Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) - Deepstash
Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)


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Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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The most distinguishing feature of this Japanese school of the Buddha-Way is its contention that wisdom, accompanied by compassion, is expressed in the everyday lifeworld when associating with one’s self, other people, and nature.

The Zen practitioner is required to embody freedom expressive of the original human nature, called “buddha-nature.”


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Nondiscriminatory wisdom

...practicing without prioritising the visible over the invisible, the explicit over the implicit, or vice versa.

This preparation involves the training of the whole person and is called “self-cultivation” (shugyō) in Japanese.


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Zen maintains a stance of “not one” and “not two,” that is “a position-less position.”

  • “not two” means negating the dualistic stance that divides the whole into two parts.
  • “not one” means negating the non-dualistic stance occurring when the Zen practitioner dwells in the whole as one, while suspending judgment in meditation. 
  • the free, bilateral movement between “not one” and “not two” characterises Zen’s achievement of a personhood with a third perspective that cannot, however, be confined to either dualism or non-dualism, neither “not one” nor “not two”.


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Zen recommends that its practitioner follow a three-step procedure: adjusting one’s body, breathing and mind.

To adjust the mind  means that the practitioner consciously moves to enter a state of meditation. 

He learns to disengage him- or herself from the concerns of daily life by the immobile bodily posture and the breathing exercise.

Meditation trains one to sit face-to-face with one’s self, while creating a psychological isolation from the external world.

This mechanism is the same as when one has a dream at night when the level of consciousness is lowered.


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No-mind does not mean:

  • a mindless state,
  • that there is no mind

No mind means that there is no conscious activity of the mind that is associated with ego-consciousness.

No-mind is a free mind that is not delimited by ideas, desires, and images.


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If the term “philosophy” is taken to mean the establishment of “the kingdom of reason",  Zen is an anti-philosophy.

Reason is incapable of knowing and understanding in toto what reality is.

Physical nature and human nature must be sought in an experiential dimension.


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