What Is A "Zen State"?

jason quinn jdpsn teaching Oct 14, 2021

Many people who start practicing Zen want all the bad thoughts and feelings to go away and only want to keep the good ones. There is nothing wrong with that, and that is what can lead us to practice. If we stick with it and practice correctly, we see the struggles we are experiencing as less about the thoughts and feelings themselves, but rather, how we relate to them. There is a very simple and important meditation instruction, which is to not push away thinking and feeling but don’t hold on either. The pushing away and clinging is why we are constantly feeling dissatisfaction.

A true “Zen state” is embracing everything just as it is. Zen practice can help us become intimate with difficult thoughts and feelings. When we become intimate with them, those thoughts and feelings can turn into strength and wisdom. We call that “digesting” our experience. It is like a deciduous forest getting energy and creating new growth from dead leaves and branches. We don’t have to chase after any state or try to become calm. We “just” sit with openness and curiosity. The result of practicing Zen is becoming present, clear, and strong in every moment. This is the “Zen state”.

By Jason Quinn JDPSN
From the book No-Nonsense Zen for Beginners