Shaolin Zen

What is Zen?
Thursday, 23 September 2010 09:51

zen-circleAlthough the term "Zen" is commonly used, many may not be aware of its significance. In fact, the word has multiple meanings, which for convenience can be divided to:

  1. Meditation
  2. Zen-buddhism
  3. A glimpse or experience that transcends the phenomenal world

The most common use of the word means meditation. It is also used as an abbreviation in reference to Zen-buddhism, a widespread branch of buddhist practices. Some also use it in expressions such as "Zen experience" when referring to an experience of the reality transcending the sensory world. However, due to the popularity of the term, it is not uncommon to see it used in misleading ways.

It bears to mention that only one of the above meanings has religious connotations - generally speaking "Zen" refers to practical benefits or a form of practice developed to provide them. Even Zen buddhism is not a religion in the traditional sense of the word: Following a dogma or acts of worship are not requirements in Zen. Therefore both religious or non-religious people can be Zen practitioners.


  • Practically all existing schools and branches of Zen can be traced back to China's Shaolin monastery.
  • Although the popularized term "Zen" is a Japanese word, it is derived from the Chinese word "Chan", originating from "Dhyana", the Sanskrit word for meditation.
  • This development also follows the spreading of Zen from India to China and on to Korea and Japan, in which the Shaolin monastery was instrumental - with the Shaolin practitioners of dynastic China, Zen or "Chan" became a uniquely Chinese art.


Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 16:18
What does Zen offer?
Thursday, 23 September 2010 09:53

chi-kung-sifu-5Practicing Zen enables us to perform better in everything we do. This fact is easy to appreciate by knowing that all Zen is intimately involved in the training of the mind. Ultimately Zen is universal: Whenever a person stops to savor a moment, or is concentrated on what he's doing without distracting thoughts, in a way he is practicing Zen.

The overall aim of Zen is spiritual cultivation. However, it is good to remember that spirituality is not only for religious people - for example, living a happy and fulfilling life can be a very spiritual aim. At its lowest level, Zen brings purpose and joy to our everyday lives. At its highest level, Zen aims for the supreme spiritual goal, enlightenment. As in all Shaolin arts, the onus of Zen is in practical, readily attainable benefits; therefore, adopting beliefs is not necessary when embarking on the wonderful journey of Zen practice.


Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 16:17
How to practice Zen?
Thursday, 23 September 2010 09:55

zen-1Contrary to a popular belief, practicing Zen does not necessitate seclusion or monkhood. Many regular people practice it as a rewarding part of their everyday lives. Another common misconception is that meditation or Zen is a solemn, serious or joyless pursuit. In reality, traditional Zen includes a healthy dose of good humor, and meditation (when practiced correctly) is a very joyful, even pleasurable form of training!

Zen can be practiced as a light addition to our daily routine, as an all-encompassing approach to our entire existence, or at any stage in between. However, the presence of a good teacher is invaluable: Even though beneficial low-level meditation can be learned from a good book, systematic Zen-practice is an internal art of the highest level that has to be learned directly from a master.


Last Updated on Friday, 16 December 2011 16:15