What Zen Buddhism Has To Say About Death and the After life

Since the time humans evolved to have a thought, we have been searching for the truth about life and death. Many thousands of years ago, our ancestors sat around the campfire and discussed the same questions we discuss today. Who am I? Why am I here? Is there life after death? Are we alone in the Universe?
Many religions and gurus claim to be able to answer these questions. What is the perspective of Zen Buddhism on the question of what happens after death?
Zen as a framework of thinking is cautious in claiming to have any insight about God, the afterlife, reincarnation and spiritualism. They would say that it’s a disease to hold the belief that man possesses the truth.
Zen is very pragmatic and down to earth. It is essentially a practice or experience, not a theory or dogma. There is no philosophy or faith that followers of Zen must adhere to. It’s very different to Christianity or Islam.
The answers to the questions of what happens after death and where life comes from are not important to Zen. What matters more is the here and now, not the afterlife.
The important perspective to embrace from Zen Buddhism is that no-one is able to tell us what happens after death because the question is impossible to answer. Life is a dream, a grand illusion through which we perceive reality through the filter of our personality, experiences and ego.
There is a certain humility to Zen thought on the afterlife. We can’t answer this question without falling into the trap of illusion. As Master Taisen Deshimaru said, “It is impossible to give a definite answer to those questions, unless you suffer from a major mental disorder.”
This doesn’t meant that Zen thinking is closed to the idea of metaphysical phenomena. Rather, it’s better to remain silent about them and simply live in the moment.
As a Zen Master once said: “Faith is like painting the walls of your room with mud, then trying to convince yourself that it is beautiful, and it smells good.”
The strength of our faith and conviction has nothing to do with whether something is true or not. A true religion demonstrates how to think critically, ask good questions and experience life, rather than provide the answers.
source: thepowerofideas

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