Culture and Religion

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I grew up in a Catholic family and attended a Catholic elementary school so I was attending services roughly 6 times per week. As I matured, I expected there must be a better explanation for life than what I was getting. I discovered Zen in college.

The western monotheistic religions have venerated ancient scriptures (claimed to have been written or provided by the supernatural God) while the eastern religions have ancient writings from venerated people.

Buddhism is a religion that begin in India where enlightenment (a term applied to the supposed liberation from the mind's cravings and sufferings) is attained through meditation. Zen Buddhism arose when Buddhism circulated into China where a more active approach was taken, sometimes called sudden enlightenment.

Religions have been likened to a finger pointing at the moon, where the moon is a personal understanding of one's place in the universe. When a religion is concentrating on the interpretations of ancient scriptures, this is like concentrating on the finger, forgetting about the moon. Zen has no venerated ancient scriptures, only writings by various people in the history of the religion that are used to help create a foundation for this sudden enlightenment. There is no one special method or procedure, since everyone is different, though for some the use of one or more koans is helpful.

Some people seem to have an inherent need for a religion, a publicly accepted description of our place in the universe (some people have difficulty feeling no one else has their religious worldview), while others do not (such as an atheist). I suspect that when someone has their religion brought into question, their alternatives are either deny the doubt and continue anyway or find another religion to replace the one in doubt. I include this mention of Zen only because it was my replacement for Catholicism; Zen and the enlightenment felt through it make sense to me. Picking a religion is a personal thing, but hopefully the practice that follows will bring no harm to anyone else.

References in Wikipedia: Zen, Koan

created - December 2011
last change - 12/17/2011
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