What is Zen?
Zen. Many people in western culture have heard this word before. Some people in Western culture can tell you that it originates from the eastern cultures of India, China and Japan. Some people will tell you they have heard of the famous NBA championship coach Phil Jackson referred to as "The Zen Master".
What exactly is Zen?
This 3 letter word, originates from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word 禪 (Chan) Which traces its roots back to the Indian practice of (meditation) Dhyana.
Zen emphasizes this rigorous practice of (meditation) Zazen. This consists of self-control, stillness, and mindfulness, breathing techniques. When a monk had read Zen Literature and practiced deeply enough, Zen promises insights into "The true nature of the Buddha".
Buddhists call this Kenshō or Satori. It is an initial "enlightenment" or "awakening". This is not to be confused with full Buddhahood. It is to be followed by further training to deepen one insight and learn to express it in daily life.
Here is an example of a Rinzai school's explanation of Kenshō.
"At some point in time we pass from imprisonment in ignorance and delusion to a true vision of Zen realization: "Our enlightenment is timeless, yet our realization of it occurs in time." According to this Zen belief, this moment of awakening in this life is of central importance".
We at the Pandas friend encourage our people to discover their own awakening.
Is technology a double edged sword?
Einstein wrote at length about technology as a double edge sword. Is it inevitable that with the advancement of technology a division of “inequity” is created, or will the advancement of technology prove to be the great equalizer for the oppressed and impoverished?
Humanity once was a small group of a few million simple nomads in tribes, hunting, and gathering. It was the creation of agriculture, discovered 11,000-13,000 years ago, which created our first structure or power. The farmer who owns the land must “employ” workers to harvest crops. This idea gave birth to structure, power and “government”. This creates a disparity between the rich and the poor, powerful and the weak.
Technology also creates progress. Modern medicine has nearly doubled the human life span, eradicating diseases and plagues. Advancements in transportation allow humans to travel continents in a matter of hours. We have the power of instant communication (the internet) which has proven to be an extremely powerful asset for humanity. We have a global language (English), universal currency, and a set "rule of laws" (science) which has been proven to govern the natural world around us. The big question for our species is…
Will mankind embrace our journey to become an evolved, abundant, peaceful society or will we destroy our planet and ourselves? The facts are written on the wall. We have enough food to feed everyone on this planet, we have enough resources and technology to give humanitarian solutions for all people of our world.
Will our power structure and disparity of wealth become too great of a hurdle to pass?
We at the panda's friend believe in using the technology sword in a righteous manner. Using this platform to distribute positive messages with an emphasis on solving some of the humanity's greatest questions.
The Panda is a representation of strength, peace, good luck, and wisdom. Throughout our history this symbolism has remained intact. Panda bears have even been used for international diplomacy.
In 1972 the Chinese government gifted 2 giant pandas to U.S. President Richard Nixon. President Nixon then donated them to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. One million people came to view those pandas that year. During this time China and the U.S. were just beginning to establish diplomatic ties. The gift of these majestic creatures was considered such a success that in 1974 the Prime Minister of England asked for pandas during his trip to China. A few weeks later they were delivered to the London zoo.
Pandas' diets consist of 99% Bamboo leaves stems and shoots, of which they can eat 25-80lbs (12kg-36kg) a day. They will also eat small fish and small rodents. As members of the bear family, pandas are considered carnivores but have adapted to eat almost entirely bamboo. This reliance on one food source leaves them vulnerable to any loss of habitat. Most of the panda habitat is located in eastern and central China, as well as neighboring Myanmar.
After significant habitat loss, China has now established 67 wild panda reservations. This gives safety to about 66% of all pandas in the world and protects about half of their natural habitat.
The Yin-Yang is a symbol represents the interconnectedness of all beings and of contrary forces. It is rooted in the belief that everything is connected and exists inside of duality. The idea of the Yin-Yang symbol is that one factor can’t exist without the other. Fire cannot exist without water; dark cannot exist without light.
This duality originates at the roots of Chinese Science and Philosophy. It is also the central principle of many martial arts such as Qi-Gong, as well as traditional Chinese medicine and famous Chinese books such as the I-Ching the Tao-te-ching.
The Yin-Yang was created around 3rd century B.C. It is one of the oldest symbols known to mankind. Yin is thought to be the feminine: the Transformative water, the north, the moon. The tiger can also represent yin. Yin is said to reach its heights of strength during the winter solstice.
Yang, is believed to be masculine: a creative fire, the south, the mountains, and is at its height of influence during the summer solstice. Yang is said to be embodied by the dragon.
In Chinese mythology Yin and Yang were born during the creation of the universe. They were believed to have existed in harmony in the center of the earth. The ancient Chinese believed because of this harmony, they gave birth to the first human and created the first gods.
Our Yin yang shirt is an homage to this belief of harmony.
The Power of Chakras
Many people have heard of the term Chakra. A Chakra is an energy-center in the body. This belief is rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism. You may have heard of the space in the center of your forehead referred to as the “third eye” - this is often the first energy-center people from western culture discover. Chakras are often visualized as lotus flowers, each with different petals representing each Chakra.
The Chakra theories of Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism differ from the Chinese meridians, which is the practice of acupuncture. People in western cultures often doesn’t understand these energy-centers; we simply don’t possess the vocabulary to communicate this type of practice. What are Chakras? In English we simply say “inner radiant energy.” In ancient Sanskrit, it was called "Prana." What is Prana? Prana translates to “vital life force.” Everyone has the power to access this energy in their bodies with a few concentrated breaths and a curiosity about their own energy.
Throughout time these energy-centers can become activated or deactivated, depending on the amount of connectedness we have with ourselves. Meditation, breathing exercises and yoga are great ways to make sure Prana is running throughout all Chakras. If someone has serious Chakra blockage and needs healing, people often seek Reiki practice to help get the flow of Prana back into the body. Understanding how your Chakras work takes time; the human body is the most complex organism on the planet, so if you are new to this practice, be patient with yourself!
What is The Peace Sign
The peace sign - which was created as a symbol of the British nuclear disarmament movement - is now universally understood to stand for something much greater: Universal Peace. There are many other symbols for peace, as well. The “broken rifle” stands for War Resisters International. The “dove and the olive branch” were used by early Christians to represent peace in the New Testament. The “paper crane” represents peace for people in Japan. The “V-sign” hand symbol stands for peace and victory. These symbols simply aren’t as universally understood as the peace sign.
The peace sign gained popularity and became a cultural symbol during the hippy movement of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, and has now taken on strong cultural significance for people across the globe. The peace sign is a symbol of awakening. Although the peace movement became a global movement, several cities acted as hubs. Many of those hubs were in California, and people moved to California with hopes of creating their own counter culture. They often grew their hair long, lived in hippy communes, were well traveled and experimented with music and other types of artistic expression.
Before this cultural revolution, Americans rarely sought out alternative medicines, alternative religions, and alternative ways of thinking. Americans at this time we very naive and believed everything politicians and television told them to believe. This was the cold war era. The idea of counter culture didn’t exist at this time.
The generations that followed have continued these ideas which the hippy movement planted decades ago. Now alternative thinking about medicine, religions, and spirituality are normal, and concepts about universal peace, love and prosperity are qualities that people worldwide aspire to.