Back to Common Zen Sense

By Hakim Abdul-Ali

Wisdom is something that many folk in “hue-manity” speak of in sacred, hollow, lost or forgotten realms of appreciation. I try not to play with this prized realty because I sincerely believe that to be wise is something we mustn’t to be at leisure with in acquiring same.

I’ve been an eternal student of learning about many different “hue-mans,” issues, religions and cultural disciplines during my life’s span thus far. To me, learning is a necessary core factor in acquiring wisdom, especially, when I’m trying to gain more precious knowledge and valuable insight about everything that I’ve experienced in my contextual worlds of existences.

Sometimes, traveling through life’s perpetual hills and complex valleys of modernity can be a little rough at times, but I’ve come to learn that it’s all apart of the journey, something that patience and and wisdom continues to galvanize in me. I’ve learned that life’s tests, ordeals and trials are many, but they are there for reasons galore in our lives, forever making us faithfully stronger and spiritually better in life.

Many of my learned lessons in life have only made a more committed  believer in the spiritual aspects of existence. And from that faithful mind field springs my unshakable belief in the Creator Alone of everything and everyone in existence.

Time, the created invisible space, is a premium journey from here to there and back again, and wisdom in knowing that only the Most High Alone controls everything and everyone in created existence signifies that all wisdom begins and ends with the Creator Alone. It truly takes a wise and patience soul to understand that.

Living in Babylon west, as most us now do, makes this wisdom very difficult for some of today’s chic, abstract-minded ethnic folk to attest to because some of them, respectfully, are literally “deaf, dumb and blind” about certain spiritual matters. Sadly, twisted reality is also apart of the living process.

For today, I’d like to share a little insight that I learned when I studied martial arts for many years in my past, and from that experience, I met many different religious and spiritual-minded folk who taught me many things about possessing what my late mother used to say was plain old common sense.

This wisdom came from an Oriental buddy of mine who I studied martial arts with way back in New Jersey decades ago. He classified himself as a Zen Buddhist, and we would talk for hours about life in general, especially, on or about religious and spiritual matters.

Most of you know that I’m a Muslim of the orthodox persuasion, and this gentleman and I would engage in very peaceful and respectful conversations about our various belief systems with mutual regard for each other. I learned a lot from him, and I recently came across some things in an old notebook of mine he shared with me about his way of life.

We would talk in common sense levels about the living processes existing in different ethnic cultures and question why there was so much hatred and bitterness in “hue-manity”-at-large. My Zen buddy would tell me certain things about his belief system that helped shaped his philosophy about life as I did with my life concerning the impact of true Islam upon my psyche.

In this learning process of meeting each other, we grew to further respect one another more, even though we believed in different things and had diverse spiritual ideologies. I’ve never been narrow minded in learning certain positive things from life’s teachings, and my Zen buddy taught me so much about looking at life through the lenses of his spiritual path until I feel obliged to share some of the things he wisely extended to me.

The following discernments are from my recently lost and found retrieved notes that he taught me about his belief system, and they are as follows:

Master Kyong Ho taught his students not to hope for a life without problems. Too easy a life leads to a judgmental and lazy mind. He recommended following the ancient proverb: “Accept the anxieties and difficulties of this life.”

Hui-Neng said, “The supreme source of sin lies in greed, anger, and delusion—the three poisons of the mind. ”

Master Takuan’s instruction to the great Samurai Yagyu Tajima—“Try not to focus your mind anywhere particular, but rather let it fill all of your body. Let it flow through your whole being. Then you will find you’ll spontaneously use your hands when necessary and your legs or eyes when needed, without wasting time and energy.”

Shunryo Suzuki offered, “It is wisdom seeking wisdom.”

Ryokan said, “When there is beauty, there’s ugliness. When something is right, something else is wrong. Knowledge and ignorance depend on each other. Delusions and enlightenments condition each other. It has been like this since the very beginning. How could it be otherwise? Wanting to chuck out one and hold on to the other makes for ridiculous comedy. You must still deal with everything ever-changing, even when you say it’s wonderful.”

Master Takuan also said, “It is very important to develop a state of mind called ‘immovable wisdom.’ This doesn’t mean be rigid, heavy and dead like a a rock or a block of wood. On the contrary, it means having complete fluidity around an unmoving center, so that your mind is clear and ready to direct its attention to wherever it may be (best) needed.”

When Master Hui-Ning was questioned about his training system, he replied: “I will not be being straight with you if I claimed to have a system. I just do what I can to free my students from their own bondage, by any means their individual case may require.”

A Buddhist philosopher named Tao-Kwang asked a Zen master, “When attempting to educate oneself in the nature of truth, what frame of mind should be adopted?” The master replied, “There’s no mind to be framed, nor is there any Truth to be educated in.” The philosopher responded, “If what you say is true, why do monks gather around you to be educated in Truth?” The master replied, “I have no space —how could monks gather around me? I have no tongue—so how could I teach others?” The philosopher exclaimed, “That is a shameless lie!” “I have already told you I have no tongue,” responded the master, “so it is impossible for me to lie.” Despairingly the philosopher said, “I  simply do not understand your logic.” “I don’t understand myself,” concluded the master.

Seng-T’san said, “Think of moving things as stationary and still things as in motion, then movement and rest will both disappear.”

Caoshan related, “You don’t need to avoid or deny anything. It is enough to just know about it. When you are busy trying to avoid something, it’s still affecting you. Simply cease to be affected and impelled by anything and you’ll find you’re free.”

I’ll close on those revealingly powerful Zen insights and thoughts for now. We can learn from all things. Please remember that knowledge is powerful, but only if you utilize it. Attaining legitimate knowledge of all things is not a pastime, but it should be your, mine and others most serious task in life. Life is what you make it. For today and always, that’s, “As I Se It.”


Leave a Comment