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Module 7 - Essay Example

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What aspects of Zen Buddhism appealed to the samurai and why? Zen Buddhism is a way of life that leads to enlightenment through meditation. A state of enlightenment is attained when one profoundly realizes that he/she is already an enlightened being. A person may arrive at this realization either through a slow process or by sudden inspiration, depending upon which school of Buddhism (Soto or Rinzai) one ascribes to…
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Module 7
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Download file to see previous pages In Japan, it was the samurai class which embraced Zen most fully. The samurai comprised the warrior class that served the emperors and members of the landed aristocracy; the word samurai translates to ‘men who serve’ and their code of conduct is contained in the Bushido (where bushi means ‘warriors’). Zen particularly appealed to the Samurai because of its emphasis on simplicity of lifestyle and spiritual and physical discipline. Meditation and a study of insoluble problems became the means of cleansing an individual of earthly desires, and focusing on nothingness to discover the ‘inner truth’ (Smitha, 2011). It is this ability to concentrate on the present moment to the exclusion of all else that enabled the Samurai to live, fight and die without fear, hesitation or regret. The Samurai could detach their mind from everything, move with perfect freedom, and reflect their opponent’s mind. They are not distracted by the prospect of the changing tide of combat, of doubt or fear; they can concentrate completely on the task of the moment, to kill and be killed. The Samurai also believed in karma and rebirth, which makes this life but a stepping stone for them to the next life. This makes the Samurai utterly fearless. References: Marinchek, J.A. 2009 ‘How Zen Made the Samurai Fearless.’ Suite 101. Retrieved 2 October 2012 from http://suite101.com/article/how-zen-made-the-samurai-fearless-a159718 Smitha, F.E. (2011) ‘Samurai, Bushido, Zen, other Sects and Spiritual Public Baths.’ Macrohistory and World Report. Retrieved 2 October 2012 from http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/rel-japan02.htm The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2012 ‘Zen Buddhism’ Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Retrieved 2 October 2012 from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/zen/hd_zen.htm Video Review ‘The Zen Mind’ ‘Pictures of the Floating World’ < http://it.spcollege.edu/flashapplications/accessibleYouTubePlayer/index.htm?swfWidth=480&swfHeight=358&videoWidth=480&videoHeight=270&srtFile=http://it.spcollege.edu/srt/HUM2270_KevinMorgan/HUM2270_Mod7_JapArtAft1300_FloatWorld.srt&youtubeURL=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sixSBDp5VoU I took two cyber journeys which presented very different concepts which nevertheless were very much related. The first video, ‘The Zen Mind’ has music and a few verbal explanations, but these and the images are sufficient to convey the meaning of what it is to practice Zen Buddhism. The video exemplified the stark simplicity and extreme detachment of the lives of Zen monks from the busy everyday life. There was a brief flash of images of the Japanese urban dwellers making their way through a crowded train station. Then there is a quick return to the equanimity of the images of the Zen monks. It depicts a philosophy summarized in the last statement of the video, “You see your own true nature, and it is the nature of the universe.” The second video, ‘Pictures of the Floating World,’ exhibits a way of life that is anything but detached from the world, but rather it celebrates the sensual, temporal, even commercial aspects of the lifestyle in the thick of society. The artistic style portraying this viewpoint is called Ukiyo-e , ‘The Floating World’; it depicted the lifestyle of the newly evolving class, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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