Zen Is Not About Belief Or A Religion

personal stories religion zen

When I was a monk, I was on my way to the grocery store. As I walked inside, I noticed a man staring at me from a distance. As I got closer, he walked over to me, got in my face, and asked loudly, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?!” I promptly replied, “Yes I do.” “I thought Buddhist monks didn’t believe in Jesus,” said the man. “I don’t practice Buddhism,” I replied. He looked puzzled and asked me what I practiced. I started to explain how Zen is the practice of waking up to our enlightened nature, our clear minds. When our minds are clear, then we can respond to the world with love, compassion, and wisdom. I felt like I wasn't really getting through to him, so I finally asked him, “If somebody is hungry, what can you do?” He answered, “Give them food.” I then said, “So, what kind of religion is that? Christianity or Buddhism?” Then I saw a light bulb go off in him. He saw Zen is not about a particular belief or a religion. It is about how to be a human being. Zen is a tool that can help us realize our innate love and wisdom and find the capacity to help our friends, family, and loved ones.

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