Zen   禅

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A typical Zen garden: simple aesthetic and harmonious.

A typical Zen garden: simple aesthetic and harmonious.

Zazen, sitting meditation characterizes the road on the way Soto Zen.

Zazen, sitting meditation characterizes the road on the way Soto Zen.

Print Zen Dharma representative and mushotoku without profit motive, the rule of Zen.

Print Zen Dharma representative and mushotoku without profit motive, the rule of Zen.

A Spiritual Journey

Originally from India, Zen meditation and school (dhyana in Sanskrit, chan in Chinese, son in Korean) is only one of the many branches of Japanese Buddhism.

Buddhism in Japan appeared in the middle of the sixth century. This was the Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, practiced in large parts of East Asia. It put an emphasis on compassion, and was based on the ideal of the bodhisattva (a belief that work done for the good of others can lead to nirvana, the ultimate liberation).

Much later, at the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Zen was introduced from China via the kingdoms of Korea by Eisai monks (1141-1215), founders of the Rinzai sect, and Dogen monks (1200-1253), founder of the Soto sect.

Koans, or seemingly illogical questions, are part of the training that Rinzai followers try to master. For example: "A buffalo passes through a latticed window. It’s head, horns, and four legs all pass through. Why can’t the tail pass through as well?" Zazen, seated meditation, and dokusan, a private, heart-to-heart meeting of pupil and master, characterize the path of Soto.  The youngest Zen sect in Japan, called Obaku, started in the 17th century and is close to the Rinzai school.

The School of Life

The purpose of Zen is to achieve sudden enlightenment (satori). How? Physical and mental discipline, a drive for mastery of time and a sense of space. Why? To combat the enemy within, the ignorant self with fears and illusions. The techniques and exercises of monks have strongly influenced Japanese civilization and the arts, well beyond the spiritual realm.

Practice upon practice leads to a personal spiritual journey. The followers of Zen reject intellectual fireworks and worldly frivolities. They prefer the experience of reality, here and now.

Participate in a real zen meditation in Tokyo with Voyagin.

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