The belief of no faith began its existence with Buddhism, the "father" of Zen. Buddhism began with a prince named Siddhartha (Vetanen 1). Siddhartha was born close to five hundred B.C. (Vetanen 1). After having lived twenty-nine years and experiencing life in the world, the soon-to-be-enlightened one left his child and martial partner in order to dedicate the rest of his life towards becoming enlightened (Vetanen 1). At the age of thirty-five, Siddhartha attained Enlightenment under the fabled Bo tree and became Buddha, or "The Enlightened One" (Vetanen 1). Although Buddha’s body died later, his spirit lived on and went into the next person that needs a soul (i.e. people that are being conceived. Many Zen thinkers say that Zen was initiated once Buddha achieved Enlightenment (Watts 24). Other Zen masters think of Bodidharma as the "founder" of the most popular Japanese form of Buddhism (Watts 24). Bodidharma’s name means "law of wisdom" (Keiji 10). The first Zen Buddhist was the leader of a Buddhist sect that later became Zen around 470 A.D. (Vetanen 1). Although there is doubt as to who officially began Zen, the definition of Zen remains the same.
The closest translation for Zen is contemplation (Watts 22). This conversion is not the most accurate of versions, as the most accurate version for Zen is Enlightenment and its methods of achievement (Watts 24). Zen was once called Ch’an (Vetanen 1). Ch’an is a belief of impermanence, meaning that those who practice Zen do not value their earthly possessions as much as one who does not have this belief of impermanence (Walter 1). Zen masters use language to make their difficult to understand (Keiji 11). For this reason and others, Zen is difficult to understand. Zen can be defined as a sect of Buddhists that is more lenient than other sects (Ross 139). Followers of Zen believe in Karma. Karma is thought of as nature’s "cause and effect" system (Aitken 2). However Zen is defined, one must learn the spiritual meaning of Zen without aid through meditation (Vetanen 2).
The spiritual meaning of Zen must be interpreted individually because it is not a simple answer to a question, and cannot be answered by any Zen master (Vetanen 2). It is difficult to comprehend Zen because those who are not enlightened have minds that make Zen’s meaning out to be much more difficult to understand than the true simplicity of the belief (Watts 52). "With our eyes on the horizon, we do not see what lies at our feet," (Watts 46) is a Zen explanation for the reason of Ch’an’s difficulty of comprehension. To become enlightened in Zen, one must merely remove the doubt that he is not enlightened. To fully understand Zen, meditation is more important than explanation, for Zen is a philosophy in which a Ch'an practitioner must learn on his own. The question of the belief of no faith can be asked in many different ways (Walter 1). The question can range from the age old, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" to others such as, "What is the nature of the mind?" (Walter 1) Zen must be comprehended, not explained (Ross 143). Those who are Zen masters say that Ch’an is to go with existence without attempting to stop or hinder its course (Watts 52). To practice Ch’an, it is necessary to understand how to meditate.
There are two basic forms of contemplation: Shamatha and Vipshayana (Walter 2). Shanmatha contemplation is a preparatory measure for Vipshayana meditation. During Shanmatha contemplation, a contemplator attempts to recognize the stream of consciousness, without trying to manipulate or interrupt it. This prepares the body for Vipshayana contemplation, in which the meditator must not be interrupted by any other thoughts. Vipshayana contemplation is the type of contemplation with which one may find Enlightenment (Walter 2). There is also a type of meditation called Zazen. Zazen is practiced while seated, and the contemplator must notice his breathing without trying to alter its natural pattern (Walter 2). Zazen is much like Shanmatha meditation, in that one must recognize the body’s actions without interrupting in any way. When a Zen practitioner contemplates, the meditation affects the practitioner’s normal memory (Aitken 1). It is difficult to explain the entire process of meditation, as it is difficult to explain Zen’s true meaning.
The ancient religion of the samurai is not in fact a true religion by definition, as the practitioner of Zen does not worship any god, but, in essence, worships the body’s complexity, especially the complexity of the mind. The belief of no faith is an assimilation of many other religions from the East. Since the religion began in Japan, it shows the Japanese ability to borrow cultural aspects of other cultures and incorporate it seamlessly with Japanese culture. It is difficult for anyone who does not wish to accept Zen Buddhism to understand the deeper meaning of this religion. But anyone who embraces the belief of the belief of no faith has a good chance of achieving Enlightenment.
By Jordan Clark
What is Mind? No Matter. What is Matter? Never Mind.
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