Published 26 Oct 2017
Zen identified as Chan is a school of Mahayana Buddhism, prominent for its prominence on the awareness of the mind to recognize the existing moment and unstructured action. The appearance of Zen as a separate school of Buddhism was originally documented in China in 7th Century CE. Zen Buddhism concentrates on the development of the conscious instead of the rational aspect of humans.
It also permits to leave the self-conscious and judgmental thinking. It accentuates dharma practice and experimental knowledge especially on meditation acknowledged as Zazen in order to achieve the state of awakening. It does not focus on knowledge based on theories and hypothesis as well as on theology. It supports the exact and straight personal experience of one’s own experience. The aim of the Zen practice is to locate Buddha nature in each and every individual, through meditation and mindfulness of every day experiences. The practitioners of Zen think that this offers new outlooks and insights on life, which eventually guides to enlightenment.
Prominent difference in Zen and other Buddhist sects is that Zen does not emphasizes on dependence and trust on religious scriptures and spoken discourse on metaphysical questions. Zen considers that these things lead the practitioner to search for external answers rather than looking for answers from their own inner self for the direct intuitive apperception of Buddha-nature (Watts, 2003). Zen focuses that Buddha came through his meditation practice and not from words he read or discovered. This makes Zen to be a way of life rather than a written form of scripture. Zen is experienced. It is not studied the way religious texts are studied.
The significance of Zen’s independence from written words is frequently misinterpreted as being not in favor of usage of words. However, Zen is deeply entrenched in both the scriptures which contain the teachings of Buddha Siddhartha as well as in Mahayana Buddhist concept and philosophical values and beliefs. Zen is the sub-sect of Buddhism that is considered to be more lenient than other schools of Buddhism. The follower of Zen does not worship any deity, but, in essence, worships the body’s complexity, especially that of the mind. The core of Zen monasticism is the practice of concentration of mind. This is the key element that has made Zen popular and admired. Since the concentration of mind is the key towards enlightenment, the Zen monks go through strict training, physical chores on every day basis, the continuous wrestling with koans, long duration of sitting in meditation and special concentrated periods of practice or sesshin are all directed towards this end. The individual who is meditating needs to be wide awake. This is the main requirement for any individual to master Zen (Watts, 2003).
The reason why Zen is appealing and is getting popular is because of the fact Zen can be practiced by any individual who seeks enlightenment (Watts, 2003). In order to understand Zen, one must only discard uncertainty that he is not enlightened. The meditation techniques of Zen help an individual to seek his inner self. The influence on every individual’s experience becomes apparent. Eventually the human body dies and decays but every single breath is life. Time is infinite but each individual’s experience is eternal. Zen is valuing this.
- Watts, Alan W. The Spirit of Zen. New York: Grove Press, Inc., 2003