Zen Buddhism History & Synopsis

#297 Is knowledge necessary to experience spirituality by Kris Dec 15th 19


The Bible states that, “Know the truth and it shall set you free.”

So how do we know the truth? It starts with removing our ignorance.

Our ignorance is really that we do not know who we really are. We think we are the body with a finite existence when we are really infinite creatures.

Because we have evolved from lower creatures (where survival is most important), the  five senses/body identification dominate us and we identify ourselves as a body and by extension our  mind. This is because we are externally focused where change is part of the natural order.

This is why Buddha stated in his first truth that “everything is change and transient in this world.”

However, all major religious texts also remind us that the “kingdom of heaven is within us.”

Hence our external focus is erroneous.

So the first step in this spiritual journey is to know what the “truth” is. This begins by studying, and hearing appropriate spiritual material.

However, even if one reads or hears many spiritual lectures, it has to be effective in the person.  Knowledge has to be assimilated. The common complaint is that I have been reading and listening to this material for many years and yet I do not feel any change in me.

This is because there are impediments for the absorption of this spiritual material in our mind. Thus the spiritual knowledge does not really improve our life. So what are these impediments in our mind?

They are a) ignorance of spiritual knowledge b) scattered mind c) impurities in mind.

For overcoming the ignorance of spiritual knowledge, one has read/hear the spiritual material and contemplate on it. Over a period of time, one’s understanding develops and this knowledge starts to become wisdom.

For overcoming scattered mind, regular practice of meditation is recommended. This practice over time, focuses the scattered mind.

Overcoming the last barrier of impurities of the mind is the hardest. This is because our mind has collected rust akin to a rusting needle which cannot be attracted to a magnet.

We have all spent a lifetime acquiring a whole gamut of false beliefs and prejudices that taint our clear thinking. Our eyes and ears have collected garbage akin to eating food from garbage cans-  things which are toxins to our system! In addition, our past conditioning and experience also taints our thinking.

However, as the rust is removed, the needle is immediately attracted to the magnet. Similarly our spiritual journey starts when we initiate removing this “rust”

The solution to cleaning the impurities in our mind is through selfless service and focusing on the welfare of others rather than our own. Thus our selfish impurities are reduced or mitigated.

A pure mind runs naturally to spiritual things.

When our mind is purified, it is automatically attracted to God

Thus in this spiritual journey,  one has to undertake several steps like improving our scattered mind ( meditation ) and eliminate/reduce its impurities ( selfless service)  than just gather spiritual knowledge  which may not register !

To summarize: Yes, knowledge is required coupled with other relevant practices to discover our true self!

#293 AWAKENING attributes & attitudes Part 1

                     Awakening: The most important attributes & attitudes P1

The nickname “Buddha” means “the awakened” one.  Awakening or Enlightenment is simply to understand and experience genuine and concrete reality of the present moment including all its components. Put in different words:  it is the ability to differentiate what we are and are not,

what reality vs. mind-made illusions are. Awakening brings serenity.

It is not a fantasy to fulfill, a destination to reach or a miracle to happen. No special skills, no divine intervention from a third party, no dogma and no miracle are required because we are all already “awakened”. Being awakened is a personal experience impossible to share with others.

We call this awakened state our True Nature or pure consciousness, which will be never observed explained scientifically or even shared with others because:  

 Totally immaterial,

And because we need consciousness to explain consciousness meaning that the object cannot be    the subject at the same time or, w/o a mirror, we cannot see our own eyes.

As we will see experiencing awakening comes from many ways in our daily life and all of them are linked not only to the practice of formal sitting mindfulness meditation but also  “on the go”.

To be mindful is to actively pay attention to something w/o any analytic nor decisional purpose.

Just being a mirror reflecting yourself, people, things and events as they are. It is like to focus mindlessly.

Here are few examples of mindfulness practice in non-specific order. Few more will follow next week.

  • Practicing formal meditation. It requires effort, discipline, patience, determination and, above all, a non-judgmental assessment of your meditation’s quality. Just bring your mind to your breathing.
  • Learning to be mindful on routine, automatic behavior such as eating, walking, driving,
  • taking a shower, cleaning, dressing, etc.  In other words, bringing together your wandering mind where your body is and does in a single space-time. This is “on-the-go mindfulness”
  • Trying to live in the moment as often as possible, avoiding been carried out in past & future by your restless mind. NOW is the only existing time. The others time-spaces are virtual, despite our pictures / souvenirs of the past and our expectations/calendar of the future. They exist only on paper and in our mind. Our mind loves being a time machine to put us in a fictional daydream state.
  • Being conscious that all living beings, current moment and any events surrounding us are transient and usually out of our control.
  • Realizing that thoughts are just that…thoughts. They exist but they are, by definition, not real.

      We are creating thoughts but it does not mean that we have to trust them.

  • Having an open mind and not a mind-set made of ideas and judgments, which freeze our thinking.

       Such open-mind is called “don’t know mind” and this mental state enhances our curiosity  intelligence, wisdom and serenity.

  • Avoiding multi-tasking.

#228 SUFFERING: “NOW & ZEN “…or THEN June 3rd 18

                                                 SUFFERING: “NOW  & ZEN/THEN”

Zen Buddhism teaching has been criticized for putting too much emphasis on suffering meaning that everything that has a negative impact either physically or mentally.

The word suffering is a poor translation. The Sanskrit word “Dukkha” means not only physical and mental pain but also any negative feelings such as unhappiness, dissatisfaction, anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, impatience, stress, etc. The sources of suffering are numerous but most of them are coming from the inside that is our ego-driven mind – desire, hatred and illusion). Few causes are from and few from the outside.


#188 SUFFERING: What, how & freedom from Aug. 20th 17 Part 1

                                            Suffering: What, How and Freedom from   Part 1

Four Noble Truths also called Noble Realities in modern versions

Suffering & its causes exist in life, whatever we do. This is not doom& gloom, just reality.

  1. Suffering arises from 1) desire/ graving, 2) hatred/aversion and 3) Ignorance, which means illusions and delusions. Attachment to one of them enhances suffering.
  2. Suffering ceases when ego-driven attachments cease or are under control. This is Nirvana.
  3. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the so-called “Eight fold Path”

Suffering and its causes exist and cannot be prevented.

This is not a pessimistic & hopelessness point of view. It is reality since life is what it is, consisting of many good stuff but also of suffering, dissatisfaction and unhappiness. No one is exempt from suffering but we can deal with it in a more efficient way.

This suffering is called Dukkha but Dukkha has a far broader meaning: anything that we don’t like, oppose, resent and fight against. Human nature and the world you live in are imperfect.

During our lifetime, we have to endure not only physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and death but mainly emotional pain such as anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, etc.



Be careful about Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD in psychiatry )!

The “past you” is dead and the “future you” is not born yet.

Only the “present you” is alive and real.

Don’t let your mind splitting yourself all the time in many fictional templates /avatars .

The “present you” is the purest form of awakening.


OAKZEN   _/\_

#154 Zen Buddhism in a nutshell March 17th 17

                                                     Zen Buddhism in a nutshell  


2500 BCE ago Siddhartha Gautama aka “the Buddha =the awakened one” taught in the North East of India during 50 years following 6 years intensive mindfulness meditation practice trying to understand human suffering. Suffering, its causes and how to end it form became the core of his verbal teaching. Explaining how to control our ego-driven mind as our main source of suffering, he could be considered to be one of the first psychotherapists. He was just a human being without any divine power, w/o being neither a messiah nor a prophet. Also, he did not want to set up a new religion from Hinduism and was always asking to be challenged. Like for many religions, Buddhism became, later, a religion but, still, remained w/o hierarchy except few branches such as Tibetan. There are 3 Buddhist schools. Zen (Japanese word for meditation) is a school of Buddhism born in China in ~ 500CE following the influence of Confucianism and Taoism. Zen is aiming more at day-to-day mindful-based daily life and formal meditation practice rather than the rigid studies of the Buddhist scriptures / canons called Sutra (over 5,000!). Because of its simplicity and down-to earth approach, Zen is one of the worldwide spiritual activities with the fastest growth. Especially in developing countries.


#146 Few words about meditation Feb.6th 17



“Meditation doesn’t remove pain, unhappiness, dissatisfaction or alleviate the negative energy flowing through your body  and the world. Contrary to what we read, Meditation does not bring happiness.

However, with discipline and steady practice, Meditation will relieve stress, anxiety and suffering, not by changing our outer environment that we cannot control but by turning our awareness inward to discover our genuine inner peace and make peace with ourselves and others.

The aim is not to become a super hero, a saint, nor to transcend our flaws, feelings of pain and distress. Instead, it is :

To control our restless ego-driven monkey mind main source of our “suffering”

To open our hearts and minds to others,

To accept our emotions as they come in any given moment even if these feelings are very hard to deal with . This is part of serenity

Ji Gong Sunim     Zen Master  Oakville ON

#129 Before and after Enlightenment Sept. 9th 16

                                                                  BEFORE and AFTER  ENLIGHTENMENT

Before enlightenment you sleep, walk, eat, drink, pee, poop, work, raise kids, have fun and pain, die.

After enlightenment you sleep, walk, eat, drink, pee, poop, work, raise kids, have fun and pain, die.

So, what is the difference?