Zen BuddhismQUESTION: Zen Buddhism - What is it?ANSWER:
Zen Buddhism is another spin off of mainstream Buddhism. Zen dispenses with the Buddhist scriptures and philosophical discussion, even though it may be referred to as religion or philosophy.
Siddhartha Gautama, a prince in the region now known as India, renounced his rich life to seek understanding in 500 B.C. He was very troubled by the suffering around him. He achieved his enlightenment at the age of 35. He was then known as 'Buddha' or 'one who is awake.'
He discovered that everything is subject to change and suffering; discontentment is the result of situations that are not permanent. By freeing himself from the attachment to self, he would be free of suffering.
All forms of Buddhism take their names from important Buddhist scriptures, such as the Lotus sect, which takes its name from the Lotus sutra. Other sects use the name of a philosophical position or an individual philosopher. Zen is unique as it's translated from the Chinese word Ch'an.
Meditation and discovery of one's own self are the prime elements of this religion. In the Buddhist religion, meditation is not of exclusive importance as in Zen. Meditation is the end in itself in Zen or Truth realized in action. Intuitive and individual approaches to enlightenment are basic.
It is a strict discipline, sharpening the mind to be attentive to the things around the disciple. One way of doing this is a question and answer session between student and master, which can involve sudden beatings. Some of the other ways are hard labor, travel, or equipment maintenance.
This is another type of a religion that relies heavily on works. Instead of ridding themselves of 'I' the disciples grow more introverted and 'self' contained. By trying to 'be' more logical, the disciples use illogical ways to get there. It is still a religion founded on man and not on a Supreme Being of love and forgiveness.