“We climb a mountain toward the moon. It is an illusion to think that we shall reach it. The mountain doesn’t end. But the moon is with us every step of the way.”-D. T. Suzuki
Zen. We often hear this word, but do we understand it? Zen, which originated in China, has been adapted for Japanese culture and evolved into a culture garnering international attention. Having immersed himself in the ideologies of Zen from a young age, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, would religiously read Shunryu Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.” Zen also played a major role in influencing famous artists such as the anti-capitalist beatnik poet and musician John Cage, and the architect Buckminster Fuller. Concepts such as Meditation and Zen, which have also gained popularity, are both aspects of Zen. However, if you were trying to define Zen in one word, few would be able to grasp the entire concept.
Zen is originally a Sanskrit word meaning mental concentration. Zen was intended to be practiced in any situation, even while walking or standing, but in Asia, the most commonly practiced form of Zen is Zazen, or sitting meditation. The teachings of Zen state that spiritual enlightenment can only be attained by means of communion of mind with mind. Rather than being caught up in the teachings and words of others, instead one turns their focus to living in the present moment. In other words, rather than asking for the teachings externally, you turn inwards and confront yourself, and this is how one reaches enlightenment. These teachings are meant to lead us to the awareness of Buddha nature which exists within all living things.
Sitting in an upright posture, you seek nothing and want for nothing.
You draw your attention to the breath and are able to reaffirm your existence in the current space.
Sitting restfully in a space, you feel a breeze across your body, hear the sound of birds chirping in the distance, or focus on the simple motion of swallowing as you sit there. While sitting in this space, you may feel an immense and overwhelming feeling of gratitude to those around you. You may feel the boundaries of inside and outside disappear before you, as though you have become one with the whole of the world.
The practice of Zen leads people to all kinds of realizations. All of these can be seen as teachings, and realizations that are found within oneself. There is no set definition or rule; it is the action of doing that is most important.
How can we bring the teachings of Zen into people’s daily lives? How can Zen teachings apply to the modern businessman? With these thoughts in mind, we have collaborated with Buddhist High Priest Toryo Ito of Ryosoku-In Temple in Kyoto, Japan to bring the Zazen practice to life through the InTrip app. We have also prepared our Sound Meditations, collaborative compositions with artists around the globe, to help guide you on this journey inside yourself.
Whether at work, at home, or on the move, these Sound Meditations can be adapted to any scenario, allowing you to relax and focus wherever you are.
What is Zen?
InTrip guides you on this journey inside yourself, to the answers only you can find.
Ryosoku-In Temple Buddhist High Priest
One of 14 sub-temples of the famous Kennin-ji Temple, the head temple of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, Ryosoku-in Temple was founded in 1358 by Tokuken Ryūzan. Over time, the high priests of this temple have been pioneers of the arts and culture. Ryosoku-In Temple has fostered connections with artists from every generations and has been prominently featured in the works of first-class writers such as Ito Jakuchu and Tohaku Hasegawa. On top of their preservation efforts of cultural heritage sites, they have continued to produce collaborative artworks with modern artists based in Japan and overseas. The grounds are usually closed to outside visitors; however, visitors are granted special access to the temple for the Zazen meditation sessions.
ON THE TRIP
ON THE TRIP is an audio guide app that allows you to enjoy the stories behind Japanese temples, shrines, cultural heritage sites, museums, and more. Each guide, which feels as though it could be a movie or a novel, has been created to enrich your travel experience while deepening your connection to your destination. We travel around Japan working out of a van and immersing ourselves in each of our destinations while creating our guides. Our Van Office has also been exhibited as an artwork in the Echigo Tsumari Art Festival in 2018. Amidst the chaotic changes due to COVID-19, we have decided to release InTrip, a Zen meditation app allowing its users to dive further into the mind.