What is Zen? — There is a quite a misconception, especially in the west, regarding this topic. People's answers to such a question often reveal an erroneous notion of Zen as some metaphysical state of enlightenment made evident by almost superhuman mental abilities to manipulate reality and the laws of physics, permanent relaxation and detachment from the mundane problems of the world, or some superior immunity from one's own unenlightened human emotions. Other individuals think it is some Asian-looking home decor style, or a cool word to refer to anything minimalist. Unfortunately, none of these are even remotely close to the truth.

Having risen as a mystical school from Mahayana Buddhism, and referred to under one of several different names all which originated from the transliteration of the original sanskrit word dhyāna (meaning mind or meditation) into Chán in China, Zen in Japan, Soen in the Korean peninsula, and Thien in Vietnam, the core of Zen is basically the practice of a method aimed at observing the mind in order to transcend into liberation or emancipation from delusions. Its essential spirit has no specific shape or form and no intrinsic affiliations or dependencies to any country, nationality, or cultural heritage. It points at the universal condition of the human mind beyond time, space, and any other ethnic, social, ideological, or religious distinctions.

The purpose of Zen as a tool is, first, to help us human beings awaken; then, to assist us in serving and instructing all creatures. To awaken is to see the bondage of unquestioned belief in our illusory thoughts and reactive emotions, and then to transcend it into clarity. Clarity is nothing more than freedom.
We talk very much these days about all kinds of freedom, political, economic, and otherwise, but these freedoms are not at all real. As long as they are on the plane of relativity, the freedoms or liberties we talk about are far from being such. The real freedom is the outcome of clarity. When we realize this, in whatever situation we may find ourselves we are always free in our inner life.

The function of Zen is to be an aid for us in the process of becoming clear about our reality moment-after-moment. It encompasses a variety of ceremonies and traditional contemplative practices pointing directly at observing the mind in the light of impermanence, transience, and emptiness of self.

At ZEN-NYC some of our practices include,

  • Zen Ceremony Practice (with meditation periods)
  • Contemplative Tea Ceremony
  • Zen Poetry and Contemplative Art sessions
  • Community Outreach activities

We also encourage and support all members looking to further extend their practice of Zen through,

  • Zen Buddhism online studies at Buddha Dharma University (BDU)
  • One-on-one interviews and kōan practice
  • Group visits to sister Zen communities throughout the U.S.
  • Community outreach activities

For more information: Contact Us