Zen is the state of reaching one’s inner self, higher consciousness, and a different level of understanding without breaking the relationship between reality and virtuality, object and subject. Zen is not a meditation either. It cannot be conceptualized through mere reason or intelligence. Zen can only be experienced.
The words Zen, Zazen and Ayurveda are terms that are used in the mystical Far Eastern philosophy. Zen means to place, while Zazen means to learn through experience, and Ayurveda is the wisdom of life.
This mystic philosophy has been my primary area of interest for years. I can safely say that the knowledge I’ve accumulated has brought a different understanding and approach to my life. I’ve had the chance to gain experience and see what it really means to journey toward one’s inner voice, how to start this journey, what to do, and how to do all these things for the sake of the journey. This is why I’m undertaking an effort to raise social awareness by sharing my knowledge about where my accumulated reason, knowledge, and experience has brought me. The topics of my articles are not related to self-improvement, however. The areas of self-improvement and universal knowledge are quite different, with the greatest difference being how the former provides for earthly wishes, while the latter is aimed at a universality that covers both the physical and spiritual planes. The first approach aims to master the material world, while the other tries to reach beyond the material world by making use of it.
If we strive to satisfy our egocentric needs—which are driven by our worldly wishes, desires, and demands—they will never cease, and we will ultimately have even more fear and greater material loss.
Zen and Zazen form the most important basis for the Ayurvedic teaching.
Zen is neither a religion nor a form of belief. Zen is the state of reaching one’s inner self, higher consciousness, and a different level of understanding without breaking the relationship between reality and virtuality, object and subject. Zen is not a meditation either. It cannot be conceptualized through mere reason or intelligence. Zen can only be experienced.
I could explain Zen by giving an example: Imagine you are eating an apple when someone approaches you and asks you to describe the flavor of the apple. Would you be able to describe the flavor? You can’t, yet you surely know the flavor of the apple from eating it. This is Zen. It cannot be explained, but it can be made clearer for others.
According to Zen, theoretical knowledge doesn’t help. If something has not been experienced in the self and left a trace on one’s consciousness, it is not true knowledge. Unless it’s internalized, it does not belong to you.
Zen is free from dogma and not dependent on the word. For example, a seemingly pleasant word like love is in fact so dangerous that it makes man dependent on the word itself.
Zen delivers the answers by observing the nature and inner-self of everything.
A Zen instructor is a guide, showing you the way and only serving as a mediator to help you find this way. Like a catalyst, a Zen instructor merely engages and disengages. For Zen followers, there is no going back, but in the worst case, they don’t make any progress. Zen does not destroy anything. Zazen is the shortest yet hardest path for enlightenment and awakening, and it can be learned by experiencing it and making others experience it. Just like in the previous example, you cannot describe the flavor of an apple to someone who asks about it, but people can learn if for themselves by taking a bite. This is Zazen, and in Zazen, a Zen Master never overlooks any deficiencies in the senses, emotions, intuition, perception, understanding, thoughts, or expressions of the follower. He or she takes the position of ensuring that the follower will face reality, even if it hurts.
This is Zazen, where a Zen Master is neither sympathetic nor antipathetic. Zen Masters have enough empathy to make their followers hurt today if it will make them smile tomorrow.
Such a training regime can be hard for a person to endure, because it doesn’t support the ego. However, you should remember that becoming a virtuous person always requires pain at first. People who promise you heaven are probably just trying to create their own heaven.
In most teachings, such a path is not present. It is a very long journey that requires genuine effort. It is easy to begin this journey, but it is a very exhausting journey to continue. The material body can affect you as per the dual relationship, so the dominating power of the Ego might prevent you from continuing the journey. This force can be active at every single moment…
As a Zen Master says, “Your greatest enemy is your Ego, and your greatest friend is your Self.”
As long as we search for the enemy within us instead of the one outside, it will be clear that any pain we feel is due to the power of our egos. In most of the teachings, the Ego is a subject to work on. What they call The Chamber of Suffering is a symbolic practice of it. Yet if we remember the universal principle of duality, it is absolutely necessary to not neglect the material body. The discipline and the practice, both of which are internalized during the time needed for the body and soul to harmonize with each another, are absolutely necessary.
Our consciousness can function efficiently only if our emotions, which come into existence through our senses as a result of this teaching, are refined enough thanks to the knowledge, thinking, free will, synthesis, analysis, understanding, and intuition we possess.
We should always remember that even when someone guides us on the journey, it is the self that takes this journey.
The novice period of this teaching can take a few years, because it takes time to discipline our senses and forget the external effects that we’ve learned and become used to.
Those who do not work on their actions and skills, so they can practice such knowledge in life, will be unable to develop freewill and think as they need to. This will be reflected in their behaviors, and they will be unable to proceed with their journeys.
These people are warned that they might be unable to continue the Ayurvedic practices under these circumstances. If there is no improvement in the level of their understanding during the subsequent period, they are put on hold and given some time to think things over. Furthermore, if they give the impression that they are not yet ready for such teaching or knowledge, they should be informed of it.
Followers who complete the stage of “Identifying, Understanding, and Knowing” are already building up their ethical, esthetical, and hygienic values through the information, knowledge, and experience they have internalized.
These practices are all about knowledge and the wisdom of life. Likewise, Ayurveda (which means wisdom of life) covers today’s basic information from 17 different sciences.
Nobody can proceed without knowledge, because knowledge is the key to the conscious, and to know is to practice knowledge by relating it to the conscious.
So, what stage will be reached when a consciousness developing with knowledge starts to interact with the conscious? It will be a stage of knowing without learning, seeing without looking, and listening without hearing. Although it might seem like a miracle, it really isn’t.
Knowledge can cause pain for us, but I ultimately believe that living life through knowledge is more meaningful than living it in ignorance. To give meaning to life is to be on the journey, to be a traveler, and to proceed…
Nimet Erenler Gülkökü
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