Appropiate Action

The Last Samurai

The essence of Zen is appropriate action. This is not an abstract concept or idea. It is the very opposite of that.

Most religions, philosophies, political ideologies and even sometimes scientific theory rely on fitting every situation into a prescribed formula that guides and explains our actions. For example Christians are taught to turn the other cheek regardless of the physical situation. But what if the appropriate action is violence?

Now of course this is not an attack on Christianity, which I actually regard quite highly. One could argue that ‘turn the other cheek’ has many other useful and enlightening interpretations, and many situations in which its application is admirably appropriate.

But such a discussion would be a kind of play of ideas with & against one another. It would be an academic thesis in a vacuum far from reality. Such a discussion would move us no nearer the truth.

Zen is not actually about ideas, (even saying “Zen is not actually about ideas” is only an idea!) it is about action: Taking one step forward and seeing where that leads, and what further steps are needed.

It claims no special knowledge, promises no security. It gives no answers, other than what presents itself after that first step forwards into the unknown. Yet in that first step we find all we will ever need.

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