The Purpose Of Zen Practice

For some people, they may not see the connection between Zen and daily life. Some may even argue that it doesn't serve any purpose whatsoever in the real world. In truth, Zen is just a tool that doesn't have any inherent meaning or purpose.

The essence of being human lies in our awakening to perceive our true nature and learning how to use it in our lives from moment to moment. Zen may offer a path towards this realization, but there are many practices that can help us lead to this realization. Zen has been described as investigating the great work of life and death, to help us see through our dualistic thinking. When we live in the world of duality - good and bad, right and wrong, self and other - we remain in a constant wheel of suffering. If we choose to remain in this world of opposites, then not even Zen can help us.

So this question arises naturally: why practice meditation at all? Is enlightenment just a goal we strive to attain? The truth is, enlightenment is not a destination to be reached. It is not something separate from us. In fact, it is already here in this moment. All we have to do is wake up to it. My teacher once told me, "Forget the net and catch the fish." In other words, don't rely just on your understanding and intellectual thinking. Rely on your own intuition. Bodhidharma also pointed this out in a poem:

Not dependent on words and writings, 
A special transmission outside the sutra; 
Pointing directly to mind, 
Perceive your true nature and become Buddha. 

We have a koan in Kwan Um Zen that states: The Buddha taught the Dharma to save all minds. But if you don't keep any of these minds, then what use is there for the Dharma? This question can help us not to hold on to our thinking. The answer to this does not come from our understanding because it is already here in this moment. All we need to do is just wake up to this direct experience moment to moment. This is the essence of Zen practice. This is where we can realize the true purpose and meaning of being a human being.

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