Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ZenStorm, R.I.P.

When I opened my Zen practice to the Internet, I adopted the moniker "ZenStorm" for use on Twitter. I would speculate that in over an estimated 30-thousand posts (around 15-thousand in the currant instantiation, might as well assume there were as many in the previous ones), I've encountered no more than ten with what we might call "koan sense," which is at the heart of my personal practice. I've met maybe ten people who occasionally chat with me. There may be overlap in the lists, and there's no telling if all of the personalities are distinct--except perhaps for the one person whom I've met as a result.

While I do look for connections and while I do enjoy the koan practice, ultimately that's not why I'm drawn to using the service. With increased Zen practice, I've come to see fairly clearly that I am--for the most part--ultimately interacting with myself. The active streams I've added to my follow queue and hold for any length of time must ultimately resonate with me. If one is informative, there's a topic of interest to me. If one presents itself as a student, I may be drawn to watch progress. If one presents as a teacher, I may be drawn to challenge. If one presents art such as poetry, I may be drawn to enjoy the imagery. Even if one irritates me, it's there for a reason--even if it is not immediately consciously understood.

In this way, watching the streams is an opportunity to watch my own mind, seeing where I am instinctually drawn or repulsed, watching my mind fill in the missing details, watching how I could be led if I am not aware. Even when I am drawn to watching your mind within the stream, it is a most critical moment: not losing sight that I am watching my own mind watching yours.

But here's the thing: Introspection in itself can be as addictive as any other activity. What to do, particularly when I am looking for new connections and Twitter is a convenient social outlet?

If you meet the Buddha, kill him.

ZenStorm has two ingredients: What I present and what you see. Perhaps it is more though: what I continue to present and what you expect to see. Having been listed so many times in categories surrounding Buddhism, Zen, and people who love to spend days announcing how spiritual they are, I'm swamped in a circle that is fundamentally uninteresting to me. Ultimately, I created this though; how can I be free of it? How can you be free of it? Worrying about that detail, considering taking little steps from here in this direction or that direction, wondering about the effects of change: these only preserve the ZenStorm form. This creates a ZenStorm idol.

This is

Standing on top of a 100-foot pole, being told to take a step.

I'll offer no answer to this koan here; instead, I'll take advantage of the kol che retreat season and let ZenStorm rest. Perhaps without the investment of so much time in this direction, the opportunities for the types of conversations I would actually prefer will have an opportunity to appear.

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