New study shows meditating before lecture leads to better grades

August 3, 2013

Tara Laskowski, George Mason University: Practicing a little Zen before class can lead to better grades, according to a new experimental study by George Mason University professor Robert Youmans and University of Illinois doctoral student Jared Ramsburg.

The pair of researchers conducted three classroom experiments at a California university to see if meditation might help students focus better and retain information. A random selection of students followed basic meditation instructions before a lecture, and the students who meditated before the lecture scored better on a quiz that followed than students who did not meditate. In one experiment, the meditation

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What is Zen Buddhism and what is its primary goal?

April 16, 2013

Jennifer Spirko, Demand Media: Zen is a form of Buddhism that relies heavily on the practice of meditation. In fact, the word itself is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese term “Chan,” deriving from a Sanskrit word for meditation. This linguistic basis reveals not only the key practice at the heart of Zen, but also its long cultural history, dating back to the early years of Indian Buddhism. Like most Buddhists, Zen practitioners aim for enlightenment, called “satori,” but in the case of Zen, that enlightenment takes a uniquely pragmatic approach.

Za-Zen
The key to Zen practice is za-zen, which Shigenori Nagatomo…

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Iowa View: Meditation is more than you think

March 16, 2013

Dr. David Drake: DesMoines Register: Anthropologists and sociologists must have been busy in these past 25 years, seeing how human culture and our society have changed so dramatically.

We live in a world now that bears little resemblance to the world where those of us over 40 grew up. This new world is one in which we are increasingly bombarded with information — news from TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet and all sorts of ways that people can contact us, including fax, phone, text, email, Twitter and Facebook.

How do we manage all this information? How do we get respite from all the noise …

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“Know yourself, Forget Yourself: Five Truths to Transform your Work, Relationships, and Everyday Life,” by Marc Lesser

February 25, 2013

Know Yourself, Forget YourselfAs a rule, I am not a fan of self-help books. They are often big on promises but small on practicalities; good at telling you what is possible but rarely willing to recognize that each of us has limitations. Self-help books, it seems to me, sell the lie that you can be whoever you want and have whatever you want (Can I really marry Scarlett Johansson?). However, a self-help book based on Zen Buddhist principles might be different.

The book rests on the contention that ‘embracing life’s paradoxes is a powerful skill’ (p.4). Lesser, a Zen teacher and executive coach, proposes that we explore five key paradoxes: First, ‘Know Yourself, Forget Yourself; second, ‘Be Confident, … Read more »

Rejecting the wanting self

December 24, 2012

adam-and-eve

“We have been raised to fear … our deepest cravings. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for…many facets of our own oppression.” – Audre Lourde

In the myth of Eden, God created the garden and dropped the tree of knowledge, with its delicious and dangerous fruits, right smack dab in the middle. He then deposited some humans close by and forbade these curious, fruit-loving creatures from taking a taste. It was a set up. Eve naturally grasped at the fruit and then was shamed and punished for having done so.

We experience this situation daily inside our own psyche. … Read more »

How to organize Zen? Japanese Buddhists adapt to Western views of their religion

October 18, 2012

Rocket News 24 (Japan): What do you think of when you hear the word Zen? For most people, “organized religion” probably isn’t a phrase that pops up immediately. This can be a bit of a predicament for Zen Buddhist missionaries working in places like Europe and North America.

The word, which comes from a Japanese translation of the Chinese word chán, literally means meditation, and has developed a romantic sense of being purely in the moment and devoid of all thought. This concept has been focused on by various artists in Western culture like Jack Kerouac, with a diminished emphasis on the less sexy …

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At 105, a Zen master blends East with a bit of L.A.

October 1, 2012

The Zen master would not stop talking.

Several times he began to draw his teachings to a close, explaining to his students that he was tired and in poor health. Then he would burst down another path.

He discussed the difficulties of raising children. He lingered on the subject of death. Eventually, he raised a small fist in the air.

“Everybody is together at one point,” he said. “We cry together, we love together. There is no moment in which we are not together.”

He is 105 years old and not even 5 feet tall, with paper-white skin and a blocky, bald head. Enveloped in …

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Zen Buddhism, art subject of University of Tennessee exhibit

September 10, 2012

An exhibit opening Sept. 15 at the University of Tennessee’s Frank H. McClung Museum explores both the simple yet elegant beauty and the deeper meanings of art developed around Zen Buddhism.

“Zen Buddhism and the Arts of Japan” is at the museum, located at 1327 Circle Park Drive on the UT campus, through Dec. 31.

The display includes such objects as tea bowls, robes, bronze memorial plaques and a wooden sculpture of the guardian figure called Fudo Myoo. “Zen Buddhism” also shows more than 40 hanging scrolls whose paintings and calligraphy were created by Zen Buddhist monks from 1600 to 1868.

The beliefs and practices of Zen Buddhists were …

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How hunks, rap, and booze might save Buddhism in Japan

August 26, 2012

It can be difficult to get people excited about religion in Japan. No doubt, Japan’s culture and its religions are deeply intertwined, but the vast majority of Japanese people say that aren’t very religious.

With membership in religions across Japan in free fall, many are trying to make themselves more appealing to attract more followers. How do you get people excited about religion? Do you pull a Pope John Paul II and get some sweet-ass breakdancers to get the kids all excited about God?

Japanese Buddhists have found their weapon of choice: hunks. Not just any hunks, but hunky monks. Earlier this year …

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The suffering of rejecting desire

August 11, 2012

“We have been raised to fear … our deepest cravings. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for … many facets of our own oppression.” – Audre Lourde

In the myth of Eden, God created the garden and dropped the tree of knowledge, with its delicious and dangerous fruits, right smack dab in the middle. He then deposited some humans close by and forbade these curious, fruit-loving creatures from taking a taste. It was a set up. Eve naturally grasped at the fruit and then was shamed and punished for having done so.

We experience this situation daily inside our … Read more »