Zen and Indie Writers

Zen has resonated with me since the day it found me, more years ago than I can count. I’ve read and studied the writings of many notable Zen practitioners – men whose names aren’t western, because Zen is not naturally found in the western culture – with one notable exception, Alan Watts.

Watts, a British-born philosopher, ordained Episcopalian Priest, intellectual, teacher, and world-renown lecturer on Asian philosophies, chose Zen, not the other way around. For the same reason that he chose Zen, I chose him to be my Zen Master. He left a body of work that, for me, doesn’t require his physical presence to explain – I knew that when I picked up my first Alan Watts book and read –

“When you confer spiritual authority on another person, you must realize that you are allowing them to pick your pocket and sell you your own watch.”

You see, Alan Watts believed that each of us already has everything required to live every moment in a state of joy. That resonates with me, and it always has. When I say “it resonates with me,” what I’m saying, in effect is, I believe, like Alan Watts, that there is nothing to do, nothing to learn, nothing to acquire, to insure our happiness. Our happiness is right here, right now. I’ll pinpoint its location in a moment. First, let me share Alan Watts’s version of a classic Zen verse – it ties in with the photo which I scanned from his book, Zen – The Supreme Experience.

The wild geese do not intend

to cast their reflection

The water has no mind

to retain their image


So what does that mumbo jumbo have to do with indie writers? I can’t answer for all 700,000 indie writers, but I can speak for myself. I’ve been guilty of losing sight of my original intention, which was, writing books. Very subtly, I’ve begun trying to brand myself (cast my reflection) in the consciousness of book buyers (the water).

The Zen lesson for geese is, fly, without concern for casting your reflection. The Zen lesson for me is, write, not write as I check my reflection.

Now back to pinpointing our joy. If we maintain our intention, without the slightest waver, then we will cash in on Henry David Thoreau’s promise: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

On many occasions, Alan Watts said, “I write to entertain myself and to entertain you.” So do I, and I trust that I’ve accomplished that objective that with these words.

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One Response to Zen and Indie Writers

  1. Very good point. I’ve been reading quite a bit of buddhist writing lately, and will have to add Mr Watts to my reading list :)
    Rachel Cotterill recently posted…Review: Don’t Give Up Until You DoMy Profile

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