Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zen Paradox

Zen, being a part of Buddhism, teaches people that they can reach the ultimate status of mind by training. The ultimate status of mind is equivalent to Awakening or Epiphany in Christianity. It is the status of mind, which will not be influenced by the external environment. One's mind is free. It is free from pain, agony, fear, anger, anxiety, or worry. It is even free from life or death. The status exists over and beyond the life or death. What training will bring one this mind status? This training includes prayer, meditation, martial art, and paradox discussion.

Despite Zen is well-known practice for meditation worldwide, people do not know the paradox discussion. It may be because only Zen monks practice this paradox discussion. The purpose of this paradox discussion is to find the truth of nature by casting contradictory questions to natural phenomenon or people's behavior or thinking.

There are some famous Zen paradoxes; "Nothing is everything. Everything is nothing." While there are many interpretations of this statement, let us pay attention to another paradox question.

The paradox is; "The strong is not strong because his strength." The whole sentence reads; "The strong is not strong because of his strength, but because of his weakness. The strong will not lose because of his weakness, but of his strength". It continues; "The weak is not weak because of his weakness. He is strong and wins because of his weakness."

There was exceptionally strong Samurai clan in 15th century Japan, the time of the Dark Age. The family's name was "Takeda". The head of the clan, Shingen Takeda was excellent strategist. One of the early adopter of "Guns" brought into Japan. He trained his gunmen and formed gun company. People of that time agreed that his army was strongest in Japan.

After the death of Shingen Takeda, his son, Katsuyori, inherited his army. His army was as strong as his fathers. He fought against Nobunaga Oda. Katsuyori was so confident that his troops with his father's gun company could defeat Oda. Nobunaga Oda, however, studied everything about gun army company of Takeda and imported newer guns from Europe to win against Takeda. Nobunaga knew even how many gunmen Takeda held. Nobunaga defeated Katsuyori. If Katsuyori's troops were not noted for the strength of gun power, Oda would not have been aware of it and could not study about it. This example is typical on "The strong lost due to its strength."

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