A Zen Essay
I came across a nice, lucid introductory essay on Zen, which I thought some of you might be interested in:
Zen is essentially about the resolution of the dualism between the knower and the known, which is the fundamental problem of self and other. In Zen, self-realisation cannot be attained by reasoning or logical processes.The essay is the final one in this paper
The mind hinders and separates the self from Reality by the same reasoning processes that it supposes is answering the ultimate questions. The paradox is that that which is being sought is seeking. The mind does not realise that the questions it raises are the mind itself. By virtue of the human capacity for self-consciousness and the ability to make value judgements, humans become too involved in the duality between self and other, subject and object, right and wrong, good and evil, and so forth. By making value judgments and distinctions, people become attached (to worldly things). Unlike plants and animals (who are “just as they are”), we can see ourselves only from the outside. For Zen, the fundamental goal is to achieve “no-mind”, or freedom from the bounds of conceptual dualities. This dualistic perception is regarded in Buddhism as the “ignorance” inherent in human existence. Zen aims at perceiving Reality as it really is; as it actually asserts itself, rather than as it is filtered and interpreted by the mind. Ultimate Reality is lived out by “pure experience”, meaning that there is no experiencing subject, or any objective experience of Reality. Nagarjuna called Ultimate Reality (which is ineffable) “emptiness” or “void”. There is no naming, no “emptiness”; just an “experience experiencing itself”. This is reached when there is a union between the subject and the object, the knower and the known.