So, what is Zen?

So what exactly is Zen? The word ‘Zen’ has been used in popular culture in various contexts, sometimes relating to Buddhism, sometimes to other things. So what is it? Zen is simply a type of Buddhism. As in Christianity, there are different types, such as Catholicism and Protestant and Methodist , and in Buddhism, there are different types as well. Zen is one of these flavors. Zen Buddhism originates in Japan, coming over from China, where it is called Ch’an. A simple way of explaining Zen is with an apple. When asked what an apple tastes like, one form of Buddhism would explain how the apple’s existence is dependent on everything around it, like the tree it grew on, the soil the tree lives in, the air and insects around the tree… that its existence is dependent and not separate from the rest of the world.. that the apple tastes sweet and perhaps tart. Another form of Buddhism may explain that an apple is inherently empty, and thinking of the concept of an apple is inherently flawed and lacking.. An apple is, in fact, not an apple and its taste is interdependent on the Earth and your mouth. If you ask a Zen Master what an apple tastes like, he would eat it. Or, he may throw the apple at you! Zen, it is said, is beyond words. If you speak of it, you have killed it. So, with this in mind, I now will eat an apple and if you ask me how it tastes, I will throw the core at you!


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