If you're interested in conscious living, then likely you're just as equally interested in Zen but simply not knowingly interested.

Usually Zen is associated with Japanese culture and religious or Buddhism practice, but true Zen (or at least the way this site uses the term) is emphasizing the value of conscious living.

Zen and conscious living come together and go hand-in-hand. Hence, conscious living without Zen is a huge oversight and vice-versa because these are not two.

"Conscious Flex: Zen & Conscious Living" is designed to offer a partnership of how these seemingly two are actually one movement.

Zen is the foundational spaciousness or presence from which conscious living derives. In the same manner that an artist, inventor or intuitive actions come from the stillness in the silence of non-movement.

In other words, Zen is a resting in the powerful space of not thinking about thought, not doing anything about doing, not trying to be the solver or understander, the knower collector but simply allowing the intelligence of life to flow through you and as you.

What is described can be thought of as meditation or accessing our intuition, but it's actually just natural living.

Often you will see kids in a natural resting space or presence and we tell them "snap out of it" because we think they are in "lala land" or "fantasy land" and not paying attention but actually they are simply being completely present with what is. It's natural to just rest and be, that's the flow from which insight and wisdom arises from.

Hence, conscious living is also the natural flow of how life organically expands upon itself. Consequently, conscious living is Zen living, when it's pure and without conceptual overlays.

  • What is Enlightenment?

    If you ran into me a few years ago and asked me "What is enlightenment?", I likely would have said that enlightenment is a collection of insights that changes your perspectives about life. This answer would have been based on my thoughts and subjective experiences. However, our thoughts are habitual processes that derive from cultural conditioning, not based on direct experiences.

    Usually when something happens in our life, even if it's profound, we eventually go right back to the habitual processes of cultural conditioning because it's the only way we know how to filter our experiences of life.

    Now if you ask me "What is Enlightenment?", my answer wouldn't be an answer based in opinion, habits of repetitious vocabulary, or second-hand knowledge. I would look into my present experience, feel what is here to say, and listen for the answer.

    It's the difference between subjective experiences based on conditioning and direct experience based in silence. Subjective experiences are perspective experiences. While the present experience is the unhooking of all pin-point perspectives.

    There is no right and correct perspective because subjective experiences cannot be proven or disproven. Subjective experiences are personal, hence no matter what the perspective, it will seem right and correct in a personal way. And since subjective experience is always changing, even if just subtlety, the only conclusion that makes sense is to not trust any subjective experience to be true. Or the seeing that all subjective experiences are all equally true. In other words, you cannot know because there is no conclusion that can be proven from that portion of the personal, hence it feels real with or without proof because it's a personal experience.

    The only conclusion that makes sense is to realize there there is no solid conclusion. Hence, no matter how personal, no conclusion resolves the mystery of experience, life, the universe; since the personal is just a portion of experience, life, the universe. In other words, it is unfolds as an unknown mystery since the fullness of the mystery can't be compartmentalized into that small of a portion.

    However, the mystery can be known, just not on a intellectual level of mental thought. You cannot know what subjective experience is, but you can know it experientially, which is an unhooking of the subjective experience and an falling into the direct experience. Through directly experiencing the experience that is there, you can know it. For example, you can know what water is by drinking it, by sticking your hand in it. and for a more subtle experience stick your whole arm in it or whole body in it. You can experiment experientially what water is, but calling it water and knowing it as water, as a label, doesn't help you to know it is. It will help you to know what it is as a subject and subjectively, but not directly.

    In other words, put a piece of chocolate in your mouth and in that direct moment of experiencing the chocolate, try to describe it. Can you describe it accurately? Do the words even touch the direct experience? Can you describe it in such a way that is gives another person the direct experience through the description you give it? Can you describe it to a person who has never tasted chocolate and they would understand what you are directly experiencing?

    Of course not, because no experience, no matter how simple, can be collapsed down to any thought, no matter how long or elaborate the thoughts are. No personal thought can ever capture any direct experience. This is quite a profound realization to stumble upon, because it shows that no thought, no matter how seemingly actuate is ever capturing anything direct. No matter what your thought about any experience, no thought is actual or factual. You can't relay on thoughts. You can't relay on information or knowledge through words. You can only relay on your direct experience, but you can't say what that is, you can only directly experience the mystery of it through the direct experience itself. What are you experiencing when you know that no thought is correct about it?

    Well, it is what it is, exactly as it is, but it's a mystery to the mind because you cannot know it intellectually. So the mystery reveals itself through direct experience, not through the mind of thoughts. And this mystery is very strange because the more you look into any part of your experience, the deeper you look, the more the mystery unfolds into more mystery. There are always more and more subtlety the more you look through experience. Using the water example, stick your finger into the water and just notice the experience of that directly. Now merge your hand into the water slowly and notice the subtle difference of sensational mystery that that reveals. You can take this deeper and deeper, water can be experienced in an infinite manner of subtleties.

    Not only water, but any experience. Go on a walk and notice the subtleties of the terrain under your feet, notice the walking itself, notice how the legs move without effort, notice how all the sensations spark through your body. You might even notice things that are similar to what people are pointing to when they use the word 'enlightenment' because all enlightenment is is direct experience of what is here and the subtleties of this hereness.

    It is no longer seeing through your thought ideas about what you think you are experiencing and rather directly experiencing what is here, but the thoughts don't get in the way of that, the thoughts are part of that. However, just notice how subtle thoughts are and how they only really take up a very tiny, very minuet part of your experience. You can even look into the subtleties of thought more and more. How are thoughts directly experienced? That is very interesting to look into. Look into them as you would investigate the water and the experience of that.

    Interesting things happen when you notice. Notice what is noticing, look into the awareness or the consciousness that is seeing experience, what is that? How is that directly experienced? Look into anything, every experience no matter how mundane it seems, there is a mystery there. And the mystery is always full. There is a fullness of subtleties in every experience. You might find that the fullness of what is here, doesn't need anything else. You might find that the mystery of direct subtle experience itself doesn't need to be resolved through intellectual understanding and knowledge.

    But I don't want to put words in your mouth, look and see for yourself. What does the mystery of your direct experience reveal and what do the subtleties of that reveal? Whatever they reveal, I can assure you that you will not be able to describe it accurately, but again, look and notice don't believe me, don't take my words for it. It is not in the words.

    In this sense enlightenment is guaranteed because it's already here, you just have to notice what is here already. Hence, look into this right now, this now presence, this hereness. Really look into the direct experience of this present arising. Is it really going anywhere? Has it gone anywhere? Does it have a duration to it? You can conjure up a past or future but that is always happening presently because the present never moves, it's always now. Your life doesn't happen in days, it happen in a continuous moment of now.

    However, look into the subtleties of this nowness and you will see that it is equally always present, just as equally as the present is never the same present, because as soon as you notice what is here, it is a new and fresh here.

    In this sense the big bang is still banging. It bangs and you notice it, and it bangs again and it's now as if it never banged before. It's a new bang that never banged before. There is no before, there is no after the bang because notice it again and here is it fresh and new. It's existing but simultaneously it is not existing because it's not existing in time.

    Where did what existed here 2 seconds ago go? It doesn't go anywhere, it's now here. You can conjure up in memory that 2 seconds have passed-by but you are conjuring that up right now presently, here. As soon as you notice it, now it is gone and you are notice this, here, now. There is no duration to it and you cannot grasp that with the mind but you can definitely experience it by noticing what is here right now presently, by noticing the present and really directly looking into it and the subtleties that come along with that.

    There are no end to subtleties and you might find that the conclusions you arrive at with the subtleties are contradictory and paradoxical. Is this present moment always here or always going? Which conclusion is it? Is this presence always-present and never-changing or is it always-changing and yet always-present? Is it stable or unstable or both or neither? Both and neither? The conclusions can be confusing, but the conclusions never solve the mystery.

    When you notice your direct experience as it really is, rather than how you think it is through conclusions, no matter what you look into, you might get the subtle feeling that you are experiencing it for the first time or you might get the feeling that this experience was always here or you might get the feeling that nothing is actually ever here as it seems.

    If you really experience water directly and notice the experience of it, for example, you may have the sense that you never experienced water that way before, or you might see that the water has always been experienced that way, just not noticed. Or you might notice how water is not really water at all, it is just what it is. But whatever is noticed, be cautious of conclusions that try to narrow it down. It is never what you think it is. All conclusions, thoughts, ideas, interpretations, and perspectives are part of the experience. Yet still a very minuet part of direct experience.

    I am quite questioning of myself (let alone others) if I really feel what I am saying is known and understood as something correct or actual. Because in my direct experience, I have seen that no thought is actually pointing to direct experience. Everything I can think or say is nonsense, misleading, or simply untrue. However, everything I directly experience without my ideas about what is being experienced, is very revealing. It reveals what this mystery actually is, but that cannot ever be thought about or spoken, only experienced. Look and see, how much of your own nonsense do you buy into? Everything you think you know about experience is very questionable. Knowing without intellectual knowledge is the only knowledge that can be known when it comes to the directness of experience because that's wisdom.

    We are addicted to landing on one idea or another, this or that. Trying to find the one and only ultimate reality of truth and objectifying it as factual. The addiction of finalizing life into a box so we can say we know what it is. Knowing seems comfortable, so we make it up. We collapse our experience down into a limited thought and pretend, so we can feel comfortable. The paradox about this, is that our ideas cause all the discomfort.

    All our ideas and interpretations about ourselves, about life and the world around us. Without any ideas, there is no way to know what this is or what it is for and therefore there is no position in order to defend it. You can naturally allow things to be as they are because you don't know how things should be. Yet this is not a pretending to not know, it's not something that can be believed in. It's a clear seeing with conviction that no idea, no thoughts, no interpretations are correct. If you look directly into the field of your experience, you will see this obvious realization that no thoughts can define what is actually happening here. Just like the chocolate example, you will see that every experience is much fuller than any interpretation you can have about it. No interpretation is the actual experience. Interpretations are only a very small portion of actual experience. Interpretations never capture the fullness of any experience, no matter how elaborate, lengthy, or beautifully expressed they are.

    This is very testable. The amazing thing about all of this, is that you can test it for yourself and find out. Nothing I say needs to be believed. Look and see for yourself what your experience shows. Everything is testable and it's fun to experiment and see what you can find out for yourself. The name of the game is noticing what's already here, that's it.

    Here's a fun one, notice walking. It's easy to go on a walk and notice the soundings, which is a fun experiment too, but if you notice the walking itself and watch for the subtleties of that, the strangeness of just a simple walk can reveal itself as a mystery. A mystery that can be known but never expressed intellectually. If you notice it intellectually, you might say "Oh it's just walking, I walk all the time, nothing to notice here, what is this crazy guy talking about?" but if you notice the experience rather than the interpretation, there is an intelligence that notices directly what is there. Notice how walking happens effortlessly and before you so easily write that off as the "subconsciousness" really notice what is happening directly. What is here happening at the same exact time the mind is labeling everything into finite definitions? What is it that is happening besides the labeling? There is nothing wrong with labeling, that's a tiny portion of the function, but notice what else is functioning besides just that portion. It is addicting to only notice that tiny portion of labeling function, but it is quite natural and easy to notice the obviousness of what else is here functioning since what is constantly here is default.

    In other words, everything that can be noticed, is always here, has always been here, noticed or not. Whether you are addicted to labeling the infinite qualities of every experience into a finite view, has no effect on the true nature of the fullness in infinite experience. Seeing the infinite is just noticing how there are endless subtleties in every experience. Take any portion of experience or function and the more you look into it, the more you will see that there is more to see. No matter how subtle the noticing, every noticing is a tiny portion of what is here and what can be seen. It's an interesting wonder of weirdness to realize that everything you can possibility experience is being experienced as infinite.

    Sight, for example, no matter what you are looking at, you are seeing into infinity, because you are seeing infinite subtitles of what is being seen. It's like when you look at something under a microscope you can see the tiny particles bouncing around, those particles are always bouncing around whether noticed or not. There is so much fullness happening even in the most mundane experience, it is just seemingly very subtle since it goes unnoticed.

    What is even stranger is that you can only notice the subtlety of what is being noticed, one of those subtleties is noticing that you are seeing infinity, but you can notice only one subtly at a time. So it makes sense that we have an addiction to only noticing the labeling of thought and one thought at a time in that noticing. In fact, it's such an addiction to notice that tiny portion of functioning, that it is not even noticed anymore, it's become too subtle to notice, unless you begin to notice the subtly of it. So it doesn't matter which seemingly portion of function or experience you notice, there is always something there to be noticed that is not being noticed, even how the functioning of thought goes unnoticed.

    The main aspect of noticing, is to notice how every thought is a finite process that tries to collapse the infinite fullness of experience into a simplistic view. The fullness of every experience is never as simplistic the function of thought tries to make it seem. The fullness of experience is much more mysterious than thought can ever grasp. When you notice this obvious realization, simply by noticing what is here, you begin to notice how thoughts are so insignificant compared to the fullness of experience. You notice how thoughts cannot capture the fullness of experience because they are only a small portion of experience. Nothing can capture the fullness of what is here, but the fullness of what is here can be noticed, which is why these kind of talks seem to focus on noticing what is noticing. Which is one aspect in which can be noticed. It doesn't matter which seemingly portion you notice because what is here, is always here. And so every noticing, no mater what is noticed, is noticing the nature of this, of what is here. There is no way to not see what is here when you notice what is here, no matter what you are noticing.

    You can see and realize the true nature of reality by simply noticing any portion of reality because every portion reveals itself as a mystery. Even the thoughts that go unnoticed trying to collapse the mystery down into a simplistic knowing, are mysterious once noticed. The only thing I am certain about is the mystery, if one can say that this collapses down into anything at all, it all collapses down to a mysterious mystery and that mystery can only be known through direct fullness of experience, not through simple ideas of it or through a portion of it.

    One of the subtleties you might notice when noticing is that there are no portions, so it doesn't matter which so-called portion is noticed. It doesn't take much effort to notice, if any at all since noticing is default, the noticing just may not be noticed, until it is. How do you know you are? You notice it. How do you know what is here? You notice it. Everything throughout the day and night is noticed otherwise you wouldn't get anything done, you couldn't be. That is obvious, but do you notice that there is noticing?

    The noticing is it. All this enlightenment talk you hear, is all about noticing what goes unnoticed, and since all we have been noticing is the small portion of thoughts that also usually go unnoticed, you can notice anything in direct experience and come to what people point to using the word enlightenment.

    Enlightenment is not about noticing no-self, no-doer, no-choices, no-timeline, nonconceptual, no separation, the unchanging witness, oneness, or whatever you think enlightenment is. Enlightenment is about noticing what is directly here, and some subtle noticing of what is directly here, you may find representations in your experience that may appear as what these words are pointing to. But it doesn't matter if you notice these subtleties or not because these subtleties are only a small portion of the fullness of experience that can be seen.

    The subtleties don't explain anything except what is directly here. You may run across a subtly that represents the appearance of no-self and another subtlety that represents self as everything, or another subtlety where both are seen as equally valid and yet paradoxical, and even so you may run across a subtlety where paradoxes are no longer paradoxical, and yet you may even run across a subtlety that shows how everything is even more subtler than any of those subtleties. There are no end to subtleties since there is no end to what can be noticed.

    What is directly here has no boundaries or borders, no seam or line, no way to ever find the true reality because the truth of reality is mysterious, which means it cannot be solved. It is only solved by seeing the fullness of the mystery as mysterious, which means unsolvable. There is no subtlety that can be grabbed onto as a reference-point to what is here -as the answer. The answer is within the fullness of the mystery and since it is full of infinite subtleties, it is infinity complete and whole.

    So as long as you trying to notice the subtleties of what you heard enlightenment is, you will be chasing the subtlety of an idea and noticing how you haven't noticed it and yet that can go unnoticed since you are not noticing what is directly here.

    It's a strange state of affairs when what is here is directly noticed, because there can be a noticing of a subtlety that was not noticed before, and then it's either not noticed that noticing was noticed, or there is not a noticing that the subtlety is one of infinite subtleties that has gone unnoticed. Which seems to be a natural unfolding of the mystery, but infinity being what it is, no subtlety is ever the same, unless you run into the subtlety that shows how all subtleties are the same one mysterious mystery. However, even if you did run into one subtlety of the infinity subtleties that can unfold, you will never run into that same subtlety again, even it looks the same, if you notice, there will be a subtle noticed difference.

    So if there is a chasing of a subtlety, rather chasing the subtlety of an idea you heard about enlightenment or chasing a subtlety that was noticed once before, you are only chasing an unnoticed unfolding and the whole while the fullness of experience is here waiting to be noticed fresh and new. There is no control as to what subtle will be realized because the infinite nature of infinity is like trying to find a needle in a haystack but the good news is that you don't have to find any particular subtlety because every subtlety is the same mysterious nature of reality. Hence, there is no needle, there is only hay and it's constantly changing. However there are similar experiences which seem to unfold in everybody, no matter how subtlety different.

    I know the word "subtlety" makes it sound as if this is something difficult to see, but really it is quite obvious once you notice. It's like thoughts, thoughts are very subtle because they are not tangible but they are very noticeable voiceless voices. Subtlety are just like this, all it takes is just a little noticing. Some are so obvious that you will wonder how you missed it, like that of your own shadow, it is always there and very noticeable once noticed, but who really takes the time to notice their own shadow? That is all it takes, the time to notice what has gone unnoticed for so long. It is never as complicated as thoughts or words makes it seem.

    The only reason this can ever seem complicated is when trying to find it through thought (also known as knowledge, information, ideas, etc..) which is nothing but a small portion of experience, so you are chasing the fullness of experience through an incomplete idea of experience. Which only leads to more chasing. There is nothing to understand here intellectually since the intellect is only a minuet function of the fullness of experience Intellectual experience is only a partial of what can be experienced. So how can you understand the fullness of direct experience through a tiny portion of what can be experienced? It's like trying to fit the Universe into the eye of a needle. This is an comparison that is very fitting when it comes to EVERY thought. Every thought, no matter how convincing, is only a needle eye of what is really going on.