The origins of Zen are shrouded in the mists of time but it would be safe to say that the practice of one-pointed concentration and absorption are deeply rooted in ancient yogic practices. The first human in recorded history who used zazen to come to enlightenment is Siddhartha Gautama. Born in the noble warrior class of the Shakya people of the Terai region of what is now Nepal, young Siddharta was beset with the problems of old age, sickness, suffering and death.  At the age of 29, he left his wife, son and princely life to become a wandering ascetic in order to resolve his existential angst.  With his health almost wasted away by six years of severe asceticism, he turned to a more moderate way to find the answer to his quest.  He decided to meditate under a Bodhi tree and not to get up until he had realized the answer to his supreme koan.  At dawn, catching a glance of Venus twinkling in the early morning sky triggered Siddhartha’s great enlightenment.  He was one with the morning star!  He was one with the entire universe!  He saw that everything is imbued with this wondrous and ineffable nature but human beings did not realize this because of their delusive views about themselves and others.  This was the cause of their suffering. He also saw the means to free one’s self from the endless round of miserable existence.  From this point on, Siddhartha Gautama was referred to as Shakyamuni Buddha – the Awakened One, the World Honored One, the Sage of the Shakya Clan, the Tathagatha.

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