What Is Zen?

What is Zen?


It is better for me to describe what Zen is for me, for Zen is everything and everybody, and all I can give in any form of communication is what Zen WAS for me, for Zen is ever the present and right now I have moved on to… Well,  more Zen!

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Jens Leslie
I would say that if it could be described at all,  Zen is an experience of experiencing that is subtly unique to each individual practitioner.  And because of this uniqueness, you may read different accounts of what Zen is.   This is because words cannot define Zen. Zen is a realisation that comes from practising it. So it could be said that Zen is a happening that one cannot pursue.  Neither can one 'succeed' in Zen because it is not an achievement - there is nothing to achieve!

Zen is the here-now, and the here-now contains all there is that exists.  How can any words define the here-now when  it is immediately gone!?  Any definition of Zen will be of what WAS the here-now. And the paradox is that  right now, the here-now is no more.

 Zen is all there is, the Whole, and how can a ‘content’  that is created from Zen define the Whole? There may be a paradox there too!

Zen can however, be investigated with the words that are being spoken or written, but the words will only point unsuccessfully to the whole. However, consciousness will expand through enquiry.

If one is asked to point to all that there is in the universe, he/she would not succeed at all. Because the pointing would only be to that which is withing the view of the senses,  to the individual elements of parts of all there is, like stars and planets and the space between them. One could say that Zen is interested in the space between objects which is emptiness and  permeates everything in existence within and without.

The words that can be spoken of Zen are the products of the mind. The mind is not the master, but can point to the master, but only if the mind knows the master, and the mind cannot know the master.

Another paradox – without being guided by some form of knowledge, how can one possibly pursue Zen, the pursuance of which will obscure it even more!?

The Mind.


The mind cannot know Zen as Zen is no-mind.  So even these words, can only try and define what Zen is. They can explain the practice of Zen, which is basically formal zazen and extending to mindfulness in all activities, but the experience of Zen and enlightenment will only come if one is actually experiencing the journey to enlightenment totally here-now.

Zen and enlightenment. This is not two.  Neither can exist as the named. So Zen is a word for Zen, yet not Zen itself. Enlightenment already is, it just needs to be realised.

An  individual will make his own unique path to discover Zen that in reality, he is already at one with.  And the thoughts that colour that path, will be his and his alone – nobody else can walk on that path.

Zen In Practice


The basis of Zen is zazen, just being..  just sitting,  just standing or walking or working at something or other.. It can be applied to anything that one participates in, in daily life.   This is all there is to the practice. It can be quite challenging to be 'just' with anything!  The mind will do the challenging.

It can be practised  in groups, but it is always alone that a practitioner will realise his/her own Zen.

This is just the beginning of what Zen can be. I am not saying here what Zen is, for I do not know what Zen is. It is no-thing... indescribable.  I would say that nobody  knows Zen with anything the mind can define.  It is a vast emptiness that all these words written here and elsewhere will simply fall into and disappear.

This is just one of many analogies I have of what Zen may or may not be.  It is not that I have knowledge of Zen. This is just my Zen practice trying to express itself through words. If it is not making sense, then it is perhaps becoming a little more pure, and unblemished by the mind and its duality.

Why do I practice? 

I first heard the  word Zen many decades ago, and looked at it one day in a workshop. I felt the need to practice and look for myself,  on my own, and I let go of everything I had experienced in the workshop. For me that was just the beginning. It is not that I cannot stop now, it is that I have no desire to stop. Sometimes it can hurt as the mind resists having its reasonableness challenged, but so very often it is the experiencing of pain that is the most revealing part of my practice. Not that Zen is masochistic, as I am more for pleasure any day of the week!

If I had known of the pain that can occur during practice in the beginning, I would still have practised it.. There is something of value that is beyond the mind to describe.



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