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Zen of Retardation

Updated on January 18, 2020

Please note: from Wikipedia "As of 2013, "intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder)" is the term that has come into common use by among educational, psychiatric, and other professionals over the past two decades. Because of its specificity and lack of confusion with other conditions, the term "mental retardation" is still sometimes used in professional medical settings around the world, such as formal scientific research and health insurance paperwork."

The amazing thing about our society is that we have certain types of people that have a natural propensity for enlightenment. I'm not talking about the monks among us who strive for enlightenment until they are able to attain it and their striving ends. I'm talking about mentally retarded people.

Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that teaches enlightenment can be attained through meditation, intuition, and self-analysis. I don't know about that. I do know that enlightenment is a concept that needs defining.

I define enlightenment as being totally in the present moment, with none of the connections that usually hold the mind to this world. Examples of those connections are thoughts in the back of your head, -bills, opinions, self-concepts, etc. When those are gone, or temporarily disconnected from the mind, peace enters. When it does, the relief it brings creates the joy that surrounds it. Bada Bing! Enlightenment.

Words are symbols of other things. C, A, and T are the letters that form a word that symbolizes a small carnivorous animal. It isn't that animal. In the same way enlightenment is a word that symbolizes the condition of the mind I've just described. So I can't do more with words than symbolize this condition. You, however, can induce it within your mind by using my symbols as stepping stones to reach that condition of mind, in an instant. (I think you should try it right now).

Sometimes it helps to focus on a peaceful, natural setting. Use the one below. Put yourself in my place, alone in the middle of a 10,000 acre forest, at rest and at peace, self-assured and totally free.

Buddy's View of Things
Buddy's View of Things

If you've ever gotten to know a mentally retarded person, the thing that strikes you is their natural propensity for happiness. They hardly ever focus on that problem from last week or that upcoming challenge. They focus intently on the bowl of ice cream in front of them or the balloon they got at the festival. They live mostly in the present moment.

Within that present moment is the key to enlightenment. I don't know if they attain it on occasion. I sure hope so. I've had my ego boundaries dissolve on occasion and united with Unity, and I know that's what I was made for. I wish this for them.

I also wish it for you!

I once heard a story about a Zen Master who was chased by a bear. He came to a cliff and had a choice between jumping off the cliff or being eaten by the bear. He jumped, and grabbed a protruding bush on the way down, which saved him. As he hung from the bush, high enough for a fall to be fatal, a gopher popped its head out from a hole in the side of the cliff and began to gnaw at the roots of the bush. The Master noticed a small strawberry plant growing out of the side of the cliff and picked a strawberry. As he ate it he thought, "So sweet and delicious!"

If my own enlightenment didn't come and go, I suppose I'd be eating the strawberry and enjoying it just as much. But I would have tangled with the bear and tried like hell to shove him over the cliff before I'd jump. At the very least we'd go over together, and on the way down I'd be trying to stay on top so he could break my fall.

So it is obvious to me that I have a long way to go on this road to enlightenment. And it looks like I get passed by mentally retarded people on a regular basis. But if I let that worry me, I'd be interfering with my enlightenment.

I didn't mean to offend anyone, Zen Buddhist or Mentally Retarded or bear or whatever. Accept my apologies in advance. Don't get pissed, I don't want to delay your enlightenment.


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