Zen to me

The definition of Zen escapes most people who are initially inquisitive of Zen ideas. If you look for a definition they will vary greatly. If you look for an explanation you will likely get a cyclic story or ambiguous statement that will seem like anything but an answer.

Zen has been described best to me as a finger pointing toward the moon, but it is neither the finger or the moon.  It is a guide, a path, and morsels of wisdom for the journey.  It is an understanding and recognition of balance. The ability to detach from that which plagues us to better engage it.

Zen is not whimsical or lazy.

Buddha may have been displayed as a fat man, but in reality he was barely 90 lbs. Just as Christians show Jesus being executed at the alter, religions have always promoted their own beliefs while at the same time blaspheming them.

"Before enlightenment - carry water, chop wood.  After enlightenment - chop wood, carry water."

Zen is about practicing everything. Everything you do can always be done better. It is about living in the very moment you are living and applying effort with leverage to work for the best possible outcome in any scenario. Zen is about taking action just as much and it is not. 

Zen is full of paradox and contradictions. Exercises are designed to give thought and insight, while simplifying ideals into actions. Most people view Zen as a very passive belief system.  You will hear some speak of "going with the flow". This is a manner of going about things.  Not wasting time changing things that cannot be different, and recognizing when to act and to do so with ease and without hesitation.

Zen is the end of suffering.

“I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering.” ~ Buddha

While the translation of this is not exact and obviously Buddha taught many other things the concept remain.  The root of all suffering is resistance to what is.  A Zen mind will accept that everything is perfect.  Everybody you know,  your enemies, birds, clouds, weather, and even dirt is perfect.  Perfect because it cannot be any other way than it is right at this moment.  In order to wish something different you are not accepting of what is.  Since nothing can be different than it is at this moment to feel things should be different is only suffering.

In order to change things you must accept the good and bad of every situation with understanding that the future will never be the same as now and change is progressive and eminent.  So going with the flow is to not waste time and transition through activities like a leaf in a stream.

Suffering with pain

Pain refers to any situation where force is applied with resistance.   Even the slightest pain can torment a soul if the soul tries to escape the pain, rather than accept.

After an American Indian Chiefs tribe was moved to new reservations multiple times he said, "The soul would have no rainbow, if the eyes had no tears."  This statement does not dis allude the idea that pain has been inflicted, but that there is still beauty present in the soul.  In fact the pain inflicted can cause the beauty of that energy to grow, as there will always be a tendency to move away from suffering.