Alan Watts - How To Apply Zen In Life - Let Go! Chillstep

This article is a theoretical piece. It provides an explanation and understanding of Zen philosophy and how to apply it in life.

The article discusses the essence of Zen as a way of life and a state of being that cannot be fully understood through concepts or words. It emphasizes the fluidity and transient nature of the universe, and the importance of letting go and embracing the present moment.

Main topics: 1. Zen philosophy and its essence as a way of life 2. The limitations of words and concepts in understanding Zen 3. The fluid and changing nature of the universe 4. Letting go and embracing the present moment 5. The difference between a living Buddha and a stone Buddha

  1. Introduction
  2. Zen as a Way of Life
  3. Zen is not a Doctrine or Philosophy
  4. Zen and the Fluidity of the Universe
  5. The Limitations of Words and Thinking in Zen
  6. Defining Zen in the Western Context
  7. The Concept of "Suchness" in Buddhist Philosophy
  8. The Yin and Yang of Energy in the Universe
  9. The Illusion of Darkness Triumphing over Light
  10. Understanding Death as the Other Face of Energy
  11. Realizing the Oneness and Delight of Being
  12. Accepting the True Nature of Being Human in Zen


This text explores the essence of Zen and its application in life. It emphasizes that Zen is not a doctrine or philosophy, but rather a way of being. The author compares Zen to water, explaining that trying to grasp it or understand it through concepts and words is futile. Instead, one must learn to let go, relax, and embrace the fluidity of life.

Furthermore, the text discusses the notion of a universal energy, referred to as various names such as God, Brahman, and Dao. However, these words may carry negative connotations, leading the author to suggest using alternative terms from the Far East, such as Dao or Brahman. While these words do not necessarily have concrete meanings, they signify a fundamental energy that permeates the universe.

The author introduces the concept of "suchness," which refers to the realization of oneness and interconnectedness. This understanding allows individuals to navigate the ebbs and flows of life and see through the illusion of duality. The text also touches upon the cyclical nature of the universe, symbolized by the yin and yang principle, wherein everything comes and goes in waves.

Ultimately, the text highlights the importance of embracing one's humanity and participating fully in the joys and struggles of life. While Zen masters may appear enlightened or transcendent, they are still human and willingly experience the complexities of existence. By cultivating a deep understanding of one's true nature and letting go of attachments and illusions, individuals can find freedom and eternal delight in living.

The information in this article about Zen philosophy can have an influence on various areas of knowledge or areas of life. Here are several ways in which it can impact other areas:

- Psychology: Understanding Zen philosophy can contribute to our understanding of human behavior and the ways in which individuals cope with stress and find inner peace.

- Philosophy: Zen philosophy challenges traditional Western philosophical concepts, such as the existence of a single objective reality and the importance of intellectual understanding. It encourages individuals to focus on direct experience and embodiment.

- Religion: Zen Buddhism is a religious tradition that emphasizes meditation and mindfulness. Studying Zen philosophy can deepen one's understanding of this tradition and its practices.

- Art and aesthetics: The concept of Zen can have a significant impact on various art forms, such as painting, architecture, and literature. It emphasizes simplicity, emptiness, and the importance of the present moment.

- Personal growth and self-improvement: Applying Zen principles in daily life can lead to personal growth, increased self-awareness, and a greater ability to let go of attachments and live in the present moment.

In order to fully understand and complement the information in this article, it would be beneficial to explore the following areas of knowledge:

- Eastern philosophy and religions: Learning about other Eastern philosophies and religious traditions, such as Taoism and Hinduism, can provide a broader context for understanding Zen philosophy.

- Neuroscience and psychology: Exploring scientific research on meditation and mindfulness can provide insights into the physiological and psychological effects of Zen practices.

- Cultural studies: Understanding the cultural context of Zen philosophy, particularly in East Asian countries, can help to appreciate the nuances and historical development of this tradition.

The article does not explicitly mention potential contradictions or missing information. However, one contradiction that could be examined is the statement that Zen is not a doctrine or philosophy, but rather a way of life, while simultaneously discussing the principles and concepts integral to Zen philosophy. This contradiction opens up a discussion on the nature of Zen and the way it is understood and practiced.

Question 1: What is Zen in its essence? Zen in its essence is not a Doctrine or a philosophy, but rather a way of life and a state of being that cannot be embraced in any concept whatsoever. "Zen is a way of life, a state of being that is not possible to embrace in any concept whatsoever."

Question 2: What is the nature of the universe according to Zen philosophy? The universe is described as fluid, transient, and constantly changing. It is compared to water, where there is nothing to hang on to. "This universe is like water, it is fluid, it is transient, it is changing...when you get into it, there's nothing to hang on to."

Question 3: What is the significance of the word "that" in Buddhist philosophy? The word "that" (derived from the Sanskrit word tat) signifies the interconnectedness and oneness of everything in the universe. "According to Buddhist philosophy, all this universe is that...which means ten thousand functions or ten thousand things, one suchness."

Question 4: What is the difference between a living Buddha and a stone Buddha in Zen? A living Buddha is able to fully experience the pains, difficulties, and struggles of human existence, while a stone Buddha remains unaffected. "If you go out to a stone Buddha and you hit him hard on the head, nothing happens...if you hit a living Buddha, he may say ouch and he may feel uh pain because if he didn't feel something uh, he wouldn't be a human being."

Quiz 1

    Question 1: What is Zen?

  • a. A doctrine
  • b. A philosophy
  • c. A way of life
  • d. A set of ideas
  • Correct answer: c. A way of life

Quiz 2

    Question 1: What is the essence of Zen?

  • a. A set of ideas
  • b. A doctrine
  • c. A way of life
  • d. A philosophy
  • Correct answer: c. A way of life

Quiz 3

    Question 1: What is the nature of the universe according to Zen?

  • a. Solid and unchanging
  • b. Eternal and unalterable
  • c. Fluid and transient
  • d. Static and immutable
  • Correct answer: c. Fluid and transient
  1. Tip: Embrace the concept of impermanence and change. Explanation: Just like water, life is fluid and constantly changing. By accepting this truth, we can let go of attachment to fixed outcomes and find greater peace and adaptability in everyday life.

  2. Tip: Let go of rigid beliefs and ideologies. Explanation: Zen is not a doctrine or a philosophy to be believed in. By freeing ourselves from the need to hold on to fixed ideas, we can approach life with greater openness, curiosity, and flexibility.

  3. Tip: Cultivate mindfulness and presence. Explanation: To fully experience the present moment, it is important to practice mindfulness and be fully engaged in whatever we are doing. By being present, we can let go of worries about the past or future and find joy and fulfillment in the present moment.

  4. Tip: Embrace the interconnectedness of all things. Explanation: Recognize that we are all part of the same energy or essence. By understanding our interconnectedness, we can cultivate compassion, empathy, and a sense of unity with others and the world around us.

  5. Tip: Embrace the highs and lows of life. Explanation: Just as waves have crests and troughs, life has its ups and downs. By accepting and embracing the inevitable ebbs and flows, we can develop resilience, adaptability, and a deeper appreciation for the richness of life's experiences.

  6. Tip: Let go of the need for control. Explanation: Trying to control every aspect of life can create stress and frustration. By surrendering the need for control and learning to go with the flow, we can find greater peace, harmony, and ease in our daily lives.

  7. Tip: Embrace your humanness. Explanation: Zen teaches us to fully embrace our humanity, with all its flaws and imperfections. By accepting ourselves as we are, we can cultivate self-compassion, self-acceptance, and authenticity in our relationships and daily interactions.

The best tip to include in daily life would depend on individual preferences and circumstances. However, cultivating mindfulness and presence (tip 3) can have a transformative impact on daily life. By bringing mindful awareness to our actions, thoughts, and emotions, we can find greater clarity, reduce stress, and deepen our connection with ourselves and others.