For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.
― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
Zen is a path of practice that invites us to experience and embody ever deeper authenticity. Over time, silent sitting acts as a solvent for our assumed views, the grid of judgments and measures we set up and defend.
As it unfolds, softening our hearts and opening us to the moment at hand, this path can yield three fruits.
The first fruit is cultivating attention or concentration. This process is gradual. We learn to be present or, as the Buddha said, to “Stop.” Stop and allow the machinations of the discursive mind to settle. Thich Nhat Hanh offers this instruction: “Many of us have been running all our lives. Practice stopping.”
The second fruit is called “kensho” in Japanese, realizing who we truly are. As Thay (‘teacher’) put it, “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” In an unguarded moment, we realize our long-assumed separation is a delusion. There never has been a separate self.
The third fruit of Zen is personalizing or embodying the wisdom and compassion of who we truly are. The process is never-ending and, at the same time, how could it be otherwise? As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Peace is every step.”