• DoKa

Zen as a Tool


Originating in India, Buddhism was transmitted to China, giving birth to Chan school. In the thirteenth century, Chan Buddhism was enthusiastically received in Japan, especially by the samurai class, evolving further into Zen, which became the most prominent form of Buddhism between the fourteenth and sixteenth century.

In the context of Zen Buddhism, perfection of nondiscriminatory wisdom is primary based on experience, and only secondarily on theory and intellectual knowledge. Generally speaking, Zen cherishes simplicity and straightforwardness in grasping reality, emphasising living in “here and now”. It is a practical method of correcting the modality of one’s mind by correcting the modality of one’s body. To it, Zen teaches overcoming of discrimination and dualism, concepts, which are source of great suffering but still, strongly imbedded in in the standpoints of the today’s society.

All of these make Zen one of the most valuable and effective tools for practicing awareness and enhancing personal growth. For this reason, Zen concepts are important building blocks on which a foundation of the Three Kernel System is based. System gives particular attention to practice of simplicity and non-attachment. This is extended for advanced practitioners with training for overcoming dualism, understanding time and space and “seeing through” illusions. Practitioners learn to be present and to reside in a state of awareness independent on situation: as during ordinary life activities so when confronted with stress or destructive emotions.

Practice is conducted through zen meditation, which includes a three adjustment steps: adjusting body, breathing and mind:

  1. The adjustment of the body is necessary for the practitioner in order to experience the practical benefits of doing meditation. Generally speaking, the adjustment of the body means that one has to prepare oneself in such a way that optimal state of body-mind can be achieved. This includes a proper diet, engagement in appropriate physical activity, and avoidance of forming unhealthy habits. However, in a modern Zen context, adjustment of the body has in mind more or less only seated meditation postures.

  2. The benefits of Zen meditation are closely tied to the practice of breathing. Generally speaking, zen breathing is less complicated, than breathing exercises in yoga or breathing required for taoist cultivation. Zen’s breathing exercise recommends abdominal breathing, which is focused on “observation of breath count”. Through the impact of the conscious abdominal breathing on autonomic nervous system, such exercise allows infusion of the fresh life-energy and deletion of a negative toxic energy. This happens through the stimulation of the bundled parasympathetic nerves, which are contained in the upper part of the abdominal cavity. Further on, the center where breathing is regulated and the region where emotions are generated coincide with each other. With this, the conscious breathing affects the pattern of how one generates emotion, and at the same time it also has a neurophysiological effect on how the autonomous activity of the unconscious is regulated. As a result of breathing exercise, mind gets quiet and emotional storms faint.

  3. Mind adjustment is achieved by conscious entering into a meditative state: practitioner learns to disengage from the daily life’s concerns by discontinuing activity of conscious mind. Important is not to forget that mind adjustment can’t be achieved by using one’s mind (the mind which is trying to stop itself is still in a state of action). Instead, this is carried out by the breathing and right posture.

Although zen emphasises Zazen meditation- “just sitting” as the best way to apply these adjustments, Zen students are, as well required to keep an uninterrupted awareness practice (“every moment Zen”). To achieve such advanced level, one has to practice Zen in disciplined manner and during every conducted action (mental, emotional, bodily). Practices such calligraphy (Shodo), tea ceremony (Chado), archery (Kyudo), martial arts (Aikido), flowers arrangement (Ikebana) or creating Bonsai are good examples of such extended zen practice. Nevertheless, the most advanced practice is the one where high level of awareness is kept during ordinary activities such: brushing teeth, cooking, eating, waiting to the bas, talking to child, listening to the speaker at the conference etc.

In a course of application of the Three Kernel System, this uninterrupted awareness will be practiced with meditation conducted through various body positions (sitting & standing meditation) or actions (walking meditation). In addition, awareness training for ordinary activities (work, life) will be carried out as a part of the specific programs.

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