What is Zen?
Zen is a transformation.
From whom you think you are.
I won’t venture to guess whither this transformation will take you; I don’t know that quite myself. So, let’s just enjoy this fascinating and well-thought living tradition of meditation that continues to draw spiritual aspirants. The word ZEN is a Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese (pinyin) ‘chan‘, which is turn is a derived from the Sanskrit word implying meditation – Dhyaan. Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism developed in China but furthered perfected in Japan.
Quoting from Wikipedia: Zen emphasizes rigorous meditation-practice, insight into Buddha-nature, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others.As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrineand favors direct understanding through zazen and interaction with an accomplished teacher.
Since this apprenticeship under a Master is usually mandated; the essence of Zen practice is transmitted without any corruption. This has allowed the tradition to remain alive without much literature on the same, as the Zen Masters of old and even contemporary ones have generally not been keen on anything but a direct experience. Comparing this with the YOGA tradition; while Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras codified Yoga – the Maharishi still kept all practical instruction out of his treatise so that as aspirant would have to learn the subtleties and essence through his/ her experience with a Guru (thereby drawing in the Guru’s years of experience). It’s only the modern plethora of Yoga books and more so Youtube videos and Instagram photos (!) that are rendering the Yoga philosophy into an Exercise regime that need not have a profound Master-Student relationship. It is this essence of the practice that Zen masters have refrained from conceptualizing, and thereby keeping their centuries-old tradition pure and effective!
10 essential Zen Quotes