Zen Buddhism and Oneida community

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Various communities have emerged from religions each with its own beliefs, practices, and purpose. Examples of these communities are the Zen Buddhism and Oneida community. These two communities share certain beliefs and differ in others.

Zen community and Oneida community were formed with the objective of creating a community where people would live on earth without suffering. The founders of these two communities established the cause of suffering, and then found ways of eliminating it.

Oneida community practices and beliefs

The Oneida community was established by John Humphrey Noyes in the name of “free love.” Love was expressed through sexuality. Noyes was against the normal marriage because of two reasons, marriage made a woman a productive drudge and secondly, it was an obstacle to true Christian community because of the issue of staying as couples.

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To solve this issue, Noyes created a method where men would restrain themselves as a method of birth control and members of Oneida community had liberty to have sexual relations with the opposite gender. In addition, monogamous marriage was not allowed.

Noyes stated that his teachings came from the bible. From the book of Genesis 1-3, sexuality served the purpose of expressing love and also that of recreation. However, after the fall, harmony between human beings was no more and this resulted to sufferings.

As a result of this fall, human beings experienced financial struggles in catering for their families while women suffered in giving birth. Men separated from their wives in such of support for their families.

The purpose of the Oneida community was to bring back the love that was lost between man and wife. People worked as a community for short hours, therefore reducing the burden of working. The path taken to live a life without suffering was, first, eliminating sin, shame, and then the burden of child birth.

Zen Buddhism practices and beliefs

The Zen community followed Buddha’s teachings. They had many practices such as zazen, where a person sat in meditation. Through this process of meditation a person experienced harmony. During meditation, thoughts passed through the mind but did not remain there. In this state of mind, everything that a person did came from natural impulses. A person was able to fully concentrate in his actions without interactions.

Koan was another practice done in Zen tradition. Koan used a question that puzzled the brain of a person. One was made to view the world in its original form. To understand a koan, one focused on it without reflecting on it, interacting directly with it. The significance of koan was to bring the understanding that every person was an interdependent whole of the world.

The purpose of Zen practice was enlightenment, or satori. One felt the harmony of all beings by realizing that everything was whole. Every living thing became valuable and at the same time invaluable. This enigma was understood only with consciousness rather than intellectuality.

Comparison and contrasts

The founders of both communities were human beings. The initiator of Buddhism was Shakyamuni. He was fully enlightened through meditation and opened ways of spirituality and liberty. The initiator of Oneida was known as John Noyes. He formed Oneida community in the name of love. They two founders had one main objective of reducing suffering in human beings.

Though Zen Buddhism and Oneida community shared common values, they also differed in some beliefs. Buddhism believed in no supreme power. Furthermore, they did not worship Buddha. Buddhism was not a religion of God; instead it was of wisdom, insight, and kindness. Oneida community believed in God, who was the creator of the universe.

Oneida community believed that salvation came through confession of sin; however, Buddhists believed that salvation and enlightenment came through meditation and taking away of defilements and illusion. Oneida community believed that there God lived separately; while Buddhists believed that Buddha was inherent in them.

The Buddha did not pay attention to aspects such as the soul, life after death, or how the earth was formed. Buddhists focused on the things that existed such as birth, aging, death, suffering and how they could be eliminated from people.

The teachings of Buddha were facts of existence and the way to freedom; nirvana. The Oneida community believed in life after death, where they stated that the kingdom of heaven would come to earth.

According to Buddha, life was about suffering which came from the desires of humans, and could end through the Noble Eightfold Path. Therefore, Buddha was neither negative nor positive about life.

Buddha outlined ways that would liberate people from suffering. The Eightfold Path gave procedures to eliminate past mistakes, abstain from keeping any wrongs, and forming values for a good rebirth. One step in this path was to know reality perfectly. This was done through knowing the four noble truths. Every action was controlled by the mind.

Therefore, the actions of people could either produce happiness or suffering. The second aspect was to have the right intention, then right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, and right mindfulness, and the eighth factor right meditation.

According to John Noyes, suffering began with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. From that time onwards, women suffered during child birth, while men had to toil hard to support their families. This separated men and their wives, and the love that existed before ceased.

To stop this suffering, Noyes formed a community of “free love.” People worked as one, therefore reducing working hours. Men restrained themselves as a method of birth control, therefore reducing the suffering of women in child birth.

Zen Buddhism and Oneida community differed in their view of birth and death. In Buddhism, a changing form of being provoked another into motion. Every good or evil deed created another personality with time which was realized after death. For freedom to occur even after death, people had to live a life without desires. A liberated person experienced an eternal, calm, and permanent state. Oneida believed in eternity which would be on earth.


Zen community and Oneida community shared common values and differed in others. Both were formed with the intention of reducing suffering in human beings. Buddha gave teachings to its followers that acted as guidelines to a liberal life.

The main idea of these teachings was to flee from desires, which was the main cause of sufferings. On the other hand, John Noyes who was the founder of Oneida community stated that suffering began with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and this suffering would end through birth control and a complex marriage.

However, the Zen and Oneida community differed in various aspects. The Zen community was non-theists, while Oneida community believed in God. The Oneida community followed biblical teachings while Zen community followed Buddha’s teachings.

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