An introduction to Zen,,,, harsh in many ways for Westerners like us….l


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http://buddhismnow.com/2013/04/07/an-introduction-to-zen/
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A little background on Japanese Zen Buddhism.
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The Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism follows the path of koans to enlightenment. The Soto Zen sect use Zazen (Meditation) as a gentler way to find enlightenment. Dogen is credited with founding this most popular of the Japanese sects in the mid 1200's.
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“Rinzai comes from the Linji school of Chan in China. It doesn't have as strong a sense of having a founder as Soto does (though Dogen has only really regained prominence in Soto over the last 150-200 years).
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Rinzai is focused more on achieving a kensho experience, sudden enlightenment, and then building off of that, so it uses a mix of koan practice and meditation.
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Due to its more sophisticated practices, rise to prominence during the same time as the militarization of Japan, and the fact that
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Rinzai didn't have a iconoclastic, anti-establishmentarian founder like Soto, it became "samurai zen".
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In some forms of Zen training, the student is given a koan.
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A koan is a question or a story that is puzzling in some way.
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For example, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" The discipline is to stay with the koan until you "get" it. Sometimes this takes months, even years.
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When the students are monks and live in a monastery, they stay with the koan while they eat, sleep, cook, clean, and also they spend time in intense periods several times a day doing nothing but hanging out with that koan (this is known as zazen, or sitting meditation).
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