Zen practice can be a tricky thing because, done right, sooner or later all the issues and energies you’ve been repressing your whole life will ooze, trickle, and burst to the surface through your tight little smile. And I’m afraid that the practice itself doesn’t necessarily equip you to deal skillfully with these issues and energies. This is one of the great misconceptions about spiritual work: that if applied correctly, it will make us “better people” (whatever that means). Zen is not a psychiatric or therapeutic discipline; it’s a spiritual one. It’s supposed to get energy moving on a deep, fundamental, life-changing level. Its purpose is to orient you toward the truth, toward reality, whatever this takes. It’s not supposed to boss you around with behavioral or self-help dictates or to shoehorn you into the slipper of well-adjusted citizenhood.
In other words, spiritual work isn’t always just “instructive” – it’s also transformative, and this kind of transformation can get messy. The Sanskrit term for this is clusterfuck.
– Shozan Jack Haubner, Zen Confidential: Confessions of a Wayward Monk
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