Zen Without Zen
You do not need Zen to find Zen.
What could I possibly mean by this?
You don't need the trappings of Zen Buddhism, the organized religion, to find Zen, the attitude. You do not need to shave your head and become a monk to find enlightenment.
Of course, some think that it helps. Also, it allows someone to find material support while focusing solely on enlightenment. Yet not only is this not realistic for most of us; it is not required at all.
Reciting mantras is not required. Again, some may find that it helps. Others will find this impractical or beyond the point.
Did samurai shave their heads to practice Zen? No, they only did that when they were retiring from being samurai. They found Zen through the little things in life: the practice of arms, the tea ceremony, the appreciation of quality, the acceptance of natural beauty, and so forth. This was their Zen.
Zen means "meditation." Zen is simply about what you can appreciate beyond words. It does not mean no words at all; it means, words are irrelevant. Zen is about appreciating things without words.
So why do we recite words to find Zen? Why do we ponder koans that seem to have no logical answer (mainly because they don't have logical answers)?
We do this because we are very devoted to our logical strictures. However true this was in old Japanese society, it is far more true for our modern world, based on the logic of Aristotle and on the data of scientific experimentation.
At some point, we have to say: enough.
Zen does not require the song and dance of Zen. It does not require monasteries, or monks, or even koans. These are simply ways to slap us in the face to snap us out of thinking logically. They amount to getting people to think more about thinking less.Continued on the next page