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Lao Tze is such a great philosopher because he is the one who came up with absolutely very clearcut ideas and what he has preached in the Zen system of religion is the same as Sahaja Yoga. Zen means dhyana, means dhyan, is the meditation. And the Zen system is practiced in the same manner as we practice Sahaja Yoga. But you have to have realized souls to practice it. (Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi 28 February 1990)

You cannot practice (Zen) Without realization. Zen means Realization first.... Zen is Sahaja Yoga. What Zen has taught is Sahaja Yoga. Lao Tse, same thing. (SMND 28 November 1980)

To be realized is to be Zen. (SMND 12 May 1983)

Q.: [translator] He says: “What do you think about Zazen?”

A.: Zen? Oh! Great! But you cannot practice without realization. Zen means realization first. The same thing with us, you cannot follow… Zen is Sahaja Yoga. What Zen has taught is Sahaja Yoga. Lao Tse, same thing. It’s the same. What Mohammad has taught is the same. What Christ has said is the same. It’s the same but still, also, the head of the Zen today in Japan is not a realized soul. They are just organizing buildings, houses, foreign tours, [?], I don’t know.

I’ve also given one lecture on Zen, completely. I’ve been to Japan Myself and I know Zen means Sahaja, absolutely the same. They are all just the same. They were true people but their followers were like that, what to do? The followers made a mess out of them. (Public Program, Paris (France), November 28th, 1980)

You just look after that part which requires energy and you raise the Kundalini and give realization to that sick person; also so that he can give it to another. He gets cured; then he can cure others. It is like that. So tapping this energy was first started in China when Zen system came into action. Zen, you see? Now Zen is nothing but Sahaja Yoga - same thing. But Zen had only twenty-six Kashyapas in six centuries. Kashyapas means realized souls. Only twenty-six in six centuries. And now there are none. (Advice at Dollis Hill ashram. London (UK), 24 April 1980)

So, the eating of good food is a kind of an addiction. It’s a kind of an addiction; it’s something like drug – that you must have good food. So Zen started this system of what they call the tea ceremony. In the tea ceremony what they did, I mean, I have been through that and it’s really quite a test of people. With Me, it was alright, but the rest of them got really frightened. That in the tea ceremony whatever rituals they do they give you a tea, which is so bitter, and we can say [like] quinine raised to power 108! It’s like that. And they give you very nicely, handle you with such ritual that you have to take it. So first they say, “You see the cup without thinking.” So he tried to make thoughtless awareness through the cup. I don’t know how much one can achieve with that. But that tea if you take once, your tongue is good for anything. And to compensate it they give you something sweet, which is again sweetness raised to power 108, so sweet that it becomes bitter! So sweet. So this is just to conquer the tongue [that] Zen must have thought that better give them this tea ceremony where there is no tea, there’s nothing but just you really give such shocks to your tongue, so that after that you can eat whatever you get. And that’s why you must know that Japanese can eat anything. They have solved their food problem because they can eat anything! They can just fish out some crabs or could be some prawns, just peel them out like peanuts and eat them like that. I think Zen has solved this problem for them, because they have food shortage and this is how they can eat everything: they can eat the bark of the tree, they can eat the snake, they can eat the lizards, they can eat the frogs, everything they can eat, so all their eating problems are solved in that country by Zen, I think, because you have no taste. (Shri Guru puja. Avignon (France), 8 July 1990.)

Viditama was the originator of Zen system of religion, who was a realized soul, and until the 8th century, there were only twenty-six realized souls which were called as Kashapas. Now these were no longer available in Zen system so whole artificial stuff started, like your artificial style of Baptism. (Public Program. Brussels (Belgium), 21 September 1982)

In the same way, Buddha has been dumped into very small dimensions. Only two persons realized it; they got out of it. One of them was Viditama, who went away to Japan and started the Zen system of religion. But even today if you see the Zen, which was nothing but dhyana, the meditation, sahaja, spontaneous awakening — is reduced to the same level as any other preaching. (Public Program, Brighton (United Kingdom) , May 26th, 1983)

From Saints, Sufis and Yogis

The Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma, traveled to China, c.475CE, and introduced the teachings of the Buddha to that country. In China, Buddhism mingled with Taoism, resulting in the Ch’an School of Buddhism. Around 1200 Ch’an Buddhism spread from China to Japan where it became known as Zen.

Little is known of Bodhidharma’s life. Even his contemporaries differ as to his origins. Yang Xuanzhi, writing in Chinese in 547CE, described him as ‘Persian Central Asian.’ Tanlin (506-574CE) describes Bodhidharma as being South Indian, and the third son of a great Indian king.

Because so little is known with certainty of the life of Bodhidharma, it is necessary to regard the details of his career as reported in later texts as “almost entirely legendary and often highly fanciful.” (McFarland 1986:167). His prominence in both China and Japan is therefore symbolic, and has been enhanced by religious discourse and the popular imagination.

Bodhidharma has achieved, and still maintains, his greatest popularity in Japan where he is known as Daruma. Figures of him can be found in Buddhist temples and monasteries, Shinto shrines, museums, homes, and places of business throughout the country.

Bibliography: The Bodhidharma anthology: the earliest records of Zen, edited by Jeffrey L.Broughton (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999); The Zen teaching of Bodhidharma, translated with an introduction by Red Pine (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1989); Bernard Faure, ‘From Bodhidharma to Daruma: the hidden life of a Zen patriarch’ Japan Review no.23, 2011:45-71; H.Neill McFarland, ‘Feminine motifs in Bodhidharma symbology in Japan’ Asian Folklore Studies v45, 1986:167-191; John R.McRae, ‘The hagiography of Bodhidharma: reconstructing the point of origin of Chinese Chan Buddhism’ in India in the Chinese imagination: myth, religion, and thought, edited by John Kieschnick and Meir Shahar (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014):125-138; D.T.Suzuki, ‘The secret message of Bodhidharma, or The content of Zen experience’, in Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki, Volume I: Zen, edited by Richard M.Jaffe (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015):39-57

Dogen Zenzi (1200-1253) was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher, born into a noble family in Kyoto, and the founder of the Soto school of Zen after travelling to China and training under the Chinese Caodong lineage. Dogen wrote extensively in Japanese (rather than in the then customary Chinese used for Buddhist texts), many of which are collected in the 95 volumes of Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma, or Shobogenzo. He also wrote many short verses, or koans:

Most difficult for the person engaged in training for supreme, perfect enlightenment is to find a guide.

It is irrelevant whether a guide has male or female characteristics, and the like; what counts is that the guide be a being of virtue, of thusness.

One need not be of the past or of the present; even the spirit of a wild fox may be a qualified mentor. Such is the way of the attainment of the marrow: a mentor guides and assists without obscuring cause and effect, and may well be you, me or another...

Bibliography The Heart of Dogen's Shobogenzo, translated by Norman Waddell and Masao Abe (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2002); Masao Abe, A study of Dōgen: his philosophy and religion (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2002); Hee-Jin Kim, Dogen Kigen, mystical realist (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, rev. ed., 1987); Steven Heine, editor, Dogen: textual and historical studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)