Zen; Buddhism's trek through history, politics, and America Zen, or Zenno (as it is known by the Japanese word from which it derives), is the most common form of Buddhism practiced in the world today. All types of people from intellectuals to celebrities refer to themselves as Buddhist, but despite its popularity today in America, it has had a long history throughout the world. "Here none think of wealth or fame, All talk of right and wrong is quelled. In Autumn I rake the leaf-banked stream, In spring attend the nightingale. Who dares approach the lion's Mountain cave? Cold, robust, A Zen-person through and through, I let the spring breeze enter at the gate." -Daigu (1584-1669, Rinzai) (DailyZen) Zen Buddhism's history begins where Buddhism's history began. It originated on the continent of Asia around 500 B.C.. The founder of Buddhism; Gotama Siddhattha, a former price in what is now known as India, is known as "The Buddha," which roughly translates to " one who is awake" (Merit 102). "At the age of twenty-nine, deeply troubled by the suffering he saw around him, he renounced his privileged life to seek understanding. After six years of struggling as an ascetic he finally achieved enlightenment at age thirty-five" (DailyZen). In 475 A.D. a Buddhist teacher, Bodhidharma, traveled to China and introduced the teachings of Buddha there. In China Buddhism mixed with Taoism, and the result was the Ch'an School of Buddhism, and from there Ch'an spread to Japan where it is called Zen Buddhism (DailyZen). The Buddhist Religion has always been passed down from teacher to student, and through the use of books and sacred works such as the Malind-panha, Pali Tipitaka, and the Pitaka series (Merit 102). These books and teachers taught students of the religion the philosophies of the practice. They taught of Satori, or enlightenment, which is the main goal of the Zen Buddhist, which is to achieve peace of mind despite external turmoil ( Archer ninety-six). One way to reach enlightenment is through meditation. Zaren is sitting in meditative absorption as the shortest yet most steep way to reaching enlightenment (Zen 233). The Buddhists stressed the fact that existence is painful. They believed that suffering was a result of false human attachments to things that were impertinent, "including the attachment to the false notion o...

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...inly Christian population of the time. It also came as a shock because women were welcomed to join. America was in a chaotic state during the 1960s. The country was basically torn apart, and highly tormented by the controversy over the Vietnam war. People were breached by the traditional American ideals of serving the country, and heroic nationalism, and new ideologies and beliefs systems. More Americans were open to try different things. The Hippie era, trials of free love, and experimenting with fresh cultural aspects, all probably led to a sort of flourishing of spiritual awareness. As the cultures' curiosity and confusion led to a blossoming of new religious forms, or at least new to the Americana. Zen Buddhism was among these ideas, that was grasped at by Americans seeking new spiritual enlightenment. Zen went from India to China to Japan to Western civilization, and made a variable impact in each place it traveled to. The ideas, customs, beliefs, and philosophies of the Zen Buddhist religion spread globally due to its universality. From politics to poets, Zen impacts all aspects of life, and forms ethics through guideline, and basic philosophies of human nature and spirit.

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