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Thursday
Jul212011

how to be zenarchist

Zen is an exercise in letting go of attachment to outcomes, to things, to thoughts. Some people might consider it just got a bit out of hand with all that sitting around for hours and getting hit with sticks when you doze off. Whether your take on zen is low key and about finding the ineffable where you least expect it, or full on and reminiscent of shifu in kung fu panda chanting “Inner peace. Inner peace. INNER PEACE!” I think the notion that zen+anarchy might produce some interesting freeing up of thoughts and directions.

First- anarchy- make of this much abused word what you will. I’ve lived through a revolution where the police suddenly went AWOL for three days- and anarchy didn’t break out. People organised themselves- that’s what people do. So anarchy as ‘mob on the rampage’ is clearly misleading. People form networks. When these networks start oppressing others there is resistance. Anarchy is more a cry of liberation than a statement of revolution. It’s not a political creed, really, because for politics you need rules, or seem to, rules made by others and forced onto people who disagree with them. Anarchy is what happens when you make YOUR OWN RULES- and the less the better. When Ueshiba started aikido his dojo had no rules. Then someone was caught stealing and he announced there was one rule: no stealing. It’s just a word- if it get’s you somewhere new, great.

Now add the Zen bit. Zen is about stilling the inner noise so that the real you, the inner radio that’s tuned to the real thing can start functioning. We’re always tweaking that inner antenna, when we can, if zen helps then all well and good. You know that slight ‘off note’ you make, when you’re with people who are cooler, more fun, calmer, more relaxed than you? No good beating up on yourself, just tweak the aerial by dropping down a gear, listening a bit more, doing stuff instead of thinking about yourself, helping instead of taking, judging others a bit less- that sort of thing.

Zen is about nothing because the moment you talk about it it disappears. Doesn’t mean there isn’t something there- it’s just very fragile and allergic to chat. So you work on REMOVING noise that gets in the way and then you get what everyone has been going on about for centuries.

We don’t even need the word Zen, in fact, it could very well get in the way. But I like it and I think it’s entered the general lexicon as meaning ‘detached, but not in some nihilistic way’.

All political creeds are pretty much bunkum- if you take in human beings from Bedouin and New Guinean headhunters to New Yorkers looking for a cappuccino, to Englishmen worried about the weather to Inuit sniffing glue- or hunting seals- I take Zen Anarchy to mean a cheerful realisation of this fact, an openness of mind, a zeal to not shut others down…there are enough waves out there for everyone to surf. If that’s what you want to do.

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