Site Map




Philosophy 312: Oriental Philosophy
Zen Buddhism: Seek Your Own Nature

Abstract: The nature and lack of goals in Zen practice are noted.

I.  These are some beginning general remarks about introducing aspects of Zen.  The origins of Zen are as much Taoist as Buddhist.

    A. Well-received beginning works include:

      Daisetz T. Suzuki, Introduction to Zen BuddhismGrove, 1991
      Philip Kapleau, Three Pillars of Zen.   Anchor, 1989.
      Alan Watts, The Way of ZenVintage, 1999.

    B. Zen Buddhism emphasizes ...

      1. A way of life by direct insight into your own nature.

      2. Intuition and a distain for intellectual or formalistic methods, dogma, institutions. (Zen seeks to transcend the relativity of cultural conditioning.)

      3. The nature of self is the nature of change itself. The self is not a thing.

II. Original Mind: seek the deepest expression of your own nature.

    A. Consider, for example, that there is no necessary connection between the "I" of yesterday and the "I" of today. There is, in a sense, an "eternal now" of the mind not a series of moments as points on a line.

      1. With Zen, when you desire or expect or wish, you give up your own precepts. In a sense, you are not accepting your nature as it is.

      2. There is no need to justify your existence by works. We don't exist for the purpose of something else--just ourselves. We are what we are.

    B. Always be a beginner; express your own nature in doing.

      1. Everything has a Buddha-nature (i.e., what they essentially are): do things the natural (unaffected) way, with "no hurry" or expectation. 

      2. Listen to yourself is the first step in finding your own nature. Note Vasudeva's relationship with the river in Hesse's Siddhartha..

      3. Sometimes when we try to concentrate too much or try to hard, we develop a "purposeful tremor" and produce unintended and awkward results.

III. The quality of your state of mind is the activity of engagement. Compare living to viewing a movie for the second time.  Accept all with gentle surprise and gratitude.

    A. If you think "I" do x (i.e., some activity), the ""I" is extra and unnecessary. There is no "I," just the doing (of "x").

    B. Compare the unawareness of self when "losing yourself" in activity where "you" become one with what is done--for example while engaged in a sport, an art, or reading.



Send corrections or suggestions to webmaster at
Read the disclaimer concerning this page.

  Introduction |  Siddhartha  |  Hinduism  |  Confucianism  |  Buddhism  |  Zen  |  Taoism