Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen, was born in South India during the 5th century. He was the third son of King Simhavarman whose invitation of the Sage Prajnatara giving Bodhidharma the instruction to go and spread the Good News of Awakening to China. He traveled to South China for three years, arriving at 475 A.D. Buddhism was a very revered practice in China at that time with both North and South having thousands of Buddhist temples. Ironically, despite the widespread of the Buddhist concepts Bodhidharma could hardly find viable students that could understand the real essence of the Buddha’s Teaching. Flash-forward to to-day: many people all over the world appear to understand Buddhism or Zen but in reality don’t understand.
Twitter is awash with millions of quotes from the Zen doctrine. I have severally tried to strike a conversation with these “high-priests” of Zen but ended up awestruck to realize how shallow these individuals are. They can barely defend their quotes if twisted slightly. The reason why I pour my meditation on this article is to defend the real Zenists. It is true there are people out there who truly understand and practice Zen the proper way and with selflessness. The truth is that True Zen is founded upon utter sincerity in one’s seeking. This means that Zen is not a religion but a way of life, that which you do even when nobody is watching since the aim of Zen is to reveal your real Nature unto thyself.
The common aspect of all Zen Masters of the past is that they were all strict and never left allowance for mediocrity. They therefore never initiated less-than-first-rate students to their Teaching. Which is the opposite in the modern day Zen philosophy. But I can confidently say that decadence has occurred in all doctrines and philosophies as can be adequately proved by a synthesis of all philosophies from all sects and religions. True Zen is nothing to be quoted like scripture, but practiced to the end and with utmost reason for the practice.
What the majority fail to understand is that the approach of Zen was originally designed as a rebellious Path that defied all the religions that had corrupted the true teachings of their forerunners like Buddhism and Hinduism. This is why in Zen it is emphasized that all scripture be forgotten until one reaches to the point where they are unmoved by scripture. This doesn’t mean that it’s negative to borrow wisdom from scripture but it’s a means of discouraging over-attachment to scriptures and the words of the Masters. The Masters advocate for an unspoken agreement with that which is above ordinary mind and reason.
Enlightenment is attained by the few who have the guts to instantly see that “to seek nothing” is Pure Bliss. This doesn’t mean idleness or lack of purpose in life but exactly the opposite of that is the truth. Only few have the mental faculties to understand that having wandered through all manners of existence in their previous millions of lives, they come to the Realization of the importance of attaining Complete Enlightenment in their current life. A chance lost for possible Awakening is a chance lost forever; yet if the chance is to be regained in some future life, as with all the other Laws of Nature, pain and suffering have to be of important precedent. Thus, though one might not have done wrong, they will be punished by their past. This is because as mortals we are, at a subtle and inconceivable level, we are ruled by the law of cause-and-effect whether we are aware or not and whether we consent or not.
Zen recognizes that the people of this world are always deluded and far-removed from their True Nature. They are always longing for something. No matter how rich one becomes that does not bring the ultimate happiness or fulfillment. The happiness most people pretend to have is usually superficial and a public-relations air to show that one is living according to the standards set and determined by their fellow sentient beings. But what can be used as a veracity tool for true and genuine happiness other than Self-Realization?
Trying to find Enlightenment using the material means is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It’s not something you can pick up or put down. If you can’t Realize on your own, according to the way of Zen, you’ll have to find a Genuine Teacher to get to the bottom of the matter for the benefit of your Awakening to your True Self. But, however, unless he is Fully Awake, such a person isn’t a teacher.