The Main Pillars of Zen: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

Life in the modern world has many challenges. Often times we may find ourselves totally unprepared for the levels of anxiety and stress we may be experiencing. The ancient wisdom of Zen Buddhist Teachings offer us sound guidance to help us navigate this modern world. Down through the ages these three pillars of Zen have set forth healing council and meaningful words for reflection. These three wonderful qualities can be acquired, cultivated and maintained through a consistent practice of seated Zen meditation.

THE MAIN PILLARS OF A “ZEN MIND”

Taken from the book by Korean-born Zen teacher Seung Sahn Soen-sa

Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn

“Zen practice – requires great faith, great courage, and great questioning…”

GREAT FAITH:

“What is great faith? Great faith means that at all times you keep the mind which decided to practice, no matter what. It is like a hen sitting on her eggs. She sits on them constantly, caring for them and giving them warmth, so that they will hatch. If she becomes careless or negligent, the eggs will not hatch and become chicks. So Zen mind means always and everywhere believing in myself…”

Alan Watts also spoke about the importance of having faith:

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”

GREAT COURAGE:

“… means bringing all your energy to one point. It is like a cat hunting a mouse. The mouse has retreated into its hole, but the cat waits outside the hole for hours on end without the slightest movement. It is totally concentrated on the mouse-hole. This is a Zen mind — cutting off all thinking and directing all your energy to one point."

Osho believed that courage was important. Courage, he believed, was allowing yourself to experience all emotions:

“Experience life in all possible ways — good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.”

GREAT QUESTIONING:

“Next — great questioning… If you question with great sincerity, there will only be don’t-know mind.”

Buddha was also an avid believer in critical thinking:

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

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Sangha Without Borders is currently physically located in London, UK