Can we put ourselves in tomatoes’ shoes to see what happens when we internalize Zero? Let’s look at Zazen, one of the Zen meditation methods. Zazen is a sitting with prescribed rules.
Zazen rules (according to Sotoshu)
- Use a neat and clean room that is not too cold, not too warm, nor not too dark, not too bright
- Fold legs and hands and straighten your spine
- Keep your eyes slightly open – do not focus on any particular thing but keep everything in your field of vision
- Quietly make a deep exhalation and inhalation
- Do not concentrate on any particular object or control your thought
The rules above are just a part of the entire Zazen protocol. The protocol covers everything from how to maintain your surroundings, clothes and physical condition, to how to maintain your body (head, eyes, mouth, shoulders, abdomen, back, hands, legs etc) and mind during Zazen.
You can ask for a warning “Katsu!” using an “awakening stick” if you go off balance and become restless or sleepy.
Image “Zazen kai meeting” courtesy of Koufukuji
Just like the Nagata tomatoes that were denied an abundant supply of water and nutrients, people lose all kinds of external pleasures during Zazen.
Conceptual state of mind during Zazen
Through the Zazen training, you learn how to keep your optimal level of arousal for every part of your body and mind WITHOUT relying on any external intervention.
This state can also be called mindfulness.
Do you see that mind-FULL-ness is actually achieved by Zero? Here, mindfulness emerges exactly because there is zero external intervention. It’s an accomplishment of purely your own.
Buddhist practitioners attempt to achieve optimal arousal level literally with zero external stimulus. And the ultimate state is Nirvana.