What Is Big Mind/Big Heart Zen?
Big Mind/Big Heart Zen is a Western Path, Way and Community which aims to assist its followers in manifesting their fullest potential, realizing and actualizing their inherent wisdom and compassion, and living happy and joyful lives filled with love and compassion, free and at home in their own skin.
Coming from the synthesis or apex of our absolute and relative nature, it encompasses the yin and yang or complete circle of our humanity. It enables us to own, embody and be empowered by fully awakening aspects or voices within us, from the purest to the darkest. We see that each voice, or “self,” has the capacity to transform from unawakened to awakened, from disowned to owned, immature to mature, unhealthy to health, and that when a voice is either unawakened or disowned it acts out in covert, unhealthy and even pathological ways. Just as all sentient beings are born with the same wisdom and compassion as the awakened ones, all aspects of “self” have this same capacity when awakened.
Big Mind/Big Heart Zen is founded on Zen and rooted in the BuddhaDharma, but is not attached to Asian culture, forms and rituals. It is a Western approach to consciousness that aims to integrate the spiritual awakening of the East and the psychological understanding of the West, the spiritual and the worldly, without ignoring their shadows. It recognizes that the “self,” like all phenomena, is not solid, fixed or permanent but only appears to be so, which is why we call it the apparent rather than the absolute reality, and that what we call the absolute and relative realities are actually one reality seen from two different perspectives, like two sides of a coin. The third perspective is the inseparable unity of the two that is called Sangha, harmony or community.
Each of us is already perfect, complete and whole, with nothing lacking, and each of us has the capacity and the responsibility to realize this. Realizing this fact requires absolutely no time, because the realization is outside both time and space. However, living this realization in our everyday life takes time, even decades, not only of waking up but of growing up as well, cultivating our life/practice through discipline, samadhi, and wisdom.
The teachings of the Big Mind/Big Heart Zen Community are embodied in three practices that support and complement each other like the three legs of a stool: Zen sitting, koans and Big Mind/Big Heart work on various aspects of our selves. Each elucidates the teaching in a unique way. Shikantaza, or just-sitting-Zen, allows us to simply be, rather than constantly needing to do, to drop our ego’s need to attain or prove we are somebody or something important. Koans are best at helping us express the inexpressible both non-verbally and in words. The Big Mind/Big Heart Process is best at directly pointing to our awakened nature and allowing us to take time to experience perspectives that we usually ignore, repress or just don’t see. It is a skillful means befitting Zen’s distinction as the Sudden School of Buddhism to assist us — if we are willing and open — to have a glimpse of Zen and move through what normally requires years of Zen meditation to realize and actualize.