Zen master: Religion distracts from universal truth

As they say, the more you do it, the more it happens. No one may relate to this better than Zen master Miao Tsan. If you have ever experienced a “Zen moment,” you can perhaps imagine how Tsan must feel, since he made a habit of these moments that now comprise his existence.

Master Tsan, the abbot of Vairocana Zen Monastery in California, who spent 20 years as a monk searching for enlightenment, teaches internationally through lectures and guided meditations that religious institutions and traditions only allow for harmful patterns that distract us from the universal truth.

He relates the idea in his book Just Use This Mind: Follow the Universal Truth of Oneness of Mind, Body and Spirit, a best-seller in Taiwan and China that also insists we can build rewarding lives with the power of our thoughts.

Tsan does support religion — just not the kind you’d expect: he believes that…

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finding one’s true self is only possible by recognizing the spirituality we conjure from within, far removed from harmful constructs of society.”Every person’s ideas, physical appearance, environment, relationships and all

such phenomena are the specific manifestation of that person’s own creation,” he says, “and each one of us should take full responsibility for what we have created.”

A key concept in Tsan’s book maintains that “religions, sciences, technologies, and industrial societies have encouraged us to find understanding outside of ourselves,” to break our lives into “isolated pieces” and detach from what’s important. According to Tsan, the universal truth resides not in our “hearts’ comforting delusions,” but in taking personal responsibility. He says this sense of responsibility is “the expression of one’s own mind.”

The teacher drew his knowledge from past Zen masters who also lived under these principles. So how does an individual unacquainted with Zen history start on a path toward enlightenment? Tsan suggests first keeping the mind calm to generate Zen “essence” and living in the present moment.

Aside from serving as an author and head of his monastery, Tsan also conducts lectures (“dharma talks”) and Zen retreats. He holds retreats where participants learn to “cease wondering thoughts” and engage the mind’s “countless channels and directions of functioning” by releasing the attachments that weaken them.

Tsan especially fears that modern generations are “too attracted to materialized creations” that invite unnatural conflict into the spirit. In his book, he writes: “Many people take pride in the ability to defend or stand up for their attachments, not realizing they are deepening the hole for their downfall.”



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