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Is Zen buddhism an easy route to enlightenment?

Is Zen an easy route to enlightenment?
Does it involve many hours of studying technique and philosophy?
Does it involve learning & practising a technique?
Does it involve many hours sat on the mat?
I need to find a new approach to my meditation practise because I have a chronic illness and now my old techniques give me a head ache and I can’t sit up or focus for long.
Thanks for any info.


  1. It’s a lazier route.. instead of being all “I’m going to search for truth”, you can be all “Oh snap, I found truth. It was right here.”

  2. There is no easy route to total enlightenment. The next three questions asked are all yes. Listen to an audio tape with meditation. I guess you don’t necessarily have to sit on a mat. Bodhikapsa (sp) has a good voice to listen to.

  3. Is Zen an easy route to enlightenment?Yes
    Does it involve many hours of studying technique and philosophy?not necessarily . you don’t need to if your heart is pure
    Does it involve learning & practising a technique?yes
    Does it involve many hours sat on the mat?your choice

  4. Why on earth do you think there is an “easy” route to enlightenment? Whether you define enlightenment as a spiritual state, higher education, or more awareness of the world around you, it certainly does not have a simple path. If it did, everybody would be enlightened.
    I am sure there are ways you can modify your practices to accommodate your illness. I doubt the Buddha will care if you meditate while lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair. It’s not the technique that counts, but the time and concentration you put in.

  5. Be here now. Enlightenment is not a permanent state. If you are in the moment, you are enlightened. When you leave that space, you are not.
    Being mindful of each moment is transportable, take it with you anywhere. Mediation help recognize the state, but the trick is to carry it into your everyday activities

  6. The truth is that there is no route to enlightenment.
    That’s because enlightenment is not somewhere else, where we are not. Enlightenment is right here, right now. The problem is, we humans are simply too clever and we refuse to believe that it could be so easy.
    As a result, we make up all kinds of techniques to pass the time. The great Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, once said that meditation practice is something that a teacher asks students to do until they get so bored that they wake up.
    I’ve practiced Zen for two decades. It’s neither easy or hard (these are terms that our mind constructs and uses to distort our actual experience). It’s just Zen.
    Most Zen teachers discourage students from study of any sort, and in particular discourage reading texts and formulating ideas and concepts. Rather, Zen teachers are interested in practice. As my old teacher used to say (pre-Nike), “Just do it!”
    Zen meditation techniques are quite simple. Depending on the teacher and student, they can involve counting the breath, repeating a mantra, or working with a koan. Some teachers emphasize a particular posture, others take a more spacious view of posture.
    In the West, most Zen centers have students sit for about 30-40 minutes at a time, interspersed with walking meditation. In many Zen centers, students can sit in chairs and some traditions will allow students to stand or even lay on the floor while meditating.
    Some Zen traditions also have substantial periods of chanting. Chanting practice is an excellent technique for people who have problems sitting and, especially, for those who have difficulty with focus.
    If you have additional questions, feel free to email me. Also, I may be able to help you find an appropriate Zen center in your community. Best wishes on the path!

  7. There’s really no easy way. Like any meditation, it’s simple to explain; not so simple to actually, practice. And that’s what you’ve gotta do – get down there and do. Can you sit in a chair? (It’s not like you’ve gotta be on the floor…)
    Zen has some things in common with Vipassana which requires (after a while of practice on the mat), practice off the mat…just maintaining that single minded focus through whatever you’re actually doing…and only that. (There is some mat time though; quiet and still.)
    I practice Vipassana because, in my experience, I’ve learned more about life, about myself from this practice. Zen has much more cushion sitting and, unless you have a teacher with you pretty much all the time, it’s easy to get confused and wonder what you were doing on that cushion.
    One thing they definitely DO have in common is that neither has a goal-based philosophy. ie – “I want enlightenment. I will do these various things in order to get that.” Sitting, meditating, paying attention are all their own goods. You will be a better, more patient person; you will be able to figure out situations more simply. And really, this alone is great. If enlightment comes, that’s great too but don’t be looking for it. It’ll appear when you least expect…

  8. I think others answered well… that there is no easy
    path to enlightenment and to a great extent it depends
    on you.
    About sitting, I also have some medical problems
    that make sitting impossible now. However I have
    found that sitting in a comfortable chair works fine
    if you apply the same mental techniques. Just don’t
    let yourself relax too much, of course, or you may
    fall asleep.
    Good luck, and Many Blessings,

  9. there are no easy routes to enlightenment, all require much dedication, faith, work ,study and time.
    is it worth it ?
    can you do it ?
    do you want it ?
    it is up to you, chose well, study hard, use skillful means and you will know !

  10. 1) Easy or difficult, is based on you and how you perceive things. In general, speaking in the terms of average human beings and our current conditions in this material world, it is difficult. It would be easy if you see everyone else being able to meditate for several hours at a time everyday. So yes, it’s hard! But it’s because we are so used to comforts and acknowledging suffering and pain, that any kind of difficult eventually is a hassle.
    It is also considered easy or “nothing at all” when you get used to the routine. Like for me, my daily practice routines are so routine that I don’t think about it anymore. I just do it. It’s like running 2 miles a day. The first few weeks is painful and it’s hard to keep going. After a while, you can run the 2 miles everyday like it’s nothing… as easy as breathing.
    Difficulty is true also in the sense that no matter how easy a practice can be, it’s hard because people have a hard time keeping routine. Humans are so set on pleasures and scattered that they cannot be tamed, it’s hard to force the self to get into a daily routine. Ask around, how many people that practice and cultivate, do their practices daily? For example, meditating 1 hour day.. how many people have kept that up for 1 yr? 3 yrs? 10?
    Even reciting the buddha’s names a meager 108 times a day. After a few weeks, people still can’t keep it up and end up slacking off, skipping some days here n there, etc. That kind of laziness is the opposite of the path to enlightenment because the mind is untamed and still scattered and out of control! Pleasures and sleep still take precedence over cultivation! That’s why practice has to be daily!
    2) So you have to get through that hump by reading sutras to understand fundamentals and principles of existence and suffering. This will help you to open up your perspective and mold your mentality in the right direction… it’s like setting up for cultivation and practice. If you believe that pleasure is better, then you’ll have a hard time practicing. So you read sutras and dharmas to retune your understanding and perspectives.You should also read the book that I included in the source section of my answer.
    You should study daily.
    3) Technique is technique. You should always employ proper technique. But nothing is fixed. For example, if you can sit in full lotus meditation, then do so. If you can’t do so yet, then practice half-lotus, and practice getting used to it and eventually move to full-lotus. But if you have illnesses that prevent your body from doing this, then apply the mental concentration fundamentals to practice. For example, sitting quietly AS IF YOU WERE in meditation position, and doing recitations or investigating and focusing on one thing (refer to the zen handbook).
    4) Yes, meditation standards, are sitting-practices of 1 hour at a time. As you get used to being able to keep a daily meditation routine, you should increase your time gradually. And always be diligent and don’t be lazy or lax, otherwise, it’s wasted. As if your life depended on it!
    Eventually, if you can sit daily for 2 hours unmoved, you will enter samadhi concentration very easily. You have to get through the mind obstacles of pain, suffering, time, pleasure, etc.
    Generally, most people today can barely sit 1 hour, let alone everyday. And fewer can do 2 hours. And I’ve only seen less than a handful that can do 8hrs. And even less can do weeks a time. For example, the Zen Patriarch, Hsuan Hua… he’s been seen to be able to meditate in complete stillness for weeks, and only getting up afterwards because he had responsibilities as a teacher. But I’ve seen that he can so effortlessly sit into full-lotus and be unmoving for X amount of time. Even during the rigorous zen winter session which has so many hours of meditation in a day, the master just gets into full-lotus, and sits until the time is up and gives a lecture on zen to the students. While the disciples squirm, fidget, move, put their leg down, or whatnot, the master just sits there like a rock. So if you really want to learn the workings of zen and its fundamentals, I kid you not, you can learn a lot from him. And that’s the book I linked you to.
    Zen is the essence of all buddhas. It’s all by mental focus and taming the mad mind. Zen is understood without words. Teachings are in words to lead you to it. Your practice is what accomplishes the zen in you, bringing forth your buddha nature.

  11. It’s easy or difficult, based on your perceptions and ability. To me, recitation is easier than meditation, but someone else might find meditation easier and more suitable.
    you have to study sutras to know why you’re meditating and what your goal is. And sitting should last about 1-2 hours a day for normal cultivators.
    Take a look at Greg L’s answer, it’s got more detail and understanding. His answers show a strong history of study and practice and not just textbook hooplah.
    Read the Ch’an Handbook too. It’s a terrific book. I think you’ll find your solution after reading and understanding ch’an first. We can’t really prescribe anything for you because WE ARE NOT YOU. But I’ve read the ch’an handbook that Greg links to, and I can see why Greg is advising you to read it.
    Good luck! keep trying! practice hard!

  12. Your 2nd part of question does not seem to relate to your first part. Having headache during meditation typicall imply you have ‘contemplated’ too much, that is you mind is thinking too much. Try to focus your mind on your lower body, e.g. your stomach, or your toes, and simply be mindful of them. This would bring the blood circulation downward, and may solve your headache problem.
    If we check against sutra and sastra, Zen is not an easy route, except for the most brilliant ones. Note that today’s Zen practice is quite different from ancient Master’s teachings (or what is described in the sutra & sastra).
    What is then the easy route to enlightenment? Nagarjuna bodisattva says it is the pure land practice. That is, reborn in the pure land where it is the easiest to practice and get enlightenment.


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