Feng Shui

What Is Zen?

What Is Zen

Zen is not a belief system to which one converts. There is no dogma or doctrine.

One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind.

Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.

Zen History

The practice of zazen—meditation—is a way of realizing the non-dualistic, vibrant, subtle, and interconnected nature of all life.

It was this path toward realization that was shown some 2,500 years ago by the Indian prince Siddhartha Gautama, who came to be known as Shakyamuni Buddha. “Buddha” simply means “awakened one.”

His great teaching was that we can all awaken; that fundamentally, we are all buddhas— Jewish buddhas, Christian buddhas, Hindu buddhas, Islamic buddhas, Ashanti buddhas, Haudenasaunee buddhas, secular buddhas.

With this flexible and accommodating attitude toward the various cultures and beliefs it encountered, Buddhism was embraced throughout Asia. In China, it merged with Taoism and evolved into Ch’an, the Chinese word for meditation, which became “Zen” in Japan. Over the past few decades, it has become very much a part of Western culture

Zen And Meditation

Through a dedicated and consistent meditation practice, we can realize that self and other are One, that the conditioned and unconditioned are simultaneous, that absolute and relative are identical.

Out of this realization flows a natural compassion and wisdom, a peaceful and intuitively appropriate response toward whatever circumstances may arise. We don’t make a big deal about it; we don’t even call it religion. When the Dalai Lama was asked about Buddhism, he simply said, “My religion is kindness.”

Conscious Awareness

Just breathe in with full awareness. Taste the breath. Appreciate it fully. Now breathe out, slowly, with equal appreciation. Give it all away; hold onto nothing. Breathe in with gratitude; breathe out with love.

Receiving and offering—this is what we are doing each time we inhale and exhale. To do so with conscious awareness, on a regular basis, is the transformative practice we call Zen.

Discover Your True Self

Who do we think we are, anyway? When we really look deeply, it becomes “Who am I?”

We find that the conditioned views and compulsive traits we have come to call “self” have no fixed substance.

We can, through consistent zazen, free ourselves from that imposter self and discover the true self, the being that is open, confident, and unhindered, flowing with all that exists in this very moment.

Naturally we will begin to care for the environment, starting with our own actions: not wasting the earth’s precious resources, realizing that every act has consequences. And quite naturally we extend This Mind; we vow to live with attention, integrity, and authenticity; we vow to free all beings from suffering.

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