The Purposes of Buddhism [ Video ]

What is Buddhism? What is the reason for sitting Zen?

The answer is very simple — wake yourself up from “the matrix” and help all beings. This is the claim of the opening chapter for Dae Soen Sa Nim’s classic, The Compass of Zen (Shambhala, 1997). It’s very clear — not a complicated explanation. We don’t practice Zen to relieve stress (although that happens, as a happy by-product), or to get better focus for our work (although that happens, as a happy by-product), or to become productive or more creative (although these do happen, as happy by-products). We do not practice realm to enter some “other” space or reality. We practice Zen simply in order to wake up and help all beings also get out of suffering, or samsara. This is an age-old direction which is also not particularly Eastern, since these “purposes of Buddhism” can also be said to be the foundations of all philosophies and religions.

“Know your Self.” Greek: γνῶθι σεαυτόν, transliterated: gnōthi seauton.

This video attempts to present a super-basic ground-view of the totality of the purpose of the work of awakening, or “Zen Buddhism”: Through the technologies of the Zen tradition, we can most directly attain to the ancient admonition attached to the ancient Temple of Apollo in Delphi, in Greece: “Know yourself” (γνῶθι σεαυτόν, transliterated: gnōthi seauton). Although this admonition is present in all the ancient philosophies and most all religious traditions, sadly the practical technologies for attaining this have not been as well preserved as in the traditions of Buddhism. In most cases, the obligation to know ourselves through sustained, penetrating insight into the nature of our own minds — right here, right now — has been covered over with mere belief, blind orthodoxies, superstitions, or dogmas. In short, we have been channeled into the empty certainties of the life of mere religion. Zen Buddhism is not religion.

“Know your Self.” Latin: Temet nosce (sometimes nosce te ipsum)

If you watch this video, please be sure to watch it until the very last seconds: There is a “bonus” for those who are patient! But you must “meditate” on these teachings until the absolute very last seconds in the video. The very last moments…

[Video was filmed during the Quarantine Retreat at Zen Center Regensburg, March 2020. Film: Ioannis Papadopolous /// Vajra Vlito Studios, Graphics: Matt Semke ///]

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