Zen emerged as a bit of an anti-intellectual movement. Actually it is not only anti-intellectual, but also anti-iconography and anti-authority. It is little wonder why Zen became so popular in the sixties. There are Zen masters who knock the Buddha’s statue off of its pedestal. He tells his students, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” What does this mean? The Master means that the Buddha is not external to us. We cannot reason our way there. The real Buddha is inside. We must give up our attachments to the external symbols and focus on what is really important—bringing that Buddha inside each of us alive in our daily life.
Emerson was a Unitarian minister who followed in his father’s footsteps. He liked giving sermons, but strongly disliked doing visits or giving communion. So he left the Unitarian ministry. However, and perhaps more fundamental for him, what he really disliked was what he called the “formalism” of Unitarianism. Today we might call this a sort of cold, rationalistic approach toward religion. Emerson wanted to transcend reason through religious experience. His fellow Unitarians thought that he was being un-reasonable, and was advocating a sort of blind faith that they had rebelled against. The place of reason versus spirituality in Unitarian Universalism is an old argument indeed. And an argument it was, particularly in Emerson’s hands. When he was invited to give the Address to the graduating class at Harvard Divinity School, his sermon was so scathing that it set off a firestorm of a controversy that lasted at least a generation.
Work I’ve been doing at my primary job — big, loose, free-hand, slight psychedelic soft pastel posters on dollar-store foam core, made for the positive phrases my kids there toss at me to work with. Fun, feel-good, collaborative work that make their eyes go wide and drive them to pick up pastels and work on their own.
You can’t ask for much more than that.
Posting more here as they happen — this is how we’ve been starting the day so far during the summer, in that awkward hour time-slot before heading down to the school for free lunch.
That is why it is so important to let certain things go. To release them. To cut loose. People need to understand that no one is playing marked cards; sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Complete the circle. Not out of pride, inability, or arrogance, but simply because whatever it is no longer fits in your life. Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust. Stop being who you were and become who you are.