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Zen

ZEN.

One of the most important scholars of Zen Buddhism, Daisetz Suzuki, cogently explained the origins of Zen Buddhism in 1959:

Zen is one of the products of the Chinese mind after its contact with Indian thought, which was introduced into China in the first century c.e. through the medium of Buddhist teachings. There were some aspects of Buddhism in the form in which it came to China that the people of the Middle Kingdom did not quite cherish: for instance, its advocacy of a homeless life, its transcendentalism or world-fleeing and life-denying tendency, and so on. At the same time, its profound philosophy, its subtle dialectics and penetrating analyses and speculations, stirred Chinese thinkers, especially Taoists. (p. 3)

For several centuries in China, it was thought that Buddhism was a form of Daoism returning from India along the Silk Roads. Bernard Faure relates: "At the end of his life Laozi, in the guise of the Buddha, was said to have departed to the west to convert the barbarians. To punish them for their initial lack of faith, he condemned them to celibacy" (p. 39). Conversely, the Buddhists claimed that Laozi and Confucius were sent to China to pave the way for Buddhism. In any event, many forms of Buddhism arrived in China from India.

Between the sixth and tenth centuries, Buddhism reached its apex in China with the appearance of four schools: Tiantai (Celestial Platform), Huayan (Flower Garland), Jingtu (Pure Land), and Chan (Meditation). The Sanskrit word dhyana is transcribed as Chan in Chinese and Zen in Japanese, meaning "collectiveness of mind or meditative absorption in which all dualistic distinctions like I/you, subject/object, and true/false are eliminated" (Schuhmacher and Woerner, p. 441). Chan is a melding of Dhyana Buddhism with its emphasis on the stillness of meditation toward enlightenment or awakening (wu, satori) and Daoism with its emphasis on nonaction (wuwei ) as the way of the water. Bodhidharma (470543), the twenty-eighth patriarch after Shakyamuni Buddha, arrived from India at the Shaolin temple in China, where he practiced seated meditation (zuochan, zazen ) for nine years in front of a wall. This meditation aimed to clear the mind of daily desires while allowing the sitter to connect his or her true nature with the universe through the achieving of śūnyata (kong, ku, emptiness). Ninian Smart states that Bodhidharma, the first patriarch, is reputed to have summarized his teaching as follows: "A special transmission outside the scriptures; No basis in words or writing; Direct pointing to the mind of people; Insight into one's nature and attainment of Buddhahood" (p. 126).

The sixth patriarch, Huineng (638713), refined Bodhidharma's teachings by emphasizing master-student relationships in monasteries and meditation upon what later would become "public documents" (gongan, koan) or unsolvable riddles. One day Huineng encountered two monks arguing about a flag waving in the breeze. One monk said that the flag was inanimate and that only the wind made it flutter. The other monk said there was no flapping at all because only the wind moved. Huineng intervened. He said that neither the flag nor the wind moved, only their minds.

Huineng debated with Shenxiu (606706) regarding immediate or gradual enlightenment. He relates:

"Good friends, in the Dharma there is no sudden or gradual, but among people some are keen and others dull. The deluded commend the gradual method; the enlightened practice the sudden teaching. To understand the original mind of yourself is to see into your own original nature. Once enlightened, there is from the outset no distinction between these two methods; those who are not enlightened will for long kalpas be caught in the cycle of transmigration" (Yampolsky, p. 137).

Shenxiu's northern school of gradual enlightenment soon gave way to Huineng's southern school of immediate enlightenment. Willard Oxtoby observes that Huineng's school "became known for freedom of expression and respect for the natural. Similar characteristics are associated with Daoism" (p. 270). At this time, China was ripe for Chan Buddhism. Kenneth Ch'en writes: "For over one hundred and thirty years, from 625 to 755, the T'ang Dynasty had enjoyed tranquility, security, and prosperity without any internal rebellion or external invasion to mar the orderly march of events. During this era all phases of Chinese culture, religion, art, and literature enjoyed a long period of free growth and development" (p. 360).

In the ninth century, the Caodong zong (Caodong school) and Linji zong (Linji school) sects of Chan Buddhism carried on the rivalry of gradual and sudden enlightenment. Caodong favored gradual, silent enlightenment through seated meditation. The gradual stillness of mind is like "the bird hatching the egg" (Oxtoby, p. 272). Linji favored immediate awakening through the practice of shouting, beating, and paradoxical sayings that were later compiled as gongan. Unanticipated shouting and blows between master and pupil could result in enlightenment. Similarly, reflection on riddles could end in a sudden awakening, like "the blossoming of a lotus or the sun emerging from behind the clouds" (Oxtoby, p. 272). The Linji master might answer a student's query "Who is the Buddha?" with the quip "three pounds of flax." Alternatively, the master might propose the riddle "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" The purpose was to encourage the student to abandon all logic and reasoning while searching for peace in the quietude of meditation.

During the Southern Song dynasty of the twelfth century, the interaction of Chinese and Japanese monks stimulated the migration to Japan of Linji (Rinzai Zen) and Caodong (Soto Zen). Eisai (11411215) brought Rinzai and Dogen (12001253) brought Soto. The Kamakura period (11851333) was a watershed for Zen Buddhism. Rinzai's emphasis on the controlled discipline of seated meditation and the contemplation of koan became popular among the ruling samurai clans at Kamakura. Soto's more exclusive focus on seated meditation appealed to the peasantry. Zen's influence in the arts included painting, literature, and calligraphy and carried on well into the modern era. Zen and the sword, Zen and archery, Zen and tea were intimately connected to samurai culture.

The juxtaposition of Zen's humanity and samurai warfare is difficult for Westerners to understand. At Shaolin, the Chan monks practiced martial arts (gongfu ) to keep themselves physically fit while defeating their worst enemy: their own desire. In a world of suffering, desire is the root of misery. To do away with desire is to clear a way to the "extinction" of suffering (nirvana). In Japan the samurai were intimately linked to Zen. If Buddhism is the pure negation of the will as the extinguishing of desire, then Bushido (the warrior's way) is the pure will as the negation of the negation or the annihilation of nirvana. The juxtaposition of Zen and the warrior spirit is the essence of samurai culture. This alluring paradox is one reason that Suzuki's style of Rinzai Zen became popular in the Western world after World War II.

See also Buddhism ; Religion: East and Southeast Asia .

bibliography

Ch'en, Kenneth K. S. Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1964.

Faure, Bernard. Buddhism. Translated by Sean Konecky. New York: Konecky and Konecky, 1998.

Oxtoby, Willard G., ed. World Religions: Eastern Traditions. 2nd ed. Don Mills, Ontario, and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Schuhmacher, Stephan, and Gert Woerner, eds. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen. Boston: Shambhala, 1989.

Smart, Ninian. The World's Religions. 2nd ed. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Suzuki, Daisetz T. Zen and Japanese Culture. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1959.

Yampolsky, Philip, trans. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.

Jay Goulding

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Zen and the body

Zen and the body Zen (Chinese: Ch'an) Buddhism flourished in China and Japan during the formative period in Tang-era China in the seventh and eighth centuries; during the Sung era from the eleventh to the thirteenth century; and during Kamakura-era Japan in the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries. Zen does not appear to put an emphasis on the body, as it is generally referred to as the ‘mind’ school of traditional East Asian philosophy. In its early development in Tang China Zen was closely associated with textual studies of the works of the Yogacara Buddhist school of idealism imported from India, particularly the Lankavatara Sutra, which asserted the inseparability of mind and reality, or of subjective response and external phenomena. Later Zen thought, especially in medieval Japan, developed the doctrine of the One Mind (isshin), which encompasses all aspects of existence, including humans and nature, being and time, and truth and illusion, by drawing on Mahayana Buddhist conceptions of the universal, primordial Buddha-nature.

However, the very emphasis on the unity or nonduality of mind and reality indicates a focus on the role of the body. In that regard, Zen can be considered a ‘body’ school — or a ‘mind/body’ school — because it maintains that mind and body do not exist in opposition but are interrelated on every level. The Zen view of body is articulated in several key doctrines, including the oneness of body-mind (shinjin ichinyo), just-sitting in zazen or meditation-only (shikan taza), and the casting off of body-mind (shinjin datsuraku). These doctrines concerning the body exerted a strong influence on many other aspects of East Asian culture, including the literary, martial and fine arts.

Zen maintains the inseparability, identity, and equalization of mind and body, which invariably and inextricably interact and interpenetrate one another. To some extent, the Zen view derives from the early Buddhist notion of the unity of cognition and bodily sensations (nama-rupa), which stresses that thought formation in the mind is inseparable from the reception of corporeal sense impressions; thus the attachment and ignorance of unenlightenment (samsara) stem from the polarity of pleasant or unpleasant sensations, and the freedom and compassion of enlightenment (nirvana) are based on neutralizing the extreme response that the sense impressions ordinarily undergo. Zen also builds, however, on the East Asian, especially the Taoist, naturalist view that ultimate reality is manifested in each and every concrete phenomenon, including animate and inanimate beings. It is said that there is no difference between the mind/body of oneself and that of all other aspects of existence. The cycles and images of nature are a macrocosm incorporated in the microcosm of the individual body and reflective of either a disturbed or composed mind.

The Zen doctrine of identity is not merely, or even primarily, intended as an abstract ideological argument. Rather it is firmly rooted in a life of religious praxis in which a specific bodily posture — sitting in zazen — takes priority over and serves as the basis of philosophical reflection. The word zazen refers to ‘sitting meditation’ with an emphasis on the somatic component or on composure of the body that fosters the ability to discipline and concentrate the mind. According to the Zen approach, zazen is the fundamental, all-encompassing spiritual activity that vitiates the need for following precepts, prayers, ritual, iconography, and so forth, although many of these elements of religious life are incorporated into the monastic routine. Zazen is not merely the act of sitting but is associated with the practice of gyôjû zaga (walking, standing, sitting, lying) whereby all gestures and postures of the body throughout the 24-hour daily cycle are considered a form of meditation. Eating is an opportunity for contemplation and the hours of sleep are referred to as ‘reclining meditation’. The discipline of zazen serves as the basis for the composition of poetry (according to poet and literary critic Fujiwara Teika), the actor's performance in Noh theatre (according to playwright and theorist Zeami), the training of the samurai warrior (according to bushidô master Takuan Soho), or the ceremonial etiquette of the tea ritual (according to master Rikyu).

Zen also emphasizes the subitaneous experience of spiritual realization or enlightenment. From this standpoint, the body as well as the mind is a domain that may be inauthentic prior to spiritual pursuit, but is eminently correctible by virtue of partaking of the universal Buddha-nature, and is perfectable through meditative discipline. The sudden enlightenment experience is known as the casting off of (the very distinction) of body and mind, as expressed in the fascicle of the Shôbôgenzô on the topic of Genjôkôan (Spontaneous Realization) by Japanese Zen master Dôgen (1200–53):
To study the Buddhist Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by the myriad phenomena of the universe. To be enlightened by the myriad phenomena of the universe is to cast off the body-mind of self and the body-mind of others. With this experience, the traces of enlightenment are eliminated and a life of traceless enlightenment is limitlessly renewed.

Steven Heine

Bibliography

Kim, H. J. (1975). Dôgen Kigen–mystical realist. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Yuasa, Y. (1987). The body: toward an Eastern mind–body theory. SUNY Press, Albany.


See also mind-body problem.

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Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism, Buddhist sect of China and Japan. The name of the sect (Chin. Ch'an, Jap. Zen) derives from the Sanskrit dhyana [meditation]. In China the school early became known for making its central tenet the practice of meditation, rather than adherence to a particular scripture or doctrine.

The founder of Zen in China was the legendary Bodhidharma, who came to China from India in the late 5th cent. AD He taught the practice of "wall-gazing" and espoused the teachings of the Lanka-Vatara Sutra (whose chief doctrine is that of "consciousness-only" ; see Yogacara), which he passed on to his successor Hui-k'o (487–593).

According to tradition, Hui-neng (638–713) became the sixth patriarch of Chinese Zen by superseding his rival in the intuitive grasp of the truth of enlightenment, even though he was illiterate. The Platform Sutra, attributed to Hui-neng, defines enlightenment as the direct seeing of one's "original Mind" or "original Nature," which is Buddha, and this teaching has remained characteristic of Zen. A number of teaching lineages arose after Hui-neng, all claiming descent from him, and teaching the method of "sudden enlightenment" best known in the West by the term satori. In its formative period Zen was influenced by both Taoism and elements of Prajna-Paramita Buddhism (see sunyata).

The 8th and 9th cent. were the "golden age" of Zen, producing such great masters as Ma-tsu, Nan-chuan, Huang-po, Lin-chi, and Chao-chou. The unique Zen teaching style developed, stressing oral instruction and using nonrational forms of dialogue, from which the later koan was derived. In some cases physical violence was used to jolt the student out of dependence on ordinary forms of thought and into the enlightened consciousness. Scholarly knowledge, ritual, and performing good deeds were considered of comparatively little spiritual value.

After the great persecution of Buddhism in 845, Zen emerged as the dominant Chinese sect, due partly to its innate vitality and partly to its isolation in mountain monasteries away from centers of political power. Two main schools of Zen, the Lin-chi (Jap. Rinzai) and the Ts'ao-tung (Jap. Soto), flourished and were transmitted to Japan in the 14th cent. The Rinzai sect placed greater emphasis on the use of the koan and effort to attain sudden enlightenment, while the Soto patriarch Dōgen (1200–1253) emphasized sitting in meditation (zazen) without expectation and with faith in one's own intrinsic state of enlightenment or Buddha-nature.

The austere discipline and practical approach of Zen made it the Buddhism of the medieval Japanese military class. Zen monks occupied positions of political influence and became active in literary and artistic life. Zen monasteries, especially the main temples of Kyoto and Kamakura, were educational as well as religious centers.

The Zen influence on Japanese aesthetics ranges from poetry, calligraphy, and painting to tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and landscape gardening, particularly the distinctive rock-and-sand temple gardens. Japanese Zen declined in the 16th and 17th cent., but its traditional forms were revived by the great Hakuin (1686–1769), from whom all present-day Rinzai masters trace their descent. Zen thought was introduced to the West by the writings of D. T. Suzuki, and interest in the practice of Zen meditation blossomed after World War II, resulting in the establishment of Zen centers in many parts of the United States.

Bibliography

A vast popular literature has grown up around this movement; important works include E. Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery (1971) and R. M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1984). See also E. Fromm, ed., Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis (1960, repr. 1970); D. T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism (new ed., 3 vol., 1971), A Manual of Zen Buddhism (1950, repr. 1960), An Introduction to Zen Buddhism (2d ed. 1957), and Essentials of Zen Buddhism (1962, repr. 1973); H. Dumoulin, A History of Zen Buddhism (1963), and Zen Enlightenment (1979); P. Yampolsky, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (1967); R. F. Sasaki, tr., The Record of Lin-Chi (1975); P. Haskel, tr., Bankei Zen (1984); J. R. Mcrae, The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch'an Buddhism (1986).

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Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism (Jap., zenna or zenno, from reading Chin., ch'an-na or ch'an, a Chin. version of dhyāna). A coalition of related ways for attaining realization, even beyond enlightenment, of the true nature underlying all appearance including one's own—and above all, that there is no duality within appearances, but only the one buddha-nature (buddhatā, busshō).

Chʾan emerged as part of the Mahāyāna development, though naturally it traces its lineage back to the Buddha Śākyamuni. Bodhidharma is recognized as the key figure in the transition to China. Conflict set in over the sixth patriarch, leading to the division into Southern and Northern schools, with the difference of emphasis summarized in the saying, ‘Suddenness of South, gradualness of North’. The Southern school developed into many independent schools, often in relation to other forms of Chinese Buddhism. Tsung-mi lists seven schools (though he includes the Northern school as one), but of these, only two developed important and continuing lines, those established by Ma-tsu Tao-i and by Shihtou Hsi-ch'ien, in the third generation after Hui-neng. Ma-tsu was dynamic and kōan-based); Shih-tou was quieter and more reflective. From these two derive the ‘Five Houses and Seven Schools’ (goke-shichishū), replicating these differences of emphasis: from Shih-tou, Tsao-tung (Jap., Sōtō), Yün-men (Ummon) and Fa-yen (Hogen); and from Ma-tsu, Kueiyang (Igyo) and Lin-chi (Rinzai); Lin-chi produced two further divisions (hence the ‘seven schools’), Yang-chi (Yōgī) and Hüang-lung (Ōryu).

As Chʾan faded in China, the different schools and emphases flowed into Korea and into Japan, as indicated in the equivalent names above, but the two which have been of the greatest importance are Rinzai and Sōtō. Foundation figures for Rinzai were Eisai and Enni Benʾen; the dominant figure is that of Hakuin who led the revival of the 18th cent. Sōtō adherents regard Dōgen as the key figure. The general truth to be realized is that there is only the buddha-nature underlying all appearance; when one realizes that this also is what one is, all differentiation ceases and one rests in that nature. To know this intellectually is very different from realizing it as experienced truth; and Zen developed many ways of seeking and seeing that unity—hence the immense cultural consequences of Zen. See also ZAZEN; ART.

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Zen (or Ch'an)

Zen (or Ch'an)

One of the few traditional forms of instant enlightenment in Oriental religions. However, Zen normally demands a long preliminary period of monastic life and spiritual discipline culminating in the somewhat surrealist techniques that give instant satori, or enlightenment.

Zen is a special branch of Mahayana Buddhist school (which dominates Buddhism in China, Korea, and Japan), dating from 520 C.E. when Bodhi-Dharma (d. 534 C.E.) went from India to China with a mission later codified in the maxims: "a special transmission outside the scriptures; no dependence upon words and letters; direct pointing at the soul of man; seeing into one's nature; and the attainment of Buddhahood." Zen was later divided into two main schools, called Rinzai and Soto in Japan.

Rinzai Zen depends very much upon sudden or startling paradoxes, embodied in koans, mystical riddles such as "Empty-handed I come, carrying a spade." Modern interest in Zen often misunderstands the nature of such riddles, where the verbal factor is merely a trigger to intensify stress in the pupil, and as a result many Westerners tend to treat Zen as a kind of intellectual exercise. In practice, however, such paradoxes were the culmination of a more formal monastic training emphasizing traditional spiritual values. The disciple would be fully extended on all levels of his naturephysically, in the everyday hard work of the monastery; mentally, in the assimilation of spiritual teaching; and emotionally, in the sudden clash of unconventional techniques used in Zen.

The koans merely accentuated an intolerable pressure at all levels, culminating in the sudden flash of enlightenment by transcendence on a higher, spiritual plane.

(See also ZCLA Journal ; Zazen ; Zen Studies Society )

Sources:

Humphreys, Christmas. Zen Buddhism. London: Heine-mann, 1949. Reprint, New York: Macmillan, 1967.

Suzuki, D. T. Manual of Zen Buddhism. New York: Grove Press, 1960.

. Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D. T. Suzuki. Edited by William Barrett. New York: Doubleday/Anchor, 1956.

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Zen

Zen Japanese school of Buddhism, initially developed in China, where it is known as Ch'an. Instead of doctrines and scriptures, Zen stresses mind-to-mind instruction from master to disciple in order to achieve satori (awakening of Buddha-nature). There are two major Zen sects. Rinzai (introduced to Japan from China in 1191) emphasizes sudden enlightenment and meditation on paradoxical statements. The Soto sect (also brought from China, in 1227) advocates quiet meditation. In its secondary emphasis on mental tranquillity, fearlessness, and spontaneity, Zen had a great influence on Japanese art and architecture. Zen priests also inspired Japanese literature, the tea ceremony, and the No drama. In recent decades, a number of Zen groups emerged in Europe and the USA.

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Zen

Zen a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition rather than ritual worship or study of scriptures. Zen Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China in the 12th century, and has had a profound cultural influence. The aim of Zen is to achieve sudden enlightenment (satori) through meditation in a seated posture (zazen), usually under the guidance of a teacher and often using paradoxical statements (koans) to transcend rational thought.

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Zen

Zen / zen/ (also Zen Bud·dhism) • n. a Japanese school of Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition. DERIVATIVES: Zen Bud·dhist n.

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Zen

ZenAdrienne, again, amen, Ardennes, Behn, Ben, Benn, Bren, cayenne, Cévennes, Dairen, den, en, fen, gen, glen, Glenn, Guyenne, Gwen, hen, julienne, Karen, ken, Len, Loren, men, Nene, Ogaden, paren, pen, Penn, Phnom Penh, Rennes, Shenzhen, Sun Yat-sen, ten, then, Tlemcen, when, wren, yen, zazen, Zen •Chechen • Nurofen • peahen •moorhen • Origen • allergen • admen •bagmen, ragmen, swagmen •packmen • gasmen • taxmen •jazzmen • ramen • yardmen • legmen •chessmen • repairmen • flamen •mailmen • cavemen • he-men •freedmen • milkmen • linkmen •middlemen • wingmen • hitmen •handymen • bogeymen • hymen •icemen • conmen • strongmen •lawmen, strawmen •cognomen, nomen, praenomen, snowmen •patrolmen • oilmen • Shumen •newsmen •frontmen, stuntmen •firemen, wiremen •anchormen • newspapermen •cameramen • motormen •weathermen • mermen • playpen •pigpen • fountain pen • bullpen •samisen • Leuven • Ceinwen •somewhen

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