Cold Mountain Zen

About Zen Meditation

Zen is the form of Buddhist meditation that developed in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Like all schools of Buddhism, Zen follows the path to enlightenment taught by Siddhartha Gautama, the “Buddha” or “Awakened One,” who lived 2,500 years ago. After achieving enlightenment at the age of thirty-five, the Buddha spend the next fifty years traveling through northeastern India helping other people to discover the same liberation he achieved.

The Buddha taught that the self-centered way most people live gradually traps them in destructive mental habits, especially neurotic dependency and fear. The Buddha said that unhappiness always begins in ourselves—in our mental habits—rather than in the world around us.

Many people in the Buddha’s lifetime taught paths to liberation. Some taught devotion to the gods; some taught the study of scriptures; some taught rituals and some taught philosophy. But the Buddha taught that reading, ritual and even devotion can leave our deepest mental habits basically unchanged. Instead of searching for new ideas or trying out new kinds of experience, we have to change the way the mind itself interacts with the world.

Meditation is the method the Buddha taught to transform our deepest mental habits. Step by step, breath by breath, the mind frees itself from illusion and passes through its artificial barriers.
As the Buddha learned from the transformation of his own awareness, when the mind frees itself from dependency and fear, suffering automatically ends. And when suffering ends, our awareness will return to its original perfection. This perfection is “enlightenment.”

A special transmission,
Outside the scriptures.
No dependence on words and letters.
Direct pointing to the mind
and the realization of Buddhahood.

– Bodhidharma