Articles tagged with ‘zazen’

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The Four Noble Truths

This is the first in a series of talks looking at different Buddhist teachings from a Zen perspective. I thought I’d start with the first sermon the Buddha gave, on the Four Noble Truths, look at what he said, and also the Zen attitude to this.

Ask-A-Godo: How do we reconcile those who want to practise Zen as a religion and those who don’t?

Often, when I give a talk, somebody asks: “Zen, Buddhism … are they a religion?” And I often reply, “As you like.” You can practise zazen as a technique for well-being, to feel better, to have a more interesting life, to be happier. That’s possible. It is also possible that you will achieve those goals to a greater or lesser extent.

Ask-A-Godo: In Soto Zen there is great emphasis on correct posture. Why is this?

The knees press the earth, the head the sky. The lower back is stretched and erect, the head is straight on the shoulders, which fall naturally, as does the gaze. And the breathing: the exhalation is deep and long, the inhalation is short and vital. If you can manage to concentrate on, say, the position of the thumbs, or on the exhalation of air, for any length of time – and all of this while thinking-not-thinking