Zen is known as a meditation school of Buddhism and is perhaps the most important revolution in human consciousness. It is the heart of every true and living spiritual tradition. The great Master Dogen Zenji who expressed and established wisdom and compassion of Zen in the 13th century in Japan, says that “To study the Way of the Buddha, is to study yourself, to study yourself means to forget yourself and to forget yourself leads to be enlightened by the myriad things.” Enlightenment means to reveal the unity of the self with the universe.
Zazen is the type of contemplation and meditation which is the heart of Zen practice. Literally, Zazen is how we call the study of ourself. The word Zazen, a Japanese term that stems from the words Za – meaning “to sit” – and Zen-meaning “to meditate and concentrate”. Basically, Zazen aims to restore the mind to its original state which is pure and clean and has the ability to see the world as it really is. A significant element to the practice of Zazen is the silence and especially the enlightenment resulting from such silence.
During enlightenment, Buddha sat in this position and Zen returns in the same sitting position again and again for 2500 years, from generation to generation unaltered. This practise has survived and traveled from India to China and Japan and from there across the length and breadth of Asia to reach the West in the 20th century. This practice seems very easy, but like everything else, it requires dedication if someone wishes to reach its depth and discover its power.
“Here and now” is the key concept. Nothing else exists apart from the present moment. This present moment is reality itself. Most of us tend to think in agony the past or the future, rather than concentrate entirely their attention to the acts, words and thoughts of the moment. Everyone needs to be present in the absolute meaning of the word in every action: to concentrate here and now, this is the lesson of Zen. This is what Zazen is all about, to “just sit” (sikantaza), “without excuse, without purpose nor selfishness” (mousotokou).
We free our mind from attachments and we increase our internal energy without wasting it so we can channel it in a beneficial way for our mental and physical health. Gradually, compassion arises, and along with it the power of giving.
The modern man is accustomed to separate the body, breath and mind, but in Zazen all this works as one truth, one reality. The first element to watch is the position of the body, since the body itself has its own way of communicating to the outer world but also to the inner world. The position of our body is directly related to what happens in our minds and our breathing. The most effective body position that one wants to achieve in the practice of Zazen is the stable, symmetrical posture of Buddha, where the tension and relaxation would be equal.
At Zen Center we are training in the practice of Zazen, which is beneficial for all people, regardless of gender, nationality, religion and social class. In Zen neither you add nor subtract, you just experience the wholeness.
ARTICLES ON THE INTERNET
- Damapada: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf/damapada.pdf
- Thich Naht Hanh: The Miracle of Mindfulness http://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich Nhat Hanh – The Miracle of Mindfulness.pdf
- Sekkei Harada Roshi: The Key to Zen http://www.lionsroar.com/the-key-to-zen/
BOOKS IN ENGLISH
- Thich Nhat Hanh :
- “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching”
- “Being Peace”
- “Present Moment”
- “The Heart of Understanding”
- “Peace is every step”
- Suzuki Roshi : “Zen mind,Beginners mind”
- Joko Beck :
- “Everyday Zen”
- “Nothing Special:Living Zen”
- Reb Anderson: “Being Upright”
- Philip Kapleau : “ The three Pillars of Zen”
- John Daido Loori : “The Zen of Creativity”, “The art of just sitting”
- Katsuki Sekida: ‘’Zen Training, Methods & Philosophy’’,
- Taisen Deshimaru: ‘’The Zen Way to the Martial Arts’’