Zen is the final flowering of all religious ascension || Acharya Prashant (2016)


Listener: Spiritual way tends to be more direct and I feel Zen-Buddhism actually misleads from the direct path.

Acharya Prashant: Zen never imposes any rule. Or does it? Is that your question that Zen imposes rule?

L: Yes

AP: What kind of rules?

L: Rules of the way of living, thinking.

AP: Zen is the simplest, purest and most direct way of living. Almost living like a plant, living like winds, and stones and animals. So, that could be said about many other traditional practices but not at all about Zen.

If you go to a Zen practitioner and ask, “What rules do you follow?” He will have very few rules to tell you. May be he will say, “When I sit down for meditation, I face the wall” or if he has picked up a few practices from here and there, he will talk about them, but nothing very elaborate.

From where did you pick this idea, that Zen involves a bundle of rules? Have you met practitioners?

L: No, I just went through one of the books and perceived that living by Zen means living in a special way.

AP: No, no. In fact, the way of Zen is called the non-way; which means that we are already accustomed to living in certain ways and Zen means that we realize—’why certain ways attract us?’ First of all, we see, that what we call as a natural way of life is, in fact, a cultivated way.

Usually, what we call as our natural self is not at all natural, it is borrowed, conditioned, and artificial. Zen is about seeing that. And once you have seen that, then very honestly you admit it and move on—That’s Zen. You see that you have been carrying a baggage, a load; you bow down to the fact, you acknowledge it, and without trying for correction, you move on—That’s Zen.

L: Okay. But what is the way to come to that point?

AP: Honest observation; which is in any case happening. Observation is in any case happening. So, then all the boils down to the word-honesty. Zen is all about an inner honesty. Certain disciplines are there but they are not very elaborate disciplines. In fact, they are also quite practical. Certain teachers build one particular method and promote it, others, raise some other methods and advocate them. But, the essence of Zen is far beyond methods.

In fact, Zen is the final flowering of all religious ascension. Religion and spirituality keep rising and rising. And its final flowering is the silence of Zen. Zen is what the Upanishads came at, the Buddha hinted at. From all of that, what you finally get is Zen. If by any chance you come across a form of Zen that is very ritual-oriented or practice-centric, then you can reject that as not being Zen. Then, you can simply say that practitioner does not know Zen and is misinterpreting.

Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Zen: Zen is the final flowering of all religious ascension

Watch the session video: Seeing all change, I stay as I am || Acharya Prashant, on Ashtavakra Gita (2019)

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Editor’s Note: 

Books by Acharya Prashant are available on AMAZON:



    1. There are various opportunities to connect to and meet Acharya Prashant. These are:

      1. Meet the Master:

      Meet the Master program is rare opportunity to meet Acharya Prashant personally, either physically or online. To meet the Master, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917.

      2. Advait Learning Camps:

      Advait Learning Camps are monthly retreats organized under Acharya Prashant’s guidance. These camps are about spending four days and three nights in the lap of nature, while reading, reflecting, learning and evolving. So far, scores of ALCs have been organised in places like Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, KainchiDham, etc.
      Additionally, we organize dedicated bonding camps for kids and parents. To participate in the camp, write an e-mail to requests@prashantadvait.com, or call: Sh. Anshu Sharma at +91-8376055661.

      3. Course in Realization:

      Course in Realization, a classroom-based learning program led by Acharya Prashant, is an initiative towards disseminating clarity and intelligence in the world. In this course, a rigorous study of a scripture or a saint is undertaken each month.
      To join in, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Sh. Apaar: +91-9818591240

      4. Month of Awakening:

      For those who cannot attend sessions physically, the foundation does online streaming of few selected sessions via Skype or Webinar. Known as Month of Awakening, this facility offers live streaming of sessions and helps seekers listen to Acharya-Ji while being where they are.
      To receive the blessing, send your application to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917

      5. Blessings from Beyond:

      Weekends with Acharya Prashant brings you the unique opportunity for a 2 day 2 night stay with the Master every month at Advait Ashram, Greater Noida. The getaway involves two mystical days of dynamic activities, explorations of the self, sports, meditative reading, deep reflections, midnight walks and more.
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