Zange: Realeasing The Ego

Have you considered the troubles you may have caused others?

In this video, Sachiaki Takamiya introduces the concept of Zange, which involves letting go of the ego, and emphasizes the significance of reflecting on our negative actions and thoughts, as well as taking responsibility for them.

Reflecting on your negative thoughts and actions

Nick: Let's go a bit deeper and take things to a new level with another word I learned from your book, Zange. So what's zange?

Sachiaki: So zange simply means apologizing or repenting. You basically apologize about your negative actions or negative thoughts, and so on. So this is a practice done among shugendo practitioners. I think we did talk about shugendo in the last episode, right? This kind of spiritual practice in the mountains.

There are many practices that shugendo practitioners do, but Zange is considered to be the most important one. Yamabushi is the shugendo practitioner. So when yamabushi join the shugendo, they have to pass a test. And then first thing they have to do is Zange.

Because if you have an ego, then you cannot really do many other spiritual practices. So they need to release your ego to join the shugendo practice. By repenting, then you can release your ego.

Nick: This reminds me of Naikan, which I think most of my audience would be familiar with. This method of self-reflection. And it has this three question structure. I guess you can do two ways. There's intense Naikan where you go to a Naikan center and have a practitioner.

And you basically spend most of your time in silence reflecting on these three questions, and then offer answers to someone who's guiding you. But you can do it also like a journaling exercise. What have I received from others? What have I given? And then interestingly, this, what troubles or difficulties have I caused others?

And that's very typical, I think of Japanese culture to understand, ‘Yeah, I may have caused trouble, I probably inconvenienced someone.’ Where in the West, we often are quite defensive and say like ‘Me? I haven't caused anyone trouble.’

Sachiaki: I know of Naikan. But I have never done it before. So I didn't know about it in detail. So yeah, they have those three questions. That's interesting.