Henry David Thoreau's Walden


If I were asked who my favourite Western Zen philosopher was,
without any hesitation, I would declare it to be Henry David Thoreau.
Although he knew in translation the religious writings of the Hindus, it
may be unlikely that Henry David Thoreau ever studied the teachings of the
Zen Masters. Even then, the insight within his own personal writings would
irrefutably make him master of his own temple. The wisdom found within
Thoreau's Walden can be clarified through Zen Buddhist beliefs and ideas as
the two seem to typically compliment each other.
Where, you might ask, does religion fit into the travelling
adventures of Henry David Thoreau? Religion has been a part of the
literary ...

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I would say, "I couldn't see it being any other way."
What is Zen Buddhism anyway? In the book Zen Buddhism, D.T. Suzuki
says that "Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one's
own being, and it points the way from bondage into freedom" (3). In the
theory of Zen, our bodies contain a spiritual form of energy. When this
energy is consciously tapped, we will be aware of all the underlying
impulses and desires of our heart. This "freedom" will cause us to
experience Kensho, (seeing into one's own nature), thus becoming happier
and more loving to those around us. To reach the Buddhist goal of becoming
one with everything, a person has to embrace "nothing". What is meant in
the embracing of "nothing" is that one must abandon his or her own ego and
explore beyond the limits of social conformity. The problem that lies in
the way of reaching this "energy" is that most people have suppressed it
due to personal and society driven ignorance. When ...

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autumn, ay, and winter days, spent outside the town, trying to
hear what was in the wind" (736). This is, to me, reminiscent of the Zen
koan "What is the colour of wind?"
Throughout the pages of Walden, Thoreau seems to praise the
simplicity of the animal world that is lacking in humankind. Commenting on
survival, Thoreau states that, "None of the brute creation requires more
than Food and Shelter . . . for not til we have secured these are we
prepared to entertain the true problems of life with freedom and a prospect
of success" (733-734). This simplicity of survival has been a constant
part of Zen life. Master Rinzai, founder of the Rinzai Sect of Zen,
remarked, "When ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 3/7/2008 12:12:35 PM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1895
Pages: 7

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