Buddhism splits into two main categories, Theravada and Mahayana. Theravada is a single unified tradition while Mahayana is the larger of the two traditions. Zen is a Mahayana version of Buddhism practiced in Japan.
The Buddhist Flower Sermon is the story of how the successor of Zen brought it to Japan. The first Buddha stood on a mountain with his disciples around him and didn’t say a word, he simply held up a golden lotus flower. One of the men below him just smiled at him , signifying that he understood the secret of Zen. It is the lack of words, to make you think.
There are three terms that best describe the mind of a Buddha, and they are koan, sazen and zazen. A koan is an abstract riddle or problem. An example of a koan would be “the alarm clock to awaken the sleeping mind locked in the dreams of reason.” (Smith 131) Sazen is a consultation concerning meditation in private. This is where a trainee states his koan and his answer. If he is correct he validates fact, if he is wrong he gets a slapping down. This is meant to keep the trainees motivated and on track. Zazen is “seated meditation” which is done in the meditation hall. You are to be in the lotus posture with your eyes half open and focusing on the floor a few feet in front of you.
Satori is the first important step in an intuitive experience. It can be related to Enlightenment, or the goal. The problem is once you achieve satori, that is not enough. You must go further with it. The purpose of satori is to make everything one, then you go back to the world and use this new found perspective.
Zen is most certainly one of the most difficult concepts to completely understand. The passing of one Buddha-mind to another was described in the book The Religions of Man as “the flame passed from candle to candle, or water poured from bucket to bucket.” (Smith 129) The concepts of Zen are understandable but are not among the easy ones to comprehend.
Zen does not...