Archive for February, 2010

Things people ask me about Zen

Posted in General on February 25, 2010 by Al

I read an interesting article today about creating a personal FAQ for things people frequently ask your advice on. I was thinking about that and wondering what people ask me for advice on. Usually it is either GTD or Zen/meditation stuff. Then I thought… what would my personal FAQ look like for Zen? I think it would look something like this…


Q: What is Zen anyway?
A: So, Zen is a religion. There are two main types of Zen in the US, Rinzai Zen and Soto Zen. Warrior Zen and Farmer Zen, respectively. I’m the farmer type. Slow and plodding. It involves precepts (less like commandments and more like friendly Buddhist suggestions), the noble eight-fold path (the road to getting enlightened), and meditation.

Q: Do Zen Buddhists believe in God?
A: Some do and some don’t. I don’t. The Buddha said there is no creator.

Q: How can Buddhism help with anxiety/stress/emotions/my daily problems?
A: Meditation slows down your brain. Kinhin (walking meditation) can be practiced anywhere, and it slows down your brain AND your steps. Practicing the precepts improves your behavior toward your fellow sentient beings. Dissolving your sense of self dissolves defensiveness and anxiety because there’s nothing left to defend or be anxious about.

Q: What do you mean you ordained?
A: I’m not a priest or any kind of official something or other. It just means I committed to the precepts in the presence of my teacher and sangha-mates (Buddhist community people). It’s more like first communion.

Q: So how can I do some meditation?
A: Read the online instructions from Zen Mountain Monastery. You can use a folded blanket and pillow instead of a zafu and zabuton. You don’t really need any fancy accessories.