The word Zen comes from the Chinese word ch’an-na, which in turn comes from the Sanskrit word dhyana. Dhyana refers to collectiveness of mind or meditative absorption in which all dualistic distinctions like I/you, subject/object, true/false are eliminated. Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in China in the 6th and 7th centuries from the meeting of Dhyana Buddhism (which was brought to China by Bodhidharma) and Taoism. 

In this sense, Zen was a religion and its teachings and practices were directed towards self-realisation (kensho, satori) and lead finally to complete awakening (enlightenment). Zen teaches the practice of zazen, sitting in meditative absorption as the shortest, but also steepest way to awakeneing. 

Zen stresses the prime importance of reaching enlightenment through the means of zazen and raising awareness. It sees as useless the acts of ritual religious practices and intellectual analysis of doctrines for the attainment of liberation.  

I am sharing this information as Zen is a very popular spiritual practice which can be used alongside any religion or belief system. If you click on the ‘Zen’ tab at the bottom of the screen you will see many other posts related to Zen. 



Filed under The Mind, Zen

2 responses to “Zen

  1. Anders Kassem

    I think the more important point here is to mention that Zen (Ch’an) is what directly aims at cultivating transcendental wisdom (prajna). Zen, as a methodology, does not use any external cultivation methods such as those used in Yogic sciences (e.g. kundalini yoga, hatha yoga, etc.) or in Daoist internal alchemy. In other words, while most cultivation methods aim at cultivating both the sambhogakāya (bliss-body/light-body) and the nirmāṇakāya (manifestation-body), Zen only aims at cultivating the dharmakaya (truth-body).

    It prizes itself at being or considered the highest of teachings because it is the method of no-method at all. It simply points like a finger to the moon toward the Deathless, the Ultimate, the Dao. You simply, as you mention, ride the function of awareness and turn it inwards, reflecting back to its source, to perceive the fundamental essence of this knowing.

    In Zen practice, one never clings onto any phenomenal experiences nor do you ever identify any stage of progress as being the ultimate attainment. If you fixate at any point in your journey as being “it”, you’re already out of Zen. Once you think that you have reached any stage of real progress, you’ve already created an illusion that masks the true fundamental ground of mind.

    The benefit from a Zen practice, based on those that practice it, is that one will never get attached to any of the transient phenomena experienced during the transformation of the physical body on one’s way to realizing the dharmakaya. Where some people end up getting attached to prana, chi, chakras, astral bodies and all sorts of experiential realms, Zen makes no fuss about any of it, and simply go straight for the Dao.

    The Fourth Zen patriarch said to Fa-Yung:

    “The hundred of thousands of gates to the Dao are all ultimately in the mind; the subtle virtues as numerous as river sands all lay in the source of the mind. All aspects of discipline, samadhi, prajna and the manifestations of various spiritual powers are all inherently there; they’re nowhere else but in your own true mind. All your mental afflictions and obscurations caused by habitual energies are originally empty and void. All the causes and effects of mundane existence are like dreams and hallucinations… So in true cultivation, you just let your mind be free. You do not perform contemplative practices, and you do not promote efforts to make your mind clear. Don’t arouse emotions of greed or anger, and don’t fall into worry or sorrow. Flowing unhindered and unobstructed, be free in all ways, however you might be. When there is no doing good and no doing evil, then in all your activities and circumstances, everything that meets your eyes will be the inconceivable function of Buddhahood. It is blissful and sorrowless, so we call it Buddhahood.”

    I hope this may benefit any readers’ understanding of Zen.


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