Good Example Of Zen Buddhism Essay
Existing as a practice that is too difficult to fully define with words, Zen Buddhism is, essentially, the art of self-realization and spiritual awakening. There are many things it is not, and yet it touches those aspects of life that cannot hold it, permeating every last thing as a basis for the understanding of why, how, and the patterns of life that enfold those who live within it. It is not a theory, a religion, or a belief, it simply is, and that remains enough for those who practice Zen Buddhism, that it remain what it is and not be labeled as anything else. When the mind is silent, everything becomes clear.
In essence the idea “to live is to die” is perfectly Zen in that it goes along with what is described as coming out of the world, not coming into it. One of the most important underlying concepts of Zen is that humanity is a part of this world, not apart from it as some might like to think. We are all a product of our world, as we all came from the world in one manner or another since the beginning. It is a difficult concept to grasp in its fullest form all at once, but in order to understand it adequately one must let go of a great many preconceptions that might otherwise limit the realization that humanity is in effect geared to die. We are born, we grow, we age, and in the end, we die.
Many upon many people would deny this concept, citing the many workings and wonders that mankind had been responsible for during our collective time within the world, but then again another concept must be brought to bear. Nothing is forever, all things are impermanent as Zen Buddhism teaches, and as is seen quite easily through the passage of time. There are many things that may last for a very long time in regards to the life of human beings, but even those will pass, and will be reclaimed by the world from which they came. So in essence the phrase “to live is to die” means that as we come from the world, so must we return to it in time.
Material things are, in the eyes of those who practice Zen, little more than what they really are, materials that are essentially just another part of the larger world, things of use that are otherwise unimportant and not worthy of the attention that is lavished upon their form and function so often. It is the Zen mindset that even the body is questioned as to its necessity and use, the wonderment of why we are here now and why a constant that is but another distraction to cloud the mind. (Reps, Senzaki, 1998) When we realize the impermanent nature of those things we covet and our own selves it helps to quiet the mind and in doing so can allow realization to occur, thereby instilling the sense of peace and nothingness that brings forth answers concerning how life can be changed, adapted, and even bettered from its current state.
It is by far and large not an imperfect technique and not entirely possible for every last mind, but Zen Buddhism is a means to finding a new and perhaps more amenable way to live one’s life in a manner more befitting the world around them. This would then allow a chance for coexistence and a peaceful resolution to life’s many problems rather than a continual struggle that only tends to shorten the lifespan of many and individual. Such a practice has shown over and over throughout history and even in recent times that problem resolution is best affected when the individual, or group, are in a calm, transparent state of mind rather than in an agitated, overly frustrated mood that can cloud the line of reasonable and rational thinking and make matters infinitely worse at times. Through Zen teachings it is possible to open one’s mind to other avenues of thought, promote critical thinking, and even seek to improve the mental and emotional health of the individual.
When a person is calm they are able to think without rushing to conclusions, they are able to reason, and they are able to come to conclusions that might not have been afforded to them in times of stress and confusion. Through Zen an individual can find that what they deem as overly important no longer carries the vital, life-altering stress that would otherwise keep many people upon their knees emotionally and mentally, thereby enacting a type of stress that comes with being bound by one’s own convictions and mental obligations. Zen is about emptying the mind, finding a peace within the knowledge that nothing in this world is permanent and that among the many ways to attain peace of mind it is important to take in everything and let it go all at once.
Clear thinking allows human beings to focus, to take life a little less seriously, and to enjoy every last breath, every little wonder, and every last marvel the world around us has to offer. We are not set apart from the world, but rather are a part of it and everything that is encompassed within. Our every breath serves to add to the world and to take from it equally, a constant cycle that does not end, but continues on as we are born to live and in turn live to die. Anything and everything that comes between those points of the endless cycle are the human experience, the chance to see, hear, feel, and experience the life that is given in a manner that befits our place within the world.
In this manner Zen teachings can open our eyes to the wonders we miss so often, and allow us to truly appreciate the world that we have come from. In this manner human beings are taught how to better serve the world they live upon, and to take care and nurture it so that it will in turn nurture them. This will serve to enable the continued survival of humanity, as it allows the world to maintain its balance and thereby remain capable of providing its many inhabitants with the needed materials to survive and flourish.
It is possible, and it is very attainable, but the matter remains that it is not the most popular of views in a world where instant gratification is the norm. Zen is not about having everything right now, or how quickly one can change their life, or even the key to turning everything around because of one key component to life that has been discovered through meditation. Zen Buddhism is more or less the art of self-realization through the teachings of Buddha, who, according to various stories, was at one time a very well to do prince who gave up everything he had to seek enlightenment. Buddha realized that there is no permanence to material things, and no true peace without first emptying the mind and heart of what is already known.
Through this method people can find the means to a more refined, morally clear lifestyle, through which a sense of ethical harmony can be found. In attaining self-realization it is made clear as to how shortcomings in one’s life can affect them and those around them. Through this method it is possible to therefore better understand how to apply oneself in regards to real life situations in which morality plays a key role.
Through his five mindfulness trainings, author and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches the ideal and idea of impermanence, a necessary exercise to calm the mind and relieve tension, fear, and worry over the growing threat of a world that can no longer sustain its people. (Hanh, 2008) Through the method of becoming aware of impermanence one can realize that one day all will fade into nothing, and what came before will no longer matter.
It is not a defeatist or nihilistic attitude to adopt, but rather one of serenity and calm, of inner peace and a sense that they are just one piece in the entirety of the world. Through these teachings and meditation it is possible to realize that nothing is permanent, but it is all a part of a much greater cycle. Through the art of Zen it is possible to realize our place in that cycle.
Hanh, Thich Nhat. (2008). The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology.
Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
Reps, Paul; Senzaki, Nyogen. (1998). Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen
Writings. Vermont: Tuttle Publishing