Ten Principles of Zen

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At its core, Zen is a way of being, a direct experience of reality that transcends intellectual understanding. The principles in this article point to practices that facilitates, are part of, and results from that experience.

Presence: Being in the present moment, rather than thinking about the moment or earlier/future moments. This is the direct experience, and it is characterized by a sense of immediacy, authenticity, and intimacy.

Simplicity: Letting go of unnecessary complexities and distractions, in all aspects of life. If you review your life as it is now, where do you have simplicity and complexity? Can you simplify anything?

Non-Attachment: Cultivating a mindset of non-attachment and non-grasping, allowing things to come and go. This is not about caring less, it is about embracing the nature of movement/flow, which leads us to…

Impermanence: Recognizing the transient nature of all phenomena and embracing the ever-changing nature of physical existence.

Non-Duality: Perceiving the interconnectedness and inseparability of all things.

Emptiness: The interconnectedness of all things creates the concept of emptiness – the idea that all phenomena lack an inherent, independent existence. This includes both physical objects and mental constructs, such as thoughts and emotions.

Stillness: Cultivating inner stillness. It is not about suppressing or eliminating thoughts, but rather observing them without getting entangled or carried away by them.

Acceptance: Seeing things as they are, without any push/pull reaction towards them – allowing them to appear and transform naturally.

Compassion: As an intricate web of consciousness, states and attitudes can not exist in only one direction. Trying to be kind or understanding towards just others or yourself is simply doing something halfway. Practice the state that you’d like to see more of.

Beginner’s Mind: Approaching each moment and experience with a sense of openness and curiosity. This allows you to experience the world directly, and it opens you up for new perspectives. Approaching a moment with freshness allows you to break free from the automatic patterns of thinking and perceiving, and instead, experience the richness and vitality of what is. It can bring a renewed sense of appreciation, joy, and aliveness to your daily experiences.