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2023-12-07 00:00:00 / episode: 325


Zen has become popular in the West and lots of people like to use the word,

so much so that it's almost become fashionable in some circles.

On the other hand zen in the East has a quite different perception and I think there's a big gap between the two.


Hi and welcome to the Les Perras podcast episode number 324.

This podcast is excellent for extensive English listening, to help you expand your listening vocabulary.

Today's podcast episode is about Zen.

What is zen?

I can't say that I know much about zen.

20 years ago I came to Japan and there was a priest in my village.

I expressed an interest in learning about zen so he took me on and taught me about zen for about 6 months, until both our schedules no longer matched.

The thing that I remember very clearly when talking to him at the beginning was the nature of zen.

According to his instruction zen is nothing.

If you do Zen for a purpose, it is not zen.

Zen is becoming nothing and there is no reason or purpose to do zen, or rather you do zen for Zen.

How do you do zen

As I researched a little bit more about zen I discovered that it originated in China.

This didn't surprise me, there's a lot of these Buddhist religious things that originated in China.

But one thing I found was there are many ways to do zen.

There was chanting, walking, meditation, and perhaps even more.

The Japanese style Zen that I was taught involved sitting still looking at a blank wall and trying to make your mind as blank as the wall in front of you.

Why do they hit each other?

Practitioners of zen sometimes hit each other with a stick on the shoulder or across the back.

The purpose of that is to help them stay awake and maintain their focus, to keep their attention alert.

The striking with the stick is not actually painful, it's more like a wake-up call.

Does zen help you?

As I mentioned earlier if you're doing Zen for a purpose, like to get some kind of help, then you're not doing zen.

You might get some benefit, but it's not Zen.

On the other hand if you do zen you might get some benefit from it however the benefit is not the objective.

To make a long story short zen might help you but if you're doing something to get help it's not zen.

Western zen

It appears that Western zen has departed from Eastern zen.

The reasons for this are deep and cultural.

Eastern zen is a product of an Eastern culture and without that Eastern culture cannot exist.

Kind of like polar bears on the equator.

The Western zen is cool but it's Western zen and it's different from eastern zen after that comparisons are fruitless.

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Tell me if you have any experience with zen.