“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine” Shunryu Suzuki [Zen and Social Work] By Steve Gonzalez, LISW, CSC “Be master of the mind rather than mastered by the mind” Zen Saying
What is Zen? • Zen is considered a school of Buddhism • Depending on the branch Zen is a philosophy and or religion • Zen incorporates Daoism, which is a philosophy • Zenist’s -way or path of life
Three branches of Zen • Rinzai: Believe enlightenment obtained by actively penetrating the constraints of mind and logic. This school uses koans to consume the mind and induce a state more conducive to enlightenment • What are koans? Koans comprise of riddles, stories, poems, and questions that are parardoxical or nonsensical
Branches of Zen • Soto: Practitioners face each other during services. A belief that glimpses of gradual enlightenment can be obtained-focus on meditattion • Third Branch-Vajrayana, unique to the Himalayan region, which incorporates Tantric philisophy (Dalai Lama) • Branches incorporate teachers and or may use koans and meditations
Brief History of Zen • Siddhartha (Buddha) began a spiritual journey. He pondered the existence of human suffering • Zen began in China in the 6th century as a meeting of Indian Buddhism merged with Daoism and Confucianism • Zen traveled from China to Japan. Zen attitudes infused themselves into literature, art, culture, and politics
Brief History • Zen has spread throughout South East Asia countries • Zen teachers came to America around 1905 • 1960’s Western Zen is born • Presently there are Zen centers established in all parts of the world
Zen Koans • What is the sound of one hand clapping? • What color is the wind? • What was your face before you were born? • How do you step off a 100 foot pole
Zen Sayings • Knock on the sky and listen to the sound • Form is no different from emptiness. Emptiness is no different from form. Form is precisely emptiness. Emptiness is precisely form. • If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
Precepts of Zen/ 4 Noble Truths • Life is full of suffering • Suffering is due to desires and attachments • Suffering can be eliminated by eliminating desires and attachment • The way to eliminating desire is by adhering to the Eightfold path (living the Middle Way)
Eightfold Path 1. Right view: means recognizing that life is impermanent. 2. Right thought: means thinking kindly and refusing to engage cruel thoughts. What you think is what you are. 3. Right speech: means refusing to lie, gossip etc. Right speech should be wise, kind, minimal.
Eightfold Path 4. Right action: follow high morals. 5. Right livelihood: choosing an occupation that is not harmful or unjust, but instead is honest, upright, and increases love and compassion in the world. 6. Right effort: making a conscious attempt to cultivate positive qualities, thoughts, actions in yourself (self-discipline) while eliminating negative qualities.
Eightfold Path 7. Right Mindfulness: working on being mindful all the time. Being mindful means being constantly aware of your feelings, surroundings, body, thoughts (Awareness). Zen mind is waking up and living rather than going through the motions as if you were asleep or a robot. 8. Right concentration: concentrate wholly on what you are doing-one pointed mind.
The taking of life Theft Lack of chastity Lying Selling or buying liquor Speaking ill of others Praising oneself Giving spiritual or material aid grudgingly Anger Disparaging Buddhist doctrine The 10 Abstentions:
The 3 Treasures • Following the 10 abstentions • Practicing goodness to avoid evil • Striving toward the liberation of every living being (helping others obtain Buddhahood
The Basics of Zen:Zazen-Just Sit How is stilling the mind achieved? • Just sit • Watch your thoughts rise and fall • Non-attachment to thoughts • Become a passive observer of your thought process • Once the mind is settled and “put in its place” all kinds of insight are possible
Zen Meditation • Basic goal of meditation involves quieting the mind or watching your mind • Meditation helps us to see others and ourselves with honesty and compassion • The more it is practiced, the quieter and more peaceful the mind becomes • Meditation allows us to accept ourselves without judgement, which is both refreshing and liberating
Similarities: Zen/Social Work • Both are concerned with human suffering • Both demonstrate compassion with others through listening and attending skills • Both promote social justice • Both adhere to ethical guidelines • Both promote personal self-growth and self-awareness • Both promote self-determination
Benefits: use of Zen in SW • Zen is a supplement and can be integrated in clinical practice regardless of orientation • Zen is a way to improve clinicians own mental health (burn-out) spiritual, and intellectual growth
Zen/social work practice • Start where the client is at: In the moment, right here- right now • Be with and feel with the client • Healing kindness by being patient, truthful, genuine, and attentive • Key elements of empathy and compassion assist the client in the counseling process • Middle path: allows clients to be receptive to issues, insights, and possibilities
Meditation/SW • Literature supports the use of meditation techniques to alleviate certain conditions • Meditation has shown to have therapeutic physiological and psychological benefits • Meditation can be used as a compliment to therapy • Simple exercises include counting the breath and following the breath
“The best of modern therapy is much like a process of shared meditation, where therapist and client sit together, learning to pay close attention to those aspects and dimensions of the self that the client may be unable to touch on his or her own” (Kornfield, 1993, p. 244).
6 Zen Principles of Therapeutic Value (Mruk & Hartzell) • 1. Acceptance • 2. Fearlessness • 3. Truth • 4. Compassion • 5. Attachment • 6. Impermanence
1. Acceptance • Important part of the therapeutic process for rapport building and being non-judgmental-connecting/nurturing • In Zen this relates to 1st noble truth-life is suffering • Suffering can be a teacher as well as a foe
2. Fearlessness (Courage) • By providing support in various capacities, such as listening, guidance, instruction, encouragement and offering hope can assist clients to face fears and look at problems in a different light. • Examples in counseling: empty chair, unique outcomes, exception questions, and “How come things are not worse”.
3. Truth (Enlightenment) • When people have the courage to face their fear and pursue a truth, often times an internal need is developed to sense and experience their own truth • Many times when we do not avoid fear, we often find that the situation resolves itself, this teaches the value of facing what we are afraid to face. • Counselors provide support, compassion, and empathy
4. Compassion (Toward self and others) • Compassion with action • Compassion can be liberating for the helper as well as for the one receiving help. • “Compassion is the desire that others be relieved of suffering” (Brazier, 1995, p.93).
5. Attachment (Desire) • Individuals can be trapped by their desires, such as materialism, addictions, and beliefs (ego attachments) • Ego attachments can be unconscious or neurotic • The objects are not the problem. It is our attachment and our identification with what we crave that causes suffering • “It is not the outer objects that entangle us. It is the inner clinging that entangle us” (Das, 1997, p.83)
6. Impermanence (and letting go) • Learn to appreciate the transitory nature of experiences, situations, and life in general • Impermanence is an ally because it means that pain will not last forever. The foundation of hope because, although we do not know what will happen in the future, we do know that the current situation will change and new possibilities will arise. “This too will pass.”
Suggested Readings Brazier, D. (1995) Zen Therapy Brix, E. (2002) Healing Zen Epstein, M. (1995) Thoughts without a thinker: psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective Kornfield, J. (1993) A path with Heart Mruk, C. (2003) Zen and Psychotherapy Rosenbaum, R. (1998) Zen and the Heart of Psychotherapy Watts, A. (1961) Psychotherapy east and west
Favorite Links to Visit • Http://www.daileyzen.com • Http://www.pcisys.net/~sms.zen • Http://www.plumvillage.org/ • Http://www.dharma.org/ • Http://www.spiritrock.org/ • Http://www.intrex.net (talks on Zen practice) • Http://www.shambhalasun.com • Http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm
Vital Statistics • Steve Gonzalez, LISW, CSC • firstname.lastname@example.org • Therapist/School Social Worker • Martial Artist • KC Chiefs fan • “Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with truth” Thich Nhat Hanh