A detour by Sister M., a Christian nun who, on one of my jog-along podcasts claimed that we need to see the world with the eyes of God’, sheds light on two Zen aphorisms that have long remained opaque to my eyes.
They both lie my garden, like two common pebbles, with a question mark painted on them
or like two silent statuettes quizzically watching at me from the shelf.
Thoroughly rinsing our visions, Sister M. removes the layers of paint from the stones : the breath of her words makes my statuettes reveal the secret of their expression and offers to contemplate the beauty of their posture.
First Pebble : ‘Zen is the Way of the Heart’.
It’s beautiful and it feels good. The Westerner feels less guilty for moving away from his native lands (where Jesus distributes love and sweetness) for a seemingly arid and distant country, with abrupt sentences and abstruse coldness as an answer to Man’s existential questions.
Apart from this aspect of de-shaming, this adage hardly refers to any concrete, ‘practicable’ reality
‘Contemplating the world with God’s eyes’, yet, is to sit down and let the work of compassion be accomplished.
‘Second Pebble’ : ‘We should have a cosmic ego ‘
This is supposedly a phrase uttered by Taisen Deshimaru, was it originally from him ? It does not matter.
A cosmic ego ? Is this an over-powered ego the size of the cosmos ?
How can we say this when the practitioner is just beginning to realize that the suffering that he has been dragging for ages is due to the mechanisms of his ego ?
How can he ever wish to increase the size of othis ego ?
Now, he is told that he must have an ego as big as the universe.
Is this is a Zen form of Catholic masochism / expiation through painful practices ?
Not at all : having a cosmic ego is not an injunction to expand one’s spheres of power.
Deshimaru invites on the contrary to take this ego through a dilution process. A cosmic ego is actually ‘no ego’, since the ego is a self that rubs against… fights against…
It desperately needs an object.
If the ego considers itself as big as the universe, the need for affirmation and confrontation disappears immediately – there is no separation, no object left — and so does the ego and suffering.
To have a cosmic ego is to see the world with the eyes of God.