BY JULIA S. AND MARTIN K. Zen Meditation: The Way of Zen Monks
Rules, Rituals and Beliefs
Frivolous and harsh speaking are against moral values.
Certain days of the months the monks go out into the town and bow lowly when people give them food as a practice of discipline and breaking down their egos.
Jobs are not to be anything that are not conductive to the spiritual progress either of oneself or others. But mostly, the jobs should not be anything to do with killing. That means being a butcher, hunter or executioner is forbidden.
Also, life style should be simple and excessive possessions are not to affect the spiritual path. These such actions could affect your next life and are to be taken seriously.
Zen Buddhism says that people should make the most out of their existence through self discipline, meditation and instruction. It also says that you should live in the present and day-to-day. The ultimate goal is enlightenment.
As shown in The Ghost of the Takido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, people who celebrated Shinto made a pilgrimage to shrines to meditate. This made Shinto and Buddhism work in harmony in Japan.
They begin their training around 7-8 years of age in which they enter the monk style of life where they depend on very little.
They are allowed to have 8 possessions which are: three robes, a water strainer, an alms bowl, a needle, a razor and a belt.
They are told of nishreya or "four resources" that he can always depend on which are foot of a tree, robes made of rags, food offered as alms, and fermented cow urine.
The monk shaves his head as a sign of the renunciation of the worldly life.
They are also taught how to pray in the afterlife so that they can move to their next incarnation faster.
Monks taking a walk outside of the institution.
The Sects of the Monks
There are two main sects of Zen in Japan; Rinzai and Soto.
Soto doesn’t use meditation for teaching because they believe that there is nothing to find external that can be searched for.
Soto uses Zazen, and all actions should be thoughtful and careful. There are very particular rules in Soto that even include going to the bathroom.
Rinzai is very goal oriented and doesn’t have so many rules about daily life. The masters use physiological tools such as koan or a riddle to help the students understand the religion. These riddles have no black or white answer but instead lead to small bursts of enlightenment.
A Description of Zazen
Zazen, a type of meditation used by Soto followers is explained by a follower of the 2 nd founder of Japanese Zazen.
In a place, which must be quiet, spread a thick cushion and sit yourself on it in an upright posture. Now first swell out the abdomen and put your strength there. Let the shoulders be in a straight line below the ears, and navel below the nose. Make the spine straight. The mouth should be shut, but you may have the eyes slightly opened. Making the breath flow gently will help you to secure a correct posture. The meditate on the text you have been given, or in the case of beginners there is a method in which they count their breaths and so remove dull and distracted thoughts. So entering the Samamdhi or undisturbed purity, remain in the meditation.
Dress and Possessions
Monks wear robes of different colors depending on your branch. The colors are saffron, orange-yellow, maroon, and black.
The robes when the Buddha founded the sangha were made together by sewing cloth scraps together.
There are four different parts to a monks robe; a lower robe which is worn around the hips, the upper robe which worn over the left shoulder, outer robe which worn in traveling and sleeping, and a belt or girdle.
The monks are only allowed to have very few possessions. The posessions that monks might have is a few robes, a place to live, an alms bowl, and medicine.
The monks have their own razor, needle and thread, a belt, and a strainer to make sure that no insects are swallowed in their drinking water.
A monk looks out of a window wearing traditional dress of the monks.
The monks wake up every day at 3:30 a.m. They take a long walk to the dining room which is located at the front of the monastery.
Breakfast begins with a chanting of a scripture. As they chant they unclothe their food and fix their plates a straight line under the order of the head monk.
The monks leave in groups of three to parts of towns for three hours receive small offerings such money and rice.
Every 5 th day - each date including the digits 4 or 9 is used of the day of house cleaning. The day begins with shaving one another’s head.
They then go off to the Meditation hall where the monks meditate hours on end.
While learning about this amazing form of practice we started to appreciate simple things more.
The monks didn't have a lot of items or focus on their looks.
If the people of today didn't depend on try to look like someone we could get a piece of Buddhism.
The life of a monk can start at the very young age of 7 till you past away.
The monks are very involved with nature.
These monks are very calm and relaxed. We hope you learned and enjoyed this paper and maybe you will be more thankful as the monks are.