Self Power & Other Power

In most Zen traditions a great emphasis is placed on the individual practitioner and they’re own inherent strength, determination and perseverance to achieve enlightenment. A type of “self power” is used in all endeavours.
But there are some types of Zen that employ “other power” as well to help them achieve liberation (kensho/satori) for example the Obaku Zen tradition.
In the Obaku Zen tradition and the Pure Land school, practioners rely upon the compassionate power of Amida Buddha who was said to have lived a long time ago. They chant Amida Buddha’s name and ask for his blessings to be born in his Pure Land that is ripe with an environment free from hindrances and is the ideal place for cultivation.
Now other power doesn’t necessarily mean “other worldly” power. In our practice we rely on other power more than we think.

  • The power of the Dharma
  • The power of the teacher.
  • The power of the Sangha.

And as we go deeper into our practice every person, every situation and every moment becomes our teacher. Showing us the state of our mind, the shortcomings in our practice and providing us with a chance to unfold our latent potential (Buddha Nature).
Zen has an amazing way of helping one realize that we can develop realization of truth in all the activities of everyday life.
And as we cultivate ourselves, grow and let our Buddha Nature be revealed or unfold then we need not travel to a distant pure land because the ground beneath our feet and wherever we are becomes transformed into a Pure Land.

By Ian Marshall

Ian Paul Marshall has been initiated by the Dalai Lama, is trained in Zen as transmitted through the teachings of the Venerable Dr. Thich Thien-An and Seung Sahn Dae Jong Sa and is the founder of based out of Toronto, Canada.