ZEN UNZIPPED

A listen and read article


An In-Depth look at this subject from a Christian viewpoint


The Origins of Zen

Most Oriental societies are based on the premise that people will be more likely to behave themselves if they have a heightened sensitivity to 'Honour and Shame'. These principles are embedded in eastern religions and philosophies, and have become an integral part of their people's consciences.

Paradoxically, these same religions and philosophies have also produced a whole range of spiritual, intellectual and physical techniques to relieve people of the negative effects of feeling shame! For this very purpose Yoga, Meditation, Mantras, Mindfulness, Hypnosis, and Trance have evolved and from these many basic psychological and mind altering techniques have since developed. They are all expressly designed to make people feel better about themselves.

In the Buddhist tradition the ultimate stress-less 'state of being' is called Zen, which through the New Age movement has now become a popular western term for a cool, laid back, un-hassled mind-set.The escapism of Zen is only illusory and does not deal with reality.

These Eastern religions and philosophies do not acknowledge the existence either of sin or of a Holy God. In this, we see the vast difference between their beliefs and Christianity. The honour and shame culture is concerned with how you feel about yourself.There are therefore no absolutes about what is good or evil. They may believe in a conscience, but that in itself does not necessarily imply that there is a clearly defined or universal morality. They assume we can calibrate our own consciences by what pleases or displeases us. This can only be destructive to society in the end. Since truth, honesty and reality have no place in the foundations of this alternative spirituality you cannot actually trust anything it says.


Practices

The practice of using mantras to gain strength from within is one such deceit. Those who go deeply into these occult religions will know that the whole purpose of a mantra is to empty your body, mind and spirit of your own strengths and all the things that are most dear to you. You are not drawing on your inner strength at all. By focussing on the mantra alone, you become detached from reality and create a vacuum within, which supposedly enables you to be at one with the universe. However as we all know that 'nature abhors a vacuum', this emptiness is all too easily filled by dark spiritual forces, which adepts call their spirit guides, these can indeed give power, but they do in fact aim to take control of the lives of individuals and many people become addicted to the techniques they are practicing..

We're talking about spirituality here. Alwaysremember that there are two spiritual Worlds and they are at war with each other and both are trying to win the hearts and minds of mankind.

Zen appears to offer spiritual benefits without any commitment or change of heart or lifestyle but it does not teach about the cost or side effects.

BUT

Christianity insists on honesty and commitment and is open and clear about what it costs. We are free to choose which one we put our trust in, but we cannot have Zen and Christianity.

The Christian way to seek peace or strength is through the Bible and prayer that focusses on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and has to do with truth. We are encouraged to confess our weakness, our sin, our fear and inability to meet the demands of the challenges ahead of us and we openly pray for God's help. As we are honest with God this process shows God's honesty with us, he is a God of absolute truth, he alone can give us real peace. Only Christianity offers eternal security. Christianity is concerned with how we measured up to God’s standards rather than our own ideas of morality.


About SIN and Illusions

In essence, these eastern ideas are all very Humanistic. Society is now riddled with Humanism and many of the darkest and most destructive philosophers were Humanists, amongst these were Frederich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and Jean Paul Sartre, who all actively attacked Christianity and the concept of morality. Many of these philosophers say that there is no future, no hope, and existence itself is only an illusion. You can see why the Honour and Shame culture is so readily accepted by our modern mindset, because it is controlled by how we feel, rather than God’s laws.

Not only does Christianity have basic principals of honesty, faithfulness and love for others, but it was built on an ethical standard - the ten commandments.God makes the standards not us and we as humans all fall short of these God made laws. Unlike Zen based religions this is the sort of religion you can really trust.

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The Bible is not a negative or oppressive book, it offers true hope, peace and comfort. It contains the message of love, salvation and forgiveness and gives a clear conscience through belief in Jesus' death on the cross, a glorious exchange for our repentance and the acknowledgment of our sinfulness.


Denial in and out of the Church

The fact is that some Churches worldwide are now playing with these non-Christian ideas. The true Biblical belief in SIN and forgiveness is being watered down by modern thinkers. I know Pastors who now preach a gospel that replaces the word SIN with the word SHAME. Jesus death deals with our SHAME they say. In other words Jesus came and died to make us feel better about ourselves and apparently without any commitment to truth and honesty. This heretical belief opens the door to all the occult practices which aid a false feeling of well-being or ZEN.


More Philosophy

However, as the ultimate aim of the practice of Zen is to realise the unimportance of everything and the importance of 'nothing', it is easier to understand why Churches that encourage the practice of Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness, psychological therapies and trances etc find themselves moving further and further away from a Gospel that preaches the power of the cross to save us from SIN. Zen says, sin doesn't really matter, after all, nothing really matters. As a result, Churches that practice Zen based techniques offer a false sense of security because they don't deal with the thorny issue of sin, rather they offer a detour around it.

There are many important reasons why these eastern practices have no place in the Church. The main reason is the person of the Holy Spirit.


God’s View

Listen to Jesus own words about the purpose of the Holy Spirit:

John 16 v 7-13

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The use of Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness, pop-psychology and induced trances undermines the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal SIN because it makes people feel good about themselves, instead of acknowledging their guilt and changing the direction of their lives. In fact some churches are effectively 'ministering' to people to remove the uncomfortable conviction of the Holy Spirit, rather than teaching repentance from sin and true salvation as a gift, through belief in Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross for us.

The Holy Spirit declares truth, but the thinking behind the Eastern philosophies denies that truth exists! By implication, the Holy Spirit doesn't exist either because he is the Spirit of Truth, which in turn casts doubt in the existence of the Trinity itself.


Our work

It's important not to be downcast or discouraged by what is going on around us today. We need to remain positive and motivated, after all, these deceivers and their deceptions will be fully revealed and judged when Jesus comes again. It is also important to remember that as Christians there are certain things we can do.

We must be watchful and protective with regard to our own lives and our belief in Scripture. Let's make sure that we do not accept a 'sin-less' Gospel.


Finally we must use prayer more often as a weapon to defeat our enemy.


Zen is the spiritual equivalent of marijuana, it offers what many think is a harmless, enjoyable and helpful method of obtaining the feeling of well-being. It's powerful and effective for sure, but it lays people open to taking the next tiny step of trying something a little bit stronger, and it's addictive too and is far from being safe.


When our SINS are truly forgiven, our SHAME is also dealt with. But SHAME is only a symptom of an underlying disease, the real disease is SIN, from which Jesus Christ alone can save us, and as he does so, we can finally receive HIS peace :

John 14:27 Jesus said:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubledand do not be afraid.”


MartinEdwyn





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Martin Edwyn 2015/2018