Experiential wisdom – Zen

“Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom in the attainment of high order happiness.”

 Zen DE-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct self-realization through meditation and dharma practice.

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.

– Tao Tzu

 The idea of “dharma” comes from ancient texts in India that state there is a divinely chosen natural order of things. It says that in order to have happiness, justice, and social harmony in the world, humans must live in a way that reflects the requirements of that order. Zen practice is not about getting away from our life as it is; it is about getting into our life as it is, with all of its vividness, beauty, hardship, joy and sorrow.

Zen is a path of awakening, awakening to who we really are, and awakening the aspiration to serve others and take responsibility for all of life. Zen emphasizes experiential wisdom and the attainment of special states of consciousness.  While a great deal has been written about Zen, one of the central notions of Zen is that true understanding of the mind.

Zen teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion.  Zen uses the middle path to develop both. The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality, all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent and do no constitute a fixed entity. True wisdom means that we shall not simply believe what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Wisdom requires an open, objective, and unbigoted mind. The Zen path requires courage, patience, flexibility, intelligence, cuts away delusions, and thus freeing the mind.

Zazen is a powerful tool of self-inquiry, boundless in its scope and ability to reveal the true basis of reality.

Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, caring. In Zen, we can really understand others, when we can really understand ourselves, through wisdom.

Zen is famous for brief riddles called koans, such as what is the sound of one hand clapping. Meditating on such riddles has the potential to bring higher order happiness, when the mind suddenly realizes the futility of approaching the koan (or the world or the mind) with conceptual thought, and fully embraces the paradox at the heart of the koan (and the world and the mind).

Zen asserts, as do other schools in Mahayana Buddhism, that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature.   The universal nature of transcendent wisdom and emphasizes that Buddha-nature is nothing other than the essential nature of the mind itself.

The various states of consciousness experienced by human beings may be divided into four categories, using the philosophical concept of intentionality: intentional, non-intentional, meta-intentional, and de-intentional states. Analyzing Zen enlightenment in the light of this categorization, one concludes that Zen thinking is a de-intentional self-reflective mental capacity.  This establishes a philosophical basis for the Zen method of mind training, enabling the exploration of connections between Zen, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and other areas. Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is doing his job. Zen spirituality is just to do the job with complete self – awareness. The job can be anything from peeling potatoes, to watching birds, to washing etc..

Every Individual has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom.  The power to choose, to respond, to change.

 The pursuit of happiness is real. It is an authentic and natural desire of our nature. To create, and live in authentic happiness, you will need to learn not to blindly chase the false beliefs in the mind.


 Self-realization is a concept that has become widely popular in the Western World. It has been greatly influenced by Zen. Self realization as a connection with your self or the first encounter with reality, it defines self-realization as fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality.

Also, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, American psychologists, developed the concept of self-actualization in Humanistic Psychology. Maslow defined then self-realization as the impulse to convert oneself into what one is capable of being.

Based on Maslow, the most common meaning given to self-realization is that of psychological growth and maturation. It represents the awakening and manifestation of latent potentialities of the human being -for example, ethical, esthetic, and religious experiences and activities.

Awareness is the first step in the transformation process. As you grow in self awareness, you will better understand why you feel what you feel and why you behave as you behave. That understanding then gives you the opportunity and freedom to change those things you’d like to change about yourself and create the life you want. Without fully knowing who you are, self acceptance and change become impossible. We often have a layer of beliefs in the mind that tend to complicate our sense of enjoyment and pursuit of happiness.

Self Awareness

Zen teaches one to live in the present with complete awareness, not thoughts about the future or reflecting on the past. Self-awareness is the capacity for introspection and the ability to reconcile oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. Self-awareness, though similar to sentience in concept, includes the experience of the self.

A person, who never has time to think, may turn into a thoughtless person. Likewise, an organization that does not have time to think may turn into a thoughtless organization. Zen teaches individuals to live in the present with complete awareness, not thoughts about the future or reflecting on the past. We can unleash the power of the authentic self: and which results of unlocking the wisdom within.

Self awareness is developed through practices in focusing your attention on the details of your personality and behavior. Think of learning to be mindful and self aware as learning to dance. When you become more self aware you instinctively begin to see aspects of your personality and behavior that you didn’t notice before.

Finding Neutral – Notice the power of every word you think and speak.  Think, Speak, observe, listen, from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias.  For leaders neutrality means carefully and critically analyzing the information (words, thoughts) contained in them clearly and accurately.

Prefer non-judgmental language

Self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards beginning to excel.

Self acceptance is love and happiness with who you are now.  You will know when you’re accepting yourself because it feels great. It’s an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are at this very moment, even those parts you’d like to eventually change. This is important even those parts you’d eventually like to change. You can accept those parts of yourself you want to change some day. self-acceptance is considered the prerequisite for change to occur. It can be achieved by stopping criticizing and solving the defects of one’s self, and then accepting them to be existing within one’s self. That is, tolerating oneself to be imperfect in some parts.

You enjoy increased inner-peace by accepting who you are right now, unconditionally so you can relax and enjoy the moment.  Self acceptance gives you a lightness of mind and a self-confidence that is a pleasure for yourself and others to behold.

Leadership and Self awareness

 With self-awareness, the leader becomes a more effective, they are open to change, as they themselves are in a constant state of incremental personal development and changes.  But when you don’t know yourself as well as you should, you can’t capitalize fully on your strengths or minimize your weaknesses.  Effective leadership starts with intimate knowledge of yourself. Simple as that may seem, such knowledge is surprisingly difficult to acquire, because we all have biases that make our perceptions of ourselves inaccurate. We believe that effective leaders can overcome those biases and grow even more effective if they pay better attention to self-awareness and situational awareness. Leaders need to be able to use self-awareness to find the  conditions where they will be most likely to succeed, and to be able recognize the challenges in situations that expose their weaknesses. That’s what we call situational awareness. With this awareness you recognize what a particular situation demands and then align your leadership style or behavior to react accordingly, by matching your skills to that situation.

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