There has always been a fascination with the contrast between Eastern and Western philosophies, culture and ideas. And nowhere is this fact more prominent than in religion and religious practices. More specifically, the Asian religion of Buddhism, though seeing its tenets blossom through Western culture at times, is in a variety of ways significantly different than most Western religions. These differences are expressed in the worldviews that as a philosophy of the macro and microcosm of human experience represent a rather distinct sentiment. Naturally these worldviews are rooted in its parent religion Hinduism. As such, Buddhism, with its many sects, has one which is of interest here; that is Zen Buddhism. This unique approach to Buddha's philosophy and religious practices, with its paradoxical koans and meditations, is an abrupt abasement to the Western cultural tradition of theorizing and appeals to formal logic. However, in spite of these contrarieties, the two apparent opposed perspectives reserve a more profound set of questions which both puzzle and probe the Zen teacher and Western thinker. In this paper, we will examine the effects that debates within Zen Buddhism and Western philosophy and religion have had on their respective cultures with particular attention paid to how Zen principles are derived from the more basic principles of Buddhism.
[...] Likewise, these issues are paralleled by unrelated Western debates that evolved quite independent of Eastern religions. These debates, such as Freewill vs. Determinism, transitive and intransitive consciousness and Hegelian philosophy all present the thinker and Zen Masters with a host of subjects to debate. And though many have given compelling reasons for these enigmas, they are debated today in Zen Buddhism as well as in Western philosophies and religions. Works Cited Born Again Buddhism: Hakuin (Great Doubt, Great Death, Great [...]
[...] And which is achieved through repetition and commitment as the key to understanding (Chiang-tu, Biefeldt). The unresolved dilemmas present in Zen Buddhism in regards to its paradoxical practices and thought invested on non-thinking is rather relevant to many of those found in Western thought. For the practical in contrast to the theoretical has been the subject of disagreement in our culture for some time. The presence of technical schools with ‘hands on' experience is pitted against a scholastic knowledge of the subject. [...]
[...] Furthermore, in modern philosophy, how thinking about thought is accomplished has taken the shape of transitive and intransitive consciousness without much room for disagreement. In short, those points of tension bear on the cultural differences present in both East and West. In the former, there is a sense of resignation to what can not be conceived and in the latter a resistance to the irrational or contra-rational. Whether or not this submission to unreason makes for a healthier conscience or a more religious of an experience can not be ascertained. [...]
[...] And yet Zen Buddhism, when considering some of these dharma as they are presented in various schools, test the very fabric what it means to understand and think and act. For one of the cardinal formats adopted by Zen koans is that of the series of non-sensical statements offered to the student for recitation and interaction. Often, the Zen teacher will present the student with a question that is intended to stifle the logical mind and draw from it paradoxes. [...]
[...] It is the acceptance of its authoritative voice in place of one's own. This putting off of rejection in favor of reconciliation with the dharma promotes a healthy attitude toward Zen Buddhism. Unfortunately, this is not all that is required of the seeker. For even in this acceptance lies the conscious ego awaiting instruction of a coherent nature. This leads to yet another transformation that must take place and transcends the limits of the ego. This is where one may think about non- thinking or achieve the state of consciousness which is paradoxically nonconsciousness. [...]
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