Meditation: Yoga vs. Zen

does anybody have any experience with both zen meditation and yoga meditation? I am curious as to the differences. Im pretty sure Buddhism was influenced by Yoga, right? Didn’t the Gautama Buddha study from Yogis during his soul-searching period? I know zen is a chinese innovation, but im guessing that there are some similarities. I could look for this information online, but how can i really compare descriptions of activites that need to be experienced. Im hoping somebody out there has tried both. I hope this is not too esoteric.

I don’t have an experience with zen, but the little I know, It is to my liking.
For example, one master said, no matter how many years you do zazen, you’ll never become anything special. A good blow to the ego, right from the very beginning. :slight_smile:
My very limited knowledge in this field makes me believe that zen meditation’s goal is the dissolution/suspension of mind in order to achieve a higher consciousness. Wrestling with a koan makes the mind focus on a problem with no solution, until the disciple realizes that the tool (the mind) he/she uses is is not proper, and throws it away.

I had never heard of koans until now. In terms of meditation, i was thinking of just sitting in zazen, with proper posture, and counting the breath while avoiding thinking. That is just what i have learned so far. I know there is other forms, but i have not been introduced to them yet.

How do people meditate in yoga?

[QUOTE=B Redmond;5103]
How do people meditate in yoga?[/QUOTE]

Hello Redmond,

in yoga there are a lot of different techniques, also different from tradition to tradition.

As I’ve mainly done meditations in the tradition of Satyananda, I know more about this ones than from other traditions. They are from the tantric tradition (Swami Satyananda Saraswati: “Meditations from the Tantras”) and are all following a specific technique, but nowhere you try to avoid thinking (directly).

For example in Antar Mouna you direct your awareness in the first step to the physical sourroundings (noise, …), in the second to your spontaneous thoughts, … . Then there is Prana Vidya which can also be used as a healing method (if you are very, very advanced) where you use the ujjayi breath, the pathes of Ida and Pingala, … . In the tantric Kriya Yoga you do 20 different techniques after each other, some just look like “normal” asanas from outside, but its also about directing prana and also using a lot of ujjayi …
All these meditations you should learn from a teacher.

More “simple”, but also very effectiv things are breathawareness and bodyawareness - these are always “good” to start with. Observe your breath for a while, how you are breathing spotaniously, without changing it. After a while you can go to the bodyawareness, were you just bring your awareness to the body, how you sit, how it feels, the stillness of the body … .
These were just a few meditations from this traditions, in other yoga traditions are probaply also a lot of others … .



I have practised both Zen Meditation and Yoga Meditation.
It`s not that easy to say which is the better one, That surley depends on the person and on the teacher.
Still i sticked to the Yoga Meditation cause all this Koans get boaring to me after a while.
When one of the Zen Masters shows up with a Koan, go ask him if this is a question or an answer and find out what will happen than.
But seriously I think for a lot of western people Yoga Meditation is a bit easyer in the beginning cause it gives more points to concentrate on.


Patanjali Yoga Schule M?nster

At the starting of the process of concentrations(dharana) these techniques of Zen or Yoga appear to differ slightly…but moving on to the continuous state of meditation(dhyana) everything transcends…

what about yoga meditation versus Theravada style insight meditation?
I’m interested in that.

Namaste Tyler,

Have been a long time, hope you are well.

I would like to offer the following thoughts on meditation and again as always these are just my thoughts and therefore my Truth and not necessarily yours. I share in the belief that someone might find some truth in it.

Forget about following this meditation style (be it Zen or Theravada or yoga etc) or that one, first master the basics and the worry about this style or that one. There are [B]Four Basic Techniques to Practice Meditation:[/B]
[li][B][B]Follow your breath[/B] - [/B]This is the most universal of all mindfulness techniques.[/li][li][B][B]Observe an object[/B] - [/B]Allow your mind to rest lightly on an object. This can be any deitiy, god or goddess of your choice.[/li][li][B][B]Recite a mantra[/B] - [/B]“Recite the mantra quietly, with deep attention, and let your breath, the mantra and your awareness become slowly one,” writes Rinpoche.[/li][li][B][B]Do a Guided Meditation[/B] - [/B]Guided meditation is akin to guided imagery, a powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination toward a conscious goal.[/li][/ul][B][B]Is It Really Meditation?[/B][/B]
These techniques are meditation [I]practices[/I] rather than meditation itself. Meditation is something that happens to you after diligently and persistently sticking to your practice day after day. It might not happen to you in this life, but remember nothing you do spiritually is lost, it all adds up for the next life. Meditation is often described by experienced practitioners as “a state of being ? a state of receptivity without expectation, a merging with the Divine.” All of the techniques are practice to get to this final merged state.

Therefore, meditation [I]practice[/I] is not meditation. One might practice meditation for years to achieve a meditative state of being. An experienced meditator might meditate for an hour to achieve a few moments of meditative consciousness.

Trust this might help a little. Once you have mastered the basics then start to investigate this style or that. After nearly 15 years of everyday meditation I still do only two of the above practices: breath and mantra. :wink:

hi Pandara,

yeah it really gives perspective, thanks Pandara.

I’m doing really good, hope you are well.


Bodidharma went to the Shaolin temple in China and taught the monks, I can only presume then that zen was an Indian creation…??

The question, what are the basics? I say it takes more
than this be able to meditate. It actually takes a lot
of preparation - you have to make changes to your lifestyle,
to your way of looking at things all the rest of the time,
or else you just end up stewing in mud.

It’s not so easy to just put yourself under your own will
and just do it. I’ve been there.


I did practice OM meditation for four years, the first two visualizing the Ajna Chakra.
Finally i arrived to the conclusion that it was straining to my mind and tried Zazen.

Actually, one year latter, i’m reaping the same fruit but with no mental strain. Sometimes i achieve an state of “almost no-thoughts”, but naturally, effortlessly.

However, the sensations experienced with OM meditation were much more pleasant than with zazen. They were pleasant, but also misleading, they negatively affected my concentration. Mantras have a wonderfull effect on one’s prana and well being.

Good luck!

Well the lotus position is a yoga position… And zennists meditate in the lotus.

Zen is inspired by the ancient Brahmanist yogies. And Brahmanism is inspired by Buddha I presume.

Boddhidarma was from middle Eastern Persia, yes, not India. He did study in India altough. Then he traveled to China to create Chan at mount Shaolin, then he traveled to Japan to create Zen and the Budos.

Yes, the patriach of Zen is also credited for all the traditionnal martial arts we know today. It is believed Boddhidarma learned some martial arts in India, but history or legend says that martial arts came to him (like a vision or revelation) after a 9 year meditation period in a cave.

As far as I understand zen meditation is a kind of yogic meditation by concentration in self-observation, I don’t see any difference. Zen would come from the Chinese word Chan, and Chan from the Sanskrit word Dhyana which means meditation. Dhyana indicates the state of mind when there is a connection between a subject and an object, a yogic practice and also reflection. One can also read the Satipatthana sutta and practice to understand what makes the vipassana meditation so special. There is a big controversy in metaphysics, as Buddhists don’t accept the notion of atma/purusha, so there is no eternal witness for them, but that is mainly some theory. At a subtle level, I also think that one can get also contact with the spiritual forces related to the teachings and masters which have impact on the practice and give orientation to the sadhana.


[quote=batsugun;15523]Well the lotus position is a yoga position… And zennists meditate in the lotus.

Zen is inspired by the ancient Brahmanist yogies. And Brahmanism is inspired by Buddha I presume.

Boddhidarma was from middle Eastern Persia, yes, not India. He did study in India altough. Then he traveled to China to create Chan at mount Shaolin, then he traveled to Japan to create Zen and the Budos.


That is the first time that I see that, very little is known about Bodhidharma most of accounts agree that he was from South India. Anyway, on the other hand, Zen comes mainly from Buddha, and Buddha has been influenced by the spiritual vedic traditions and his own experience, he rejected the authority of the Vedas, they were vedic yogis before Buddha. However, his teachings have influenced indirectly later some Hindu traditions.


Hello Philippe, yes very little is knowned about Boddhidarma.

I’ve been doing zen meditation for 12 years, sometimes I meditate in Zen centers. For yoga I go to a yoga studio…

Boddhidarma is more important than Buddha in my view. I mean, according to my interests. That is why I did research on him. I know his story pretty well.
Boddhidarma is my inspiration in spirituality. (along with others of course).

He was from Persia. Actually, Persia is modern Iran. So he was middle eastern. But maybe he was mixed with european, because he was known to have clear eyes, light green or gray. He was also known to be a little over weight. It is said he had cardiac problems when he arrived a mount Shaolin. At an age of 100 years old, he could fight against 10 Shaolin warriors at the same time and win. So the legend says.

How ironic that a Persian, trained in India, founded Zen in Japan…
Japans iconic religion, is not from a Japanese.

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Persians as high caste indians, belonged to the aryan racial group (indo-european). That explains the color of his eyes.

The fact he could fight against 10 shaolin warriors explains his cardiac problems… (kidding).


Yea he must have been scared to death of them. Ha ha.

I know a lot about both. Yoga is a much broader term. It includes all of the religions including zen. Buddha practised yoga. There is hatha yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga and others. The ultimate goal of them is the same.

Zen may emphasize the term enlightenment whereas wikipedia says that in yoga the goal is a perfect state of consciousness. Which term do you like better. Do you like car or automobile better? Yes it comes down to individual teachers.