ZEN is known as a “school of thought” for Buddhism and is the most important revolution in human consciousness. It is the heart of every true and living religious tradition. The great Master Dogen Zenji who expressed and established wisdom and compassion of the Buddha in the 13th century in Japan, was saying 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 on tens of thousands of other things.” This enlightenment helps identify the unity of the self with the universe.
Zazen is the type of contemplation and meditation, in a word, meditation in the heart of ZEN practice. Literally, Zazen is how we call the study of ourself. The word Zazen, a Japanese term that was latinified stems from the words Z – 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 his own enlightenment, the Buddha was sitting in this position and the practice of ZEN returns in the same sitting position again and again for 2500 years, from generation to generation unaltered. This philosophy 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 approximately. The monitoring of this practice seems very easy, but like so many others, it requires commitment and dedication for someone to reach its depth and discover its power.
“Here and now” is the key concept. What is most important is the present. 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. It is appropriate for everyone to be present in the absolute meaning of the word in every move: to concentrate here and now, this is the lesson of ZEN. It is equally important to “just sit” (sikantaza), “without excuse, without purpose nor selfishness” (mousotokou).
We learn to be freed 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 develops, which is the power of giving.
The Western 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 outside world but also to the inner world. The position of our body is directly linked 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.
In Zen Center we are focusing on the practice of Zazen that 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.
If you are interested in reading more about zen we suggest :
ARTICLES ON THE INTERNET
- Bikkhu Bodhi : The Eightfold Path http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/noble8path6.pdf
- Damapada: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf/damapada.pdf
- Majjhima Nikaya (talks by the Buddha) http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/
- Debate of King Milinda http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/milinda.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”
- Dalai Lama :“Healing Anger”
- Pema Chodron: “ When things fall apart”
- Puddingcombe: “Make some Headspace” (a simple, ‘ Hands on’ book on meditation)
- Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman: “ The Dude and the Zen Master”
- Philip Kapleau : “ The three Pillars of Zen”
- John Daido Loori : “The Zen of Creativity”
- Katsuki Sekida ‘’Zen Training, Methods & Philosophy’’,
- Taisen Deshimaru, ‘’The Zen Way to the Martial Arts’’