Inquiry Project Final!

Teachings of Zen Buddhism

 

Zen Buddhism was founded based on the Japanese word Zen, for it means “meditation”. The teachings of Zen is to achieve enlighten by an insightful realization that we are already an enlightened being (Noone 27). This awareness does not happen gradually, but an instant spark of insight. During meditation; you are still, focusing on your breath, and living in the present. In this way of life, deities and scriptures only offer limited help. Zen Buddhism focuses on simplicity and the importance of the real world created a unique appeal, which expressed depression, seclusion, and unnatural behavior (Noone 29). Although the Buddha’s teachings have been known in countries throughout Asia for 2,500 years, it was started to become popular during 1959 in the West. Zen Buddhism is not a religion, not a philosophy, not a belief system, but instead an awareness of the present moment. It instead contains a big body of teachings, which causes human beings, who follows these teachings to look into what is my mind and who we are. In Hindu philosophy, Brahma means “the absolute reality”, which is this higher level of consciousness/awareness. The purpose of this experience is to quite our shattering minds, and focus on the present, in this very moment, but not to give it any meaning. As we do this for a period of time, you will see a shift on your awareness, and your consciousness changes. You then experience this beautiful and blissful calming state of being. This can be described as experiencing this state of enlightenment, of pure happiness. Zen Buddhism had become a global interest due to the simplistic teachings, which required no belief system, and the experience itself is transcending the human experience.

Zen Buddhism is a way and a view of life which does not attach to any of the formal categories of modern Western thought. When Tibetan refugees fled from their country to the west during the Vietnam War, they settled all over Europe and brought their culture and Buddhism too (“Library”). The soldiers returning back from the Korean War also brought back some cultural history, which included Buddhism. This had attracted many of the intellectuals and philosophers in the 1960’s. The Zen Buddhist foreigners started to build temples all over America; their inspiring speeches on Buddhism had impressed the listeners and started to establish Buddhist tradition in America (“Library”). Many new departments of Buddhism started to grow among academic universities. During this time, many deep philosophers such as Ram Dass, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and many more have traveled to Asia in search of teachers and gurus to learn the practice of mediation. The reason why Zen, at first, seems such a puzzle to the Western mind is that we have taken a restricted view of human knowledge. In modern day, all our knowledge s what a Taoist would call conventional knowledge, because we don’t feel that we really know anything unless we can represent it to ourselves in words, concepts in mathematics, or music (Watts 41). It is called conventional because it is a matter of social agreement; just like people speaking the same language has implied agreements as to what words represent what (Watts 47). The citizens of every society and every culture are integrated by bonds of communication, relying on the agreement as to the meaning associated with the actions and things. The goal of education then becomes to make children fit to live in a society by persuading them to learn and accept its language, the rules and conventions of communication (Alan Watts 37).

The principle of Buddhist teachings is that one does not need to study sacred texts, worship deities, or practice complex religious rituals to attain enlightenment. Rather, one needs to break through the boundaries of conventional thought using meditation and experience the world as it truly is in the moment (Sheridan 64). The practice of Zen was the way the Buddha himself reached enlightenment. Zen teaches that all humans have the ability to reach enlightenment because we all are inborn with this Buddha-nature.  We are all indeed already enlightened beings, but our true potential has been clouded by ignorance. According to Zen, this ignorance is overcome through a sudden breakthrough, called satori (Sheridan 78). This happens during meditation in which the true nature of reality, and our experience of it, is revealed. Different Zen groups, of which Rinzai and Soto are the major two, have developed various approaches to achieve this enlightenment, including the practice of zazen, which means “just sitting” meditation (Watts 44). A Zen master once said that listening and thinking are like being outside the gate, and zazen is returning home and sitting in peace (Watts 45).

A respected British eastern philosopher by the name of Alan Watts, had open my eyes as I was on this quest of understanding my true real self. He wrote a book called The Way of Zen, which has open, my eyes and educated me on the eastern philosophies and view on life.  We often ask how we can get to our ultimate ground of being, the self, the ultimate reality, but this is a very abstract talk. Zen on the other hand, focuses on a more direct way. Zen consists of four statements: A direct transmission outside scriptures and traditions, no dependence on words or letters, direct pointing on the human minds, and becoming Buddha, awakened (Watts 32). People are intrigued in its humorous style in Zen art and writings, while traditional religions are very serious. Zen has no doctrines, there is nothing you have to believe, and doesn’t moralize anything (Watts 36). It’s a field of inquiry, more like physics; in such you don’t ask physicist to discuss authoritatively about morals, although he has moral interest in problems (Watts 18). The fascination of Zen is that it promises a sudden insight into something that is supposed to take years and years. The psychotherapist will say if you are disturbed, that all your problems that happened all those years can’t be undone in a year, but it will take you several years to get straighten out (Watts 26).

Zen is something a person does. It’s not a concept that can be described in words. But Zen does not depend on words; it has to be experienced in order to ‘understand’ (Watts 124). The essence of Zen Buddhism is that all human beings are Buddha, and that all they have to do is to discover that truth for them (Watts 24). Zen sends us looking inside us for enlightenment (Sheridan 63). There’s no need to search outside ourselves for the answers; we can find the answers in the same place that we found the questions (“Library”). Human beings can’t learn this truth by philosophizing or rational thought, or by studying scriptures, taking part in worship and rituals or many of the other things that people think religious people do. One of the most influential Zen Buddhist masters, by the name of Hakuin Ekaku, wrote: “All beings by nature are Buddhas, as ice by nature is water. Apart from water there is no ice; apart from beings, no Buddhas” (“Buddhist Beliefs”).

The key fundamental of Buddhism is that think you can think intellectually in a no think way. It doesn’t mean not to have any thought at all, but not to be fooled by thoughts and hypnotized by speech (Watts 101). As Alan Watts said, don’t let words limit the possibilities of life. People then ask, how if they implement the ways of Zen into their lives, how can they live their routine lives and still be awakened, but the Buddhist master’s explains is that Zen is right under your nose (Watts 14). Therefore, all beings are capable of becoming Buddha (awakened), even rocks and stones, and evil doers (“Buddhist Beliefs”). That awakening is to happen instantaneously, all or nothing experience. A famous Chinese Buddhist named Dano once said, “Don’t expect to reach Buddha hood by sitting down all day and keeping your mind blank”. A misconception people have with meditation, is that you’re supposed to keep your mind very still. But according to Zen, that would be a stone Buddha not a real Buddha (Watts 62). To be awakened also doesn’t mean to be heartless, to experience no emotions, no feelings, or never get angry. Instead, your real mind, while all those emotions are going on, is imperturbable (“Library”).

The criticisms that are toward Buddhism are generally the modern day Abrahamic religions and hard sciences. They are known to be limited by living in a world created by your ego and cannot get passed their thoughts. Science tries to understand the dynamic functions between the brain and body. As Neuroscience and modern day Psychology advances, we will still have no clue what the mind really is. That is because language cannot make you aware of this state of consciousness; therefore it’s limiting you from the experience of this higher self. In our society, we are constantly planning, worrying, anticipating, talking, thinking; always keeping the mind busy. When you decide to let go those thoughts, and just be aware of your surroundings, of this present moment; then you will be in this state of awareness, which has no words. What Zen Buddhism and modern day religion tries to teach you, is ultimately the same thing. Unfortunately the interpretations of the stories in textual holy books got confused and became attached to these teachings and we claimed it to be the right one. This caused killing and harming other people in the name of their religion, which is the opposite of its teachings. To an average person in the West, sitting mediation may seem to be an unpleasant discipline, because we do not seem to be able to sit “just to sit”, without having the feeling of doing something which is led by our thoughts (Watts 72). So then the only way to get someone to meditate is to regard it as an exercise, a discipline with an ulterior motive. Although that contradicts what meditation is supposed to be. In the Buddhist sense, when there is purpose; where you’re trying to seek something, is when it stops becoming meditation (Watts 45).

Since the beginning of time, man is searching for the truth. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors, sat under the stars, and around the campfire discussed and asked themselves the same questions we ask ourselves today. Who am I? Why am I here? Is there a God? Is there life after death? Are we alone in the Universe? Over human history, we tried to explain and answer those metaphysical question, but in the end of the day, they’re just belief systems, attained by faith. What attracts people around the world to the teachings of Zen Buddhism, is that it is straightforward and then you experience this state in an instant. It also correlates with modern science, unlike most religious faiths. With other forms of Buddhism, there is some cultural influences towards the teachings, but with Zen, it was the teachings Siddhartha Gautama used to reach enlightenment. This means that there are multiple ways of attaining this state of awareness, and no one is better than the other. During the 1990s, a book written by a German spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, called The Power of Now. His teachings of inner transformation and a state of deep bliss, goes back to the teachings of Zen Buddhism. He became known as the most popular spiritual author in the United States. Tolle’s teachings revolved around being in the present moment, and not getting trapped by our thoughts. Zen Buddhism can be summed up by this statement: that in this universe, there is one great energy, and we have no name for it (Watts 122). People have tried various names for it, like God, Brahmin, Tao, but in the West, the word God has got so many funny associations attached to it that most of us are bored with it. But you see, these are merely just words, and words are meaningless without the experience behind it. Which is why Buddhist don’t use the word God or Brahmin, but simply _______.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

Watts, Alan. The Way of Zen. New York: Pantheon, 1957. Print.

 

Noone, Michael. Mediation. London: Cavendish Pub., 1996. Print.

 

“Tim Lott – Zen Buddhism and Alan Watts.” Aeon Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2014.

 

“What Is Spiritual Enlightenment or Spiritual Awakening? – Endless Satsang.”Endless

Satsang. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2014.

 

“Buddhist Beliefs.” ZEN BUDDHISM. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2014.

“Library.” Zen Origins, Zen History, Zen Beliefs. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2014.

Sheridan, Tia. Buddha in Blue Jeans: An Extremely Short Simple Zen Guide to Sitting Quietly and Being Buddha. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

 

 

 

Inquiry Project Summary

The past couple of weeks, I have been reading articles, books, and watching videos on my topic for this project, which is to educate people about the transpersonal self. I have always been interested in psychology, but I always felt like it was missing something. Currently it only deals with biological, cognitive, and socioculture, but those are the only things that can be studied and observed, and we never look deeper. What yogi’s, spiritual teachers, transpersonal psychologist, and all eastern philosophies teach us is that there is a spirit, soul, higher consciousness, whatever you want to call it, that we as living beings have, but it isn’t acknowledged in our day to day lives. The issue with our society is that we are too focused on our thoughts, and we believe that we are limited to our five senses. What Eckhart Tolle explained in his book was that all suffering comes through thought. So when we quite our minds, we see the world in a different view point, which shifts our consciousness, ultimately, makes us experience our true self. This is what meditation and yoga does; they are all tools to help you get to your transpersonal self, your real self. To a lot of cynics and skeptics, this may seem new age, and a bunch of bull****. But in order to make such a call, you need to experience living in the present moment, and realizing that you don’t need to think all the time, but rather just live in the moment. The other issue we have about how we live is that we misidentify ourselves with our ego. My ego is not me, but a part of me, and that’s a big realization people need to have. But if ego is only a part of me, what am I? Well that’s the first big question to ask and the path of awakening.

This is only a summary to what I will write about, and if any of you guys are curious about this, I will have some sources down below.

http://www.eckharttolle.com/article/The-Power-Of-Now-Spirituality-And-The-End-Of-Suffering

http://www.loveorabove.com/blog/higher-consciousness/

http://www.ramdass.org/shifting-our-perception-with-meditation/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stanislav-grof-md-phd/science-and-spirituality-_b_680470.html

http://www.drrogerwalsh.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/1035_68_Articles_The-transpersonal-movement-A-history-and-state-of-….pdf

http://www.drrogerwalsh.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/The-Consciousness-Disciplines-Meditation-Contemplation-Yoga-and-More.pdf

http://www.salon.com/2008/04/28/ken_wilber/

Research Reflection #5

During this week, I have been traveling a lot and during any free time I have, I tried to continue doing more research for the project essay. It has been a knowledgeable and tough task, but I believe the final draft will be worth it. I have also connected my cousin who has friends who are getting their Ph.D in East West Psychology, and is helping me understand my topic a better and giving me great advice for sources.

I have also enjoyed reading Personal Dynamic Media, and thought that the Dynabook is a great idea. We already created the tablets and touch screen laptops, which was the hard part, now we need to create the easy to use and effective software so children can early from it and continue to use it during there education process. I thought it was funny how this idea was purposed int he early 1970s, and 40 years later, we are slowly now making this Dynabook come true.

When I’m not busy this weekend, I will be doing more research this weekend and starting on my essay. I feel like this will be something I will enjoy doing, because I am passionate about the topic.

Concept Experience #5

When I first wrote about about Nugget #3, I really thought about in what ways can we help the future be a better world than it is today. I believe it should start with the new generation of children being born today, and especially during their academic years, to help shape and mold them to better, more intelligent beings then today. With technology growing so fast, and becoming cheaper and cheaper each year; we should have more laptops and iPads in classrooms, helping kids familiarize and experience technology at an early age. I believe we are living in the prime era were we can use our advance technology to help the new generations become better people.

The Concept Experience #2 was a fun blog post because it taught me how wonderful modern day internet can be to answer all sorts of questions. I was outside all day prior to writing that blog post, and I thought about we look up all the time and see how the sky is blue, but never really ask how or why. But with the internet, I can just go to Google, type in the question, and BAM, there is the explanation with evidence backing it up. No one could have thought about such a tool less than a hundred years ago, but it exists! It can answer peoples curiosities about the most random or specific things, because they’re somebody who has once thought the same thing.

I really enjoyed writing about my Nugget #2, because I was always interested in Sci Fi, and how robots and technology would play into our daily lives. I remember coming across an article a while back ago about this Russian billionaire trying to use science, technology, and neuroscience to create a hologram version of us by transferring our consciousness when we die. I thought that was the most interesting thing I read all year, and wondered how we were going to do that. So when I read Man Computer- Symbiosis, I thought this was the perfect connection I can share to the rest of the class, cause it’s an interesting idea and who knows it may come true!

Nugget # 5: Personal Dynamic Media

“What would happen in a world in which everyone had a
Dynabook? If such a machine were designed in a way that
any owner could mold and channel its power to his own
needs, then a new kind of medium would have been created:
a metamedium, whose content would be a wide range of
already-existing and not-yet-invented media.
An architect might wish to simulate three-dimensional
space in order to peruse and edit his current designs, which
could be conveniently stored and cross-referenced.
A doctor could have on file all of his patients, his business
records, a drug reaction system, and so on, all of which could
travel with him wherever he went…..”

I feel like a Dynabook is a great idea, especially how its relevant now then in 1972, when Alan Key proposed the idea. With iPads, tablets, and touch screen laptops; it seems to be a perfect time to create such a device were babies and toddlers can starts to experience such vast information in their finger tips. As I said in one of my previous concept experience, we need to let children play and understand how to use the modern day technology early in their lives, so they can expand in a more rapid rate.

With the Dynabook, we can start to teach kids other languages, math, science, reading, music, and even programming at an early age; which can also change how we run our public schooling. Instead of children watching cartoons and playing video games for hours and hours during the week, they can instead be on their Dynabook, learning how to speak Spanish or French, or even learn a couple of music notes and start playing an instrument before going to kindergarten. I believe that our future is solely based on how we prepare our new generations of citizens, and by making a Dynabook affordable and common, it can help children experience and learn a lot about our life in a short period of time, which ultimately gives them the freedom to explore all of their curiosities before going into college and beyond.

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Research Reflection #4

During this week, I have been researching more on my Inquiry project; trying to find credible sources and facts to back up my arguments. Because higher consciousness hasn’t really been studied as much in the Western cultures, it has been practiced for many many centuries in the eastern cultures. Although lots of western spiritualist and philosophers are constantly trying to educate people about the true nature of ourselves. I have been reading The Power of Now, and Alan Watts and trying to tie their philosophies with the Buddhist believes.

I have been enjoying spending this time reading and researching about something not only I find interesting, but something that can potentially help me grow in the future. I would highly recommend the book The Power of Now, to anyone who is interested to broaden their mind, and explore the true nature of reality.

Nugget #4: CL/DM

‘Dreams

Technology is an expression of man’s dreams. If man
did not indulge his fantasies, his thoughts alone
would inhibit the development of technology itself.
Ancient visionaries spoke of distant times and places,
where men flew around and about, and some could
see each other at great distance. The technological
realities of today are already obsolete and the future
of technology is bound only by the limits of our
dreams. Modern communications media and in
particular electronic media are outgrowths and
extensions of those senses which have become
dominant in our social development’

Oh, how I owe my life to technology! It has helped me in so many ways, and has truly shaped the person I am now. It has taught me the love of information and knowledge I have. Instead of spending my whole life reading books to gain information, I can do it in minutes in the internet. Technology is really shaped in mans own image. Eventually, we will try to make robots and technology to be as advance as humans, to help us life such unimaginable world!

He is indeed right about how it has expanded our social development with all these social medias. The amount of information, if it is words or pictures, has became so viable and see to obtain, making us a more social society. It gave us the ability to multitask in life, and to spend our time, in a more efficient way. To keep in contact with love ones, is such a wonderful tool, we are all grateful for.

Technology has came so far, people in the early 20th century couldn’t imagine, and we can’t possibly imagine how human life will be in 22th century. We see technology has a way to help us life live the most best and interesting way possible. As long as we know how to use technology to benefit us, not harm us, we will be fine. Technology is really the pinnacle of human inventions. download

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Research Reflection #3

During this week, I had enjoyed reading Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, it had given me another perspective towards how humans will be able to solve complex problems in a more efficient way and in depth.  I started to think about what kind of world we would live in if we implemented these strategies at a early age. Our understanding of the world would change rapidly for the better. It means we would start working on difficult real life issues we have. It would require to start early and make sure our society is spending a lot of time and energy on it. 

I have read my fellow classmates blogs, and I really like seeing their interpretations of the article and how they relate it to their experience in the real world. I have also caught up on some of my assignments I turned in late. But I am starting to really like this course, but better than my previous university college classes.

INQUIRY PROJECT PROPOSAL

Something I have always been interested in was consciousness. What is consciousness? The eastern culture’s has dived pretty deep into what it actually is. The western culture in the other hand, are too focused on economy, politics, and technology. There isn’t necessarily wrong with the way the west was living their lives, except their culture was run by the idea of making money, which leads to greed and other problems.

The eastern cultures like Japan, China, Tibet, India, and many other countries, knew that humans were much more than what we preceived to be. We were born into a slavery, were our only source of information was soley based on our five senses, and our mind to analyze it. The eastern cultures discovered, that our mind is hijacked with thoughts. Thoughts about our past or future, on what were going to eat, on what to do for tomorrow, etc. They never stop. So what they discovered is meditation and yoga. Which gets you to focus your mind on one thing, which changes your brain wave length, that can be measured using an EEG. Apparently, the wavelength that the brain is in while meditating, is the same wavelength found in everywhere in nature.

While being in this state of mind, its called a higher level of consciousness. Where you are not limited by your body, nor your thoughts. This will help you understand what life is really about and how we can better ourselves as a human being.  A Canadian psychiatrist named Richard Bucke, wrote a novel called Cosmic Consciousness.  He explains who humans began to first experience our self consciousness, and are the only beings to do so on Earth, as we know of. Eventually when our species starts to experience these higher levels of consciousnesses as a whole, our minds will evolve into a the highest type of consciousness called cosmic consciousness.

I would like to write about how we, as a specie, can do so. Starting from teach children,  from a young age and not filling their heads with imaginary worlds, or stories that are irrelevant to what we actually are.  The help of technology will educate people, and showing them proof of how exactly our minds work, cause right now, its all theories. With religion, it becomes all about faith and believing, but with meditation and yoga, it becomes about experiencing.

Nugget #3: AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT

By “augmenting human intellect” we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble. And by “complex situations” we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers–whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years. We do not speak of isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations. We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human “feel for a situation” usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids.”

I believe in order for a whole human population to increases their complex problem solving skills and their understanding of how to derive the best possible solution; a society must focus on teaching those necessary skills at a young age. The way our public school system is run, from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade, shows us that we start teaching children to solve complex problems in a much later age in America. Looking at countries in Asia, they are taught higher level of math, linguistics, and the use of technology at a early age, which gives them more time and practice to work on complex problems.

With the increase of how technology is affecting out current world and the future, we need to teach younger kids, not only how to use computers, but how to program them and use it to help us solve tough problems. By the time they graduate high school, they will have the knowledge as a third or fourth year college student. In order to do this though, we must either replace some classes that is being taught in our schools that are simply not as important, make school hours longer, or teach kids these real world complex problems in a way were it’s interesting and maybe give them an incentive of doing so, in their free time.

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The grey matter in our brains expand and grow the most when we are in our adolescences; instead of filling it with junk or less important information, we must teach them how to solve complex problems and apply critical thinking into their everyday lives. This will make them smarter, and will be able to do well in their careers, and help the future grow much faster than we can imagine. Our future is only bright as the new generations, so we must invest their future and the future of our species.

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