What in the World is Zen? Shelter Your Heart in the Halls of Kennin-ji
You often hear about Zen, but what is it actually? Originally, Zen originated in China but prospered in Japan and has gained recognition as a spiritual practice around the world. From iconic figures like the mastermind behind the iPhone, Steve Jobs (who has practiced zen since his youth); to the anti-capitalist Beatnik poets; musician John Cage; or the architect Richard Buckminster; many (influential) people have been touched by Zen. Even the recent trends of “mindfulness” and “meditation” are subsets of Zen culture. But even if people are aware of the concept of Zen, not many of them know the whole picture.
The roots of Japanese Zen are founded in the 800-year-old Kennin-ji temple. Kennin-ji is said to be Kyoto’s first Zen temple, and the essence of Zen culture can be found all over the temple grounds.
Through this guide, we will not only touch upon the founding of Kennin-ji and its founder Zen master Yōsai, but also explain the spirit of Zen, the highlights of the temple, and the teachings of Zen Buddhism itself. So what exactly is Zen? Maybe you will find the answer for yourself.