Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm

Finding peace through Zen
By Yang Jian

October 22-- During the 6th century AD, the Indian monk Bodhidharma, 28th successor of Buddha, traveled to China to meet Buddhist monks and followers, study and meditate.

Bodhidharma |

He created Zen Buddhism and is considered its patriarch in China. A major teaching of this school of Buddhism is the practice of meditation to ward off worldly distractions and seek tranquillity.

I began studying Zen in 2010 when I encountered some difficulties in my career and relationships with friends. The basic teachings and many ancient short stories taught me how to create an inner peace, regardless of what was happening in the outside world.

I’ve been meditating every night for three months and by doing so, I finally realized all the unpleasant things that had happened had their causes. So I stopped complaining and concentrated how to solve the problems one after another.

Meditation can be practiced anytime, anywhere. Even on bus, after I close my eyes and take a deep breath, I can soon enter inner peace. This helps me calm down and makes the brain more effective.

To me, Zen is more like psychology than a religion.

Many of my friends laughed, saying, “You have become an old man with such negative thoughts about life.”

I smiled. I felt there was no way I could explain to them; they would have to absorb the ideas themselves.

Actually, my experience and feelings are in no way negative.

Zen’s core concept is to guide people to the deepest and purest thoughts in their mind and, thus, to gain power from those thoughts to support goals in work, study and other areas.

Everyone is born with happiness and wisdom, but most valuable qualities are obscured by the desire for money, power, favor and status. People think they can gain everything through worldly pursuits, but according to Zen, they actually have nothing more than a beggar or a newborn baby.

It may be difficult to understand at first, because greed and the desire to achieve position and win the favor of others actually distance us from our natural wisdom. We gradually ignore the true values of life, the love of our families, the dreams we once wanted to pursue, and or precious things leading to eternal happiness.

One Zen story helped me understand and it still moves me:

An old Buddhist gives a difficult problem to his apprentice: An egg is placed in a bottle with a narrow mouth and larger bottom. A chick hatches and is stuck in the bottle. How can the chick be freed without breaking the glass bottle?

The apprentice is totally confounded. He cudgels his brains and keeps murmuring, “how to get out,” until one day, the master shouts at him, “Hey, what are you doing?”

“What?” the apprentice stops thinking, stunned, and stares at the master. “Look, that’s the way to ‘get out’.”

The old Buddhist actually is trying to explain that troubles are just like the chicken stuck in the glass bottle.

The problem is actually illusory since it can never happen in real life. The same is true of many problems that will never happen. If we stop thinking about the problems, worries will disappear and the chicken will just get out.

People may regard this as idealism, but since the worries are ideas, why can’t we use the idealistic way to solve it?

It was summed up by Huineng (AD 638-713), the sixth and last patriarch of Zen Buddhism, whose school became the orthodox form of Buddhism in China:

“Bodhi originally has no tree,

The bright mirror no support.

Fundamentally nothing exists there,

Where could the dust come from?”

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