(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/zen/zen10.html)
Sif Anthony Spinicchia — Thinking Nothin Doing Nothing
What is the difference from a Zen perspective between “Thinking nothing and doing nothing”, and “Smiling from the heart”?
Sifu Adam Bailey
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
From the Zen perspective, which is another way of saying from the viewpoint of seeing and describing things simply, directly and effectively, “thinking nothing and doing nothing” is thinking nothing and doing nothing, and “Smiling from the heart” is smiling from the heart.
The difference is self-evident. It is like asking what the difference between a cat and a dog is. From the perspective of seeing and saying things simply, directly and effectively, a cat is a cat, and a dog is a dog. The different is self-evident. If you look at a cat, you know it is a cat, and is different from a dog.
From the intellectual perspective, which is another way of saying from the perspective of using words for academic pleasure, if not for confusion, we may logically argue that a cat is a dog, and we may also logically argue that a cat is different from a dog.
For example, we can argue that a cat has four legs and a tail. A dog also has four legs and a tail. Therefore, a cat is a dog.
On the other hand, your neighbour, John, has only two legs and does not have a tail (though he may have a tail-bone). So John is neither a cat nor a dog.
On the other hand, we may also argue that a cat meows and a dog barks. Meowing is different from barking. Therefore, a cat is not a dog. But John, if he wants to, can meow and bark. Therefore, he is a cat and he is also a dog.
Although the argument is logical, we can easily see the fallacy of the argument because we are familiar with cats and dogs. But many people may not understand why thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart is the same or different because they are not familiar with them. Yet, the principles are the same.
The logic involved is as follows:
If A is B,
and B is C,
therefore, A is C.
The logic is flawed. Many people suffer unnecessarily because of their flawed logic, and they do not realize it. Some common examples in daily life are as follows.
I practice chi kung. Chi kung does not cure my illness. Therefore chi kung does not cure illness.
Many people practice kungfu. When they fight, they use Kick-Boxing. Therefore, kungfu practitioners use Kick-Boxing for fighting.
A friend helps another in need. Mary does help me when I am in need. Therefore, Mary is not a friend.
The logic is flawed because in the examples above, A is not B, though A may have some features of B. And B is not C, though B may have some features of C. Therefore, A may or may not be C
In the case of cats and dogs, cats and dogs are sets, whereas having four legs and a tail is a sub-set. Different sets may have the same sub-sets, like cats and dogs having four legs and a tail, but they also have different sub-sets, like cats meowing and dogs barking, which make the sets different.
Practicing chi kung, practicing kungfu and having friends are sets. In each sets there are different sub-sets. In the set of people practicing chi kung, for example, there is a sub-set of practitioners not having their illness cured, and there is also a sub-set of practitioners who have their illness cured. Using a sub-set to represent a set is flawed.
When we practice Zen, we would not make this mistake. In the spirit of Zen, we would perceive those who practice chi kung but their illness is not cured as those who practice chi kung but their illness is not cured. We would not make a flawed conclusion that practicing chi kung does not cure illness. In other words, we call a spade a spade.
Hence, thinking nothing doing nothing is thinking nothing doing nothing. Smiling from the heart is smiling from the heart.
But these two skills can have similar benefits, besides having different benefits. In the same way, cats and dogs can have similar features, besides having different features.
In both thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart, you are relaxed, peaceful and happy, and are tuned into Cosmic Reality.
But their benefits can also be different, both in nature and in degree. For example, when thinking nothing doing nothing you are free from intellectualization and activities. In smiling from the heart, you may intellectualize if you want to though you normally don’t, and you are involved in some activity. These are differences in nature.
Although both thinking nothing doing nothing and smiling from the heart result in mental clarity and happiness, the degree of mental clarity and happiness is not the same. Usually thinking nothing doing nothing gives you more mental clarity, whereas smiling from the heart gives you more happiness. These are differences in degree.
Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Anthony Spinicchia — Smiling from the Heart
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The above is reproduced from the thread 10 Questions to the Grandmaster about Zen in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum