Ancient Eastern philosophies and religions focus on a path that leads to inner peace. Buddhism is a religion with 470 million followers. Unlike others, practitioners don’t try to convert others spiritually. Buddhism isn’t a traditional religion because it doesn’t focus on a sole entity. Lord Siddhartha Gautama, also known as “Buddha,” was the founder and spiritual teacher. The religion originated in India, yet Gautama was born in Nepal. The book, The Magic of Zen explores the roots and practice of Buddhism. Author Inez D. Stein gives techniques and principles for self-transformation. Zen, a branch of Buddhism, originated in ancient China and is neither a philosophy nor a religion. Buddha translates to “know” or “wake up.” Stein shows the link between consciousness and transformation. Zen Buddhism simplifies the practice through meditation and consciousness. The branch focuses on intuition instead of intellectualism.
The Magic of Zen explains the Four Noble Truths that Buddha taught:
- Life is full of dissatisfaction, also called “suffering.”
- Craving and attachment are the roots of discontent.
- The source of attachment you grasp at can be removed.
- There is a path to follow to remove the source of suffering.
Dissatisfaction stems from something you dislike or being apart from things you enjoy. Not getting what you want also causes dismay. The Magic of Zen guides readers on ending internal suffering by freeing the mind. The root of dissatisfaction is having a craving or attachment. Suffering is caused when you don’t let go or grasp onto things out of reach. The mind must be freed from focusing on what you don’t have. A goal of Zen Buddhism is to remove the source of desire altogether. Letting go is also a principle of the ancient Eastern philosophy, Taoism. Both have a path to rid yourself of the attachment. Buddhists follow the middle way between extremes. Called the “Eightfold Path,” one avoids excess sensual indulgence in life. Eat healthily, get enough sleep, and work, but don’t burn yourself out, and enjoy yourself. Buddha used the phrase, “neither too much nor too little.”
In The Magic of Zen, readers are introduced to The Eightfold Path of Buddhism to end suffering.
- Wisdom is comprised of the “Right View,” “Right Aim or Intentions,” and “Right Effort.”
In short, Buddha taught students to think for themselves and not to accept things blindly. Don’t believe something because others tell you to do so. Take your own experiences and life view and act with good intentions. Free any emotional blockage or negative feelings. Anger, fear, guilt, and resentment prevent the free flow of thoughts. When distressed, the mind goes into a tailspin and causes internal suffering. Negative emotions keep you stuck and prevent moving on from past pain. With the “right” motives, you act freely without self-interest, tension, or stress. Buddhists work towards good and against evil. Make an effort to stop hate, greed, and delusion. Preserve wholesomeness traits like generosity, compassion, and insight.
- Morality is made up of “Right Speech,” “Right Bodily Action,” and “Right Livelihood.”
Buddha taught students to speak the truth, not spread falsities. When one has no negative emotions and a clear head, they do good deeds. Don’t act with ill will, and resist the urge of setting out to destroy or harm others. Instead, Buddha believed in helping others and personal development. If you have talents, use them to earn a living and assist people. Improve yourself by honing any weaker character traits that you have. This principle of Buddhism is similar to Confucianism.
- Tranquility is created by having “Mindfulness” and “Concentration.”
Mindfulness is achieved by being aware of the body and mind and how they work together. Has anyone said “breathe” to you when you were emotionally distressed? Start paying attention to how you react and its impact on your body. Negative feelings come and go, but don’t get attached or repulsed by them. Watching your state of mind and letting emotions pass is the process of suffering. Mindfulness is identifying what feelings are unpleasant. Moods and thoughts change, and you begin to notice when they’ll pass. Practicing mindfulness makes you more aware of external surroundings. Concentration is focusing on one thing, and nothing else interferes. Buddhists practice meditation to quiet and still the mind and see more clearly. The Eightfold Path leads to being more enlightened. You realize there are only events, not things. Life is a chain of experiences linked together in Buddhism. “Nothing is forever except change.”