An old Zen teaching says:

At each moment, don’t raise delusive thoughts.
And don’t suppress your delusive states of mind.
When you find yourself in a realm of delusive thought, don’t add knowledge.
When you don’t know, don’t think that’s the truth.

The very first Zen meditation instruction I received, after being instructed in sitting posture, was “Don’t try to think, and don’t try not to think.”

This was in a Zen school that does not use koans the way we do in PZI, and yet this hit me like a koan: what on earth was I supposed to do with my mind? I was in college at the time and very accustomed to using my mind to address questions in my engineering and philosophy classes – this was something entirely different! And yet what did I do? I used my mind to try to figure it all out, of course.

You might imagine the kind of grief I caused myself with this approach. And I still often find my mind trying so hard to help – a bit like a young child trying to “help” Mommy and Daddy around the house and creating more work.

– David Longerbeam

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