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On the use and misuse of the word "Zen"

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This came up elsewhere,
so I wanted to put it here and elaborate more.

Every so often, I see people use the word "zen" without I think fully understanding it's true meaning.
This wouldn't be so bad, as lots of words get misunderstood and confused, however, since I have at least one good freind who this bothers, and know of it bothering others, I will post it here to clarify any confusion.

There is a lot of sort of confusing use of the word "Zen" out there and I wanted to clarify the difference.
They put it on cereal boxes, on bank advertisements, on furnature re-aranging stuff.
All kinds of things.

For the most part, none of these things have anything to do with Zen Buddhism.

Zen, is a actually a Japanese word that means 'meditation', specifically seated meditation and it refers to the schools of Buddhism that practice seated meditation.
It comes from the Chinese word "Ch'an" which means the same, which is, itself a derrivaive of the word "Dhyana" from Sanscrit. Also the same meaning
It does not mean visualization or concentration of some vague sense of freedom.
It means "meditation".

It's not realy somthing that's a problem, but I do want to clarify as this is somthing I care about and I know it bothers some people.



I'm kind shocked, I've never hear "zen" out side of the meaning 'meditation', I mean I know about the mp3 player but I never took much in it, guess it was just a name. I do know what you mean about culture destroying meaning and causing cloud of confusion. I'm more of a Taoist and it gets to me when people call the(famous) Taijitu, "Yin and Yang". 

From now on I'll keep my ears open for misuse and try to correct when I can.

There's a cereal(like for breakfast), an oatmeal, an mp3 player, an alarm clock, a score of "and the art of.."books...
I saw an ad once for US Bank that said "Bu-Zen-ness" with the legs of a guy in a business suit, crossed in yoga style with hem floating off the ground.
There (was) as soda (I don't know if there still is).

I get a kick out of it sometimes.
It doesn't realy bother me,
I do know some people it does annoy though and out of respect for them I would post this here.


Posted on: February 10, 2008, 08:42:11 PMLOL
I know one monk in particular who would probably realy appreceate it if people would stop doing that. LOL  :D
It doesn't realy bother me personally,
But I do care about my tradition.


The current misuse of the word "Zen" was started by the Beat Niks in the 50's.
The Beat Niks saw pictures of some monks in China burning scriptures and they took this to mean "disrespect for authority" and "do whatever you want" a consequence free-for-all type of 'freedom' without responsibility.
This is absolutely incorrect and what those Monks were actually doing was demonstrating that Truth is not bound by physical means.

This is simply not true.  Not even close.  Your misreading of the Beat writers is as wrong as what you accuse them of.  Besides, "Beatnik" is one word. 

Do you know of a different version?
That is the one I got from people who study such things.
I wouldn't include all Beatniks (did I get it right?) but yeah, that's the version of the story I got.


Posted on: February 11, 2008, 11:06:33 AMDon't get me wrong, Tekla, I'm not blaming it on the Beatniks, I 'm just saying it started about that time and that movement did have influence on it.


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