見性Kenshō (見性), literally “seeing the nature”, is an experience described in the context of Zen Buddhism. The term is often used to denote an initial awakening experience, seeing one’s True-Nature or Buddha-Nature, that can be enlarged and clarified through further practice in daily life.

The Kensho experience

In Kensho, one experiences the illusionary nature of the separate self (“I”). Because of the nature of the mind, any perception seems to involve a perceived object, the process of perception, and a perceiving subject. For example, ‘I see you’: I – the subject (which appears to be separate from the perceived objects), see – the process of perception, you – the object. Trying to find the “I,” the subject, through introspection leads to the realisation that this “I” is completely dependent on the process of perception, the associated thought/feeling complex, and the memories tied to them.

Seeking kensho

Working towards this realisation is usually a lengthy process of meditation and introspection under guidance of a Zen or other Buddhist teacher, usually in intensive sesshin retreats. Koans are often used (particularly in the Rinzai tradition). Kensho may also be spontaneous, upon hearing or reading some significant phrase, or as result of a profound dream.

One method is known as: ‘Who am I’, since it is this question that guides the enquiry into one’s true nature. The realization that there is no ‘I’ that is doing the thinking, but rather that the thinking process brings forth the illusion of an ‘I’, is a step on the way to Kensho.

It is not unusual for various hallucinations and psychological disturbances to arise prior to true kensho, these are referred to as makyo. Distinguishing these delusions from actual kensho is the primary function of the teacher.

See also

Kensho Kiến tính

buddha monk

buddha monk