In Zen Buddhism, there are two major paths to enlightenment—Jiriki and Tariki. Tariki means ‘through other’, or via an external force, and practitioners of this path believe that they need divine help in order to achieve enlightenment, as the human mind by itself is too riddled with vices to be able to focus on its spiritual path by itself. On the other hand, Jiriki means ‘by one’s own self or own efforts’, implying that a Jiriki practitioner achieves enlightenment through his own meditations, practice, and discipline.
While Jiriki introduces us to our own strength, encouraging us to find our spiritual path through our own efforts such as meditating, chanting, and engaging with fellow practitioners, Tariki makes us aware of our human limitations and encourages us to place our faith in higher powers or the universe itself.
It wouldn’t be inaccurate to claim that for the modern individual today, complete enlightenment is a far-away dream. However, given the unprecedented predicaments of the times we live in, most of us are awakening spiritually, or at the very least, realizing the importance of better self-care practices. The new-age spiritual community has seen a sudden rise in popularity with more and more people seeking solace in practices like astrology, tarot, reiki, crystal healing among many others. Even more individuals have begun taking better care of their mental health and taken up practices such as meditation, affirmations, yoga, journaling and many more. Under such circumstances, while enlightenment may not be our immediate goal, the concept of Jiriki can help us immensely in achieving our immediate goals and finding some sense of inner peace.
When Jiriki as a concept is expanded to be applied to our daily lives, it simply means relying on our own selves, giving in all our efforts, and relentlessly pursing our goals. As a simple example, let’s say you want to get physically fitter—this would require you to take up an active hobby such as running, dancing or kickboxing, hire a nutritionist, take your supplements and such, but the final goal would be achieved via your own discipline and determination alone. In an ever-changing world riddled with uncertainty, having such complete faith in our own abilities as Jiriki prescribes, comes as a refreshing change and helps us regain a sense of some control over our lives. Even when the world is spiraling around us, we know that our own consistent efforts will bring us closer to our goals.
In this way, Jiriki helps us stay grounded and and self-reliant, inspiring confidence in our own abilities to keep ourselves afloat in the face of every challenge. How can one apply this sturdy philosophy in their daily lives then? To embody Jiriki, one must be an active participant in their own lives over being a passive observer. This means chasing after your dreams, and putting steady effort in achieving your small term and long-term goals. Jiriki also applies to self-care practices and being consistent with them to keep your mental and spiritual health in the best shape possible. This means devoting time regularly to meditation, journaling, working-out, or whatever helps you feel calm, centred and refreshed. The key to inner peace then? It’s always been within you, thanks to Jiriki.