One who knows zen knows there is no zen — and yet we write it, read it, think at it.
A paradox, yet one who knows zen knows there is no paradox.
I want you to picture a mirror. See if you can grasp its essence. Does it have a color? A texture? A material?
The idea of a mirror's true visible nature slips through our mind as water through grasping fingers.
Yet here, in this confusion, we can begin to understand zen; it presents a mirror which we can use to look inside ourselves.
Zen is that which reflects the object. The mirror is not the reflection, and yet there is no mirror without the reflection. Paradoxical.
To study the nature of reflection is to understand zen.
Let me guide you to a start.
Form in your mind an example: an apple, and its reflection.
The reflection is not real, is not substantial — and by this I mean to say it is dependent — for it is indeed real in that it can be sensed, but the sensations of the reflection are dependent on a more substantial form of the actual apple. If the apple moves so moves the reflection. If the apple rots so the reflection. If the apple is eaten, so goes the reflection.
The object and reflection: always the same, and yet unequal.
Those things that bring change are done to the apple and never the reflection; the reflection merely mimics accordingly.
This is the nature of zen, which is the mirror.
Ponder the nature of a reflection and see that it is duplication — no new information is given — existing realities are simply doubled. There is no life there, there is no novelty, and no inspiration, no creativity and nothing new added. Mere mimicry.
This is how zen works.
It gives you nothing new. You have never learned a lick from practicing zen, you have only seen what was already there. You have gained nothing new; only discovered that nothing new ever existed for you.
Return to the mirror: yet that mirror is not the object it reflects, but presents an alternate perspective of it. A mirror may copy and repeat, and yet a reflection is not a thing. It is a thing seen differently, seen backwards, seen from the other side, seen in a different location.
If there was not something new about a reflection, it would not exist. If a reflection was equivalent to the object it reflected in every way, it would be that very object. But a reflection is different in its perspective.
Here, there is something new and something real, and in this newness is where zen, analogously, is something and not nothing -- where it does exist. For we cannot truly say “there is no zen,” because we forget that there is yet something we call “zen” that does exist.
This existence, this something, is the reflection, which is the change in perspective.
Now to finish here, let me just hint at the significance of this reflective essence.
Imagine the quandary of a “sensor” trying to sense itself. If one senses, by definition it senses things that are not the sensor. And yet that tool exists, the mirror, which objectifies the sensor, which creates new perspective so as to transform the sensor into a copy outside of itself that it may be inspected indirectly as it were any other object.
Zen presents no paradox.
There is you and your reflection.
Zen both does and does not exist, depending on what you’re meaning to look for.
Understand first that you look into a mirror and your reflection will become clear to you.