Zen is an idea that was imported from China over 1500 years ago and became an import philosophy in Eastern Asia but particularly in Japan. One could think of Zen as a mix between Shintoism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Zazen which is a term that holds a lot of importance, loosely translated means, mediation. Just like in Daoism, Zen does not focus on how much knowledge you may contain instead, its principal focus is staying present in the moment without sorting any emotions or feelings. In modern day this is kind of what we call going with the flow. People who practice zen have a central goal of being flawlessly harmonized with the present moment and being able to savor it to its fullest extent. To do this, most of the time it requires clearing the mind to enter a state of no thoughts. To do this, they want to focus on doing it in a way that requires no effort. They think of simplicity in a sophisticated way. If one is trying hard to let go of something they are failing at being Zen, because you just do it, instead of trying to do. Zen is often thought of a way of not taking control of your life and letting the flow carry things on. But one of the most important parts of being Zen requires just as much discipline as it does the spontaneity of life. They go hand in hand in Zen Buddhism. It is thought that there is supposed to be discipline in spontaneity and spontaneity in your discipline.
As the mediation is very disciplined, they use Koan, which is used in Zen Mediation to provoke enlightenment amongst one’s inner self. A Koan can be anything, they are usually a paradoxical riddle that can measure a persons progress. It can range from being a story, dialogue, questions, and statements. The reasoning and logical statements are utilized to stimulate the great doubt within the students. Using zazen and the koan, often help people to visualize their enlightenment and the moment of zen. In Zen Buddhism, nature is a key concept to the Japanese way of life. Often things are found most prized in their natural state and the Japanese people have a deep respect for nature. Water is one of the most important items of nature seen in Japanese life since Japan is an island it is surrounded by water and many traditions include water, like purification when entering a shrine. One of the shinto shrines built in Japan is that has a Tori gate out in the ocean. At low tide, people can walk out to the gate, where the Shintoists venerate spirts known as Kami. The sea, the Sand, the Wind, and even the seaweed all have a divine power and energy that is preserved. In Japan all throughout castles and shrines there is a harmony between nature and art and blending them together is a key detail to the Japanese way of life. This is most commonly seen in Japanese Zen Gardens.
In Japan, most temples are surrounded by gardens, and monks were the people who created these gardens that were works of art. To reach some of the gardens a person must follow the path of philosophy through the undergrowth of the garden. This was created by the monks because often monks would come to the temples to meditate. Through these symbols, man can achieve its awareness in the natural elements of the world. In Japan illustrated fictional stories began to explode in the 20th century, Millions of readers and viewers of manga or anime, has continued the long tradition of monks and artists creating works of arts to tell stories. Anime has taken over a sense of traditional international animation. It creates a new idea of consciousness and awareness within the main character that shows universality compared to traditional animation films. The most well-known animator Miyazaki Hayao wrote extraordinary narrative tales that show great compassion from character to the character rather than focusing on one character personal growth. But the awareness of all beings, including plants, animals and planets, capture viewers of all ages from Miyazaki’s films.
His characters often look a lot different than traditional American superheroes as they are unnoticed young girls, who have fearless personalities and constantly show bravery as they tackle big problems, that are set often by society generations before they come into the world. Through the art of nature and the self of being the young girls have an incredible sense of self-awareness and are often more flexible characters. Followers of Zen strive for awareness in the natural elements of the world and Miyazaki established characters who follow this seamlessly and inspire many other young people. The animations are rich in historical images that are more important than what is happening in the picture. There are glimpses of Buddhist and supernatural imagery. The settings are often of beloved national treasures that inspire many people other than just the creator. The viewing experience of these visual elements in the Japanese culture is much profound than most people think it is when they see just the surface of it. Focusing on the moment and the awareness of the natural elements in your nature is the simple meaning of Zen and can be applied to nearly all walks of life.