Zen is a practice that deals with the concept of enlightenment through intuition during meditation, and the application of all this in daily life.
Zen defies definition. It is a philosophy of non-philosophy, an intellectually guided practice of anti-intellectualism, and the un-measurable science of non-being. The practice of Zen is the pursuit of various techniques, chiefly Zazen meditation and the study of kōan, which are designed to confound the logical, rational mind in order to trigger or shock the mind into experiencing states of enlightened awareness.
It is rooted in the most profound elements of intuition and life itself, and the facts of unfettered experience. It transcends the dogmas of traditional religious rites and rituals and focuses on cutting through the veil of the unfocused mind to the core, inherent nature of man.
Many Westerners are confused by Zen for they assume it is a religion but this is not so. According to the greatly respected Zen Master D.T. Suzuki “It is not a religion in the sense that the term is popularly understood; for Zen has no God to worship, no ceremonial rites to observe, no future abode to which the dead are destined, and, last of all, Zen has no soul whose welfare is to be looked after by somebody else…
The attraction of Zen to the spiritual seeker is because it is chiefly concerned with the concept of ‘being’. In the West “Being” has usually been the concern of science, mathematics, and defining and measuring the tangible world around us in order to create a universal model of reality. Zen is born out the eastern idea of ‘non- being’, which is best understood as the negation of absolute definitions, and eschews attachment to the world of measurement and form in favor of a practice of non-attachment. It is a pure experience of the world than is expressed often through different systems of philosophy, ethics and esthetics in the eastern world.
There is no simple answer to what Zen is? What is known is that its practice leads to a state of knowing that is authentic, unfettered, and expresses one’s actualization. In this state of awareness one has less stress, less anxiety, less greed, and less concern for the mistakes of the past or expectations for the future.
Lewis Harrison is a Meditation teacher, practical philosopher, speaker and the director of
Harrison Center for Personal Development