Entering the Gate of Zen Practice

Entering the gate of Zen practice simply means returning to your mind as it naturally is before thinking arises. This point is universal substance and your true nature. People sometimes call it true self, or nature, or Buddha, or God, or energy, or mind, or consciousness, or holiness, or the Absolute. People call it many, many things, but originally this point has no name and no form. [Hits the table.] That is because this point is already before thinking. It cannot be grasped with conceptual thought. If you call it anything, or give it any kind of name, this is only thinking and understanding, and none of that can help you. The great Chinese Zen master Nam Cheon said that attaining our true self is “not dependent on understanding, and not dependent on not-understanding. Understanding is illusion; not-understanding is just blankness.” Your relationship to this world and your relationship to yourself are not based on thinking. Your correct relationship to this life does not come out of any kind of understanding. You cannot reason life or death. So if you want to pass the gate of Zen, first you must completely cut off all attachment to thinking, and return to your mind before thinking arises.