The First Lesson of Zen

Robert Aitken Roshi discusses in this orientation talk the different paths people may take in seeking to put their minds at rest. Some pursue intellectuality, mind control, asceticism or meditation. The middle path does not deny a degree of any of these pursuits, it is the degree to which these means are pursued that can be problematic for the success of the practitioner.

The first step in Zen practice is to learn to concentrate the mind, however this is not the final aim, it is just a first step. Rather we are seeking a whole-hearted absorption with the rising and falling away of our experience.

With enough practice, the zen student may arrive at a true and genuine confidence in their understanding of who they are, what they are and where they have come from.

1979 Sesshin – Orientation Talk