Culture/History

Zen – Common pitfall

02/15/2020

In today’s society, Zen has become a popular method to train one’s spirit, improve concentration, and relieve stress. The people who are into zazen (seated meditation) may have similar goals as follows:

  • “Through practicing zazen, I want to promote my physical and mental well-being”
  • “Through practicing zazen, I want to get rid of my anxiety or concern.”

However, these are not the mindset you should have when practicing zazen. There is a word called “Shikantaza” in Japanese, meaning zazen meditation in which one focuses on sitting without actively seeking enlightenment. As the meaning of the word “Shikantaza” represents in Japanese, you just focus on sitting there, which is the heart of zazen. In other words, you are not supposed to pursue something through practicing zazen. Sitting itself is everything that matters.

In Japan, our culture and art such as Japanese tea ceremony (“Chanoyu”), traditional styles of Japanese theater (“Nogaku”), and Japanese traditional paintings (“Sumi-e”) have roots in Zen. Zen is about living your life and living the moment. Teaching of Zen would definitely help understand the backbone of our culture and art.

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