Being updated dimanche 05 dcembre 2004 13:28



What is Zen ?

Copyright Sdhana

Zen2.gif ( 2966 bytes)

According to the archetype:  Zen is all over the world known under the image of a master, in kolomo black, of a monk in black kimono also or a follower dressed to the Westerner, prostr in one sat stiff, hands in a meditative mudra which nothing disturbs.

Buddhist, the Zen is it certainly fundamentally in a underlying way, only in the presence of a statuette of the Buddha Sakyamuni/Shaka-Nyorai Sakyamuni/Shaka-N or Amithaba / Amida, or one of the boddhisattvas / bosatsu numerous such Manjushri / Monju, (wisdom Avalokitesvara Avalokitesvara/Kwannon compassion ), Maitreya / Mirakou (the bouddha to come) lauding in any Zen - dj which respects itself. It is because the Zen is to be the most oriental heir of the Buddhism of the tradition Mahayaniste / Daijo Kai (Big Vehicle containing China, Tibet, Korea and Japan) of which Nagarjuna / Ryju was one of the major elements of the school Mdhyamika / Chd, the average Way or - the environment by opposition to that of the thravadins/Jza - drunk = those that apply the word of the ancestors (concerns Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos). This last one is more austere, conservatiste and stiff, avoiding(fleeing) a certain shape of reality, looking for the same refuge in the abstraction of the monastic life.

The word of Zen results, from the sanscrit term, Dhyana, indicating the attitude of consideration concentrative that the Buddha under his tree of Bodhi observed, in his step or method towards the Awakening; what makes say, by simple postural mixture, in number of " sweet - illuminated " that Buddha, himself, devoted to the zazen, while the Japanese word is very later than him, of 1 ' 000 years in the low word!

The Japanese Zen is so the heritage of the Chinese cha'n and not the opposite!

Of Dhyna sanscrit, one crosses(spends) in Tch' anna or Ch'an (internal light) Chinese the precursors of which were Tao-An ( 312-385 ), Houei-Iuan ( 334-416 ) who do not miss to move closer to the education of the Buddha of that of the Taosme of Lao-Tseu, contained in Dao-de-Jing, taosme the contribution of which is unmistakable. These took into account collectively, as well papers of Tchouang-Tseu, Confucius, as those of Yi Jing, while being imperative, on the base, the Buddhist consideration, the Dhyana.  Do not forget that it was Kumarajva ( 344-413 ), Indian monk - missionary, who passed on in China, after a journey of more than several thousand km, the famous concept of vacuity, expressed by Nagarjuna. Bodhidarma (470-543) / Boda-Darouma in Japanese, central figure and initiator of this Buddhist current, is considered as the 28-th successor of the education whom distributed Shakyamuni to Mahakayapa. Left India, it goes(surrenders) finally to China, landing too in Canton in 527 to teach it Lankavatara Stra (Sutr of Lanka's adversity or Ceylon) of Asanga (philosopher of the 5 af. J-C) and especially Ganda-Vyha Stra (collection of the boddhicitta or illumination). It is he who would have based Shao-lin's famous convent on the Mountain Song where he will pass some nine years to contemplate the wall (pi - kouan) having withdrawn from the world, from his cabbalas and from his splendors and to draft his Treaty of both accesses.

His main follower Houei-Ko/Eka Houei-Ko/Eka ( 486-593 ) had as successor Seng-Tsan/Ssan Seng-Tsan/Ssan died towards 606, author presumed magnificent Hsin-Hsin-Ming (Shin Jin No Mei in Japanese) or Registered on the faith in the Spirit, poem making(doing) the apology of the non-duality and what everything nobody " in search(research) " should owe know by heart:

" Perfect Way knows any difficulty
Except that she refuses itself in any preference.
It is only once freed(released) from the refusal(discharge) and from the desire
That she shows itself in all her light...
. "

Houng-jn / Gunin ( 605-675 ) came after Tao-shin / Dshin ( 580-651 ) and. As in any lineage, there were protesters, it after Houng-jn's death, pulling(entailing) a split enters the school of the North (school of the learning gradualiste spiritual) and the school of the South (said subitiste school of the awakening); this one took place between two of the diciples, Chn-Hsiou, the mystic and Houei-Neng ( 638-713 ), the pragmatic dialectician. He said in particular " you do not let upset by soutras, upset most rather! " 

Among the bosses who succeeded him(her), one finds: Matsu / Baso ( 709-788 ), Houang-Po / Obaku (-850), Lin-Tsi/Rinza (-867), Chao-Chou ( 778-897 ), You - shan ( 780-865 ), Yunmen-Wen-yan / Unmon ( 862-949 ) to which one owes " Inside the cosmos, within the universe is a treasure. It(he) hides inside the body, We take a lamp and take it in the temple of the consideration. We open the Main entrance and brandish our lamp...! ", and among the others else Fa-Yen/Hgen ( 885-958 )

The founders of the Zen in Japan were the monk Esa/Esa/Ysa (1141-1215) and Dgen (on 1200 1253), the first heir of the school Rinza, the second of the school Soto. Among the most famous collections explaining the Zen, one finds " The ten tables(pictures) of the collection of the ox(beef) " illustrations of the explanatory stages of the path towards the Awakening.

Taishen Deshimaru was the "diffuser" of it in West from 1967. Certainly, he was not the first one, let us not forget that Jung, Durckheim, Durix and many other initiated precursors practised the Zen of another school (Rinza or Obaku), before the come at the end of the 60s. A funny explanation of the naming Soto ( Seng-Tung) would want that it is the juxtaposition of the prefix of names Ssan and Tozan, simple to understand !. It would be totally incorrect to stereotyper the Zen only at the school Soto, it would pull(entail) erroneous sights.

Here are some some among the most famous authors of Ch'an and Zen:

- Sng-ts'an / Ssan (-606),  Shin Jin Mei, famous poem of the Confidence in the calmed Spirit.

- Gengaku / Yoka Daishi [Daishi meaning Grand Master] (665-713), Shodoka, Cheng-Tao Ke " Song of the immediate satori " or " song of the way of the Realization " - " we should look neither for leaves nor for branches, but return to the root " [Daishi meaning Grand Master], 

- Houei-neng / En (638-713), Fa-Pao-Tan-Ching, compilation of its famous sermons and speech, Stra de l' Estrade on the precious stones of the Law,

- Hiuan-Kio / Yka-Gengaku (665-713) - follower of Houei-Neng and his Song of the certification of the Path (Cheng Tao Ko)

Being Che-t'eou / SekitoBoeuf7.gif ( 3365 bytes) (700-790), San Do Kai or the Big Synthesis of the Way,

- Being Matsu / Baso (709-788), the famous "Conversations" developing the notion so important of genesis of boddhisattavas, the Tathgatagarbha, namely " Buddha's nature ", inherent in every being.

- Sacho / Dengy-Daishi (767-823) founder of the school Tenda, comments on Nirvna stra) Nehan-gy, (stra of the Lotus of the Good Law) Hokkegy, Mahavairocana Stra ) Dainichi-ky...

- Kuka / Kobo-Daishi (774-835), founder of the Shingon, with the masterful comments of Avatamsaka sutr, the Kegon-Gyo, the stra of the Diamond, Vajracchedika sutr, the Kong-chgy and Vajrashekhara stra, the Sang-Shiki Gyo, 

- Houang-Po / Obaku (850), founder of the school of the same name, Densshin Hogo (treated(handled) on the foundations of the transmission of mental cosmic).

- Tong-Ch'an/Tosan Ryokai ( 807-869 ), considered as the founder of the school Soto, Hokyo Zan Mai, Samadhi of the invaluable mirror according to the five degrees of the knowledge.

- Being Houan-Wou (1063-1135), the Pi Read Yen or Hegikan Roku, the Collection of the green cliff, the famous collection of kans. 

- Kakuan, (-on 1168), rinza master and his Ten Pictures of the training of the Ox 

- Being Wanshi (-on 1175), Zazenshin or spirit of the zazen and Shoyo Roku, collection of koans 100, 

- Mumon-Ekai (1184-1260), Ou-men Koan (the door without door), still of numerous kans celebrate. 

- Dgen (1200-1253), Shobogenzo (Bendowa, Gengokan, Sokushin zebutsu...) or the eye - treasure of the real education, the Fukan-zazenji (textbook(manual worker) intended to spread the correct practice of zazen), Sansho-Dei (Poems of the pine cone), Hachi Dainin Gaku or the eight aspects of the Awakening...  

- Dai O Kokushi (on 1235 - on 1308) - The way of Dharma

- Mso (1275-1351), Much-mondo or " dialogues in the dream " and delivery in value of Kojiki chronicles of the former(old) Things consisted in the VIII.s in the time Nara), he was besides a big painter sumi-e and the Grand Master of the art of gardens, among which that of the temple Tenruyji near Kyoto, art born in the time Nara

- Being Ikkyo (1394-1481), the crazy, anti-conventional monk as one pleases, with his " crazy clouds ", text symbol of the non-affection and a treaty on the art of the Tea. 

- Toyo Eicho ( 1429-1504 ) Zenrin-Kushu, anthology of some 10 ' 000 verse extracts of the texts Buddhists, taostes, classic and popular for the students Zen. 

- Takuan (1573-1645), the paper on the art of the fencing: Fud-chi-shimmyo-rku, the Mysteries of the immovable Wisdom, the Tokai-yawa, night-Tales of the sea is. 

- Being Bankei (1622-1693), the roaming boss and one most great masters of the Zen, wrote number of sermons and Daiho Hogo or collection of the Big Instructions.

- Tetsugen (1630-1683), boss par excellence of the school Obaku, did a masterful comment of Prajna-paramita-stra and published the translation of Tripitaka, Buddhist standard among which Abhidharma, counting some 6956 volumes.

- Being Torei (1721-1872) Shmon-munjit-ron or Treated with the infinite lamps of the school of the Zen.

- Hakuin (1687-1768), father of the modern Rinza, without which the Zen would not have become today what it is (propagating its education mainly among the laymen) with a remarkable " Song of consideration " - Yasen Kanwa: " idle conversation on a night boat " and Zazen Wasan (hymn in the glory of the zazen).

- Ksen (1816-1892) the Zen Kai Ichiran or the Swell in the sea of the Zen


The Zen generally is characterized by Zazen's practice, consideration sat according to a precise posture by which one should make the connection Earth - sky with the spinal column. The times of consideration vary, that it is for the daily or weekly consideration or during sesshins. They favor the peace of the spirit and the powers of watchful concentration according to the practices of breath and settling of the thoughts. Certain schools make of zazen their iron of lance, to become bouddhas of it sat; the others laud the Zen on the march, the others more current, even in the steering wheel! The purists prefer to speak about concentration that of consideration. The Zen is one of the forms of samadhi, sat in this particular case. I found recently a charming Chinese translation of samadhi: " Ordered ". It is a little it that the Zen, to put of the order in its spirit at first, in its inside afterward and, consequently , in the relations with the outside.

But let us return to this sat position and to Shikantaza, fact of sitting down simply. It is considered as the practice of the zazen to the pure state. The fact of sitting in the middle of nowhere in front of a beautiful landscape, by being allowed absorb by the Universe which surrounds you, it is already of the Zen. How(as) Mr Jourdain, you have certainly of to make of the Zen without knowing it!

The existential end of the Zen is to reach Satori. State of Awakening which allows to expect the unexpected, to adapt itself to it in him(her,it) Here and Now to live beyond! So having abandoned the ego with the waits(expectations) and the affections inherent to the volition to reach its purposes, one can practise Zen according to Mshotoku or spirit of not profit. So your thought withdraws from things which surround him(it) materially to enter a domain without feelings, freed(released) from these let us shall say ourselves rather, in this state which one names thought without thoughts, nor ulterior motives ( Hishiryo).

The terminology Zen enjoys a complete vocabulary, in Japanese ideograms, which marks out the route(course) of the " meditating perfect ". The Zen influenced artistic domains as  ceremony of the Tea, calligraphy, pottery, floral art or Ikebana but also quasi-totality of the military arts of the akido in the kuyd by way of the bushido.

The Zen finds also direct applications in various arts which are confidentially connected to him, such:

- The art of the tea ( Tcha-no-you), prepared according to a traditional and ancestral ceremonial (the legend would want that Boddhidharma, closing eyes during his consideration, cut himself eyelids so that the eyes are perpetually opened and that these, fallen in the earth, gave birth to the leaves of the tea plant,

- The calligraphy ( Sh-do) and the painting ( Soumi-) in the soumi, the stone with natural ink. " Sesshu ( 1420-1506 ) and Shubun in 15-th century, were great masters Zen of this pictorial art. It is by the practice which one learns "; the calligraphy and the painting are practices of various techniques among which the hobaku, the technique of the broken ink and the suiboku (Indian ink and water) were very appreciated by the painters Zen and for certain famous Japanese prints. The bokuseki or the round track left by the shadow defines perfectly its affection in the spirit Zen, impermanence and empties.

- The floral art or Ikebana is based on Buddhist concepts among which that of the drainage of time. One finds there the notions of past, present and future as well as the evocation of the four seasons suggested by the various stages of growth of the plant elements, decorated and ordered around these.

- The constitution and the classification of gardens (as would say it so indeed Arnaud) according to the approach Zen, is all over the world recognized by their beauty and their perusal. Muso was one of the great masters of this art, stemming from the time of Nara (VII-VIII s). Gardens which obey the following rule: the man should not try to subject the nature to his laws, but on the contrary to merge into her(it) by observing his subtle and original rhythms better to find his place within the Universe. In this philosophy of the organization of gardens and floral art, one swims, if I may allow myself, in full ecology. It is a pity she(it) is limited only to vases and to gardens!

- The art of the pottery : to make cups of tea, by eg, or Ikebana's vases in which prevail Wabi's notions, rustic character internal perusal, research for the simplicity) and Sabi, her(it) skates stemming from time and from patience.

- The art of the poetry with Haku, the brief poem of three verses ( 5-7-5 syllables) the highlight of which is situated in the 17 (time Edo). I deliver to you one of it: the old calendar - fills(performs) me with gratitude - as a stra.

- The theater N has very narrow links with the Zen: the biggest author - interpreter was Motokiyo Zami ( 1363-1443 ), a friend of the crazy monk Ikkyo and the master of this one.

For the fanatics of the history, let us indicate that all these artistic forms saw their highlight during time Muromachi ( 1333-1673 ) contemporary of that Ming in China ( 1368-1644 ), succeeding those Kamakura (the famous bouddha), contemporary of that Sung, Heian and Nara (the dynasty Tang was on horseback on these).

After the peaceful arts, let us pass in some martial arts sharply more belligerent, although each should be practised according to the spirit of the Way, the Dshin

- Akido or the Way of the energy of the Sky (method of defence and control of its ki; consequently, also of that of its opponents) taught by Me Ueshiba. The fundamental purpose of Akido is to allow the ki to circulate harmoniously in every being who practises this method. 

- The Judo, the most wide-spread art, based by Me Kano, is the flexible Way which allows the weak to triumph over the strong. It is Me Kawaishi which was his(her) main diffuser of it and an instructor in Europe in the 50s. Even if it is the flexible way, it is not necessary to be cosy, David that dedicates it..!!

- Karatdo, the Way of the bare hands, which one makes go back up(raise) to Kung Fu and to Bodhidharma, sees its birth in China in Okinawa's ile, destinated that it is at the beginning to defend itself against the invaders. His founder is unquestionably Gishin Funakoshi. There are  numerous schools (Shotokan, Wado-ryu, Go-ju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu,  Kyokushinshai...) of this art which, controlled at first, can moult by means of Full-Contact into true " box with slaps ", without comment...!

- The art of ado, dgainement of the tempered real, steel sabre, disentangled as the razor blade, under its three sizes Katana, Wakizashi, Tanto. ado defines itself as " trancheur of ego "; the one that practises this art should manage not to do more than one with the sabre, without being made Hara-kiri or Sepuku!

- The art of the sword, the Ken-do is at present practised, only , with swords in bamboo or wooden, fortunately... Otherwise hello the damages! Originally, it was the art of the samurais that, before killing the opponent, should have integrated the fact of knowing how to kill at first, metaphor illustrating the overtaking the ego to reach in Mushin's state, non-mental

- The archery or Kyu-do, maybe the most hermetic for the western spirit, the important is not to reach(affect) the target, the bow, the arrow and the target make only one, it is the perfection of the gesture that counts beyond the man and beyond the target.

- Bushido, way of the Samurais or code of honor and morale of every warrior who respects himself, too long to describe here. It is to find that the BU kanji means stopping the sword, stopping using its weapon to manage finally to stop fighting. Here, one finds the basic idea of the mysteries of the Wisdom immovable. The biggest victory which one can take away(gain) is that on itself, the internal fight is the most difficult, because it is the only true fight of the Life. It is the simple transcription of the tradition Zen in the context of brave awake warrior.

I shall like bringing a precision about the martial arts. They were on the base conceived initially to allow to defend(forbid) itself; arrived in West, they fell bit by bit in the gearing of the competitive illusion and lost, by distorting it totally, their aforesaid initial spirit, J.L. Jazzarin described it in " the Spirit of the Judo ". One does not make fight of Tai-Chi, but one can make katas of karate which are also impressive and developing in any points of view in their perfectible execution. Be simply in the movement without having to prove... What and to whom?


To finish, the Zen is our spirit of every day, all the time, here even, the one that has for essence to allow us to live in best according to Dharma (the excellent educations of Boudha) in our current life.

Yun-men he did not say:

In the action, content with acting.
By thinking, content with thinking,
But above all, respite
The excitement of mental tone
. "

Zen4. GIF (bytes 864)