Zen Buddhism

"Forget yourself and you are free." -- Robert Aitken

Organisation: Diamond Sangha, founded in 1959 by Robert and Anne Aitken in Hawaii

Founder: Robert Aitken, now 88, is a retired Zen teacher in the Harada-Yasutani lineage that gave rise to most of Western Zen. Teachers descended from Aitken are in Europe, Australia, Argentina and the USA. Two kiwis now teach in this lineage, Mary Jaksch in Nelson and Glenn Wallis in Dunedin.

Brief Description: The name "Zen" comes from the Sanskrit word "Dhyana" meaning meditation. Zen is a Mahayana Buddhist development in China, Korea and Japan initiated 1000 years after the Buddha, when Bodhidharma came from India to China over the Silk Road in about 500 AD.

Bodhidharma's legendary exchange with the emperor of China gives the flavour of Zen. The emperor asked him "What is the central teaching of Buddhism?" He replied, "Vast emptiness, nothing holy." "Then who are you standing before me?" asked the emperor. "I do not know," said Bodhidharma.

The entire emphasis in Zen is on experiencing directly for oneself through meditation this "not knowing." Enlightenment in Zen is a vivid awakening to the present moment in which self is forgotten. There is a falling away of the separateness of the self, or of what defines and limits the self. When we become empty in this way the whole world passes through us and there is no inside and no outside. Love and compassion become possible, indeed the only possibility.

Christchurch Diamond Sangha Zen Group: The group meets on Monday evenings at 7.30 pm in the home of David Goldsmith, 77 Clarendon Tce. Woolston. All are welcome. There is no cost. Instruction in meditation is given by Arthur Wells, Practice Leader. We also organize study evenings to which all are welcome and retreats with visiting Zen teachers.

For more information: Phone Arthur Wells, 348-4656 or email or phone David Goldsmith, 960-3987.