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The Basics of Zen

Zen (or Zen Buddhism) is one of the most controversial and, at the same time, one of the most open trends within Buddhism. Is this a religious tradition or a philosophical system? The question in itself is a great example that even now there are great debates about Zen Buddhism.

 

Most people see Zen Buddhism as being Japanese, although it has only reached that island nation indirectly. Its origin is to be found in Indian Buddhism, which appeared in China then Korea and Vietnam. Accordingly, Zen significantly mixed with the mediating countries' own customs and traditions. Taoism, for example, had a significant impact on the philosophical and religious facets of Zen.

Zen

One of the basic rules of Zen is that the origin of Zen – including Zen monks and teachers - can be traced back to the Buddha. Therefore Zen is called the Heart School of Buddhism in Japan. One of the best known representatives was master Suzuka Sunrjú, who died in the early seventies. Zen represents skepticism and simplicity. The openness of the Zen school is designed to help Western people to receive understanding and Eastern people to learn new skills. There are no cemented rules, therefore there are no heretical thoughts. In Zen Buddhism skepticism and openness can be side by side in perfect harmony. The basic task of Zen is to achieve ‘satori’, that is enlightenment, so called ‘zazen’, or sitting meditation practice, is used in order to achieve this enlightenment. And this application of ‘zazen’ makes Zen extremely popular as it does not require special training, or even complete devotion or totally giving up your personality. On the contrary, in order to accept Zen your will power and regular practice are enough.

Constant practice shapes and changes our character, lots of hours spent with positive thoughts have a significant impact not only on our way of thinking, but even on our decision making. In the course of zazen – which requires only a couple of free hours and a comfortable seat - the practitioner will be united with the universe. This process may be just meditation, but of course there is more we can do. Chanting the Sutras (such as the Heart Sutra) helps with the liberation of the mind.

Zen's greatest - and most attractive aspect for lazy people - is that Zen doesn’t impose special requirements. Reaching satori is everyone’s own personal responsibility. The road, depending on the effectiveness and frequency of the practice, can be long but can also be very short. The point is to live a balanced and full life by practicing it!

 
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