How to Convert to Zen Buddhism

by Natalie Chardonnet

Buddhism was founded by nobleman Siddhartha Gautama over two thousand years ago. Gautama, interested in the world and the study of human nature, left his comfortable life of pleasure and went on a quest for knowledge. Buddhists believe that while meditating, Gautama became enlightened, which made him the Buddha. Zen Buddhism developed as a blend of Buddhism and Taoism in China. The word "Zen" emphasizes the importance of meditation and self-study. The process of converting to Zen Buddhism differs from converting to other religions; there is no formal conversion process, but rather an adoption of the Zen Buddhist ideals, practices and lifestyle.

Learn the history of Buddhism and Zen Buddhism so you are familiar with the religion. Zen originated in China and blended with the philosophies of Buddhism when an Indian monk visited China in the sixth century.

Adopt the philosophies of Zen Buddhists. This may be difficult and take time because the philosophy of Zen greatly differs from Western concepts. Disregard your notions of a singular god because Zen Buddhists do not believe in one deity. Rather, they believe in the notion of reality, which is all-encompassing and affects everything in the world. Zen Buddhists are aware that they are an extension of reality in the universe.

Meditate to learn about the world and become aware of your existence. Meditation is the key religious practice for Zen Buddhists and allows individuals to reflect upon the nature of the universe while attempting to become enlightened. Meditate alone, without distractions, so that you can focus upon reflection, self-study and learning about the nature of the world.

Tip

  • Becoming a member of the local Zen Buddhist community may enhance your conversion process. Research Zen Buddhist community centers in your area to see whether you would like to participate in their programs .

Resources

  • The Way of Zen; by Alan Watts; 1957

About the Author

Natalie Chardonnet began writing in 2006, specializing in art, history, museums and travel. In 2010, she presented a paper on those subjects at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Chardonnet has a Bachelor of Arts in art history and a minor in Italian studies from Truman State University, in addition to a certificate in French from Ifalpes University in Chambery, France.

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