What is Zen?

zen

Many people are confused because they are unaware that the term “Zen” has a few meanings. Basically, the word “Zen” means meditation. Sometimes it may refer to a transcendental glimpse of cosmic reality, or even the transcendental reality itself. Often Zen is used as a short form for Zen Buddhism. The following examples illustrate the use of “Zen” in these four meanings:

  • I sat cross-legged on a hard pillow, closed my eyes gently and practised Zen.
  • My teacher came in and hit my head to test if I had a Zen experience.
  • I was shocked when he said he did not hit me, but years later I realized my kind teacher was trying to make me aware that there was no hitting, and no nothing, in Zen.
  • Lacking a deep understanding, many people may think Zen masters are mad.
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