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Zen is simple but takes a lifetime to grasp!
Two and a half thousand years ago there was an Indian man that went by the name of the Siddhartha Gautama, now known as the Buddha who was born in India in the sixth century B.C. in what is now called the modern Nepal.
Siddhartha the Buddha discovered a few interesting things about life and the mind.
The Buddha was not a God or a Prophet, he was a human being who observed great suffering all around him and after many years of reflection and consideration he decided to leave everyday life as he knew it and went into the wilderness as a mendicant in search of some higher understanding of life and the self.
He searched for the meaning of life and after several years of meditative practice both alone and with other wise teachers, he experienced something called enlightenment.
As a result of his knowledge and insights in meditative practice, a way was born teaching a pathway for others to follow and acquire the same insights and knowledge about life and death and the universe as he did. This became Buddhism.
Many centuries later the practice of Soto Zen was born form this same Buddhist practice which involves sitting facing a blank wall in a meditative position. This was named and formed by a 13th century monk by the name of Dogen.
Zen does not believe in a supernatural beings or supreme Gods.
Zen does not practice as a religion or prayer but focuses the mind on the here and now, on YOU, the SELF, right now on the here and now and living one’s life in the moment in a simple way travelling the middle path throughout life.
Now it gets complex by being simplistic, keep focused!
Zen does not worship gods or idols.
In Zen everything is connected, everything is relative and everything is interwoven and one with each other and nothing is separate. (Jung).
Everything is bound up and one and the same. Nothing separates anything or everything. It is only your thoughts and ideas that things appear separate such as the ‘I’ or the self which it is not.
There is no separation between all things including you and I, meaning you, us and we.
We are all one and the same therefore if nothing is separate who do we pray or worship?
Bowing to any image such as a Buddha statue or picture is simply an act of respect and appreciation for the teachings and also to remind the mind to remain compliant or obedient to the rules that keep the mind focus and on the travelling path to higher understanding and deepening of the meditative practice.
Zen is truly the spirit of all things, the spirit of the self or the spirit of humankind and that includes all things good and bad beautiful and ugly because nothing is separate, everything is one and the same therefore you are one with a nuclear missile and what it can do to the world.
Zen and zazen can be incorporated into every walk of life including atheism or religion.
Zen is a practice in the way of doing and being and in the focusing of the mind.
You can apply Zen or Zen psychology thinking to achieve anything in your life and to those who have a belief or religion it and can be incorporated as a tool to help you in that belief or practice.
Zen does not frown upon anything; it just does not enter into things or fuel them. For example human sexuality is purely natural and is part of reproduction to keep human beings alive.
In Zen we understand desire, feelings and emotions, love and hate. We do not push them away, we simply embrace, identify and let them go by deepening the practice of zazen.
Desires for good or bad are part of life and we can evolve or grow or develop without them or against them. They must be fully understood not dismissed or buried.
You could never have got to where you are now in your life at this very precise moment without your desires and your emotions and feelings. Desire is everything and everywhere and it is also the cause of all human suffering. Desire for anything and everything including water and food is absolutely essential.
In the early stages of Zen we must fully understand desire and thoughts and further arising thoughts to fully let desire go.
Zen is to keep your mind in the here and now clear doing just one thing at a time. The best way to demonstrate and explain that is to use this pages writing as an example and as you are reading this page and keeping your mind in the here and now without multiple things all taking place at the same time.
When you’re doing a thing, do it to the full without distractions and with complete focus and passion and commitment so that it is completed fully in the here and now by keeping your mind on that task at hand.
Zen will help you to concentrate and focus your mind on any task at hand without distraction or veering off onto other things.
In Zen when you are eating, then you are just eating, when you’re walking, you are just walking, when you’re admiring the scenery then it’s just the scenery.
In Zen we care about the here and now only and not preoccupy the mind with death, heaven, hell, past lives or afterlife or ideas of reincarnation or Gods.
All these things are theories only and no one can truly tell you what will happen when you die and those that do are only sharing their theories and ideas or powerful beliefs.
Anyone who is telling you what will happen after life has mental illness or delusion or belief in what was told them. (Memes).
In Zen there is no interest or preoccupation with what will happen after you die and an understanding of this is said to be part of enlightenment, therefore in Zen the wood cannot see the ashes and the ashes cannot see the wood.
In Zen everything is stripped back and as the mind is focused on core essentials such as our true nature which is emptiness and nothingness and that everything that is in the world is that of the mind and that the whole world and universe is experienced and perceived by the human mind in the here and now and only will ever be in the here and now and that the past and the present and the perceived future can only ever be experienced in the here and now at this very precise moment now and this very moment that you try to hold or grasp this very moment now is immediately gone and is replaced by a new moment and a new thought and so that cycle continues nonstop.
At some point you will die and everything that you are will be lost and gone forever but even at this point, of this perception of the future, it can only be experienced now in the here and now, right now in your thoughts only, so the occurrence of your death is imagined now and the perceived point at some time in the future is only experienced now and that whole experience and perception can only be experienced now in this precise moment only.
Any perceived point in the future is a point of imagination in your mind right now only.
Recalling any events from the past is brought into the present now, therefore the past and present or the current and future can only ever occur or be experienced now within this moment now.
Every single moment that is experienced can only ever be experienced now in this moment. All moments are the same moment all occurring at the same time now.
It is this moment now which is the only real moment in the universe.
This moment has changed at the speed of light to be replaced by a new moment with a new thought and so on. Therefore in Zen everything is in a state of change or a state of flux and that you cannot hold down a single thought or a moment because it is in a permanent constant state of change.
In Zen all of life is a mere reflection off the surface of water and that whilst all reality is real, it is not real at the same time otherwise known as illusory.
Obviously when someone experiences pain and suffering it is as real as real can be and whilst it is real, it is not real at the same time because it is illusory.
Zen strips back everything and focuses the mind in the here and now because the nature of everything is in a constant permanent state of change and each changing moment replaces the next one, therefore in truth nothing is real only what you think it is including all things that you think.
The whole universe as you know it, as you feel it and experience and think it right now is exactly that, which is a thought .
The whole universe is the sum total of your thought right now and that the universe cannot be experienced without thought.
The universe is thought and thought is mind and everything within mind is the universe and everything within the universe is the mind.
A lifetime practice of Zen aims to break the mind free from this world.
The sum total of everything is mind and thought, in this moment now and no other.
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