WHAT IS ZEN?
A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not founded upon words and letters;
By pointing directly to Mind.
It lets one see into nature and attain Liberation.
Buddhism originated in India more than 2,600 years ago. A prince named Siddhartha Gautama had tried many spiritual paths without satisfaction, until one day, while sitting in meditation, he came to a profound realization of the nature of existence. He was thereafter known as the Buddha, the “Awakened One”.
Buddhism spread from India to China, then to Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia. Early in our century, Japanese masters began to bring its teachings to Europe and the United States. Soto Zen is one of the major sects of Zen Buddhism.
The Soto Zen tradition emphasizes the practice of zazen, or sitting meditation, and individual effort. By learning to put our entire being into our practice, we are able to realize our original nature and to carry that experience into daily life.
Zen Wisdom is thought to be the most refined spiritual possession of Asia, with its origin in India, its development in China, and its practical application in Japan. Wherever there is poetic action, a religious aspiration, a heroic thought, there is Zen.
Zen is direct- goes straight to the point- requires no mediator. It is the greatest gift the Orient can make to the Occident.
Meditation has been said to occupy in Buddhism the place of prayer in other religious. In a sense this is true- except that Zen meditation is not prayer, makes no assumptions at all about God, and has been practiced by adherents of many major religions.
Zen meditation is not a dreamy reverie. Nor does it seek to apply the mind to any formulated problems of philosophy, ethics, or theology. Rather, the object of meditation is to force the participant beyond the sphere where words can be used, into the realm of immediacy where Ultimate Truth can be realized. To put it simply, Zen meditation is to be approached as an end in itself. Greater Wisdom is not its aim but is an incidental results. It is extremely practical and penetrates all phases of daily life.