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. This has long been recognised as a part of the culture in Japan, for example, which is a small but densely populated country where there simply isn't the space for everyone to 'do their own thing’. The Shinto and Buddhist beliefs and traditions continue to underpin Japan's modern-day culture.

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 evolved and from these, many basic psychological and mind altering techniques have since developed. They are all derived from Eastern religions, expressly designed to make people feel better about themselves.

In the Buddhist tradition the ultimate stress-less 'state of being' is call Zen, which through the New Age movement has now become a popular western term for a cool, laid back, un-hassled mind-set.The effects of Zen are illusory and do 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 and how you cope with what others feel about you. 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 a clearly defined or universal morality. They assume we can create 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, and to which you are attached. 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 fallen spiritual forces, which adepts call their spirit guides, these can indeed give power, but they do in fact aim to take control of the individual and many people become addicted to the techniques they are practicing..

We're talking about spirituality here. 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 and it does not teach about the cost or side effects.


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 both.

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. This is why when we achieve more than we expected in any situation we can thank and praise God for his help. Christianity has no hidden small print, as we are honest with God this process shows God's honesty with us, he is a God of absolute truth. Christianity offers eternal security.


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 laws .

Christianity also contains a big three letter word: SIN. This is a huge stumbling block for many, as it reveals a problem we can't simply gloss over. It's like a broken sewer pipe leaking under the floorboards.We ignore it at our peril. 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. Even more importantly, sin is not how we feel about ourselves, but how our Holy God feels about us! The message of the Bible is that ofnecessitythere is a moral law and it has absolute and enduring standards and that without exception, we as humans fall short of these God made laws. This is the sort of religion you can 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 salvation and forgiveness and 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 Eastern religions deny the existence of sinfulness as defined by God's laws, and replace sin with the very vague notion of a personally calibrated feeling of shame. This replacement, in fact, also denies the existence of Truth as an absolute and eventually will lead to disaster and a lost eternity.

It is important to understand that this current and very popular challenge to Christianity by Eastern religions is motivated by Spiritual forces intent on undermining our basic Biblical Christian beliefs.

The fact is that some Churches worldwide are now playing with these non-Christian ideas. They describe themselves as Post Modernists 'plus'. 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 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 other 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.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

One purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reveal and convict of sin. His conviction produces a very uncomfortable feeling of guilt (and shame). This discomfort (a still, small, inner voice) is the result of our Triune God being Holy. God sees our problem as SIN because it comes between us and Him. If we aren't aware of un-repented sin when we come to worship our God, we need to ask ourselves; 'is this really God we are worshipping?' Has the Holy God of the Bible been subtly replaced by other spiritual forces ? Does the sin in our lives block us from hearing from God, just as King Saul's sin cast him out of all communion with the Lord ?


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.

If we are to see people truly brought into relationship with God and finding eternal peace, we need to hold on to the truth of the Bible to define what sin is, and the strength of the Gospel of Salvation to free us from it's power. Our destiny is at stake here.


Our work

It's important not to be downcast or discouraged by what is going on around us. 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.

Firstly, in taking the current situation seriously, we can better understand the world out there when we realise where the opposition is coming from. We are also better equipped to present people with the truth and make it understandable to a humanistic culture.

Secondly, we need to be aware of these deceptions and be vigilant within our own churches because the subtle infiltration of these occult ideas is fooling many Christians and many Church leaders. The bait is enticing: we are being offered a gospel and a God that doesn't make people feel uncomfortable and this is filling some churches.

Thirdly, 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. We need to be aware that when we hear the repeated use of the word SHAME replacing the word SIN, the preacher is actually a heretic.


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

Ephesians 6:13-18

Therefore put on the full armour of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Take the helmet of salvationand the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spiriton all occasionswith all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on prayingfor all the Lord’s people.


These alternative religions, and that's what they are even though they deny it, do not offer us anything that can't be found in a true and loving relationship with the God of the Bible.


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





Martin Edwyn 2015/2016