Experiencing Joy and Oneness in Zen

Momoe sees Zen Buddhism as all about joy and togetherness. Joy means feeling happy and content, especially when we focus on the present, whereas feeling connected brings happiness in our lives.

Experiencing a sense of oneness brings us happiness

Nick: I think we need to start with some foundation. And this is how you define Zen, and as you know, many Japanese words become misunderstood or appropriated in the West. I think Zen is maybe understood by some, but misunderstood, I think a lot of people use Zen as an adjective and saying, ‘this house is very Zen’ or something.

It’s probably a bit strange, they relate it to design or architecture or to aesthetic. So how do you define Zen?

Momoe: It's interesting that you mentioned like ‘this house is Zen.’ Yes, I often hear those perspective which I don't have any strong opinion about. But I may have different perspective, a different understanding from those teachings that you find in Zen temples or in Zen books.

I am a big fan of Zen because of two reasons: first is joy and the second is oneness. So joy and oneness is my answer, I define Zen Buddhism as joy and oneness. Joy means ultimate joy without condition, and Zen teaches you to know that you already have enough in your hands if you pay attention to what you have in your hands.

So this fulfillment or this contentment gives you this enoughness and joyful life. I realized, wow, today, being here is heaven. And this sense of joy, I learned from or I learned through Zen Buddhism and oneness. I found this beautiful explanation in the book written by D.T. Suzuki. Have you heard about him?

Nick: I think he introduced Zen to America?

Momoe: Yes. In 50s, he explained about oneness by using this metaphor, by using this explanation in Japanese: nature and self uses the same letter, and that letter shows the same meaning. In Japanese, myself is already a part of nature in the language. So jibun, shizen.

That sense of oneness, because we feel pain by experiencing separation, divided. We feel happiness by experiencing a sense of oneness. So if you bring back this connection with the nature or a part of nature, that you are part of nature, you're part of the cycle, then this sense of oneness will bring you ultimate blissfulness in your life. That's what I have learned from Zen Buddhism.