A Western Approach to Zen

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What we will see is that this has not been a one-way street.

The Western Approach - Dragon age: Inquisition Soundtrack

There have been Western influences in Buddhist art from the earliest times. On the other hand, although many people are aware of the influence of Eastern and Japanese art in particular on modern Western art, it is perhaps less well known how much Buddhist ideas have been explored by important Western artists.

We will ask if we see clues to the emergence of a Western Buddhism in the works of these artists. Wednesday, 25th September at pm Suitable for beginners and seasoned meditators alike.

The forty minute session covers a short talk on meditation plus thirty Thursday, 26th September at pm Thursday evenings at 6. Free to attend - all welcome Please check the calendar for term dates Based on the practice of mindfulness as Thursday, 26th September at pm This class is usually on a Thursday evening at 6. This class is usually on a Thursday evening at 6. Starts on Tuesday at 6.

Buddhists follow three main traditions; the Theravada or Southern tradition; the Mahayana or Northern tradition; and the Vajrayana Tibetan tradition. Long ago, Buddhism Selected Works of D.

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Off-beat Zen

Suzuki brings together various important essays and Join our mailing list to keep informed of the happenings at The Buddhist Society. Become a member and get a subscription to The Middle Way and access to our events and online features. The Buddhist Society Patron: H. The Dalai Lama Founded Founder's Day Saturday, 1st Apr, am. Instead of discussing metaphysical questions, which are ethically useless and intellectually uncertain, Buddha always tried to enlighten persons on the most important questions of sorrow, its origin, its cessation and the path leading to its cessation.

The answers to these four questions constitute the essence of the Buddha's enlightenment.

Founder's Day

These have come to be known as four noble truths. They are: a Life is full of suffering Duhkha , b There is a cause of this suffering Duhkha-samudaya , c It is possible to stop suffering Duhkha-nirodha , d There is a way to extinguish suffering Duhkha-nirodha-marga. The first noble truth is life full of suffering. The very essential conditions of life appeared to be fraught with suffering-birth, old age, disease, death, sorrow, grief, wish, despair, in short, all that is born of attachment, is suffering.

The second noble truth is that there is a cause of this suffering. Suffering is due to attachment. Attachment is one translation of the word trishna, which can also be translated as thirst, desire, lust, craving, or clinging. Another aspect of attachment is dvesha, which means avoidance or hatred. A third aspect of attachment is avidya, meaning ignorance. Buddha preaches about the chain of 12 links in the cause and maintenance of suffering. These chain of causes and effects lead to sufferings in the world.

The suffering in life is due to birth, which is due to the will to be born, which again is due to our mental clinging to objects. Clinging again is due to thirst or desire for objects. This again is due to sense-experience, which is due to sense-object-contact, which again is due to the six organs of cognition. These organs are dependent on the embryonic organism composed of mind and body , which again could not develop without some initial consciousness, which again hails from the impressions of the experience of past life, which lastly are due to ignorance of truth.

These constitute the wheel of existence bhaba-chakra : Birth and rebirth. The third noble truth about suffering is that suffering can be extinguished. Nirvana is the state of being wherein all clinging, and so all suffering, can be eliminated here, in this very life. The fourth noble truth about suffering is that there is a path marga -which Buddha followed and others can similarly follow-to reach to a state free from misery.


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He called it the Eightfold Path to liberation. This Path is open to all, monks as well as laymen. Speech is often our ignorance made manifest, and is the most common way in which we harm others.


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The last three segments of the path are the ones Buddhism is most famous for, and concern samadhi or meditation. Despite the popular conception, without wisdom and morality, meditation is worthless, and may even be dangerous.

Western Approach to Zen by Humphreys, Christmas - PDF Drive

When bad thoughts and impulses arise, they should be abandoned. This is done by watching the thought without attachment, recognizing it for what it is and letting it dissipate. Good thoughts and impulses, on the other hand, should be nurtured and enacted. This mindfulness is to be extended to daily life as well. It becomes a way of developing a fuller, richer awareness of life. Right concentration, through four stages, is the last step in the path that leads to the goal-nirvana.

There is then a joy of pure thinking. There is then a joy of tranquillity. There is then indifference to even such joy but a feeling of a bodily case still persists. There are then perfect equanimity and indifference. This is the state of nirvana or perfect wisdom.

A Western Approach to Zen (Mandala Books)

This is the highest form of Buddhist meditation, and full practice of it is usually restricted to monks and nuns who have progressed considerably along the path. Assessment of Buddhism in terms of modern western psychology started when British Indologist Rhys Davids translated Abhidhamma Pitaka from Pali and Sanskrit texts in A variety of renowned teachers, clinicians and writers in the west such as Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Alan Watts, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg among others have attempted to bridge and integrate psychology and Buddhism, from time to time, in a manner that offers meaning, inspiration and healing to the common man's suffering.

Over the last century, experts have written on many commonalities between Buddhism and the various branches of modern western psychology like phenomenological psychology, psychoanalytical psychotherapy, humanistic psychology, cognitive psychology and existential psychology. Any assessment of Buddhism in terms of psychology is necessarily a modern western invention.

Western and Buddhist scholars have found in Buddhist teachings a detailed introspective phenomenological psychology.


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Abhidhamma Pitaka articulates a philosophy, a psychology, and ethics as well; all integrated into the framework of a program for liberation. The primary concern of the Abhidhamma or Abhidharma in Sanskrit , is to understand the nature of experience, and thus the reality on which it focuses is conscious reality. For this reason, the philosophical enterprise of the Abhidhamma shades off into a phenomenological psychology. Later on long-term efforts to integrate Abhidhammic psychology with Western empirical sciences have been carried out by other leaders such as Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the 14 th Dalai Lama.

In his foreword, Jung highlights the enlightenment experience as the unsurpassed transformation to wholeness for Zen practitioners.

1901 - 1983

Karen Horney was intensely interested in Zen Buddhism during the last years of her life. R D Laing, another noted psychoanalyst, went to Ceylon, where he spent two months studying meditation in a Buddhist retreat. There have been many other important contributors,[ 13 , 14 ] to the popularization of the integration of Buddhist meditation with psychology, including Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Tara Brach, Epstein and Nhat Hanh.

The relocation of a complex or neurosis from the unconscious to the conscious easily equates to the principles inherent in right meditation and right understanding. One might recall that on Jung's deathbed, he was reading a translation of Hsu Yun's dharma discourses and was reputedly very excited by the succinct and direct methods of Chan's practice in working with the unconscious. Buddha said that life is suffering. Existential psychology speaks of ontological anxiety dread, angst.

Buddha said that suffering is due to attachment. Existential psychology also has some similar concepts.