How is meditation seen in religion?

Finding God through Zen meditation?


Michael SeidelMediative methods from other religions can help to get closer to God

Buddhist Zen mediation in a Protestant church: how does it fit together? Sven Kosnick is a Protestant pastor and Zen teacher and gave an introduction to mediation practice from the Far East in the youth culture church sankt peter in Frankfurt.

04.03.2016red article: Download PDFPrintShareFeedback

Author: Multimedia Redaktion

Category: News, Buddhism, Faith, Mysticism, God, Religion

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Buddhism is a religion that does without belief in God, while Christianity assumes its existence. An irreconcilable contradiction? Pastor Sven Kosnick builds a bridge between the two religions, because he has experienced that through Buddhist Zen meditation he finds closer to God. He integrates his experience into his life as a Protestant pastor and gives Zen mediation courses at various locations. He gave an introduction to the youth culture church Sankt Peter in Frankfurt in mid-February 2016.

Pay attention to your breath

In the youth culture church, Kosnick and the participants sat cross-legged or on their knees on the floor - supported by a small cushion or bench. The back is straight, the eyes are closed or open, pointing downwards. But the gaze has focused on one's own interior. “Anyone who starts Zen meditation first turns their attention to breathing and sitting. Nothing more, ”Kosnick teaches his students.

From India via China to Frankfurt

Christians like Kosnik see in Zen meditation a method to use it for their Christian-spiritual path. Zen Buddhism originally emerged in India in the 6th century. From there it migrated via China to Japan, where it spread in the 13th century. In the middle of the 20th century, the German mystic and father Hugo Lassalle (later: Hugo Makibi Enomiya-Lassalle) set out for Japan to learn about Zen Buddhism. Kosnick knows the story: “In Japan, Father Lassalle learned that meditation is very good for him and his faith. He didn't feel irritated and could sense that meditation can help Christians not only to understand their faith intellectually, but also to experience it. ”Lassalle later met the Catholic priest Johannes Kopp, who in turn later became Kosnick's Zen teacher. Today there are over 60 Zen teachers in Germany.

Sport for the soul - get rid of ballast

During Zen meditation it can quickly happen that thoughts run through the mind of the practitioner - the argument with the boss or the next purchase. Pastor Kosnick explains to the participants: “The main task is to let go of your thoughts and bring your attention back.” Only very few people manage to keep an eye on their breath all the time. Later, the focus is no longer just on the breath, but on the whole body.
If you want to relax with Zen meditation, you are on the wrong track: Zen is exhausting, but beneficial - like sport, only for the soul. "Over time, more and more emotional baggage comes up, that can be quite busy," warns Kosnick, "that is why it is important that someone is always there at the beginning." The Zen students should learn that meditation is more than just a concentration exercise. “Zen goes deeper. Those who practice a lot will notice that meditation goes far beyond concentration. "

Enlightenment in Zen and the immediate closeness to God in Christian mysticism

“The goal of Zen is to awaken people to their own spiritual nature,” explains Bradley K. Hawkins in his book “Buddhism”. Zen sees itself as a Buddhist school outside of the orthodox, Buddhist tradition and sees itself independently of the holy scriptures. "Books and conventions are seen as useless ballast, because everything that is necessary for enlightenment is in the practitioner himself," says the book "Religions of the World" by Thomas Schweer and Stefan Braun. Through intensive meditation, thinking about paradoxical questions (koans) and mindfulness, the practitioner can experience lightning-fast enlightenment through an ordinary event - but this often requires years of hard practice.
Kosnick understands Zen meditation as a method to experience Christ, to find enlightenment - so he sees himself in a certain proximity to Christian mysticism. “Some call it nothing, for Christians it is an experience with God”, it was already stated in the event note for the introductory course. The Christian mystics had strived to bring the understanding and thinking to rest in order to be able to perceive a "primordial reason". According to this, the believer experiences God directly in the present, the limitation between him and God is lifted. The goal is to experience the inner meaning of divine revelation. Pastor and meditation teacher Kosnick assumes that German mystics' experiences of Christ can be compared with "Satori" (Japanese for enlightenment). However, there are also spiritual practices based on the tradition of Christian mystics. EKHN pastor Sven-Joachim Haak described them for
Two contemplative ways - opening up to God

Bridge between religions

According to Kosnick, Zen meditation can be seen as an understanding between Zen Buddhism and Christianity. Pastor Oliver Koch, advisor for worldview issues at the Ecumenical Center of the EKHN and EKKW makes it clear: “Christianity and Buddhism are two different religions. However, there is a possibility that methods from one religion will be used in another religion. But it is important to make this transparent. ”Anyone who offers a Zen meditation in a Christian environment should inform the participants about the background and tradition of the method. “The participants should know what they are getting into, practices and contents of different religions should not be mixed up at will,” Koch makes clear. In conclusion, he adds: "We have a relatively wide heart."

Enlightenment through paradoxical puzzles

Tao-hsin said to his students: "What do you know for sure?"
Tao-hsin said to his disciples: “What does a beetle see, what does it feel? And an eagle?
And a speck of dust? "
"The clapping of one hand."

In the school of Zen, paradoxical questions and statements to which there is apparently no answer are so-called kōans, to which one meditates. Most kōans cannot be resolved with the mind; the meaning opens up intuitively and wordlessly. The most famous Kōan is the Kōan Mu (Japanese not (s) / without). It reads:

A monk came to Priest Jōshū and asked him, "Does a dog have Buddha-nature or not?" Jōshū replied, "Mu."

The mu is then meditated over and over again. Full focus is on Priest Jōshū's answer, although his answer doesn't make any sense. This is the character of most of the koans. “Most of the time, after many years of meditation by a kōan, meditators then attain satori, which means: enlightenment,” says Kosnick. At some point everyone can understand a koan intuitively. “Everyone finds an individual answer from a kōan - but each of them has the same character.” If a student has the impression that he has achieved satori (enlightenment), the teacher must check this.
The teacher asks the student four questions - recognizes the correct nature of the answers - and then confirms enlightenment. Kosnick can only try to explain how satori feels: “You are nothing. You are the absolute. They have completely disappeared - only God is left. "

Christian meditation practice

Topic special "Meditation"

Events of the youth culture church St. Peter

[Michael Seidel]