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Philosophy of Zen’ Thoughts Essay

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Updated: Mar 19th, 2020

Many westerners discuss the principles of Zen as the answers to the variety of daily questions because Zen aims to break the eternal conflict associated with the duality of phenomena and processes.

According to the ideas of Alan Watts presented in his book “This Is It”, Zen provides the westerners with a lot of paths to justify their daily feelings, thoughts, and actions because the westerners discuss these religious and philosophical views as rather flexible to explain their ordinary activities and experiences (Watts, 2011, p. 108). Christianity and other Western religions provide people with a range of dogmas and canons to follow them strictly.

Different Asian philosophies and religions provide people with a variety of moral principles and values to understand and accept. On the contrary, Zen does not provide principles, but it aims to explain the current phenomena and relations between the nature and individuals.

Furthermore, Zen accentuates the role of individual in the world and provides definite excuses appropriate for the life here and now, without focusing on the spiritual growth for the further better life and experience, as it is stated in other Western and Asian religions (Watts, 2011, p. 109).

That is why, Zen is attractive to westerners because its ideas do not make people feel the pressure of choosing between intelligence and instincts, science and nature, individualism and the focus on the good for other people; thus, westerners receive a kind of a recipe of how to live happily and follow the natural and spiritual balance now, in this world and in this life.

Zen can be used to solve the problem of Dualism in the daily life because it demonstrates the ways how to avoid and resolve the ordinary conflicts based on the duality of ideas and meanings. According to Watts, Dualism is the necessity to choose between the ruling principles in the life such as the scientific knowledge and natural laws, intelligence and instincts, evil and good, individualism and humanity.

Dualism is the origin of the constant conflict in the people’s life which can be resolved with the focus on Zen. However, Dualism is the important aspect of the people’s life, and it cannot be avoided, but it can be understood from the philosophical perspective as the source of the balance in the world (Watts, 2011, p. 48-49). From this point, Dualism manifests itself in everyone’s life, but it can be unnoticed.

In my life, I focus on Dualism while discussing the negative processes, situations, and phenomena and while thinking about their opposite positive sides and meanings. Furthermore, I refer to Dualism while thinking about the nature of the people’s actions and words. The choice between the evil and good is easy, but to make the right choice while focusing on the nuanced situations and phenomena is the challenging task.

For instance, it can be difficult for me to accept the necessity of the unpleasant choice even while knowing about its opposite positive side and expected positive outcomes. The most difficult choices are associated with the necessity to focus on my intelligence and rationality or on my spirituality and instincts.

Dualism can be discovered in relation to many daily situations, and Zen can help people decrease the pressure of making many choices while demonstrating the relationship of the opposite sides and natures.

Zen is attractive for westerners because its ideas can be followed with the focus on different types of Zen and various statements. Thus, beat Zen is the most flexible variant of the philosophy which provides the followers with the opportunity to be very subjective and individual in their art and daily life. Beat Zen does not provide any rules to emphasize the balance of spirits and senses.

This type of Zen is more attractive for people focused on art and literature because it does not set any limits for their inspiration and flow of thought. As a result, the follower of beat Zen can work and live while concentrating on his or her self-consciousness (Watts, 2011, p. 93).

In contrast to beat Zen, square Zen is based on discipline and rules which should be followed strictly in spite of the fact that Zen itself does not depend on any strict norms.

Square Zen manifests the tradition and discipline which can be followed and understood with references to the complex training. As a result, square Zen can be discussed as associated with the authoritative type of the philosophy and religion which provide a range of definite rules to follow for the adherents (Watts, 2011, p. 95).

Nevertheless, there is also the third type of Zen philosophy which differs from beat Zen and square Zen. This ‘pure’ type of Zen is based on the certain philosophical ground. It is balanced and based on the transcendental experience which is necessary for a person to understand the true nature of things, objects, and phenomena.

Zen is based on training and meditation practices, and it is the demonstration of the real ‘golden middle’ while being compared with beat Zen and square Zen which are connected with two extremes.


Watts, A. W. (2011). This is it: And other essays on Zen and spiritual experience. USA: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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