If you want to know the real, unadorned truth about Zen, here it is in plain language. Zen was discovered by a monk who hailed from the southeast coast of India in the 6th century B.C.E. He discovered the importance of dharma while sitting under a bodhi tree. Thus, he became known as Bodhidharma.
In the realm of inner development and learning about yourself, dharma refers to who and what you are at the deepest level of your being. It is also called your self-nature.
So, what is a clear and simple answer to the question What Is Zen? There is at least a shelf load of books that purport to answer that question. But, If you want a clear, one-sentence definition of Zen to use when people ask you about it, try this:
Zen is the path to discovering your inner nature and the huge store of knowledge that was inside you when you were born.
The term your inner nature has subtle meaning far beyond the obvious. It is the most important idea, concept, and indeed, the whole underlying paradigm of Zen. It is a practice of inner development by training your mind chiefly with Zen meditation.
Zen has worked for so many people because it quiets the relatively shallow thinking mind so that knowledge from the deeper, normally inaccessible areas of the whole mind can surface and be recognized. This is also known as the Zen state. Connecting the conscious, thinking mind with deep-mind knowledge results in a higher form of wisdom and profound spiritual awareness otherwise unavailable to the ordinary human mind.
Here’s a good way to get started: Learn about Zen, and learn how to meditate properly. Those are the first steps to becoming a Zen practitioner. If you are persistent and dedicated in your practice, you might receive one or more enlightening experiences and become a Master. Along the Zen path you will experience life at a higher level of joy and satisfaction. To learn more about real, authentic Zen, download and read the ebook Original Zen.