You are on page 1of 38

Zen Buddhism

Philosophy and Religion (HCMII)


By Joseph Anbarasu
Meaning of Zen
Something mysteriously
formed, 
Born before heaven
and earth. 
In the silence and the
void, 
Standing alone and
unchanging, 
Ever present and in
motion. 
Perhaps it is the
mother of ten thousand
things. 
I do not know its
name. 
Call it Tao. 
For lack of a better
word, I call it great. 
Zen (Meditation)
 In Indian language
Sanskrit, dhyana
means (meditation) +
 In Daoism, it is an idea
of concentration
 It becomes Chinese
Chan
 And It is enriched as
Japanese Zen
Mahayana and Five
schools: Zen
 Born in Hindu
Environment
from Buddhism
 Heenayana and
Mahayana
Buddhism
 Latter split into
five schools, one
of which is Zen
 Sudden
enlightenment
 Mind as simple, a
unity, indivisible
Mahayana and Zen

 Mind is the
starting point,
the focal point
and also the
culminating
point in the
liberated and
purified saint
 Buddha-nature
(or Buddha-
mind; nirvana) is
everywhere
 Anything can
bring about its
Goal of Zen:
Enlightenment
 Satori is the spiritual goal
of Zen Buddhism (in
Chinese: wu). It is a key
concept in Zen.
 it may come suddenly
seemingly out of nowhere
as found in the
Enlightenment process,
 Or it may come after an
undetermined passage of
time centered around
years of intense study
and meditation
 Or it may come after
forty unrelenting years as
with the Buddha's
brother Ananda
 Zen theses are not
descriptive
 They try to induce certain
experiences.
Who is an Enlightened
Monk?
Two monks were once
traveling together down a
muddy road. A heavy rain
was falling. Coming around
the bend, they met a lovely
girl, unable to cross the
intersection.“Come on, girl,”
said the first monk. Lifting
her in his arms, he carried
her over the mud. The
second monk did not speak
again until that night when
they reached a lodging
temple. Then he no longer
could restrain himself.
“We monks don’t go near
females,” he said. “It is
dangerous. Why did you do
that?” “I left the girl
Enlightenment

 Joy
 World is beautiful and good
 Heightened sense of reality
 See beyond appearances to true
nature of things
 Unity of mind and world
Paths to Enlightenment
 Zazen (Zen sitting
meditation) and
shakyo (copying
sutras)
 Sanzen: consultation
 Koan (paradoxes): It is
a story, dialogue,
question, or statement
in the history and lore
of Zen Buddhism
puzzles
 Koan break down
rational thought
Koan

 What is the sound of


one hand clapping?
 How did your face
look before your
ancestors were
born?
 What direction does
the twelve-face
Kuan-yin face?
 A cow passes by a
window. The horns,
head, and four legs
pass by. Why
doesn’t the tail pass
by?
More Koan

A man kept a goose in a bottle. It


grew larger and larger until it
couldn’t get out anymore. He didn’t
want to hurt the goose, and he didn’t
want to break the bottle. How can he
get it out?
 “What is the Buddha-nature?”
“Three pounds of flax.”
 “Does a dog have Buddha-nature?”
“Mu!”
The Point of Koan

 Thought depends on discrimination


(drawing distinctions)
 Discrimination leads to suffering
 Koan try to force the mind out of
usual habits of discrimination
 Goal: to experience emptiness
(sunyata)
Development of Zen

 Buddha’s Flower
Sermon
 Bodhidharma —
> China
 Yixuan (Linji, Lin-
chi, Rinzai), d.
869; sudden
enlightenment
The Lightning Method
 Yixuan uses shouts and beatings to prepare
mind for enlightenment
Message beyond
scriptures

 Zen is a special message that lies


beyond the scriptures
 It doesn’t depend on language; it
can’t be written down
 Tries to transmit an experience that
yields direct insight into mind and
Buddha-nature
Zen Theses: Interrelation

 Allthings interrelate and affect one


another
 Each object (dharma) can be
defined only in terms of other
dharmas
Zen Theses: Emptiness

 The
nature of dharmas is empty
 The
ultimate truth of the world is
emptiness
Mt. Kailash, Tibet
Discrimination and
Language
 Language
involves
discrimination
 Noun: pig/not
pig
 Adjective:
pink/not pink
 Verb: fly/not
fly
 Adverb:
quickly/ not
quickly
Experience and Language

 Experience goes beyond


discriminations
 Experience can’t be captured in
language
Discrimination and Desire

 Desire also requires discrimination


 Satisfaction: what we want
 Frustration: not what we want
Discrimination and Desire
 The dharmas are
empty
 The distinctions
are unreal
 We think in
language —> we
project
distinctions onto
world —> we
desire —> we
suffer
Cocoon of discrimination
 Language —> suffering
 We can avoid desire and
suffering by
transcending language
 To escape cycle of birth
and death, avoid
“becoming imprisoned
in a cocoon of
discrimination”
Two Kinds of Experience

 Reflective experience: experience with thought


and self-awareness; mind distinct from objects
of thought
Clear Mind

 Prereflectiveexperience— “clear
mind”— experience without
thought or self-awareness; mind as
mirror: no distinction between
mind and object
Levels of Self-awareness

 ** driving **
 I’m driving
 I’m thinking, “I’m driving”
 I’m thinking, “I’m thinking, ‘I’m driving’”
 I’m thinking, “I’m thinking, ‘I’m thinking, . . . .’”
How to break out?
 Rational thought about
reflection leads to more
reflection
 Cf.: “Don’t be self-
conscious!” “Try not to
try so hard!”
 Koan, shouts, beatings,
etc., try to break pattern
of rational reflection
Ultimate truth

 “The ultimate truth is


Mind itself, which is
free from all forms,
inner and outer. No
words can therefore
describe mind, no
discriminations can
reveal it.”
Understanding Zen

 Zen can’t be
understood by
rational thought
 Those who
understand Zen
don’t understand it
 Those who don’t
understand Zen
understand it
Selecting the Sixth
Patriarch
 Hongren, on why he
chose Hui-neng(638-
723) as his
successor: “Of my
500 disciples 499
possess a
remarkable
understanding of
Zen. Only Hui-
nengdid not
understand Zen.
That’s why I chose
him.”
The Zen Circle
The Zen Circle
180°: Nothing I

Tathagata Zen

270°: Freedom I  90°: Karma 

Patriarchal 
Theoretical 

360°: Big I 0°: Small 
0°: Small I

 We use
language, make
distinctions
 Attached to
name and form
 We label and
define objects
 Book ≠ pencil
 We desire and
suffer
90°: Karma I

 Theoretical Zen
 Attached to
thinking
 Dharmas are
empty
 Everything is
manifestation of
mind
 Book = pencil; all
things ultimately
one
 Form = emptiness
180°: Nothing I

 Tathagata Zen
 First
Enlightenment
 Give up
attachment to
thinking
 Attached to
emptiness
 Everything empty
 Can’t define
anything
 “What is a book?”
“Is the book the
270°: Freedom I

 Attached to
freedom
 Even emptiness is
empty
 Not bound by
name, form, or
emptiness
 World can be
anything we like;
we are free
 “The book is
angry; the pencil
laughs”
360°: Big I
 Patriarchal Zen
 Full Enlightenment
 No attachment to anything
 We see things as they are
 Action intuitive
 Mind is clear mirror
 No desire
 “The book is the book; the
pencil is the pencil”
 “Just like this”
Thanks to the contributors of valuable sources

Thank you