Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Zen And Silence

Its been a week since i have written a blog and the reason is not me but my friend Arjuna. One fine day he called and we talked about so many different things, ranging from heart breaks to recent crushes. As two who are romantic at one instant, and samiyar's at the other, naturally our talk moved to theology. To make long conversation short, he literally directed me to read about Buddhism and told me to write a small blog on it. That's it to write about something, naturally one has to read and know something about the subject, hence the long break.
So on my quest to find more about Buddhism, pluse write something more close to the subject of silence my another friend directed me towards the book - Zen the path of paradox. This blog is a nutshell about what i understood from that book. Naturally the nutshell is more like a big cocunut, i will write the blog in parts.

People, a humble request, please try to read it completly, don't stop because you are getting bored, Zen is a very beautiful concept, just try to give it a complete read.

Part 1 - Zen and Zen fundamentals
The concept of Zen is a middle path between Buddha and Lao Tzu. It is a culmination, a transcedence, both of the indian genius and Chinese genius. It is merged in such a fashion that it is not possible to seperate them both, it is not possible to say one from the other. So Zen is neither Buddhist nor Taoist and yet both.

First, Zen is not a theology, it is a religion. All other religion's around the world have theologies, all are God-centric, their ultimate goal is God. In case of Zen, it is man-centric, man is the goal, man is the end. God is something hidden within man. Zen says that God is not extrinsic to religion, it is intrinsic. It is not there, it is here. In fact there is "no" there for Zen, all is here. There is no other space, no other time, This moment is all. In this moment the whole existence
converges, in this moment all is available. If u cannot see it, doesn't mean it is not available - it simply means you don't have the vision to see it. God has not to be searched for, you have to only open your eyes.

According to Zen, there is no God sitting somewhere in heavens and controlling life and existence. There is no controller. Life is moving in harmony and in its own accord. Man is responsible for himself and the world he lives in. If there is suffering, you are responsible; there is nobody else to look to. You cannot throw your responsibility. If the world is ugly and in pain, we are responsible for it, there is nobody else. You have to take hold of your life, you have to
take the reins in your own hands. You have to be more alert and more aware because for whatsoever is going to happen, you will be responsible. This gives great responsibility. One learns to become more watchful.

Zen says there is no beyond, the beyond is within you, there is no beyond beyond you. So the question is not to raise your eyes and pray - but meditate. You have to become quiet and silent and go withinward to find your center. That very center is the center of existence too. When u have come to your innermost core you have come to the innermost core of existence itself. That's what is God in Zen. Zen says everything is divine, so how can anything be special ? All is special, Nothing is non special, so nothing can be special ;). According to Zen, everything is holy, Zen bringes holiness to ordinary life. Zen is non-conceptual, non intellectual. It is the only religion in the world that preaches immediacy, moment to moment immediacy - to be present in the moment; no past, no future.

Zen says: Be empty. Look without any ideas. Look into the nature of things, but with no idea, with no prejudice, with no presupposition. Don't be preoccupied. If you have an idea, there is a possibility that u will find it in reality - because mind is very creative. If you want something badly you will see that thing, but that thing will be only your imagination. Zen says drop all your imagination, Unburden yourself. So Zen is simple, and yet very difficult. Simple because as far as Zen is concerned - it is the most simple thing, the most spontaneous - but because our mind is cluttered with so many ideas - it becomes difficult.

The second fundamental: Zen is not a philosphy it is a poetry. It does not propose, it persuades. It doesnot argue, it simply sings its own song. It is aesthetic to the very core, it is not ascetic. Zen is concerned with the beauty. Zen seaker looks into reality to find the beautiful, in the songs of the birds, in the trees, in the dance of the peacock, in the clouds, in the lightning, in the sea, in the sands. It tries to look for the beautiful. Hence Zen is passive - that's why in Zen sitting
became one of the most important meditation. Just sitting - zazen. Zen says that if you simply sit doing nothing, things will happen. Things will happen on their own; you need not go after them, you need not seek them, you need not search them. They will come. You simply sit. If you can sit silently, if you can fall into tremendous restfulness, if you can relax yourself, if you can drop all tensions and become a silent pool of energy, going nowhere, searching nothing, God starts pouring into you. From everywhere God rushes towards you. Just sitting, doing nothing, the spring comes and grass grows itself. And when Zen says just sitting, it means just sitting, nothing else, not even a mantra. If you are repeating a mantra you are not just sitting, you are again going into a cycle, again into some mind thing. If you are not doing anything whatsoever,
Thoughts are coming, coming; they are going, going - if they come, good; if they don't come, good. You are not concerned with what is happening, you are just simply sitting there. If you feel tired, you lie down. If you feel your legs getting tense, youspread them. You remain natural, not even watching, not making any effort of any kind. Just sit.....

The third fundamental: Zen is not science but magic. Not magic of magicians, it is a magic as a way to look into life. Science tires to discover, tries to reveal the mystery. Zen tries to retain the mystery. Zen believes that they mystery of life is not to be solved, it cannot be solved, it has to be lived. One has to move into it, cherish it, relish it and live it. Life has to be celebrated. Zen is the magic, it gives the key to open the miraculous and that miraculous is in you and the key is also in you.

And the last fundamental: Zen is not morality, it is aesthetics. It does not impose any code of morality; it does not give you any commandments. It simply makes you more sensitive towards the beautiful and that very sensitivity becomes your morality. It arises out of you, out of your consciousness. Zen does not give you any conscience as against your consciousness;
it gives you more consciousness and your consciousness becomes your conscience. It comes from your innermost core. And when it comes from there, it is not that you are doing it as a duty, reluctantly. You enjoy doing it. It becomes your love.


Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

My dear friend - A very good post from you :)..Thanks for taking the effort to post such a wonderful article and enlightening us with Buddha's teachings!

I would like to respond to this blog by putting up a blog soon. It will tell how Zen preaches the Aatma Vichara which the great Ramana preaches.

I would also like to thank you my friend for writing about me. It was due to the grace of the Divine, I am coming across great souls like you. Praise the Master!

28 September, 2005 12:57  
Blogger Aatma said...

Thanks Arjuna, will be waiting for your blog.

I am just an ordinary soul, living life as it comes, trying to find out more about who i am and what i am supposed to do.

28 September, 2005 15:27  
Blogger Adaengappa !! said...

Good one !!

I used to read Zen stories everyday..They underline the life principles and more of soul searching concepts..


28 September, 2005 15:58  
Blogger Ram.C said...

Eventhough I had not read much about Zen fundamentals, I had read many Zen Stories... Your post had definitely provided some light on it.

28 September, 2005 18:49  
Blogger thennavan said...

Have you read "The Tao of Physics"? I am sure you must have read "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" :-)

28 September, 2005 19:46  
Blogger Venkat said...

Hi Aatma
That was a brilliant write-up. Kudos for taking the effort to research all that and write something that is concise and engaging.

I don't completely agree with the Zen teachings - for example "Zen says drop all your imagination, ". Much of the world's most intricate human inventions are thanks to the human imagination. Imagination takes us away from mediocrity and stagnation. Dreams are an important outlet of the mind.

"And when it comes from there, it is not that you are doing it as a duty, reluctantly. You enjoy doing it. It becomes your love." This statement I really agree with and find very insightful.

Anyway, thanks for that read - very interesting stuff ;)

28 September, 2005 21:34  
Blogger Jeevan said...

I think I had read some Zen stories in School.

God is not there, is here. We can’t see god we can feel god my doing meditation.

We are responsible for good are bad things happening to us. No one will suffer for our pain, we should suffer it.

Every time I think think and get many Ideas but the ideas will not work at a time I want. After read Zen, I realize all ideas will be with us, but they will come out only when we are silence.

Doing prayer, telling some mantras will not give anything, sit silent, all will happen automaticaly.

This story tell me many good things.

Thanks Aatma.

29 September, 2005 02:19  
Blogger Aatma said...

Thanks ram, adengappa, jeevan for your comments.

Thennavan, i haven't read both the books, but i have heard a lot about the second one, will try to read whenever i get a chance.

Venkat, you have got the context wrong about the use of imagination.
Zen says that u have to leave all preconcieved notion when u approach anything in life, for preconcieved notion mudles your thought process and get you from experiencing the right thing. So have to be empty and unburden yourself.

29 September, 2005 19:00  
Blogger Sumonk said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

29 September, 2005 20:15  
Blogger Sumonk said...

Hi Aatma,
Outstanding write up on Zen. It just took me back to the basics. Life is a challenge and Zen's approach makes life more simpler and easier. Mind is the culprit and the thoughts are the root cause of actions, the moment we calm the mind in silence, entire system slows down and the energy balance is created. But again like Venkat says, Imagination is also a key part of the evolution. But I agre that even in the process of Imagination, ZEN applies, THat you are not carried away by the Imagination. Imagination should control the destiny.

But there is no evolution without destruction. Turbulence and destruction is part of nature too.
There are Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes, and there are beautiful full moon nights of silence and calm waters of a Manasarovar.

Zen can be a weapon or instrument to keep us centered as we keep treading trhough the vicious circle of modern madness.

29 September, 2005 20:18  
Blogger chutneypopcorn said...

What is imagination?

1. If you define imagination as :

"nothing but the reflection of the mind based on past (this and previous lifes) experiences and future expectation"


Imagination is NEVER in the present. To drop imagination, is in one sense droping the past and future and being in the present. Zen is all about being in the present.

2. If imagination is defined as:

" A thought process but not wandering"


The person imagining is observing the mind. Analyzing and gathering data. That is neither in the past or future. It is present. Such imagination is okay.


In conclusion, venkat what is the imagination you are talking abt?

Most inventions according to me are obtained by just observing the present, like the EUREKA story. Observing the problem and looking for the answer to present itself.

Om Tat Sat

30 September, 2005 02:11  
Blogger DaldaDappa and Proud said...

awesome post on Zen... my friend and i always discuss such things... its really very inspirational and the best part is you can take what you want... it opens paths to various things... making you want to continue more and more!!! All the points are things I follow and believe in, although after knowing about Zen properly I have kept a keener watch on such things! :)

30 September, 2005 08:40  
Blogger Ambi said...

Man, I am not even able to understand my Hinduism! Let me leave this to Aatma!

02 October, 2005 00:16  
Blogger Aatma said...

Thanks Sumonk, Preethi and ChutneyPopcorn (ghuna).

Ambi, Zen is the easiest to understand, if u just want to do understand, and it will make u a better Hindu

02 October, 2005 16:22  

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