Eastern practices

 

 

Zazen

 

 

 

Zazen is a romanized Japanese term. Za literally means ‘to sit’ or ‘sitting,’ zen means ‘to meditate’ or ‘concentrate.’ Therefore zazen means ‘sitting in meditation’. ‘Zazen - say the experts on zazen - is a practice of concentration, with a focus on following or counting the breath. But more than just meditation, zazen is a powerful tool of self-inquiry, boundless in its scope and ability to reveal the true basis of reality. Through zazen, we realize the unity of the self with the ten thousand things, which has the potential to transform our lives and those of others.’ In other words, zazen is the means through which one can achieve enlightenment (satori). Through zazen one sees into his ‘own nature’ or Buddha-nature, ‘which is from the very beginning, pure and calm, and every being in the world has it…. This is what the Buddha declared when he had just attained his Supreme Enlightenment and was recorded in the Avatamsaka-sutra (The Flower Ornament Scripture) and repeated in the Mahaparinirvana-sutra. When you see into your own nature, you know who you are, you know what and how every thing and being in the world really is. From this, your action and reaction will be in harmony with the whole and in situations around you.’ (ChonTri, Zazen practice: a guideline for beginners, 2001, from www.zenguide.com).

There are several sitting postures in zazen, the best one is called full-lotus posture: ‘This is the best sitting posture in zazen. ‘First, you have to put your right foot with the sole up on your left thigh and then put your left foot with the sole up on your right thigh. Your two knees touch the pad. Next, with your two palms up, the left one upon the right one with the ends of two thumbs lightly touch each other and with the pointing fingers make a small oval circle, which lay on your lap and closed to the area under the navel. Your backbone must be straight up but not stiff. Your nose should be in line with your navel; your left ear should be in line with your left shoulder and the same with your right ear and shoulder. In this position, your head is already in vertical position with your backbone. This posture will give you the most secure in sitting zazen.’ (Ibid.,) After one has sat in zazen, he must begin to count his breaths out and in, then he must follow his breaths out and in with his mind’s eye. Then comes the practice of silent illumination: ‘In this practice, you just sit with your awareness, always be awake. You just sit like a mountain, immovable, with an immense faith in that your own nature or Buddha-nature is manifesting in itself and you will realize it at any moment.’ (Ibid.,). Instead of counting or following their breaths, some practitioners of Zen Buddhism work with koans. The koan is usually from a saying of the Buddha, a Zen master, a conversation which happened between a student and a Zen master, or a story from the fact of everyday activity. The Zen master picks it up and gives it to the student to work with as a means to concentrate his mind’s power to break through his own deluded mind and get in the world of enlightenment. Those who work with a koan need to become one with it, in order to attain enlightenment. Now, you may ask, ‘What is the enlightenment alike?’ Well, Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch of Zen school, said: ‘It’s like a person who drinks the water will know it’s cold or hot.’ Someone else has said: ‘It’s like a person who was in a bad dream and felt very unhappy. Suddenly, his head fell off the pillow and he woke up. There is no more dream or unhappiness.’ From a religious standpoint this enlightenment or satori is considered by some experts on Zen a new birth through which one begins to regard all things as an illusion, one ceases to look at things in a dualistic way for his mind is emancipated from the arbitrary practice of partitioning his mind.

Zazen is the cornerstone of Zen Buddhism, which is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, that in these last times has become widely known in the West. Zen was founded by an Indian Buddhist monk called Bodhidharma who came to China about the latter half of the 5th century and the first half of the 6th century after Christ. In the seventh century after Christ Zen was introduced into Japan from China. In Italy there are thousands of Buddhists, a good segment of whom are devotees of Zen. Zen is a Japanese pronunciation for the Chinese word ‘Ch’an’, and ‘Ch’an’ is in turn a Chinese pronunciation of the word ‘Dhyana’ in Sanskrit, which refers to a practice for settling the mind.

Zen Buddhism denies the existence of a personal and living God, and the existence of sin and asserts that man does not need a Saviour. According to Zen Buddhism man is unhappy because he looks at things in a dualistic way, that is, because he considers one thing right and the other wrong, one thing good and the other evil; so the root of man’s unhappiness is his wrong way of looking at things, and in order to become happy a man must extirpate this root, that is to say, he must cease to look at things in a dualistic way, becoming one with all the things which are around him. How can he extirpate this ‘evil’ root? Well, the answer is, ‘Through Zen meditation, that is, by meditating while sitting in zazen, seeing into one’s nature, keeping one’s mind from looking at things in a dualistic way.’ In other words, by emptying his own mind. Therefore men must search for peace and happiness inside themselves not outside. According to Zen, no help can come from outside, happiness comes only from within, out of the mind of man. Therefore, man must have absolute faith in his own inner being, not in a God outside him.

 

Confutation

 

I have written two articles to confute zazen.

 

First article

 

The Bible, which is the Word of God, teaches that a man, in order to be enlightened (that is, in order to see the light and walk in it), must acknowledge his own sins (and therefore he must acknowledge with his mind that he has sinned against God, which thing Zen excludes totally for it considers evil or sin an illusion), and repent of them and believe in Jesus Christ. For Jesus said: “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15 – NKJV), and again: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12 – NKJV). What will this enlightenment bring about in his mind? Will he cease to think in a dualistic way or will he realize that he is one with the universe or that the world is an illusion? Not at all, for he who is enlightened does not cease to think in a dualistic way, that is to say, when he experiences the divine enlightenment he will not begin to consider good and evil the same thing nor will he consider good and evil an illusion. Rather we can affirm that he who is enlightened by the Lord will start to regard many things, which in the past he considered good things, as evil things for he will acknowledge that in the past he had been blinded by darkness. His mind will not empty at all, as it happens in the Zen meditation, but rather on the one hand it will be filled with good and right thoughts and on the other hand it will get rid of all those evil thoughts which he obeyed prior to the enlightenment. Therefore we say that when one is enlightened by God his mind empties in this sense, that is to say, he stops thinking those evil and useless thoughts of which he was a slave prior to his enlightenment (such as ‘there is no God,’ and ‘There is no harm in fornication’). Neither does he begin to think that he is one with the universe – as those who practice zazen think – but he begins to think that he is one with all the others enlightened, for he becomes a member of the body of Christ, and thus one with and in Christ (cf. Galatians 3:28). However, bear in mind that this spiritual union with the other saints implies the acknowledgment of the diversity between the members of the body of Christ for “all the members do not have the same function” (Romans 12:4 – NKJV), but it absolutely excludes that he may feel one with the universe. Nor does he who is enlightened by God consider the world an illusion – as those who practice Zen meditation do – for when God enlightens a man He does not take away his intelligence or his logic. It is really absurd in the sight of God to think that the world and all that is in it is a mere illusion, for the Scripture teaches that they are real things and not an illusion.

Zen meditation therefore is a work of the devil, who through it takes hold of the mind of many people, luring them into thinking and considering things in a way which is contrary to the Word of God.

Beware of it and expose it.

Let me say something now about the meditation which must be practiced by Christians (the enlightened ones). Christians must not meditate in order to reach a mental emptiness or a state of mind in which good and evil become one, nor to free themselves from the illusion of being separate from the universe or to come to the conclusion that all is an illusion, for all these aims, being false aims conceived by the devil, are not among the aims of the Christians. We must meditate for this is the will of God for us, as it is written: “Meditate on all his wonderful acts” (Psalm 105:2 – Translated by myself from the Italian Bible Riveduta Version), and again that blessed is the man whose delight “is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2 – NKJV), and since this kind of meditation is the will of God for us, it surely does not bring us to wrong conclusions, but only to right conclusions which are in accord with the teaching of the Scripture. In addition, the biblical meditation brings about great joy in the heart of the meditator for it leads him to consider the greatness of God, His power and His wisdom.

 

Second article

 

Zen is from the devil, there is no doubt about that, for it lures man into thinking that his unhappiness is caused not by sin, which is in them and of which he is a slave (Zen denies the existence of sin and substantially affirms that those who believe in the existence of sin are wrong), but by a wrong way of thinking and the solution of his unhappiness is within him (so he just needs to find it) and not in Christ Jesus. In other words, through Zen meditation the devil deceives people into thinking that man is not a sinner who breaks the law of God and that his unhappiness is caused by his thinking in a dualistic way, but in him there is such potential that when it is discovered it eliminates unhappiness and brings happiness and enlightenment. So the devil, through Zen meditation, keeps people far from God, which is his goal for he wants people to go to perdition. No wonder that Zen Buddhism is successful both in the East and the West, therefore, for we know that it is supported by the prince of this world, that is, the deceiver.

The Holy Scripture very clearly affirms that unhappiness and spiritual darkness, which are in the world, are not caused by a wrong way of thinking (I refer to the dualistic way of thinking of which Zen speaks) for actually all is an illusion and thus it is harmful to consider one thing right and the other wrong; but they are caused by sin, which is the transgression of the law that God has given to man and which is an undeniable reality. Sin entered the world through Adam when he broke the commandment of God in the Garden of Eden. It was on that day that man began to be unhappy, it was on that day that man plunged into darkness, for through sin he came to know good and evil. And sin reigns in man, so he is a slave of sin; he can’t help sinning for sin has dominion over him, he serves sin and it repays him with death, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Therefore the unhappiness and dissatisfaction which are in man are due to his rebellion against God, and because of his rebellion his conscience accuses him (Zen Buddhism tries in vain to eliminate the sense of guilt from the mind and heart of man). How can a man become happy then? By doing good deeds? No. Maybe meditating, concentrating, controlling his breath, and assuming certain postures? Not at all. Man can’t reach happiness by doing these things, for he can become happy only in this way, that is, by repenting and believing in the Gospel of the grace of God, as it is told in the Bible. Someone will ask, ‘How is that possible? Well, that is possible because God, who created all things, has prescribed so. Know this, that even though this way seems to be absurd, it is the right way; many people all over the world bear witness of this for they, having repented of their sins and believed in the Gospel, have found happiness. Let me say something else about this way: to repent means to change one’s way of thinking, but this has nothing to do with the change of one’s way of thinking prescribed by the Zen masters, for when one repents he is sorry about his sins, that is to say, he is grieved because he has transgressed the commandments God. Man is foolish, rebellious, and wicked by nature, e he takes pleasure in sinning, and for this reason he is an enemy of God and the wrath of God is upon him. Therefore he must repent of his sins, acknowledging that they are an abomination in the sight of God and make him an enemy of God; when he does this he repents. However, it is not sufficient to repent, for he must also believe in the Gospel so that he may be reconciled to God. The Gospel says that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, he who knew no sin for he was born without sin and lived a sinless life, in the fullness of the times gave His life for us who were sinners, so that through the blood He shed all our sins we committed against God might be forgiven us and we might be reconciled to God. He was crucified so that the Scripture might be fulfilled; He was buried, but the third day God the Father raised Him from the dead and He showed Himself to many people and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. Anyone who repents and believes in the Gospel receives the remission of all his sins and he receives a new spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is joy. Happiness therefore proceeds from God, who infuses it into man by His Holy Spirit when he repents and believes in Him. But when a man repents and believes in the Gospel, another thing takes place in him, for he is spiritually enlightened, thus the light of God enters him and darkness vanishes away, for God, who is light, enlightens him. He comes to know what was hidden from him before; why he was unhappy, who is the One that can make man happy, what to do in order to receive this happiness from God, just to mention some of the things he comes to know. This is the true enlightenment; that which is experienced through faith in Jesus Christ. While the enlightenment of which Buddhism Zen speaks is thick darkness! Of course, it is called light, but it is called light wrongfully; we are not surprised at this, for this is the device of the devil, to pass off darkness as light!

Those who have been enlightened by God feel bound to speak to others about the way man can reach this glorious enlightenment, for the love of Christ compels them. We are among those who have been enlightened by the grace of God, and we speak with sincerity to men about this way.

Men and women who practice this form of meditation, come to your senses, do not see into yourselves as if something good may come out from you, for in you nothing good dwells. You are sinners in the sight of God, who created you and whom you do not know, that’s what you must acknowledge: your unhappiness is due to the fact that you rebel against God. After that believe in the Gospel, which tells the love that God manifested towards men. Believe in it with all your heart, then your sense of guilt will vanish for the blood of Jesus will cleanse your conscience from dead works, and you will find plenty of peace and joy for you will know that you are sons of the Most High by the Spirit that will come to indwell you.

 

 

 

 

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