When we facing life challenges such as a lockdown from a world pandemic, we could all use a little more zen in our lives. Whenever it’s impossible to find outer peace we need to look for it inside. In this article, I want to share with you 5 Zen principles to live by that will help you find inner peace and balance during challenging times. These principles are quite simple and can be practiced by almost everyone. Read on!
Zen Buddhism is a school of Mahayana Buddhism widely spread in China. The word “Zen” itself comes from the term “Dhyana”, which in a broad sense means “perfect meditation”, and in a narrower sense means “the concentration of the mind on a perfect object”.
Zen Buddhism denies many Buddhist concepts, considering them to be illusory. For example, the concept of Nirvana is not taken seriously because the Buddha did not give a clear explanation of what it is, only sometimes telling his disciples what Nirvana is not. Therefore, because of its practicality, Zen Buddhism does not pay attention to the study of concepts that are not related to specific practical aspects.
Formally a school and offshoot of classical Mahayana Buddhism, Zen Buddhism is fundamentally different from it.
The Zen school does not recognize the authority of the Scriptures — it does not rely on classical Buddhist sutras. Personal experience and practice are considered primary in Zen Buddhism, and philosophical concepts and various texts have almost no weight.
The famous saying “If you meet the Buddha, kill him“ refers specifically to the school of Zen Buddhism. This is not a call to violence, but a healthy measure of nihilism on the spiritual path, that is, that anything you hear or learn should be questioned and tested by personal experience. No matter who you’re hearing it from – even if you’re hearing it from your guru.
That is why Zen Buddhism completely lacks dogmatism or any established philosophical concepts, and the direction itself is considered the most practical and effective.
5 Zen Principles To Live By
Here are 5 Zen principles to live by!
#1: Be Here Now
Being in the present moment means focusing as much as possible on what you are doing at the moment, rather than indulging in lengthy reflections, fantasies, or worries about the past or the future.
There is a famous saying: “Life is beautiful if you do not remember your past, do not think about your future and do not worry about your present.”
Our mind is a source of endless worry. We remember past troubles, worry about how things will turn out and worry that now everything is not going as we expected.
Zen Buddhism teaches us:
- to let go of the past — because it has already passed;
- to treat current events without the judgment based on our expectations, but rather than with full acceptance;
- not to worry about the future, because it hasn’t come yet.
Meditative practices of Zen Buddhism include meditations with a concentration on an object or thought. The “state of one thought” is a basic practice in Zen Buddhism. More precisely, it is not exactly a practice — it is a state that Zen practitioners seek to achieve by concentrating on the object of meditation. By focusing on a particular statement, a person evolves according to the principle “what you think about, you become”.
There is a mental disorder called hypochondria. This is a disease when a person invents a disease by the power of his hypocrisy and so convinces himself with it that this disease begins to manifest itself in him. Thus, we can conclude that our mind is a powerful tool that can both resurrect us and kill us. And if you let your mind control you, it can drive you to complete madness, but if you subdue it, the results will be simply amazing. Zen Buddhism practices are based on this idea: ‘The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.’
Zen meditation is a practice that turns your attention inside in search of peace. This meditation is a powerful practice for connecting with higher consciousness and finding inner peace and harmony.
To learn more about Zen meditations, read my article “How to Perform Zen Meditation for Connecting With Higher Сonsciousness?”.
#3: Follow Your Heart
Yur heart and Spirit are directly connected. So if you want to live in harmony with your spiritual mission you have to find a way to follow your heart. Don’t overanalyze the information your heart sends you. Don’t overthink! Trust your intuition and follow your heart!
Bodhidharma urged his disciples to act, not just to philosophize. He taught his disciples not to be like the ancient philosophers, who talked and philosophized a lot but didn’t really practice what they were teaching. Therefore in Zen Buddhism, it’s essential to turn your philosophy into practice. Not just talk about meditation but actually meditate! Not just talk about the importance of the present moment but actually live in it!
5: Enjoy the Process
The goal of all actions is joy. What makes us suffer is that we become attached to the fruits of actions — we expect a particular result from reality, and reality sometimes has its own plans. Zen Buddhists learn to enjoy the very process of action, no matter what they do. And to achieve the pleasure of action is possible only through being in the present moment.
The Bottom Line
The value of Zen Buddhism is that it is very practical and can be easily integrated into your daily routine. There are no strange philosophical concepts, dogmas, rituals, and so on. Zen Buddhism is based on simple life truths that can make everyone happy and lead to personal and spiritual evolution. To practice Zen Buddhism, it is not necessary to close yourself in a monastery for half your life. This Buddhist school offers us very real simple practices that can be performed by everyone in the conditions of a megalopolis and ordinary social life. Let’s all invite a little zen into our lives by following its simple principles?