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Zen Buddhism Essay

Decent Essays
Zen Buddhism was first introduced to China by a South-
Indian man called Bodhidharma in around 520 CE. Bodhidharma, according to tradition, was a man so epic that he removed his own eyelids in order to win a staring contest with a rock wall (from his severed eyelids sprang tealeaves, and thus, the connection between Zen Buddhism and tea-drinking). The main teaching of Zen is that of zazen, or seated meditation, and that only through meditation and action, rather than cogitation, can one achieve enlightenment (Elwood, 127-132).
There are two main sects of Zen Buddhism: Rinzai and Soto. Rinzai is the older of the two schools, and was introduced to Japan by Eisai, a Tendai monk who traveled to China and was disappointed to see that
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If the new tenzo, or cook, makes a mistake...a senior monk will surely give him a tongue-lashing in front of everyone. The cook will be criticized if the rice is too hard, the soup is too salty, the vegetables have been cut too small, the tea is lukewarm, the faucet is left dripping” (Hori, 13-14).
Hori goes on to say that if Zen Buddhist masters taught rationally, rather than intuitively, a new cook would be taken aside for a while in the weeks preceding his appointment and shown how to cook properly. However, in not being taught the proper way to prepare meals, and through being forced to constantly be mindful of his actions and the effects they will have on the reactions of his fellow monks, Zen is effectively being practiced.
Another thing that Rinzai and Soto have in common is their effort to keep monastic life simple to the point of being almost primitive. This includes the use of wood fires, non-flushing toilets, no running water, no heating or air-conditioning, and often no electricity. (Hori, 14) By not allowing the use of modern, time-saving innovations, Zen Buddhist monks are forced to spend much more time focused on simple, day-to-day activities, again improving the general state of awareness that
Zen Buddhism seems to be all about.
Along the same lines, monasteries have strict, often harsh, rules dictating many mundane aspects of everyday life. As we saw in the movie,
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