Know the 7 principles of Zen philosophy

Zen philosophy involves living a full and authentic life, focusing on the present moment. Here we show you its fundamental principles.

Last update: 01 July, 2022

Zen is a Buddhist school that originated in China during the Tang dynasty and later derived into various Japanese schools. His philosophy is based on meditation, which in fact, the word itself Zen It means that: meditate.

In this sense, meditation is a practice of self-discovery that helps us live fully in the present moment and achieve tranquility. However, Zen philosophy goes further.

It implies living a full and authentic life, focusing on the present moment. It doesn’t dictate what we should feel or think, or how we should be or what to do; it only teaches us to be aware of our experience and live immersed in it.

The principles of Zen philosophy are universal, so we can integrate them into any belief system or lifestyle. In addition, it is not necessary to enter a monastery or put ourselves in mystical mode to connect with ourselves and with the present moment.

In fact, the principles that we present below can be a good starting point for integrating Zen philosophy into our lives.

1. The mind builds its own experience

Zen philosophy teaches us that experience is not equivalent to reality. That is to say, the mind is the one that configures how we interpret the facts, based on our system of beliefs and personal predispositions.

Therefore, we can create different experiences, changing and choosing which aspects to focus on. If, faced with a personal failure, we focus on blaming ourselves for everything, instead of channeling what we can learn from the situation, without a doubt the experience will be very unpleasant.

The idea that the mind creates reality and modifies it is a principle of the Zen current, especially supported by Buddhism.

2. According to Zen philosophy, the self is an illusion

We believe that we are the sum of definitions, titles and roles that we fulfill within society, as a writer, student, good person, athlete, mother. Nevertheless, we are more than those limiting and closed categories.

The truth is that the self is also one of the realities that the mind constructs. Being is not a thing that can be precisely defined and delimited; because it is an essence that is constantly changing and in movement. That is why it is so difficult to understand oneself.



3. You only need to believe in what feels true.

It is important to be flexible with our belief system, so that we do not assume any judgment or teaching as absolute and immutable truth. The ideal is to trust our intuition and our ability to identify what is true for us.

Otherwise, we could end up very conflicted, fighting between what others tell us is correct and what we feel is true. According to Zen philosophy, if you are not living your life according to what you know to be true, you are not following your highest good.

4. Detachment is the path to happiness

Detachment not only implies emotional detachment from objects, events or people, but rather it is equivalent to be aware that everything in life has a meaning and a utility.

According to Zen philosophy, detachment implies the understanding that the “bad” things that happen to us teach us and show us how to heal, to open us even more to the “good” things.

5. “Being” is more important than “doing”

Stillness and silence are fundamental in Zen philosophy. In this case, meditation allows us to calm the mind; recognize what needs to be recognized and healed. And it keeps us connected to ourselves, instead of attachments.

In this way, meditation teaches us the profound art of “doing nothing” and allows us to be. Let’s remember that for Zen philosophy we are not what we do, but simply we are.

6. We can be objective observers of our mind and our life

Meditation helps us to observe thoughts as they pass, as if we were an external spectator. This allows us to decant what goes through the mind and discover that we are not those thoughts or those feelings that come from them.

For Zen philosophy we are a more comprehensive reality. We are the being who experiences those thoughts and feelings, and who decides which ones to value and how to act.

With Zen meditation we seek to observe the mind, to be guardians of the thoughts that pass through it, to treat them more objectively.

7. Unity is our natural state

Unity in Zen philosophy refers to deep rapport with everything that exists. In fact, contemplation is just that: not looking at reality from the outside, but delving into the essence of what is observed and merging.

The separation between everything that exists is also an illusion, since each being is part of a whole. And only when we manage to understand this reality, we achieve harmony and inner balance.



Zen philosophy is a lifestyle to feel more fulfilled

If we integrate the principles of Zen philosophy into our lives, we can acquire a healthier perspectiveto help us manage feelings, thoughts and experiences with greater success.

In addition, from its fundamental base, which is meditation, it not only invites us to connect with ourselves, but also provides us with a moment of relaxation and self-care. Something very necessary in the daily routine.

You might be interested…