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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Zen Master Franz Kafka?

You need not do anything.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
You need not even listen, just wait.
You need not even wait,
just learn to be quiet, still and solitary.
And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

~Franz Kafka from his poem, "Learn to Be Quiet."

James: It's somewhat hard to imagine the brooding Franz Kafka as a student of mindfulness but here he is teaching it with just as much clarity as many monks!!

Then there is this Zen-like comment from Kafka regarding his relationship with Judaism/spirituality (he was known to show interest in Judaism especially later in life), "What have I in common with Jews? I have hardly anything in common with myself and should stand very quietly in a corner, content that I can breathe."

His questioning of what he has in common with "himself" and what that "self" even means seems like an almost koan-like statement. The whole of the quote sounds as if it came from a Zen Master trying to teach a novice that the label "Buddhist" is not important but rather the essence and teachings of Buddhism. For example, being present to be content with the basic things in life such as standing (or sitting) in a corner and breathing.

PHOTO: Franz Kafka by Anthony Hare 2003.

~Peace to all beings~

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Barry said...

This is quite wonderful, James. Thanks for posting it.

The basic practice needs no robes or special sitting position. It needs no religious imprimatur. When we pay meticulous attention to our life, we are complete.


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tint said...

Hi all,
It is acceptable that when you reach a certain sage of meditation ,
You can relax on discipline side a bit and follow your instinct.
but it is like all these desciplines in which arts and science merge, you need to master the techniques first before you can relax on technique .
It is the same .
Example is all arts masters like Picasso , Monet and Van Go mastered traditional techniques before they started in their own styles.It is the same with most of martial arts masters .
Therefore , if you want to achieve a goal in meditation ,please study theory and practise hard before you find your own style .

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