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Zen Buddhism. What is Zen?. It is a form of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes wisdom attained through experience. Zen is often thought of as a religion though it has no sacred scriptures, texts, dogma, or divine being.

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what is zen
What is Zen?
  • It is a form of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes wisdom attained through experience.
  • Zen is often thought of as a religion though it has no sacred scriptures, texts, dogma, or divine being.
  • To know Zen is to experience and practice it, not study it. Zen is practiced through meditation.
zen is an experience
Zen is an experience
  • A Zen experience is one where you are completely focused and the rest of the world fades away.
poetry and zen
Poetry and Zen
  • Zen often goes hand-in-hand with poetry that focuses on evocative brevity and paradox because through these a glimpse of Zen’s essence can be attained.
  • Ex:

“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflections, The water has no mind to receive their images.”

a zen story
A Zen Story
  • Some people find Zen not only paradoxical and puzzling but annoying, even maddening. Stories, like poetry, in Zen are also short.
  • The following is a story about a learned man who goes to a Zen master to learn about the old philosophy.

“The master politely invited his visitor to share a cup of ceremonial tea while they talked together. When the master had brewed the tea by the strict procedures of the tea ceremony, he began to pour the whisked green liquid into the visitor’s cup and continued pouring until the cup had overflowed. Even then he went on pouring until the discomforted guest, unable longer to restrain himself, cried out in agitation, ‘Sir, my cup is already full. No more will go in.’ At once the master put down the teapot and remarked, ‘Like this cup you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?’”

paradigm shift
Paradigm Shift
  • “…for westerners the primary hindrance in understanding Zen, even intellectually, lies in the fact that the great verities that Zen, with Buddhism, takes as basic are diametrically opposed to those the [Judeo-Christian] religions have always assumed to be absolute. It is difficult to put aside one’s way of looking at even inconsequential matter and to observe it from a totally new and different standpoint. How much more difficult to do so with religious concepts and beliefs with which we have been inculcated from earliest childhood. But unless you can put aside your usual viewpoint, you will never be able to understand what Zen is concerned with, and why, and who.”
zen does not hold that
Zen does not hold that…
  • there is a god apart from the universe that created the universe and man to enjoy and master it. In Zen, the universe and man are one indissoluble existence like sugar added and stirred to coffee. Every human act of individuality is only a temporary manifestation, or better yet, each person is a cell to the functioning of the body/universe.
quotes about zen
Quotes about Zen


some zen stories
Some Zen Stories


  • Short poems notable to Zen, which are 3 lines long. The first and third lines are both 5 syllables in length, while the second is 7 syllables. The structure is not absolute.

Ex: All the rains of June:

And one evening, secretly,

Through the pines, the moon.

  • Translated haikus do not always follow the structure above because it is more important to capture the essence of the poem through meaning.

Ex: The piercing chill I feel:

my dead wife’s comb, in our bedroom,

under my heel.

the colon the punctuation not body part
The Colon (the punctuation, not body part)
  • Rule 1. Use the colon after a complete sentence to introduce a list of items when introductory words such as namely, for example, or that is do not appear.
  • Examples: You may be required to bring many items: sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.
  • I want the following items: butter, sugar, and flour.
  • I want an assistant who can do the following: (1) input data, (2) write reports, and (3) complete tax forms.

Rule 2. A colon should not precede a list unless it follows a complete sentence; however, the colon is a style choice that some publications allow.

  • Examples: If a waitress wants to make a good impression on her customers and boss, she should (a) dress appropriately,
  • (b) calculate the bill carefully, and (c) be courteous to customers.
  • There are three ways a waitress can make a good impression on her boss and her customers:
  • (a) Dress appropriately.
  • (b) Calculate the bill carefully.
  • (c) Be courteous to customers.
  • I want an assistant who can (1) input data, (2) write reports, and (3) complete tax forms.

Rule 3. Capitalization and punctuation are optional when using single words or phrases in bulleted form. If each bullet or numbered point is a complete sentence, capitalize the first word and end each sentence with proper ending punctuation. The rule of thumb is to be consistent.

  • Examples: I want an assistant who can do the following:
  • (a) input data,
  • (b) write reports, and
  • (c) complete tax forms.
  • The following are requested:
  • (a) Wool sweaters for possible cold weather.
  • (b) Wet suits for snorkeling.
  • (c) Introductions to the local dignitaries.

Rule 4. Use a colon instead of a semicolon between two sentences when the second sentence explains or illustrates the first sentence and no coordinating conjunction is being used to connect the sentences. If only one sentence follows the colon, do not capitalize the first word of the new sentence. If two or more sentences follow the colon, capitalize the first word of each sentence following.

  • Examples: I enjoy reading: novels by Kurt Vonnegut are among my favorites.
  • Garlic is used in Italian cooking: It greatly enhances the flavor of pasta dishes. It also enhances the flavor of eggplant.

Rule 5. Use the colon to introduce a direct quotation that is more than three lines in length. In this situation, leave a blank line above and below the quoted material. Single space the long quotation. Some style manuals say to indent one-half inch on both the left and right margins; others say to indent only on the left margin. Quotation marks are not used.

  • Example:

The author of Touched, Jane Straus, wrote in the first chapter:

Georgia went back to her bed and stared at the intricate patterns of burned moth wings in the translucent glass of the overhead light. Her father was in “hyper mode” again where nothing could calm him down.


Rule 6. Use the colon to follow the salutation of a business letter even when addressing someone by his/her first name. Never use a semicolon after a salutation. A comma is used after the salutation for personal correspondence.

  • Example: Dear Ms. Rodriguez:
time to write your own haikus and short story
Time to Write Your Own Haikus and Short Story.

Haiku structure:

  • Line 1 = 5 syllables
  • Line 2 = 7 syllables
  • Line 3 = 5 syllables
  • Write a short story that is no more than one page that you think is profound.
  • Your homework is to write seven haikus on one theme and to finish your short story.
index cards
Index Cards
  • Write one thing you learned today and pass it in before you leave.