Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by Ervin » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:26 pm

What's Zen Buddhism? I went to an Eckhart Tolle meditation meetup in Melbourne and they where talking about Zen, but the bloke that spoke about it was speaking for way to long, way to fast and I think he was talking about some scriptures and in the end I didn't have a clue what he was on about.

From what I know Zen is an understanding that all knowledge and beliefs are equally valid, not just Buddhism. And I think it would be a very liberal understanding and practise of Buddhism.

Something like the saying that goes: All rivers lead to the same Sea.

Is my understanding Corect? Is Zen in Buddhism like liberal Sufism Rumi style is in Islam?


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James the Giant
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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by James the Giant » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:44 pm

My first stop would be wikipedia.
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by Khalil Bodhi » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:50 pm


You may want to ask someone who actually practices Zen what it is about. You may want to try Zen Forum International or Dharma Wheel. Mettaya. :heart:
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by Ervin » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:37 pm

Thanks Khalil, I have just registered for the Zen International forum. But I have to wait for the administrator to contact me before the registration can ne completed.

So, since I am itching to discus Zen Buddhism is there anyone with the knowledge of it willing to discus?

Anyway, I have found that by knowing about diferent beliefs and or understandings has brought me closer to the truth in the past.

Also questioning everything and debating all philosophical and or other beliefs is what I enjoy doing. I assure you that my intentions are pure and good towards everyone. I just want to do good, even though I don't have to.

I am very open minded wich means that I let the truth in!


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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by Dan74 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:44 pm

Bodhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen said:

A transmission outside the scriptures;
Not dependent upon words and letters;
Directly pointing to the mind,
Seeing into one's own nature and attaining Buddhahood

It is hard to know how to answer your question because whatever is said will be misunderstood. Zen Buddhism is a school of Buddhism which places a lot of emphasis on meditation ("Zen" in Chinese is Ch'an which came from dhyana - absorption). It is sometimes described as a direct or steep method or the method of no method. It is not easy to see exactly what Zen masters mean when you read their dialogues - koans or mondo. Practice is the key, because it is not a philosophy that can be comprehended purely by logical powers.

So if you want to find out about Zen, you should seek out a Zen centre and practice under a teacher.

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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by Ervin » Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:14 pm

Thanks for the advice but I am happy with Eckhart Tolle meditation meetup, these forums and I am awaiting now for the activation of the Zen Buddhism forum . The guy Stefan that organises meetings is Sri Lankan and I think his background from way before is in Buddhism and Catholicism.

And there are others with knowledge about Buddhism. This bloke was talking about Zen , but he was talking to fast, the stuff was to technical, it was the names of scriptures, stuff like that, so i just ended up switching of and I gave what i thought is the meaning of Zen wich is pretty much what I said in the first post.

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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by Buckwheat » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:03 pm

Zen takes a bit of pride in being confusing, confounding. That's why the first Koan to study is: "You know the sound of two hands clapping. Now, what is the sound of one hand clapping?" Does it make sense...? Not rational sense.

It started with the flower sermon, where the Buddha prepared to make a dhamma talk, and then just twirled a flower between his fingers. One monk in the audience understood what the Buddha meant, and gave a smile which the Buddha recognized as enlightenment. Then Bodhidharma brought it to China, and basically just stared at a wall for something like 10 years straight, setting an example. His lineage lasted for six patriarch's, the final of which gave the "Platform Sutra".

I highly recommend reading "The Platform Sutra" for two reasons: it's fairly straightforward and accessible (for zen) and because it's all over the web. Other recommended readings are "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki (Japanese), "Buddhism Plain and Simple" by Steve Hagen (American), or anything by Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese). If you get bored or think you really have Zen pinned down, open up Dogen's "Shōbōgenzō". It is very humbling.

As for your apparent desire for quick realization of the essence of Zen... most masters took 20-50 years of very astute practice before they got to the heart of Buddhism, so you'll need to add some patience to your urgency - the six paramitas (perfections) in Zen are:


Practice those and you will be free from delusion and suffering. :anjali:

Sit in meditation, relaxing the mind, watching the breath. Then see impermanence and uncertainty leading to craving for certainty, leading to suffering. When you've got that down, stop identifying with your cravings and suffering should slowly fade. To stop identifying with cravings, practice the six perfections. Obsess over generosity, a strong foundation for any spiritual practice. Practice virtue until you think if you give up anything else, you will wither away. Be patient, not expecting immediate results, but working diligently toward those eventual results. Concentrate on the body and mind, taking the breath as your anchor. What is all this effort focused towards? Realizing transcendent wisdom, meaning perception of impermanence, craving, and suffering, and how to end the cycle with perception of emptiness. Then go back to the beginning, expressing your wisdom through generosity, virtue.... etc.

Hope this helps.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by Ervin » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:29 pm

I don't see how can you understand what someone means unless they tell you what they mean, having in mind that that would have to be the truth wich is impossible to know 100%.

Not everybody is a spiritual teacher because they have good intentions. People do different things for different reasons. Let me give you hint. A famous black magic entity said that everything we do is magic. His name was Alister Crowley. I say, yes its true. I will only ad that that's the case only if you do it for certain reasons and believe in it. To a certain extent that is.

I see some religious rituals same as ritual magic rituals. No different. But that's to me. Of course, a lot depends on what you know, believe or the reasons tor doing what you are doing.


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Re: Whats the meaning of Zen Buddhism?

Post by m0rl0ck » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:44 am

Zen buddhism is first and foremost buddhism. In real zen there is no pride in being cryptic, its just that words fall short of expressing what zen is really about. Wikipedia, i agree, is a good start, also there is a website called everydayzen.org that is a good resource.
Many find zen cryptic because what is being expressed may sometimes be beyond the understanding of many, other than seasoned practicioners. Finding it cryptic, some flatter their intelligence by deciding that its only value is in validating nonsense, validating ego and validating an "anything goes" attitude. Thats not zen, thats just people looking for an excuse to behave or beleive however or in whatever they want.
If you are truly interested in zen buddhism take care that the information you get comes from reputable sources.

EDIT: also checkout wzen.org after you get some basic grounding, the dharma talks there are good.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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