An interesting quote from the second Zen class I went to yesterday (the third and last class in the series will be next week):
A frog can just "frog."
A bird can just "bird."
But a human cannot just "human."
The key is that animals have very little that gets in the way of their just being themselves. They can sit, eat, sleep, and most importantly focus on exactly what they want and what they feel at every instant. In this way, they are somehow able to be at peace with themselves and in touch with the world around them and with other beings much more powerfully.
But people are different. It is extremely difficult for us to just sit and think of nothing. Or just eat and enjoy our food. The main "practice" in Zen is nothing but sitting -- detaching from the world and one's thoughts and just being. Just humaning.
Why is this so hard for us? Why do we have so little control of our thoughts? What makes us different from animals? I think it's much more complicated than just the fact that we are self-aware and have "intellect." I think our ability to just human changes as we age and changes based on the situation we're in, and I think it is something that we can even learn to do better through practice.
This concept of just being and why it is difficult for us has kept my attention since the class I attended. I'm curious also about how I and other people are able to see glimmers of bright spots when we are just being or doing one specific thing very effectively -- when we're "in the zone" or able to be creative or concentrated. I'm curious about what allows us to be that way from to time and how we can do that more often.
Also, what role does technology play in all this? In some obvious ways, technology really distracts and makes us the least human I can imagine, especially when it disconnects us from establishing heartfelt and direct communications with other people and brings us further rather than closer to others. However, when used in other ways, I think (social) technology can also allow us to be more human than was ever possible before, and I'm curious how we can make that happen.
This blog post isn't really meant to answer any questions; it is meant to put out there some of the questions that have gotten me thinking and welcome others' feedback and input.