Over the past several years I have become very interested in the study of consciousness and awareness. This inevitably led me to study Zen Buddhism, along with several other philosophies of life. The philosophy of Buddhism and the practice of Zen offer precious gems of wisdom that can seemingly be found nowhere else. However, the philosophy has also suffered the same detriments as a religious cult, and it’s not uncommon for the Zen Buddhist to claim “logic no longer applies here,” and then leap over that tallest of buildings to some totally unfounded claim.
I’d like to offer a serious analysis of what I believe it gets right and what it gets wrong. Please understand that Zen Buddhism is an extremely broad study and practice. I want to examine the general conclusions of the philosophy, but it would be absolutely impossible for me to examine each sect of a 3000 year old philosophy. If the reader believes I have made an egregious error, please point it out to me, but please forgive my ignorance.
Meditation: The Personal Laboratory
Zen is the Chinese word for meditation, so when we refer to Zen Buddhism, we refer to the large sect of Buddhist who practice meditation. It is an astounding practice that I’ve come to enjoy, even despite the fact that I could not prevent myself from fidgeting if my entire life depended on it.
The most practical purposes of meditation is the ability to witness the world for what it truly is, and the opportunity to deal with emotions as they arise. It is best described as a personal laboratory, a place to test your own consciousness and awareness. A place where you may learn to decrease the power of negative emotions, or a place where you may test the limits of your brain, or simply a place relax. There are no rules here, only that you should enjoy the challenge.