Tuesday, March 12, 2013


As I stated on my last ZEN post, today I will briefly describe Zen Buddhism and then I will follow with Buzzard Zen. 

The man known as the Buddha existed five hundred years before Christ.  He started a movement that split and spread through much of the Asia.   One of these schisms found root in Japan and became the practice of Zen. 

The premise of Zen is that by developing our individual power of concentration we can achieve the understanding that though life is finite we have a privilege of living in this moment, and this moment is all there is.   Or, like the beer commercial: you only go around once so grab all the gusto you can.    In the case of Zen belief - don’t be unconscious during a single moment of life.

 When you visit a Zen sangha you are told that you can reach enlightenment only through meditation and study with a qualified teacher.   If you ask what enlightenment is you are given a no-answer answer that is meant to make the practice mysterious.


So, you sit with a group and count your breaths until your legs go numb, then the bell rings and you stand and walk in circles to get back your circulation, and then you sit and count your breaths until your legs go numb again.  At some point the teacher gives you a Zen talk; such as ‘The purpose of meditation is meditation’ or ‘What is the gold of meditation?  It is meditation.

Zen in a nutshell:

There is much more to it than this.  If you wish to practice Zen you should know about the life and enlightenment of the Buddha.   You should understand the premise of Zen: that life is like a wheel out of balance.   Fear of death, pain and dissatisfaction are the causes of your discontent.   By understanding the underlying causes of your discontent you can address them and bring the wheel back into balance.   You can do this through meditation. 


I get the feeling when I visit a Zen sangha that most of people like dressing in robes.  They like the bells and incense and trappings.   They like the comradeship, and they like belonging to an exclusive club.  They like to tell their friends. “I am a Buddhist and I practice Zen. 

I am not knocking this: if it gives you solace and comfort – go for it.   I am just saying that it is not right for everybody and it is not right for me.  And, it is not necessarily the only way.   I also feel that by and large this formalization and ritual misses the intent of the Buddha’s teachings. 

the Ol’Buzzard
Buzzard Zen next


  1. You ain't doing none of this Zen stuff outside?
    Not in Maine!


  2. I have my own feelings about what is zen...it's the rare moment when I realize my tinitus has magically disappeared...It's a few moments on my bike...and lawn mowing...I have to write a book about zen and mowing lawns...but, unfortunately, I am so un zen in my psychological make up...my brain is constantly doing these synapse thingies....I seem to enjoy being pissed off...I guess that's not zen at all. Sometimes I think anger is what fuels me, it's like sticking my head in a pencil sharpener....I guess I still have a lot to learn.

    1. We all have our moments - but usually don't recognize them as zen.


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."