which the truth of Mind is seen to be the substratum (underlying base) of existence. Zen is paradoxically the cultivation of non-cultivation, recognizing that we need only remove the illusion of non-enlightenment to become enlightened.

One of the central points of Zen is intuitive comprehension. When we come to realize the fundamental nature of Mind, Zen becomes super-logical. On the other hand, when we attempt to examine the nature of Mind through emotions, ego-pain, mental pictures, and discursive ideas based on sense perception, Zen seems like nonsense. Because everything arises from Mind, the Mind cannot be measured through its creations because the latter are not as perfect as Mind itself. On the other hand, directly uniting with the Mind everything makes perfect sense just as they are, as they arise from the Mind. All things thus reveal the pure function of Buddha Mind.

Regarding ZEN and SURFING:

Anyone who has ever spent time in the ocean, on a surfboard, in pursuit of the ultimate ride, has a basic understanding of Zen principle. As it relates to surfing, the Zen state culminates in the ride, on the wave, where all natural elements and human senses fuse into a spontanious transformation of (no) consciousness, experienced in an absolute timeless moment. Surfing echoes the rhythms of nature: always there, continually reoccurring, no two split-seconds are ever the same. Excerpt from the forthcoming book "Zen of Surfing" by Jack Reilly © 2004.

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