Inability To Grasp Reality


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inability to grasp reality What is zen

Introduction
Zen is simply a way for us to awaken from our slumber. It is just a way for us to focus on our present experience, living in the moment. It is simply paying attention to our actual experiences as they are: a breeze brushing through your hair, pristine water wetting your lips, a stomach ache, the laughter of children playing—seeing what you see, feeling what you feel. It is being aware of all the colors, forms, sights, sounds, touch, taste, and smell of your surroundings.
“Zen is entering into things as they are, beyond concept and cosmology, beyond separation and duality, beyond personality, and into the intimacy and richness of this whole moment. ” Zen is the day to day and moment to moment method of focusing on the moment. It has spanned two thousand, six hundred years from India to China to Japan to right here.
Zen is a philosophy designed to accomplish the Buddhist goal of seeing the world just as it is, that is, without the mind being cluttered by thoughts and feelings. This attitude is called “no-mind”, a state of consciousness where thoughts come and go without leaving any trace. Unlike other forms of Buddhism, Zen holds that such freedom of mind cannot be attained by gradual practice but must come through direct and immediate insight.  Zen students prepare themselves to be receptive to such answers by sitting in meditation (Japanese za-zen) while they simply observe, without thought, whatever may be happening. The Zen belief is that nature cannot be grasped by any system of fixed definitions or classifications. Reality is the world as it is, apart from any thoughts an individual has about it. One of the original teachers of Zen, Shakyamuni Buddha said to his students one day in a talk that has been recorded as the Satipatthana sutta, the Discourse on Mindfulness, that, “There is but one way to liberation and that is mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention with the entire body and mind to the present experience. It is going past hesitation and reference points, past confusion and fabrication and into our actual lives. Liberation means freedom from the need to hide from our world and ourselves; it means finding out who and what this really is, what this world really is.” “Buddhadharma, the Teaching of Awakening, is the practice of sitting, walking, breathing, working and speaking with mindfulness and insight. As such Buddhadharma is not a religion, a dogma, a skill, a science, an art, or a philosophy. It is the presentation of our own natures. Zen is just this. ” True Zen consists of sitting quietly in the correct posture. It is not a special state, it is the normal state: silent, peaceful, without agitation. Zen means to put the mind at rest and to concentrate the mind and body. There is no purpose, no seeking to gain something, no special effort or imagination. It is not knowledge to be grasped by the brain. It is solely a practice that is the true gate to happiness, peace and freedom.

History
Historically, it could be said that Zen originated from the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. Around 500 BC he was born a Sakyan prince. At the age of twenty-nine, deeply troubled by the suffering he saw around him, he renounced his privileged life, his wife and child, and went out among the shamans to seek enlightenment. After six years of struggle, he finally understood the meaning of enlightenment under the legendary Bo tree. After this he was recognized as a Buddha (meaning “The Awakened One”). He taught for about forty years and then died in Oudh, India.
Zen, itself, originated from a blend between the Mahayana form of Buddhism originating in India and the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. Zen is the Japanese (Ch'an, which is often used interchangeably with Zen is the Chinese way of pronouncing dhayna) way of pronouncing the Sanskrit term dhyana, which can be roughly defined as  meditation. “Dhyana denotes specifically the state of consciousness of a Buddha, one whose mind is free from the assumption that the distinct individuality of oneself and other things is real. ” The school of Zen Buddhism begins with a ... more

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The Human A Incarnate




In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, many of the characters suffer from the tolls of sin, but none as horribly as Hester's daughter Pearl.  She alone suffers from sin that is not hers, but rather that of her mother's.  From the day she is conceived, Pearl is portrayed as an offspring of vice.  She is introduced into the discerning, pitiless domain of the Puritan religion from inside a jail; a place untouched by light, as is the depth of her mother's sin.  The austere Puritan ways punish Hester through banishment from the community and the church, simultaneously punishing Pearl in the process.  This isolation leads to an unspoken detachment and animosity between her and the other Puritan children.  Thus we see how Pearl is conceived through sin, and how she suffers when her mother and the community situate this deed upon her like the scarlet letter on her mother's bosom.  
Hester Prynne impresses her feelings of guilt onto Pearl, whom she sees as a reminder of her sin, especially since as an infant Pearl is acutely aware of the scarlet letter "A" on her mother's chest.  When still in her crib, Pearl reaches up and grasps the letter, causing "Hester Prynn [to] clutch the fatal token so infinite was the torture inflicted by the intelligent touch of Pearl's baby-hand" (Hawthorne 88).  Hester feels implicitly guilty whenever she sees Pearl, a feeling she reflects onto her innocent child.  She is therefore constantly questioning Pearl's existence and purpose with questions: asking God, "what is this being which I have brought into the world!" or inquiring to Pearl, "Child, what art thou?"  In this manner, Hester forces the child to become detached from society.  Pearl becomes no more than a manifestation based entirely upon Hester and Dimmesdale's original sin.  She is described as "the scarlet letter in another form; the scarlet letter endowed with life" (93)!  Due to Hester's guilty view of her daughter, she is unable see the gracious innocence in her child.
Hester's views toward Pearl change from merely questioning Pearl's existence to perceiving Pearl as a demon sent to make her suffer.  Hawthorne notes that at times Hester is feeling as if an "unutterable pain" (89) creates her penance.  Hester even tries to deny that this "imp" is her child, "Thou art not my child!  Thou art no Pearl of mine" (90)!  It is small wonder that Pearl, who has been raised around sin, becomes little more than a reflection of her environment.  Pearl is perceived to then be the walking, living scarlet letter.  She is a constant reminder to Hester and the community of the "evil" that Hester has committed.  Hester's own sin leads her to believe that Pearl is an instrument of the devil, when in reality she is merely a curious child who cherishes her free nature and wants to be loved by her mother.  She is not evil but is portrayed as such because of her mother's actions.
Because of her own profound sin, Hester is always peering into Pearl's burnt ochre eyes to try to discover some evil inside her daughter.  "Day after day, she looked fearfully into the child's ever expanding nature, ever dreading to detect some dark and wild peculiarity, that should correspond with the guiltiness to which she owed her being" (82).  Pearl is more or less Hester's conscience.  That is why Pearl always asks her questions over and over again and why Hester cannot lie to her; you cannot lie to you conscience.  Hester ultimately ends up fearing Pearl because of her inability to overcome her own guilty conscience, and thus fails to command the respect a mother needs from a child:
"After testing both smiles and frowns and proving that neither
mode of treatment possessed any calculable influence, Hester was
ultimately compelled to stand aside, and permit the child to be
swayed buy her own impulsesAs to any other kind of discipline,
whether addressed to her mind or heart, little Pearl might or might
Lacking any form of maternal guidance, Pearl pretty much does what she pleases; her creativity leads her to make up her own entertainment.  Pearl's lack of friends forces her to imagine the forest as her plaything.  However, she is clearly ... more

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