I have studied Zen for many years and have come to understand that there is really nothing to understand, especially the concepts of 'mind/no-mind', or 'thing/no-thing'. Once past the intellectual aspects of Zen, it is discovered that it is the most freeing reality you will ever encounter and is the basis of all mental acumen relative to the higher beingness of the One. And even though at times I would like to unload my head with all of it, there remains nothing to boggle the mind except for the unintelligible parameters that try to intellectually explain the matter. So I have stopped doing that as well except for this treatise that I use to explain the virtues or non-virtues of Zen with—or without.
Huang Po, the sage Chinese Ch'an (Zen) master known in Japanese as Obaku, has been known to create intense misunderstandings for students by leaving them in a state of abject mentality and causing them to think that they have to perform obligatory actions, follow specific rites, etc. that he speaks of as ridiculous to try to do. Zen, of course, only seeks to Zen.
Regardless, there is still a major misunderstanding of what Zen actually is and is not. Pop Zen is indeed Zen, but it is not what Zen is, and so it too is misleading. Titles like 'Zen and the Art of Whatever' are merely quaint notions and create the confusion that lead people to think that nihilism and total unattachment should be learned as detachment is the answer. That too is Zen, but that is not what Zen is either. It is easy to see why incredible mental blocks develop when trying to understand Zen by using one's so-called mind, which claims by its own suggestions that it is not the way to understand it being that there is nothing to understand.
It is not my intention to talk of Zen in circular sentences. I speak directly to myself when I write, and in such manner am able to explain it to anyone if they will but accept the idea that they are already enlightened and need not concern themselves with the life they think they are living, which is an illusion, allusion, or delusion in the best of cases. This is especially true when attempted mastery of a given discipline is realized as a mere time filler.
The philosophical writings of major Zen proponents may seem hip to many readers who wish to grasp a "cool" knowledge of Zen. Zen thanks you and laughs at the same time. Many writers and teachers have attempted to explain the concepts and have been quite successful at doing so either intellectually or by example. I do the same thing, but I connect them to today's world in easily understood relationships. Not that they didn't, but moreso that I do for myself, which can also be construed as ridiculous. I don't use Zen Buddhist terminology, but explain the ideas and principles in depth so that you, the reader, will have no questions and realize that you are already enlightened though there is really no need for enlightenment either. You will not have to meditate on the ideas presented, but you should cogitate on them. Should you truly desire to understand what Zen is all about, then you must accept at the outset that you already do. Zen is a lot of fun, especially if you don't take it seriously. On the other hand, if you don't take it seriously, it is more fun.
Question: "Are you a Zen master?"
Sensei: "Yes, I am!"
Question: "Are you a true Zen master?"
Sensei: "Yes, I am!"
Question: "Can you explain what Zen is?"
Sensei: "Yes, I can!"
Question: "Will you?"
Sensei: "Yes, I will!"
Sensei: "I just did."
© SFKaufman 2011
For more information on the author, visit www.hanshi.com.