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09/09/2011 / Kaitlin Zhang

How Does Christianity Relate to Zen Buddhism?

I am a Christian who is trying to live a minimalistic life.  And you may have heard about the concept of “zen”.  You might know it as meditation, a lifestyle, or a religious/philosophical concept.  You might think of green tea, monks or yoga.

You might be wondering what that looks like to be a zen-minded Christian.

I have struggled a lot in the last couple of days about what it means to practice minimalism in my life.  Can it be possible that these two religious cross over?

Religions can’t be all oppositional to each other.  For example, most religions teach about love.

If what a monk says is alligned with scripture, it is the truth. If a buddhist says that we should love our neighbours, then it is the truth.

For me, the relationship between Christianity and Zen Buddhism is minmalism.  Both religions teach us to not waste things, and embrace simplicity.  For example, after feeding the thousands of people, Jesus told the disciples to gather up the left over baskets of bread and fish.  Jesus didn’t waste anything even though He could have just performed another miracle and created more food.  The Bible also teaches Christians to focus our life on God.  And in order to focus on God, we need to simplify our thoughts.

Zen Buddhists in China are interested in the word “Wu”, which means nothing, or emptiness.  I think it refers to a state of being above the material possessions of this world, in order to concentrate on the divine.

I am a Christian. I am in no ways trying to promote another religion. I just simply think that learning something (such as meditation techniques), has helped me grow closer to God.  I am also aware that I should always refer to scripture when things are uncertain.

I wonder if what I am doing is dangerous to my faith… Any thoughts?



Leave a Comment
  1. Noel / Sep 29 2011 5:35 pm

    Absolutely not. It is not dangerous to your faith. I have learned that inviting some aspects of other faiths is not necessarily a bad thing. I also long for Simplicity in my life, and Jesus definitely taught about this (so do Buddhist as your post indicates). “Wu” is also a concept I search, since by being empty from the desires that this society creates, I can then fill myself with the real Life. But this world teaches us the opposite: have more money, have a better job, the latest fashion, the most advanced technology, be popular, have higher self-esteem (as opposed to self-worth), etc. Great post, I might write one on a similar subject. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • K Zhang / Oct 3 2011 5:49 pm

      Thank you so much on your reply. I know the concept of “Wu” as well. And I think the concept of not relying our self-worth on material possessions is biblical. After all, Jesus suggested for the young man to sell all his possessions and follow him.

  2. kanzensakura / Feb 15 2013 6:41 am

    Thank you. I am working towards this myself. To quote Thoreau: Simplify, simplify, simplify.
    I hope you write some more on this.

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