We deal at the Christian Research Institute and through the Bible Answer Man broadcast with so many world religions and offshoots of those world religions, as well as cults, and aberrant Christian theology. The reason is to make you so familiar with the truth that when counterfeits loom on the horizon you know it instantaneously.
One of those counterfeits, Zen Buddhism, didn’t catch on in the West until the 1950s, but it has now virtually cornered the meditation marketplace. Phil Jackson even used Zen to prepare his teams to win nine NBA championships. Because of its growing popularity I’ve done some things, as I typically do, to make things memorable for you. I’ve developed the acronym Z-E-N to help you understand Zen Buddhism.
The dominant discipline of Zen Buddhism is zazen. It’s literally “sitting in meditation.” Zenists seek to stamp out the self and become one with the impersonal, cosmic consciousness of the universe – the only mind, as they see it. They employ postures and breathing techniques and chants in an attempt to free the mind from meaningful thought and to achieve a state of absolute emptiness.
The stated objective of Zen is enlightenment, the E in the acronym. This is the inner perception that all of reality is one and duality is an unenlightened illusion. Enlightenment is said to be the key to extinguishing individual identity and it becomes for them the doorway to nirvana, to being blown out. As we say in golf, be the ball.
Then there’s the N. I think it’s always instructive to note their nonsensical riddles. The N, nonsensical riddles, or koans are called to attack reason or logic, and the purpose is to achieve the alternate reality that the universe is an interdependent whole and that each individual is that whole – be the ball. Zen literally utilizes hundreds of nonsensical riddles to dismantle the mind. The most famous you might be familiar with is “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” And you ponder that and ponder that and ponder that and you achieve this alternate reality.
In sharp distinction to Zen, biblical meditation seeks to center oneself on the personal Creator of the universe, and it does so through a singular focus on Scripture. Far from emptying the mind, Christians are called to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and then use our minds to tell the Zen Buddhist the difference between biblical meditation and Zen meditation, because it’s a difference with a transforming reality. It’s a difference with an unbelievable distinction, and to make that difference can make all the difference in the world for the Zen Buddhists, so that they can meditate on those things that really matter and see biblical meditation as the solution to satisfaction and joy – not only in this life, but in the life to come as well.