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Sunday, June 15, 2008

That's So Zen

What I proudly present here is a guest post by Bobby Revell from the amazing blog Revellian Dot Com

First, I want to thank J.C. for asking me to write a guest post. I normally don't do this, but because I have the utmost respect for his work, I am happy to contribute.

I hear people throwing this phrase, "That's so Zen," all the time. I've heard it mentioned on TV shows as well as in daily life. Many people have this preconception of Zen, like it means a warm bath surrounded by candles and soothing sounds of rain in the background. Because I come from old school Zen training, I took it somewhat offensively. I do realize that they simply do not know what it is or what it means, so it is unbecoming of me to pass any judgment.

It is extremely unlikely that a person could understand Zen after reading a book, or even dozens of books. Why is that? Because it's not something that can be understood, and certainly not explained logically - maybe on the surface, but not in any deep way. What most fail to realize, is that Zen or the concept of Zen is based on hard work and the deepest mastery of that particular work.

If you're interested in achieving what many have referred to as enlightenment, I would suggest you study and seek out an instructor. There are many paths to reaching this state, but I will list a few that would be wise.

* Yoga - I strongly recommend everyone learn yoga. I'm not referring to an exercise class where everyone wears tights. I'm talking about real yoga, where the philosophy is emphasized as well as the postures. Yoga is really about breathing and awareness of breath. Yogic breathing is far beyond the scope of this article, but you would be wise learning it. The true power of the human spirit is built and derived from one's mastery of breathing. To the uninitiated, it sounds ridiculous. Perhaps you believe in God, perhaps you don't, but through these breathing exercises you will build a powerful spirit and have control of yourself in a deeply powerful way.
* Martial Arts - Many martial arts offer a way to achieve enlightenment and ridding oneself of ego, which is the number one enemy of the self-actualized human mind. A few arts of interest would be Tai Chi, Aikido and Gung Fu - all of which are based on breath control and philosophy.
* Buddhism - Even if you are a Christian, Muslim, Jew or any other religion, you should learn about Buddhism. There is no deeper and centering philosophy known to humankind. The Christian idea that you cannot worship false idols has prevented many people from learning about Buddhism. It is a misconception that Buddhists worship a Buddha statue. Buddhists believe in God, plain and simply. Buddha was a man who achieved enlightenment and they look to him for wisdom.

The one concept missing from western religions is ki breathing. The practice of this type of breathing builds vital energy in the human body. If you're interested in reading a fantastic book, read "The Science of Breath" by Yogi Ramacharaka, click the link and read the free pdf version.

Now, why would anyone really need to learn about Zen or meditative breathing? I know many readers of this blog, Jasmin's Heart, are interested in art and literature. The concepts discussed in this article, if one is inclined to learn about self expression, can be achieved on a very deep level through one's mastery of Zen. It not only strengthens health, but frees the mind from the shackles of ego. It will bring you closer to yourself and open your mind to freedom. Another great thing is it can build your power of concentration and calmness, something we all need.

In today's world that seems to revolve around the power ego, there is nothing more important than learning these concepts. This is a really basic article that doesn't try to explain Zen, but to simply point you in the right direction. If you would like to read some great books about Zen, I recommend "The Three Pillars of Zen" and "Dawn In The West" by Roshi Philip Kapleau. They are my two favorite books ever written about this esoteric subject. Of all known philosophies, none are more fulfilling and wondrous than Zen. The problem with most modern philosophy, like existentialism and post structuralism is they are strongly rooted in ego. If you are based in these schools, I suggest you learn about Zen.

I leave you with my favorite Zen quote, "Nothing exists, all things are becoming."

Now ponder that for a while and this post...whatever it was.

Sell Art Online



Thanks for the opportunity J.C.! I hope it is satisfactory and I enjoyed writing it:)

J. C.said...

The pleasure is all mine Bobby.
I think that it mostly boils down on - how in depth - are we ready to go about something. The superficiality of philosophy, literature and so on - tends to prevail nowadays. I think that's mainly because of the hard and ever present influence of mass media. Your post is an another proof that things are more complicated than that.


This is a great, thought-provoking post.
I've enjoyed Bobby's writing and it is refreshing to see such practical advice dispensed in such an elegant fashion.

I've snagged the free PDF and will be reading it shortly!




Alright! Thanks Anklebuster, I'm glad you got something out of it:)


so true, I agree with Bobby whole heartedly. I am also bothered when people start throwing this word around without any discretion. It's easy to follow the herd, but without first looking deeper into what Zen actually is, we aren't going to benefit from it. Thanks for pointing out Bobby, only you could write that :)


Thanks Pearl! I watched a show about thee people adding a "Zen" room to their home. Chances are they don't really know what Zen is, but the calm aspect is - I suppose - very important.


This is a wonderful post. I've always felt attracted to the "Middle Path" espoused by Buddha - meaning you have to avoid extremes in all aspects of your life. Which when you comes to think of it is pretty sage advice.


Most excellent article on the importance of breath and mindfulness in some key forms (Zen, Yoga, etc). I practice and teach Heart Rhythm Meditation which focuses on breath and heartbeat. It comes from the Sufi tradition and also has links to ancient Christianity (Prayer of the Heart).

Nichols Stephensaid...

That was quiet an interesting post. Really loved to read the whole post nicely. Please post more like this.

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