Zen is simply the direct Way of Awakening. It is just allowing ourselves to enter into the heart of this moment, which is the heart of our lives. It is simply paying attention to our actual experiences, to our lives as they are: a breeze passing your cheek, rain falling and soaking the earth and trees, a stomach ache, the laughter of children playing -- seeing what you see, feeling what you feel. Colours, forms, sights, sounds, touch, taste, smell, thoughts, all coming and all going. Where do they come from and where do they go? Zen is entering into things as they are, beyond concept and cosmology, beyond separation and duality, beyond personality, and into the intimacy and richness of this whole moment. It is a radical questioning into whatever arises as our experiences and true entry into the nature of experiencing. Zen is the day to day and moment to moment practice of this moment. It is the transmission of yourself to yourself in a Lineage of Teacher to student, face to face. It is a mind-to-mind transmission that has spanned two thousand, six hundred years from India to China to Japan to right here.
Our original Teacher, Sakyamuni Buddha said to his students one day in a talk that has been recorded as the Satipatthana sutta, the Discourse on Mindfulness, that "There is but one way to liberation and that is mindfulness." Mindfulness is paying attention with the whole bodymind to the whole of experiencing. It is going past hesitation and reference points, past confusion and fabrication and into our actual lives. Liberation means freedom from the need to hide from ourselves and our world; it means finding out who and what this really is, what this world really is. Buddhadharma, the Teaching of Awakening, is the practice of sitting, walking, breathing, working, and speaking with mindfulness and insight. As such, Buddhadharma is not just "a religion, a dogma, a cultural artifact, a comfort, a skill, an art, or a philosophy". It is the presentation of our own natures. Zen is just this.
- Four Gates of Zen Practice: A Beginner's Manual
by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi