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Home » Featured, Inspirational

The Zen Religion

Submitted by on January 14, 2011 – 10:47 pmNo Comment

Author: Dinah Jackson

What is Zen, and why are so many people interested in it? Is Zen a religion? Why has it become so popular in the West, to the point where the word ‘zen’ is now an adjective (as in, “that’s so zen”)?

Well, first of all Zen is in fact many things and yes; indeed, among those things Zen is a bona fide religion. Buddhism, though some like to claim as more of philosophy or a way of life, is a religion. It is not just a ‘spiritual philosophy.’ Among its tenants are the concept of reincarnation, heaven and hell, Gods and spirits, unique angel-like creatures called Kannon, and demons, there is a world too in which the dead dwell and come back to earth from once a year. It presupposes that every human being is full with latent Buddha nature that will someday bloom into enlightenment. At the peaceful end, all humans will achieve enlightenment and there will be no more need for human existence on earth, which is equated with suffering.

I mention the above particularly because these details of hell and angels usually get passed over when people try to describe Buddhism, which Zen is of but one sect of and naturally adheres to the same major beliefs. I know these things because I have lived in Japan for twenty years, and although the Japanese are not religiously devout at the moment, they see Buddhism as religion, not philosophy.

Why is Zen so popular? I think mainly because of the minimalist Zen aesthetic, which swept Japan in the middle ages. The rock gardens, haiku, ink painting, and tea ceremony- basically all of what we now consider traditional Japanese art- all come from Zen. So do the martial arts that the samurai and ninja used to defeat their foes. In a way, Zen had such a pervasive effect on Japanese culture that it’s not outlandish to say that Japanese culture is Zen culture.

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About the Author

This article was written by Dinah Jackson who enjoys writing about Pokemon and travel. We have every Pokemon plush that you can imagine. We have hundreds of Japanese Pokemon Zukan figures, pokedolls, plush toys, plushies, binders, deck boxes, sleeves, charms, straps, dice bags, and thousands more very rare Japanese Pokemon items. Direct from Japan to your door.

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