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Buddhism
introduction to Buddhism and its permutations

Basic Zen

 

dragonThe way to do anything is to do it the way a person of Zen would do it, and that way is to just do it, simply that. You must go ahead and do it without thinking about it, worrying about it, analysing it etc., just do it. Accept it for what it is and then forget about it. Zen is found, and lies in the way we do things, a person of Zen will be noticeably different in the way they act and do ordinary things.

A person of Zen does not put things off till tomorrow, now is always the best time for anything and everything to be done. Do it before your emotions intervene, then your act will be one out of a pure heart and involuntary mind, with no purpose or desire, no liking or disliking. Do not hold it in your heart after it has been done, "walk on".

Zen cannot be described, only experienced. You can talk about it, read about it, describe it, but you need to live it, as it does not conform to rules. It is a doctrine which has no form but points directly to the soul of a person, allowing you to pierce the veil which hides us from our innermost mind.

The person of Zen when eating simply eats with full concentration, one thing at a time and not allowing the mind to become influenced or distributed by other things, as is the usual way of most people. When practising a martial art you concentrate on each technique, perform it, accept it for what it is, then leave it.

The religion of Zen was adopted by the Samurai who were attracted by its directness, efficiency and simplicity. It was popular with the cult of Bushindo because it has an absolute contempt of death. Being warriors, who had to face death either through the hands of an enemy or perhaps through their own hands in the service of their Lord, needed a religion through which they could live each moment with honour and dignity but ready at an instance to give their life in an act of unselfish devotion.

To Western eyes it can seem as if the Zen person has no feelings or compassion, because to the unseeing eye they appear unmoved by anything. This is not true however. They are wary of showing their feelings and do not cloak them with a false show of words. They are wary of exaggerating and know full well the dangers of actually saying more than you feel and meaning less than you say. Their feelings are really true and deep for them to be expressed in mere words as they truly embrace in their compassion and joy for a feeling of love for all things in the world. Mere words are less than adequate in this situation.

To those encountering this silence from a truly enlightened person of Zen it is not a silence of emptiness of indifference, but rather one of peace and calmness which gathers strength about it and gives the person courage to go on and face the world after their loss and grief. Sincere feelings can leap the barrier from mind to mind and do not need to be expressed in mere words. The Zen person is therefore quite content to hold their feelings and foster them. It really goes without saying that a true person of Zen cannot have hate in their heart, letting everyone have a share of their capacity for love, without expecting or needing any love in return. They love selflessly and impartially with an irresistible and outstanding power, so that even inert things such as animals and plants open up and become trustful to it. It is the purest form of love with requital.

Being a person of Zen they will refrain from pushing Zen at you, not giving you unwanted or unasked for advice but will wait instead until you feel the need to ask them and then begin to start your own search for the truth. Then and only then will they give advice freely and generously to set you on your path.

The aim of Zen is to bring the searcher to "satori", to achieve enlightenment in this world, and here and now, not waiting until death to go to a better place, but to realise right here and now and to seek it out. One of the methods used to bring the seeker to "satori" is the use of the Zen Koan, the unanswerable question, known even to many people who do not even know what Zen means or is. Everyone has heard of the famous Koan "what is the sound made by one hand clapping". The idea behind the koan is to force the mind into a corner, to answer the unanswerable question, which when answered allows you to extradite yourself in a great leap, this escape is "satori". It goes behind the intellect, beyond common sense.

There are many koans and each has its own identification, which only the sincere, dedicated and determined mind will perceive the answer to. Once solved further koans are usually given to deepen and strengthen the "satori" experience. The experience of "satori" may be achieved in as short a time of only a few days or taken as long as many years to achieve. It is impossible to give a time scale to say when and where it will be experienced; it depends on just how much you really want it.

Zen, like the martial arts, has a testing system. This takes place in a secluded room and is a question - answer exchange between the pupil and the Master. In this way the student has the personal guidance of the Master. The Master can tell by the answer or action of the pupil to the question asked as to the strength or non-existence of the "satori" experienced by him. There is a place for Zen in the traditional martial arts, where the emphasis is not on winning some contest or tournament but on performing oneself.

If you wish to see it with your own eyes, have no fixed thoughts either for or against it. Zen meditation and practice will for the martial artist bring a mental poise with spiritual peace and calm. It is a way of obtaining an awareness of the world, nature and self with an ever-deepening degree of understanding and enlightenment. Like everything it is not an easy way, and to find a Master to study under in the West is not easy either, but they are here out there. Search and your search will be rewarded.

Raymond Wood 7th Dan Kyoshi Kyushindo

 

text from Ray Wood (possibly attributed to an an original unknown author)

 

Zen cannot be described, only experienced. You can talk about it, read about it, describe it, but you need to live it, as it does not conform to rules.


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