After years of reading and thinking about Zen (and, more recently, Taoism) a common theme seems to be if you’re reading and thinking about Zen, you’re missing the point. And there is is no point. If you’re looking for “it” you won’t find “it.” The quotes below (by Alan Watts and Ray Grigg) are just a few of hundreds that express this idea (not a popular word in Zen and Taoism). I’m terrible with puzzles so it’s a bit surprising I’ve given so much time to this consideration. But I really don’t have anything better to do, so…
I think it was Mr. Grigg who wrote, “Taoism and Zen cannot properly be understood, but they can be experienced.” I like that. And every now and then I get what feels like a brief glimpse. Splitting logs for firewood gives me a little zen tingle (until I catch myself thinking that while I’m doing it). Same for stacking up a bunch of rocks. Oh, and the Cdim chord on the uke.
Strictly speaking, there are no Zen masters because Zen has nothing to teach. […] the experience of awakening (satori) is not to be found by seeking.
The only purpose of any consideration of Zen is eventually to be freed of that consideration.
The process of searching for Zen seems at first to be a further violation of Zen.
When stripped of formality and returned to its natural shape, Zen is earthy and ordinary. Nothing special.
The deliberate, conscious practice of Zen is a self-defeating process, an exercise in futility.
Most people have no conceptual grasp of Zen, which is the best approach to it.
When (Zen) is itself, it is so uncontrived and subtle that it goes nearly unnoticed. And no one can deliberately do it.
Anything that can be said about (Zen and Taoism) is incomplete, misleading, and largely wrong.
Taoism and Zen cannot properly be understood, but they can be experienced.
The Way can be recognized but not explained.
The essence of Taoism and Zen is the art of living rather than the philosophy of life.
When all doing is happening with the spontaneity of just being ordinary, this is living the practice of Taoism and Zen. The simplicity of this process becomes difficult only when considered.