Our everyday lives can be hectic and stressful with kids, work, chores, pets, bills, and everything in-between. When I find ways to incorporate meditation, peace, purposefulness, and intention, I can experience the beauty that is Zen Buddhism.
Zen Buddhism is the achievement of enlightenment through meditation, intuition, labor, and self-discovery. Its philosophy includes understanding and focusing on spiritual needs, and its beliefs include awakening, Buddha, universal energy, intentions bringing karma, and focus on the present.
Have you ever felt so stressed out by everyday routine but didn’t know how to take a break? Are you looking for greater meaning and purpose in your life? Through Zen Buddhism, we can connect with our true selves and find peace in our lives.
What is Zen Buddhism?
Let’s break this down. Zen is defined as a state of enlightenment, or calm attentiveness (think meditation), where your intuition guides you rather than consciously thinking. Buddhism is the largest religion that started over 2,500 years ago and believes in achieving enlightenment through meditation, labor, and good behavior.
Zen Buddhism originates from China and is rooted in Taoism and Indian Mahayana Buddhism, yet it is not a religion. Its essence is that all humans are Buddhas, and we just have to discover that ourselves.
Zen Buddhism Philosophy
The Zen Buddhism philosophy is achieving enlightenment through the original mind or nature directly, but without using intellect. It’s an intuitive understanding, focused on just understanding it but not philosophizing about it.
There is transformation through living and experiencing stress, but Zen helps one overcome the paradigm of the conscious state through meditation and connecting with nature.
Junxi Qian of the University of Hong Kong called Zen Buddhism a redemptive force in assisting urban inhabitants of China in coping with modernization and its alienating effects. This is at the core of the Zen Buddhism philosophy-that human life is about suffering, and the focus should be on spiritual needs to get to the next life.
Zen Buddhism Beliefs
Zen Buddhism is known for its practical and direct approach to awakening, encouraging movement beyond intellectual understanding and experiencing truth directly through direct realization.
It emphasizes direct experience and the practice of meditation to attain enlightenment. Zen Buddhism goes far beyond meditation and enlightenment. It’s about feeling peace and awakening but requires proper instruction. Zen Buddhism beliefs include the following:
- Buddha is not a supreme being like God is to Christians.
- Zen Buddhists believe in universal energy rather than reincarnation.
- Intentions bring karma, good and bad.
- It is important to focus on the present and this life.
- Meditation is key to awakening your inner nature, wisdom, and compassion.
- You cannot know reality until you are enlightened.
- The mind is central to everything.
Zen Buddhism for Beginners
Based on the beliefs above, Zen Buddhism sounds very complex and challenging for such a minimalist-style practice; however, it really is not. If you’re interested in pursuing this, let’s review Zen Buddhism for beginners and how you can incorporate it into your daily life.
How to Practice Zen Buddhism
Practicing Zen Buddhism isn’t about suffering and pain but about finding your inner peace and being more mindful about everything. It doesn’t have to be difficult to begin; in fact, it could start as minor alterations to your daily schedule. Here’s how to practice Zen Buddhism throughout your day:
1. Set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier. Use this time to breathe and be intentional.
2. Open a window to cleanse the air and your mind.
3. Take a few minutes to clean and organize your space. Not a big clean-but enough to have a clean space and spend less time cleaning on the weekend.
4. Practice issoku with your meals, mindfully eating without other activities like scrolling through social media.
5. Take real, full breaks. Rest your mind, resist the urge to check your phone, or accomplish anything other than stepping outside and stretching.
6. Eat to satisfaction, not fullness. This will promote stable energy and keep you motivated.
7. Accomplish the hard stuff first. This can help make the rest of your day more productive.
8. Set boundaries. Separate work life from home life.
9. Relax at the end of the day. Light candles, listen to music, ease your mind, and rest.
10. Be grateful. Take a few minutes each day to express your gratitude for even the small things in your life.
It can be difficult to incorporate all of these things into your life at once, we tend to be so ingrained in our unhealthy practices, and change is daunting. Start with one or two of these suggestions and increase them as you get comfortable with your new routine. It will be so rewarding!
Types of Zen Buddhism
Once you begin practicing zen buddhism, you might also consider the different types of Zen Buddhism. These are all based on meditation to pursue enlightenment, but with different origins and slightly different practices.
Japanese Zen Buddhism
The Japanese are very focused on nature and remaining close to nature. Essential to that is Japanese Zen Buddhism, which centers around living creatures and seeing your true nature.
According to Shigenori Nagatomo of Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is wisdom and compassion when associating with self, others, and nature every day. There is transformation through living and experiencing stress, but Zen helps one overcome the paradigm of the conscious state through meditation and connecting with nature.
Rinzai emphasizes kensho experience, or insight versus experience, for finding enlightenment.
Soto Zen Buddhism
Soto is a method of meditation and quiet, or zazen, to obtain enlightenment. It is also the largest and oldest of Japanese Zen Buddhist sects. Soto Zen Buddhism is a combination of meditation and philosophical thought. This meditative practice includes awareness of thoughts and how they stream through our minds while not allowing them to interfere. There are no content, objects, or anchors for this style of meditation, only thoughts coming and going.
Rinzai Zen Buddhism
Rinzai Zen Buddhism comes from a school in China where Zen Buddhism originated. Rinzai emphasizes kensho experience, or insight versus experience, for finding enlightenment. It also uses koan contemplation and zazen, which are realized experiences and zen meditation. Three koan collections are Biyan Lu, Congrong Lu, and Wumenguan and are still used in China.
Zen Buddhism Compared to Other Buddhism
Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism
The main difference between Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism is complexity. Tibetan style is very elaborate, originates from Tibet, and is focused on mantras. Zen Buddhism is widely spread across Japan and focuses on the breath.
Zen Buddhism and Buddhism
Zen Buddhism and Buddhism are very similar in practice, and the overarching goals of both are essentially the same. On a detailed level, however, there are distinct differences. The goal of Buddhism is enlightenment through release from the life-death cycle and achieving nirvana. Zen Buddhism’s goal is enlightenment through seeing the original mind without intellect.
In this helpful video learn the similarities and differences between nirvana and enlightenment and the ultimate goal of a Buddhist.
How is Zen Buddhism different from Buddhism?
Zen Buddhism is different from Buddhism in its simplicity. They both strive for enlightenment but through different means.
What are Zen Buddhism beliefs?
Zen Buddhism beliefs include universal energy, good intention, focus on the present, meditation is key to awakening, and the mind is central to everything.
What type of Buddhism is Zen?
Zen Buddhism comes from a combination of Taoism and Indian Mahayana.
The Topic of Zen Buddism that Real People Would Like to Learn About the Most
I asked friends and family if they are familiar with Zen Buddhism and which topic they would like to know more about related to Zen Buddhism (Practices, Philosophy, Books, etc.) Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll, and the percentages of their responses.
- Alone Time – Its Value, Options, and How to Make Some
- Solitude Vs Loneliness – Learn the Benefits and Balance
- Solitude – How to Benefit from Peace and Alone Time
- Zen Meditation – Gaining Calm Through Attention and Intuition
- Zazen – A Meditation Practice for Mindfulness and Calm
Zen Buddhism can be a beneficial practice for beginners to the experienced and enlightened. Through connection with the inner mind and thoughts, nature, and life, we can find our true selves and peace in our lives. Whether it’s just the extra 30 minutes in the morning or a daily routine of meditation and mindfulness, Zen is a wonderful thing to experience and cultivate. Will you give Zen Buddhism a try?