“There are thousands upon thousands of students who have practiced meditation and obtained its fruits. Do not doubt its possibilities because of the simplicity of the method. If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?” ~ Dogen
Part of what I like about Zen is its emphasis on self-reliance. Where can truth be found? Not in a hierarchy, priest, minister, CEO, etc. You have to look around and, more importantly, within yourself, right where you are.
But that’s not how we are raised. As a kid, I was told that I didn’t know what I was talking about, usually by people who didn’t want their behavior to be exposed, in hindsight. I was the baby of my family and so credibility has been a central issue in my life. I learned to say something only when I was certain and to not make threats until the moment I was ready to follow through.
I’m not even sure if we can be told the truth because, if we are not ready to hear something, we simply do not hear what is said. Most lessons, as far as I can tell, are learned through personal experience. The rest is just hearsay.
Zen teachers are always saying, “Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.” That is the opposite of how things were for me as a Christian. The denomination’s interpretation of its favored scripture verses were referred to as authoritative. Looking back, it was all ego games, the very thing Zen practice is to counteract.
I am so glad I have learned to think for myself.