Thread: Mystical Experiences in Zen

  1. #1

    Mystical Experiences in Zen

    Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner talks about "Mystical experiences in Zen" (approx. 14minutes)

    Any thoughts about what he said ?


  2. #2
    Global Moderator
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    Mar 2017
    He is struggling to communicate what is practically impossible to those who haven't gone through such experiences. It's like trying to describe what it's like to see the ocean for the first time to someone who has never seen the ocean, or to describe the effects on you of a piece of art to someone who doesn't 'get' art or maybe just hasn't seen the real thing. Brad says that for him he sees things in a more 'real' way after his experiences. Personally I would say in a different way, no less real than before. Things haven't changed but the 'thingness' of them for you has changed.

    Stuff happens when you mess with your mind, so do so at your peril. Luckily we have Buddhist practices to guide us through changes, just as we, if we were lucky, had caring parents to guide us through childhood, to help us understand new experiences; well, new for us. I think that meditation can return us to the beginner's mind spoken of in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. In some important way meditation can reset the mind to see things anew, sometimes gradually but sometimes in a flash, maybe like St Paul on the "Road to Damascus."

    It can leave us floundering, bringing a new energy to our existence which can be used to shoot us into new directions of understanding, often erroneous perhaps. As Brad says, you see this all the time on the internet with people claiming to have a new, important way of interpreting the world. I was lucky in that I found Buddhism in my quest to understand what had happened to me and was able to bring a more Buddhist understanding, notwithstanding the variety of Buddhist interpretations I found. I was able to interpret the 'mystical' experiences in my own way, but in the light of various Buddhist thought, so I consider myself extremely lucky.

    In this way I see the purpose of Zen being to help you through inevitable mystical experiences that can happen to the mind during meditation, or even strolling along a road, rather than mystical experiences having a purpose in Zen.

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