ZEN. The effective antidote to our psycho-emotional suffering.

Conscious TV

September 28, 2020

What is Zen?

Zen is a spiritual tradition. Some would say that it is a religion, but it has the particularity of not containing doctrine, and that it has its roots in Buddhism. 

Zen is not composed of many ornaments and scriptures, it goes to the essentials in a very condensed, almost telegraphic way. The more condensed its meaning is, the more it strikes. 

That which is more extensive, impresses less. But for a very condensed teaching to have its effect, the person receiving it must be ready for it; it requires a meditative consciousness.

It is very difficult to access Zen if you don't have the right cultural framework. That's why, in the last century, many intellectuals laughed at the folly of these people, because to their rational minds, Zen made no sense. Absurd situations can bring you out of your cognitive inertia that obscures everything.

Where does Zen come from?

It all began when Buddha silently gave a lotus flower to Mahakashyapa.

Buddha was surrounded by many of his disciples, and unlike at other times, Buddha remained silent. Tradition says that seeing that Buddha remained so long in silence, just contemplating his white flower, almost all his disciples and followers became restless and agitated. Only Mahakashyapa understood the message and laughed.

Buddha then gave him the white flower and transmitted his Dharma to him.

"To you I have given all that can be given in words, but with this flower I have given Mahakashyapa the key to all teachings. All that can be said in words I have already told you, and that which cannot be said in words, I have given to Mahakashyapa".

This was what the Zen masters called and call "transference of the key without scripture". When Buddha observes something, the quality of his consciousness is transmitted, and a flower is one of the most receptive things on earth..., only a flower carried with it the condition of a Buddha and was the repository of this whole tradition, the only spiritual tradition based on laughter, because in the Zen monasteries they have always been laughing...

The key to all teachings cannot be given through verbal communication, the key cannot be given through the mind. The more it is said, the more difficult it becomes to deliver it. 

Buddha was the origin and Mahakashyapa was the first, the original Zen master, and it is with this story that the whole tradition, one of the most wonderful on earth, began.

What is the meaning of Zen?

The word Zen comes from the Sanskrit word Dhyan, which is mentioned several times in the Vedas and also later in the Upanishads.  Dhyana refers in these texts to something similar to what we would now call contemplation or meditation. That is, to abandon thoughts in order to fall into pure consciousness. 

Zen is the form that the word Dhyan has taken in Japanese. The word first came to China and took the term ch'an and from there it travelled to Japan to become Zen.

It is something that is earthly, everyday and yet deeply spiritual.

What is Zen Koan?

Koans are riddles that Zen masters give to their disciples to help you get out of the trap of your own mind. Because thinking and logic are not the way forward, at best, we will go round in circles. 

But the irrational and absurd can in a second uncover another reality in your existence. Koans are unsolvable puzzles, which aim to tire your mind to the point of overcoming it. They have no answer, because if they did, the mind would find it. It doesn't matter how intelligent you are, because no category can find an answer.

A Koan is not a coherent riddle, it is not a riddle because it cannot be solved. It is insoluble, you cannot solve it, you can only dissolve it. To dissolve it is to change the very plane of your being. For that you have to awaken. But the Master will be urging you to put more and more energy into solving it, so that you will come to a point where you have put all your energy into it, you will fall exhausted and you will understand. At that point you will laugh and understand that it was all absurd. At that point, if it comes, you will understand.

How to practise Zen?

To begin the practice of zen, you can start it at home with this course and then you can go to one of the dojos of different Zen Associations.

There you will meet monks, nuns and people with a long time of practice who can guide you. These people have lived their apprenticeship with teachers or former disciples, very often for many years.

You have to understand the effort that Zen practitioners have made before they can relax. You have to make a great effort before you reach the point where you can relax. And this relaxation does not come from you, it just happens.  As all your energy has moved there is nothing restless behind you and only rest can come.

Person-to-person transmission is a key element of Zen spirituality; each place of practice is linked to a teacher who is the guarantor of that place's practice. Most dojos offer regular sessions for beginners. The principle of Zen is that beginners and long-time practitioners practice together in a spirit of sharing. 

Zen spirituality emphasises collective practice, together. Together it is perhaps easier to evolve, to master fears, doubts and desires. The other becomes the precious mirror of our progress on the Buddha Way. Moreover, the collective practice of zazen in dojos or groups has a very important effect, it motivates and encourages.

Start practising Zen meditation today

Do you want to know more about the origin of the ZEN philosophy, its philosophy and how to start practicing it ? You can now watch our FREE Documentary on Zen "when silence blooms"

If after watching our documentary piece, you want to get closer to this millenary discipline, SUBSCRIBE TO OUR ONLINE TRAINING COURSE available on our CONSCIOUS TV platform.

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