Different Types of Buddhism

Buddhism is one of the oldest lasting Eastern religion having been in existence for 2500 years. During this time several sects have sprung up with their own interpretation of Buddha’s teachings. Even today there continues to emerge new types of Buddhism including:

Theravada

This form is practiced in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma among other places that believe in the 'Way of the Elders’. This type strictly adheres to the original teachings by Buddha, paying major emphasis to meditation, realization of enlightenment by living a life of austerity. Monks who practice this form of Buddhism are required to follow 227 rules of conduct as they explore the fundamental causes of suffering and in their hearts cultivate the path to freedom from such things. They should only sleep where they find a place to, eat what is offered by people and remain celibate. Living this way humbles people, and keeps them in touch with nature.

Zen Mahayana

Zen means meditation and this practice is rooted in both China’s and Japan’s history. There are several teaching lines of Zen each with a distinct style depending on where it is practiced. The western world owes its knowledge of this practice to Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett an English woman who studied it, became a Zen master and was ordained to teach it to men and women of the world. To do Zen or Zazen as some call it involves remaining seated, opening your mind and allowing feelings to come and go without holding on to them or ignoring them. This teaches you to accept your world as it is to achieve profound transformation. This form of meditation follows 16 precepts among them.

Vajrayana

This type of Buddhism earns its name from the use of a symbol of indestructible diamond, thunder and lightning. It is mostly practiced in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and Nepal. There are several strains of Vajrayana that have developed over the years. Nyingma-pa is a uniquely Tibetan type that emphasizes advanced stages of enlightenment through special hand gestures, mystical diagrams and chanting of magic spells. Another famous type of Vajrayana is Gelug-pa founded by Tsong-kha-pa. Followers believe that the third teacher is an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara which inaugurates the Dalai Lama line the latest of whom was born in 1935.

There are many types of Buddhism practices all over the world not only by Asians but people who believe in the Buddha’s teachings. It is a religion centered on finding inner peace, taking suffering as a step closer to enlightenment. Monks and other people who choose to live by the precepts of Buddhism must be ready to place more value on other people’s well-being rather than their own. Their lives shouldn’t be a quest for money or self-improvement but one for true enlightenment. It is not a thing for the weak or a past time but a practice entrenched in many cultures and people’s way of life. If you decide to follow Buddhism it is important to learn everything about it so you can make a clear choice on which type most satisfies your soul.

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Helpful Zen Practices

“To practice Zen means to realize one’s existence in the beauty and clarity of this present moment, rather than letting life unravel in useless daydreaming of the past and future”. This was written by Peter Matthiessen in a forward on a book about Zen Meditation. The practice of meditation is usually not merely for the opulent, or the sentimental. That can be an instrument that every person is definitely able to value to support achieve optimal success in their lives by getting closer to the accurate individual that they can be designed to be.

Let’s face it, most of our lives are filled with days of activity. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can create a feeling that something important is missing. We become unclear about what all that activity means. This is when clarity through meditation can be helpful. When we are simply filling our hours up with busyiness, or daydreaming of the past, our life may seem to lose meaning or purpose. Rather of continue to seek out that meaning and goal by joining another group, taking another class, or perhaps spending another hour viewing a sitcom re-run, it may be helpful to explore the practice of meditation of which Zen Meditation and its “zazen” method of “just sitting” is just one meditation technique that is used.

So what on earth is Zen Meditation? There may be a good amount of information available on this kind of meditation technique. It can be a tradition that started out about 2500 years in the past in India and offers been practiced and inherited generation by generation since that time. At its beginning, the son of a wealthy and powerful nobleman had the time to ponder a question we still struggle with today…what is life and death all about. At the fundamental level of this practice of meditation, many see it as a way to get a clear vision of who we are and what our life is about. With this clarity through meditation we are then able to move through our life in a manner that is in line with our sharpened vision. We do not make harmony. We do not achieve it or gain it. It is there all the time. Here we are, in the midst of this perfect way, and our practice is simply to realize it and then to actualize it in our everyday life.”

For most of us, we are taught from childhood to look upon problems and use our logic or reasoning to solve them. This is not a bad practice and often logic and reason have been the methods used for many scientific and medical breakthroughs and advances. When we rely solely after our logic and thought, we are robbed of the gifts of each of our intuition. Often it is merely as important to are able to reach within ourselves, and with clarity through relaxation find the answers that people are seeking. Many are capable to do that very effectively with the practice of meditation.

Zen Meditation is just one form of meditation that you can fit into your daily routine. By practicing and strengthening this inward muscle, you are giving yourself the opportunity to achieve success and understand the purpose in your life.

Studying Zen

Zazen is universally acknowledged as the true art and form of Zen reflection. It helps people study their own self from within, and this can only be done when one is able to concentrate deeply. The inner center of a person is what Zen meditation focuses upon. These are the important points below that can be noted about this art form.

1. It is said that when Buddha was in the course of attaining nirvana, then it was through deep meditation that he achieved it. Thus in the present scenario, people who practice Zen meditation still meditate in the same position of tranquility.

2. Zen meditation is a very old art form that has been passed on from one generation to the next over the last 2500 years. This form of meditation originated in India and then spread far and wide to places like China, Japan, Asia and it finally halted in the West.

3. The art of Zen involves a lot of Japanese techniques, and the method requires a lot of focus on one particular object or thought. This practice is common to all Buddhist monks because this is one form of art that they follow regularly. Thus most of the Zen Buddhists are more commonly referred to as 'Meditation Buddhists'.

4. This practice is very easy to follow and it can easily be incorporated into a person's everyday activities. Zen meditation can be practiced every single day for any period of time, but however experts are of the view that it should be practiced for five minutes everyday. Only five minutes of stillness and singular focus can relieve a person from stress and can free him of his stress. The benefits and advantages of practicing this simple art form are immense.

It is a unique and innovative program and this latest technology is based on various sound frequencies. These sound frequencies affect the auditory structure of the brain in appositive way. Just like people achieve higher levels of composure through meditation; in the same manner the above mentioned programme also helps people in attaining tougher goals of meditation. It is a tried and tested formula. This programme involves audio frequencies, which relaxes the body and rids it completely of stress and worries. People involved in this program can thus concentrate harder at what they are meant to do. One must truly experience the pleasure derived from practicing Zen meditation because this program is unique and truly amazing.

Zen is noted for its physical and mental training. The fact that daily practice of Yoga and the breathing exercise incredibly increases one's physical state is a recognised fact. And history proves that just about all Zen masters enjoyed a long life in revenge of their extremely straightforward mode of living. It is mental discipline, however, is usually by far more successful, and keeps one's brain in equipoise, making one particular neither passionate nor unbiased, neither sentimental nor unintelligent, neither nervous nor mindless. One must clear away the mental noise, remove clutter and junk from one's mind, to transcend these things to enter into a higher mental state. It is well noted as a cure to all sorts of mental disease, occasioned by worried disturbance, as a nutrition to the fatigued head, and also as a stimulus to torpor and sloth. It is self-control, as it is the subduing of such pestilent passions as anger, envy, hatred, and the just like, and the awakening of noble thoughts including compassion, mercy, generosity, and what not. It is a mode of Enlightenment, because it is the dispelling of illusion associated with question, and at the same time it is the overcoming of egoism, the destroying of mean wishes, the uplifting of the moral ideal, and the disclosing of inborn intelligence.

Unexpected Ways to Use Zen in Daily Life

Below are surprising ways to find stillness and become more grounded in everyday life through Zen:

Count to 10

Often, you will be faced with a stressful, difficult moment. During such a time, stop and count up to 10. When you add on top deep ujjayi breaths- (ujjayi breaths are ancient yoga breathing methods that can help in calming the mind), you will find the much-needed calm, and you can after that face whatever challenge you are facing when you are more sober and clear.

Take Deep Breaths with a Mantra

Taking deep breaths with a mantra helps increase your focus, slows your heart rate as well as contributing to a feeling of grounding and balance.

To do this, first find your breath. Notice it. Inhale intensely through your nose so that you fill your belly. You can at this time repeat something to yourself. For example, you can say let. After that, exhale the breath out of your nose while repeating to yourself the mantra go.

Walk or Bike Instead of Driving

Besides stimulating your heart and handing you an opportunity for deep and fresh breaths, walking or biking helps you to avoid the stress that comes with driving a car. This kind of exercises each day is required for the health of your heart and is good for your disposition as well. In addition, the benefits are even greater when the sun is shining – soaking up light is well-known for lifting your spirits, allowing your body to manufacture necessary Vitamin D, and is believed in many traditions to have important spiritual benefits as well!

Dhyana

Surprisingly, meditation can happen in just a few seconds. Those few seconds or minutes can be life-changing. Each day, set aside five minutes for a mini-meditation session. Find a comfortable sitting posture, close your eyes; take deep and full breaths in and out via the nose; add a mantra- all this time your eyes should be closed.

So as to keep tabs on the time without the need of an alarm, get a mala (a string of beads) online or at a local boutique. Use the mala to count the number of breaths as you stay focused.

Do something silly or just laugh

Zen usually happens when we are completely relaxed. A happy person is a relaxed person. Unfortunately, as a person grows older, they do fewer and fewer silly things; they laugh less often; and they smile less often. Laughter is good medicine; and happiness is where Zen resides. Make yourself happy; do things that will make you laugh at yourself. Don’t be so stuck up; jump; have an awkward jig; dance in your undies. These silly things will help you discover a sense of Zen.

Set Reminders for NOW

Modern day life is fast-paced- so many appointments, so many meetings, so many responsibilities. So as to save and savor some moments of your day, put a daily reminder in your calendar that will help you to stop and take a break from the endless line of activities and worries so as to notice and revel in a set time called NOW. You may add a theme song, or a beautiful photo, or a quote to the reminder so that whenever it pops up, you will definitely know it is the reminder to take a minute’s break to savor the exact place and time you are in at that particular instance.

Seek Zen

It is a trite fact that every action was once first a thought. Every thought must have an intention. You should, therefore, set a clear and positive intention to discover Zen in your everyday life. Just think about it, say it, and, do it.

 

Zen in Pop Culture

Zen is increasingly becoming very popular in the contemporary culture as of late. Below are the most relevant depictions of Zen Buddhism in pop culture:

The Zen Board

The Zen Board, also known as the Buddha Board, is usually marketed to rich customers as offering a way to destress. Most of the pieces of the board that is sold in Amazon.com have the tagline master the art of letting go.

The Buddha Board is a canvas on which a person may paint with water. It encourages a Zen lifestyle by permitting a person to paint freely on the canvas. Painting on the canvas has two benefits: first, the images painted on the canvas fade away so quickly, thus, teaching people to let go of worries and anxieties; second, since the canvas can be used again, a person may paint anything they desire, whichever way they desire, without worrying at all. Painting on this board, therefore, is like meditation because the mind is given the freedom to paint or create whatever it wants without any worries.

Our Arborist in Encinitas would like to remind us that bonsai trees and bamboo plants can also be very Zen, and can be a popular way to bring a little balance right into your own home.

Moments of Zen

In 2015, August, as Jon Stewart signed off as host of The Daily Show, media coverage of his departure frequently referenced the moment of Zen phrase that usually closed out The Daily Show.

The Moment of Zen is a brief, sometimes absurd episode that usually concluded the Daily Show. It, thus, became one of the most common references to Zen in the modern American pop culture.

Daily Show writer Paul Mercurio once explained in a podcast that the phrase Moment of Zen was inspired by an unadulterated clip of animals or landscapes airing as Moment in Nature’ in CBS Sunday Morning.

The YooDara Zen Doll

These little string dolls are now ubiquitous in some airports and malls. According to the lore associated with these dolls, the YooDara exist in our world as string dolls- and can work their magic on mankind. The 36 dolls are divided into the four tribes of Protection, Power, Good Luck and Wisdom. The Zen YooDara belongs in the last category, and here he is joined by such remarkable luminaries as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, an elephant, lion, Rico the lover, punk-rock dad, and bride. The handy chart of characters that comes with these dolls identifies Zen as a white male Buddhist, who has the power of patience. The Zen, according to the lore, also gives the wisdom needed to balance your life with peace and harmony.

The Zen Web Radio

The Zen Web Radio boasts of a global reach and is accessible to anyone with a decent internet connection and a computer. This is a station where Zen references abound. Most of their programs include discussions on Zen Buddhism, instructions in seated meditation, and the Buddhist Geeks’- a program in which scholars discuss all issues about the doctrine and practice of Zen Buddhism. Besides the programs about the practice of Zen Buddhism, the radio station also broadcasts programs concerning the environment, music- especially jazz, health issues, story-telling, etc.

These are just a few depictions of Zen Buddhism in popular culture. Zen Buddhism is quickly taking root. Probably the reason it is so widely embraced is because it seems empirical, scientific, or rational than other religions. In fact, a section of Buddhists and non-Buddhists reject its religiosity as it does not possess the ritualism and dogma prevalent in other religions.

 

Vipassana, and the difference between meditation and visualization

Today I want to talk to you about a couple of different meditation techniques.

Ultimately, I believe that the goal of any meditation is to get you into that space of “no mind,” also referred to as “the Great Silence,” “the Sacred Place of the Most High,” and many other names, depending on what tradition you follow. In this state, we become receptive to higher ideas, inspirations, and divine guidance. A Christian Spiritualist friend of mine often says, “prayer is when we talk to God. Meditation is when we listen to God.”

Visualizing alone is not meditation. Visualization is great in its own right, and can certainly be used to get you into that still, meditative state that we are looking for; but unless your practice includes time to be silent of mind, body, memories, and emotions–it is not a true meditation. For example, you could visualize your “happy place” (a cathedral, a meadow, the ocean’s shore, a rainforest with a waterfall–wherever you feel close to the divine) in glorious detail, and once you feel that you are truly there, see yourself sit down to meditate. At this point, become as still and receptive as possible. This latter part is the true meditation. This visualization technique can be very helpful in getting you into a relaxed, receptive state.

I most often practice a technique called Vipassana, in which practitioners simply observe the breath. It is beautiful in its simplicity. No elaborate methods or visualizations to remember; only your breath, which is with you and available to you at all times. With eyes open (and gently unfocused) or closed, sit up as straight as possible, and just turn your attention to your breath. Don’t “try” to breathe deeply or any certain way; don’t try to fix or change the breath in any way. Just “watch” the breath as it flows in and out of the body. Feel it flow in through your nostrils; up into your sinuses near the brain; down the throat; into the lungs. Feel it flow out, the same way. Notice how your chest and abdomen expand and contract as you breathe. What else can you notice about your breath?

Anytime the attention wanders, bring the attention gently back to the breath. Do not get frustrated with yourself–treat the mind as you would a small child: just lovingly take it by the hand and bring it back to the breath. Do not judge or even pay attention to the thought, but instead label it, “thinking,” and turn your attention back to the breath.  In time, your mind’s little interruptions will become less frequent. Itches or discomfort in the body, too, can be labeled “thinking,” and gently dismissed. Get comfortable from the beginning, and then do not let your body dictate where you give your attention.

If you do this every day, it will become easier and easier, and the time will eventually seem to fly by. I recommend starting with a minimum of 15 minutes at a time. This is the perfect amount of time because often, it can take this long for our minds to stop spinning–especially when one is new to meditation, or anytime one has a lot on one’s mind. The first time, it may seem like forever; but rest assured the rewards will be more than you can imagine, if you really stick with it and practice daily.

Many people like to meditate first thing in the morning, or last thing at night before they go to bed. These times are often considered “God’s time,” or ideal times for a spiritual practice. Another great time to meditate is in the afternoon, right after you arrive home from work or school. You’ve been out around different energies all day, and your mind has been working hard. A quick 15 minute meditation is the perfect way to unwind and de-stress.

Stay tuned for our next post; warm thanks to our sponsors at www.bestpoolserviceglendale.com for helping to get this site up and running. Nothing quite as Zen as relaxing beside a sparkling pool. :)