Zen is a culture of awakening. It doesn’t really match any of the categories we tend to want to put things into in western thought. It defies labels like religion and philosophy. It’s not something to believe. It’s not even something to be. It’s a practice. It’s a way of life.
Zen is like the flower of Buddhism. Beneath it lies the roots of developed doctrine and practice, which has been cultivated for over two thousand years. Beneath these roots are the basic principles that are the foundation of all of the myriad branches of Buddhism. In the case of Zen this flower was planted in China and some of it’s practice was clearly influenced by the spiritual traditions that already existed there. Now it has been planted here in the west.
In Zen practice we’re trying to cultivate these flashes of awareness, like watering a flower. We want to expand and strengthen them. The mystic’s journey is what the Zen tradition is all about.