I heard a story of a Zen Buddhist teacher who stated his wish that he could enjoy a lifetime as a tree. In that form, he reasoned, he could be alive, present, and, more importantly for him, he would do no harm to others.
What kind of mental sickness or fundamental misunderstanding is this?!
Many Zen practitioners practice zazen, a seated meditation. By removing all distraction, including the body itself at times, and perhaps engaging the thinking mind with a well-crafted koan or other meditation to keep it productively occupied, the meditator may find his true self and expand the depth of his practice.
That’s fine. But it’s easy to lose sight of why we practice.
Fundamentally, Zen is about being present in each and every moment, not absent from them. It may be a paradox, but that is why, for a while, we are still. It’s not to remove ourselves from existence.
So, to be a tree as to do no harm? What kind of presence is that???
Perhaps you’ll be a tree that falls in a storm, crushing a passing car. Or maybe you’ll become the framing of a house that bursts into flames. Maybe you’ll become a baseball bat that crushes the head of a convenience store owner in a robbery. How did it feel not to have a choice and to see it all happen passively? And what did not happen while you were standing around silently pumping sap? How many sentient beings did you bring with you into enlightenment? Congratulations, short-sighted bastard.
The want to do no harm above all else is a Zen disease. It’s just another attachment. The practitioner has to shed this attachment along with all the others.
So, why not do what you can to re-attach your mind to your current body and get back in the game, champ?