Friday, November 9, 2012

Whatever you want to know about Zen (You already know)

Zen might be called the inner art and design of the Orient. It was rooted in China by Bodhidharma, who came from India in the sixth century, and  was carried eastward into Japan by the twelfth century. It has been described as: "A special teaching without scriptures, beyond words and letters, pointing to the mind-essence of man, seeing directly into one's nature, attaining enlightenment."
The Zen habit of self-searching through meditation to realize one's true nature, with disregard for formalism, with insistence on self-discipline and simplicity of living , ultimately won the support of the nobility and ruling classes in Japan and the profound respect of all levels of of philosophical thought in the Orient.
It has been said that if you have Zen in your life, you hace no fear, no doubt, no unnecessary craving, no extreme emotion. Neither illiberal attitudes nor egotistical actions trouble you. You serve humanity humbly, fulfilling your presence in this world with loving-kindness and observing your passing as a petal falling from a flower. Serene, you enjoy like in a blissful tranquility. Such is the spirit of Zen, whose vesture is thousand of temples in China and Japan, priests and monks, wealth and prestige, and often the very formalism it would itself transcend.
Maybe something to strive for. Maybe something to overcome. Maybe something that isn't at all. Be without being. Do without doing. Understand Zen without learning a thing.

For a simplified history of Zen, click here.  (Wikipedia Article on Zen)
For an opposing perspective, click here. ( article entitled "Why I HateZen", interestingly written by Poep Sa Frank Jude Boccio, a certified yoga teacher and Zen Buddhist Dharma Teacher ordained by Korean Zen Master, Samu Sunim).

Here are Sonshu Yamada's responses to my intrigues concerning Zen. Mr. Yamada is not a Zen teacher, but he is a tea master, and as such understands the essential teaching of Zen.Please understand any language or grammar misuse is left as written by Mr. Yamada. Anything in brackets I added for basic understanding purposes.

1. What do you think is most important for foreigners to understand about Zen?

Participation to Zazen practicing class (Zazen-kai called in Japanese) leaded my Zen-master is important. Zen is not to be understood, should depend on practice of zazen. 
We are living very busy situation every day. If we can practice some spiritual works like Tea-ceremony, Shodo, Haiku composing, Kendo, Judo, and other Japanese traditional cultures including spiritual foundation, we can catch some influence from Zen to them. But in these practicing, leaders or teachers having foundamental experience are very few.
You know, or studied a ritual that you should appreciate the word of Kakejiku at Tokonoma at the first step to enter a tea-ceremony room.
The word is mainly quoted from Zen words and showing the main-theme of tea-ceremony meeting. The promoter of the tea party will accept guests by the theme, and guests spend calmly and pleasant time depending on the spiritual theme. Masters of these spiritual works should be required to hold Zen mind, but nowadays they haven't enough time in worldly life.

Zazen- literally "seated meditation"
Kakejiku- hanging scroll painting or calligraphy in tea room entrance
Tokonoma- Japanese term generally referring to a built-in recessed space (alcove) in a Japanese style reception room, in which items for artistic appreciation are displayed.

2. Do you consider Zen a religion?

Zen-shu sect of Buddhism consist of Zen and some traditional custom ritual is should be religion. But Zen is the foundamentally human being mind, I think. In present we understand it from people behaviors...The Sophia University in Tokyo  has a Zen meditation house, Apple computer company owned by Steven P. Jobs employs and leaded by a Japanese Zen monk, the world economics leader named Peter F. Drucker build his Management Philosophy depending on Japanese Zen mind, and when I as a NGO representative visited to cooperate to mountainous minority natives students and stayed at a nuns, very often sisters hope me for lecturer on Zen spirit.

3. Is ritual important?
I wonder [if] you are asking [about] ritual in tea-ceremony? In present oversee [meant, oversea] intellectuals say tea-ceremony should be called tea-ritual sometimes.
Zen is leading us to absolute spiritual world from relative [world] and [worldly] wants where we live. When we are present under ritual environment our mind will be able to be easier over worldly spirit.

Side note: Yogis, meditators, martial artists, artists, poets, writers, sewers, hard workers, parents who are present and involved with their children, animal lovers, selfless servers, farmers, tree huggers, chado practitioners, smilers, day-to-day-present-moment-livers're all practicing Zen.

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