What is zen buddhism?
Zen Buddhism is a mix of Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism. It began in China, spread to Korea and Japan, and became incredibly popular in the West from the mid 20th century.
The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misinformed by logical thought or language.
Zen strategies are suitable with other faiths and are frequently utilized, for example, by Christians looking for a mystical understanding of their faith.
Zen typically seems paradoxical – it requires an intense discipline which, when practiced correctly, results in overall spontaneity and supreme liberty. This natural spontaneity needs to not be confused with impulsiveness.
Zen – the word
‘ Zen’ is the method the Chinese word Ch’ an is pronounced in Japan. ‘Ch’ an’ is the Chinese pronunciation of the Sanskrit word Dhyana, which suggests (more or less) meditation.
Zen – the essence and the difficulty
Christmas Humphreys, one of the leading pioneers in the history of Buddhism in Britain, wrote that “Zen is a subject extremely easy to misunderstand.” He was right.
Zen is something a person does. It’s not a concept that can be explained in words. Regardless of that, words on this website will assist you get some idea of what Zen has to do with. But keep in mind, Zen does not depend upon words – it needs to be experienced in order to ‘understand’.
Enlightenment is inside
The essence of Zen Buddhism is that human beings are Buddha, and that all they have to do is to find that reality on their own.
All beings by nature are Buddhas,
as ice by nature is water.
Apart from water there is no ice;
apart from beings, no Buddhas.
Zen sends us looking inside us for knowledge. There’s no requirement to search outside ourselves for the answers; we can discover the answers in the same location that we found the questions.
Human beings cannot learn this truth by philosophising or logical idea, nor by studying bibles, participating in worship rites and rituals or much of the other things that individuals think religious people do.
The primary step is to control our minds through meditation and other techniques that involve body and mind; to give up abstract thought and prevent getting trapped in a spider’s web of thoughts.
Zen Buddhism was brought to China by the Indian monk Bodhidharma in the 6th century CE. It was called Ch’an in China.
Zen’s golden age started with the Sixth Patriarch, Hui-neng (638-713), and ended with the persecution of Buddhism in China in the middle of the 9th century CE. Many of those we think about today as the fantastic Zen masters originated from this period. Zen Buddhism made it through the persecution though it was never the very same again in China.
Zen spread out to Korea in the 7th century CE and to Japan in the 12th century CE. It was popularised in the West by the Japanese scholar Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870 – 1966); although it was discovered in the West before that.