it is impossible to explain to one who has not experienced it, but i will attempt anyway.

one can enter a state of zen when there is no physical break between thought, action, and consequence.

there is a zen of pinball, when the paddles become direct extensions of your brain, and you no longer feel the little buttons on the side of the machine, nor the spring as you let loose another ball. there is a zen of music, although it is one of the hardest to reach. music takes so much concentration to maintain that it is hard to simply lose one's self. when you're not playing the music, it is possible, but then you are not actively creating. the zen of programming is truly strange. it requires that your fingers don't have to move a long way--any taint of physical thought takes you farther from perfection. this zen is when your program becomes a direct extension of your brain, and you know it all, in detail and in general. your fingers are no longer thought about. they are as quick and as accurate as the mercurial movement of masterful music, when no break exists between player and listener, nor between note and note.

the zen of love has all these qualities, but is far above them all. while all of these link a brain to an object, love links brain to brain, and what could be better? a musician cannot beam his notes to his audience; a programmer cannot write his code with a single thought; but a lover feels his beloved as himself, no break between the physical reality of a kiss and the mental blast of pure emotion that travels through it. a writer's words must be thought about, contemplated; though they may come quickly at times, the writer will always stumble at a phrase, and not be able to finish it. in love, "you will know your action. you are present there, not thinking of somewhere else you ought to be." your heart and that of yours are one. what can parallel this intensity? i say, nothing.

A Japanese word from the Chinese "Chan". From the Sanskrit "Dhyana", referring to a meditative state of deep absorption. Subsequently used to refer to a certain Buddhist sect believed to have been brought from India to China by Bodhidharma.

calmness comes after a storm in one's mind.
the stronger the storm is , the more calm the mind is.
transition of super micro view to super macro view.
after this transition, the terrible storm look as if a drop of water.
A Zen story told to me many years ago, which I can still remember and which still has relevancy at least once a day:
Two monks were walking down the street after a heavy rain that left the streets quite muddy. They came upon a a lady of very easy virtue vainly attempting to find a dry path across the road without soiling her kimono.

One monk, more compassionate than the other, picked up the woman and carried her across the street, setting her down on the other side of the road. He returned to his companion and they continued down the road for some minutes until the second monk chided the first with the remark, "You really shouldn't have done that."

"Done what?"

"Why, you contaminated yourself by touching that impure woman."

"Oh, are you still carrying her? I put her down on the other side of the street."

One of the basic tenets of Zen Buddhism is that there is no way to characterize what Zen is. ... It might seem, then, that all efforts to explain Zen are complete wastes of time. But that is not the attitude of Zen masters and students. For instance, Zen koans are a central part of Zen study, verbal though they are. Koans are supposed to be "triggers" which, though they do not contain enough information in themselves to impart enlightenment, may possibly be sufficient to unlock the mechanisms inside one's mind that lead to enlightenment. But in general, the Zen attitude is that words and truth are incompatible, or at least that no words can capture truth.

...

Perhaps the most concise summary of enlightenment would be: transcending dualism. Now what is dualism? Dualism is the conceptual division of the world into categories. ... By prefixing the word "division" by the word "conceptual", I may have made it seem that this is an intellectual or conscious effort, and perhaps thereby given the impression that dualism could be overcome simply by suppressing thought (as if to suppress thinking actually were simple!). But the breaking of the world into categories takes place far below the upper strata of thought; in fact, dualism is just as much a perceptual division of the world into categories as it is a conceptual division. In other words, human perception is by nature a dualistic phenomenon--which makes the quest for enlightenment an uphill struggle, to say the least.

At the core of dualism, according to Zen, are words--just plain words. The use of words is inherently dualistic, since each word represents, quite obviously, a conceptual category. Therefore, a major part of Zen is the fight against reliance on words. To combat the use of words, one of the best devices is the koan, where words are so deeply abused that one's mind is practically left reeling, if one takes the koan seriously. Therefore it is perhaps wrong to say that the enemy of enlightenment is logic; rather, it is dualistic, verbal thinking. In fact, it is even more basic than that: it is perception. As soon as you perceive an object, you draw a line between it and the rest of the world; you divide the world, artificially, into parts, and thereby miss the Way.

Here is a short koan which demonstrates the struggle against words:

    Shuzan held out his short staff and said: "If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"

...

Why is calling it a short staff opposing its reality? Probably because such a categorization gives the appearance of capturing reality, whereas the surface has not even been scratched by such a statement. It could be compared to saying "5 is a prime number". There is so much more--an infinity of facts--that has been omitted. On the other hand, not to call it a staff is, indeed, to ignore that particular fact, miniscule as it may be. Thus words lead to some truths--some falsehood, perhaps, as well--but certainly not to all truth.

...

If words are bad, and thinking is bad, what is good? Of course, to ask this is already horribly dualistic, but we are making no pretense of being faithful to Zen in discussing Zen--so we can try to answer the question seriously. I have a name for what Zen strives for: ism. Ism is an antiphilosophy, a way of being without thinking. The masters of ism are rocks, trees, clams; but it is the fate of higher animal species to have to strive for ism, without ever being able to attain it fully. ... Zen is holism, carried to its logical extreme. If holism claims that things can only be understood as wholes, not as sums of their parts, Zen goes one step further, in maintaining that the world cannot be broken into parts at all. To divide the world into parts is to be deluded, and to miss enlightenment.

    A master was asked the question, "What is the Way?" by a curious monk.
    "It is right before your eyes," said the master.
    "Why do I not see it for myself?"
    "Because you are thinking of yourself."
    "What about you: do you see it?"
    "So long as you see double, saying 'I don't', and 'you do', and so on, your eyes are clouded," said the master.
    "When there is neither 'I' nor 'You', can one see it?"
    "When there is neither 'I' nor 'You', who is the one that wants to see it?"

Apparently the master wants to get across the idea that an enlightened state is one where the borderlines between the self and the rest of the universe is dissolved. This would truly be the end of dualism, for as he says, there is no system left which has any desire for perception. But what is that state, if not death? How can a living human being dissolve the borderlines between himself and the outside world?

Douglas R. Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid

The web browser Zen, is a small modular browser with different output targets. It is written in C, and runs on Un*x based platforms. The structure of the browser consists of 5 major parts.

The Protocols, loading files, coming from the local file system, from an HTTP source, or an FTP server.

Once the raw, unparsed HTML data is loaded into Zen, the Parser kicks in, and outputs a parsed tree of the page.

Now it's time to go through the tree structure, and look for other files to load. The Images will be downloaded, and converted to the internal format from the original PNG, JPEG or GIF format.

From now on, it's a matter of output. Layouter goes through the tree and builds a page with usable coordinates and widgets.

Finally the User interface puts all things in place using the layout data, and the library for the selected output target.

Available output targets are a plain dumb text dump, a GTK interface, and a framebuffer alternative using oFBis.

More information can be found at:

http://www.nocrew.org/software/zen/

zbeba = Z = zero

zen vt.

To figure out something by meditation or by a sudden flash of enlightenment. Originally applied to bugs, but occasionally applied to problems of life in general. "How'd you figure out the buffer allocation problem?" "Oh, I zenned it." Contrast grok, which connotes a time-extended version of zenning a system. Compare hack mode. See also guru.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

``when you are hungry, eat; when you are tired, sleep.''

Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one's being.1 The only adequate description of this ``self-nature'' is mu, that is, ``nothingness'' or ``void''... but, alas, mu helps nobody in understanding the spiritual, philosophical, and social reverberations of Zen.

Spiritually, Zen leads one to the ultimate freedom from the ultimate bondage (ignorance) via meditation. Literally, Zen means ``thinking'' or ``meditation'' and through ``thinking'' or ``meditation'' we come to the realization that we are all of the One, the void, and from this knowledge we attain spiritual tranquility.
Philosophically, Zen proposes that the infinite is indistinguishable from the finite, that the One is inseperable from the Many, that we are all God yet none of us are. It is radical empiricism: the Buddha, the originator of Zen (as will be explained later), took life as it is and did not try to read it according to his interpretation, though that is impossible epistemology speaking.2
Socially, Zen is either an amazing release from the bondage of the Mind, a cute way to title a book (``Zen and the Art of ______''), or a radical cult that promises the impossible. From most it is looked at in awe, though few have more than a vague idea about its meaning, while others see it as the currently chic trend in Hollywood (much like yoga); however, there are also many who see Zen as an excuse, or verification, for believing that all is meaningless and morality is relative. Unfortunately, and oddly, considering its awesome significance for the individual who attains Enlightenment, a devoted follower is a rare find (in America, that is).

In order to understand what Zen truly is, one must first understand the origin. The beginnings of Buddhism and Zen are so old that the historical record is vague at best. Orthodox Zen Buddhism understand the following to be the origin of Zen: the Buddha, Sakyamuni, was once preaching at the Mount of the Holy Vulture to a congregation of his disciples. He did not preach through thick rhetoric, but simply held up a flower (or a bouquet of flowers) before the people, which was presented to him by one of his lay-disciples. He spoke not a word. Nobody understood the meaning of this except Mahakasyapa, who quietly smiled at the master, as if he fully understood this teaching of the Enlightened One. The Buddha saw this and proclaimed solemnly, ``I have the most precious treasure, spiritual and transcendental, which this moment I hand over to you, O venerable Mahakasyapa!''3
Many Zen followers describe that moment as the first incident that disclosed the inmost mind of the Buddha as well as the secret of the religion. As Zen claims to be the inmost essence of Buddhism (that is, Enlightenment) and to have been directly transmitted by the Buddha to his great disciple, Mahakasyapa, followers naturally search for the moment when this transmission took place. It is known that Mahakasyapa succeeded the Buddha as the leader of (Zen) Buddhism, but as to his special transmission of Zen, there is no record in the Indian Buddhism writings.4 Regardless of whether the event at the Mount of the Holy Vulture is authentic, it can be stated that Zen really became a separate faith when the Bodhidharma brought Indian Buddhism to China (Hui-neng was the receiver of Bodhidharma's wisdom), dated to be in 520 C.E. He came to China with a special message that can be expressed as such:

A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing at the soul of man;
Seeing into one's nature and the attainment of Buddhahood.
The message was very different from the common mystic understanding of Buddhism in India. While Buddhist followers were mostly more preoccupied with following the ethics and society teachings of the Buddha, the Chinese Zen followers tried to obtain Enlightenment, the root and purpose of Buddhism. Suzuki explains the situation well in his ``Introduction'':
At the time of the introduction of Zen into China, most of the Buddhists were addicted to the discussion of highly metaphysics questions, or satisfied with the merely observing of the ethics precepts laid down by the Buddha or with the leading of a lethargy life entirely absorbed in the contemplation of the evanescence of things worldly. They all missed apprehending the great fact of life itself, which flows altogether outside of these vain exercises of the intellect or of the imagination. Bodhidharma and his successors recognized this pitiful state of affairs. Hence their proclamation of ``The Four Great Statements'' of Zen as above cited. In a word, they mean that Zen has its own way of pointing to the nature of one's own being, and that when this is done one attains to Buddhahood, in which all the contradictions and disturbances caused by the intellect are entirely harmony in a unity of higher order.
Therefore, it is said that though Zen originated after Buddhism, Buddhism is a sub-sect of Zen, a social-ethical dogma layered on top of Enlightenment. While Buddhists praise the Buddha and his teachings, Zen Buddhists praise Enlightenment and its emancipation power.

What, then, is the essence of Zen? Firstly, we must understand what the Buddha taught. The most fundamental truth the Buddha discovered after his spiritual quest is the Four Noble Truths:

  1. Life is suffering
  2. Suffering is due to attachment (desire)
  3. Attachment can be overcome
  4. There is a path for overcome attachment
Nearly every human suffers; this is obvious. But this suffering exists because we ignore or we are unaware of the fact that nothing is permanent, even ourself. We grasp to the false ideas that desire can be satisfied, that loved ones will always be with us, that `I' is fundamentally different from `you'. Because of our ignorance, we suffer; however, there is a path out of suffering: the middle way. The middle way is the crevice between idealism and materialism, hedonism and asceticism, the one and the many; it can be thought of as neither indulgence nor starvation, but the perfection in between. Via the middle way, one understands that anger and joy, for example, leave the mind as quickly as they came, if allowed to do so. One is no longer a slave to the rise and fall of all that is, but he exists outside of that realm; he steps aside and simply observes. The essence of Zen is the essence of non-attachment. Suzuki states, ``One may not be conscious of all this, and may go on indulge in those momentary pleasures that are afforded by the senses. But this being unconcious does not in the least alter the facts of life. However insistently the blind may deny the existence of the sun, they cannot annihilate it. The tropical heat will mercilessly scorch them, and if they do not take proper care they will all be wiped away from the surface of the earth.''
Zen cannot exist in the barriers of the intellect. When Zen is cut and categorized by the analytical knife something is lost... infinity cannot be understood using numbers. Because Zen is the ``alpha and the omega'' of reality, the ``infinity'' of life, it cannot be captured in words and ideas. The common analogy is: ``to point to the moon, a finger is needed, but woe to those who take the finger for the moon; a basket is welcome to carry our fish home, but when the fish are safely on the table why should we eternally bother ourselves with the basket?''5 The intellect is a barrier to our understanding of Zen but, like the finger, it must be utilized as a catalyst; Zen never explains but indicates. Logically considered, it is full of contradictions and absurdity but as it stands above all things, it goes serenely on its own way. And therefore, the truth can only be discovered through personal, direct, intuitive experience. ``Just as two stainless mirrors reflect each other, the fact and our own spirits must stand facing each other with no intervening agents. When this is done we are able to seize upon the living, pulsating fact itself.''6

The path to understanding Zen must lead toward no-mindness; the mind is ``ordinarily chock full with all kinds of intellectual nonsense and passional rubbish.'' Suzuki continues:

They are of course useful in their own ways in our daily life. There is no denying that. But it is chiefly because of these accumulations that we are made miserable and groan under the feeling of bondage. Each time we want to make a movement, they fetter us, they choke us, and cast a heavy veil over our spiritual horizon... Being so long accustomed to the oppression, the mental inertia becomes hard to remove.7
The process of ``reconstruction'' is ``stained with tears and blood'' and, historically speaking, one must surrender one's self to death, to mortality (the ultimate fear, the ultimate grasping) before understanding will be possible. At the exact moment when the student8 decides, with every fiber of his body, that he would rather die than not attain Enlightenment, he is enlightened (again, historically speaking; this statement is not to be understood as the way to Enlightenment, but merely what is often necessary for Enlightenment).
The only way to cease attachment and understand Zen, or the nature of one's self, is meditation. Zazen, or Zen meditation, has three aims: 1) development of the power of concentration (joriki), 2) satori-awakening9 (kensho-godo), and 3) actualization of the Supreme Way in our daily lives (mujudo no taigen).10 Zazen clears the mind and improves concentration via dull repetition. By monotonously uttering a word (for example, ``mu''), or counting breaths, the word or breath counting loses all meaning (similar to repeating the word ``yes'' until it no longer has any significance); at that point, when the mind is suddenly clear of all thought, the student sees Life: sounds enter and leave, sights come and go, and desire and emotion flow like a faucet over a drain. Nothing remains constant (even the no-mindness), and suffering ceases, for that short period of time. Once this experience has presented itself to the student, he must follow up with even more meditation and he must integrate meditation into every moment of his life; this integration is one of the three main purposes of Zen, of zazen (stated above). And without zazen, there is no Zen.

Contemporary Zen in America is riddled with false practices, abuse of power, and confused followers who know nothing more about Zen than its periodic waves of appeal among the fashionable. The same is that, because the Western mind is so fundamentally different from the Eastern mind, purely Eastern ideas, such as Zen, become twisted and abused as they are transplanted to Western civilizations. Contemporary mutilations of Zen include ``Dark Zen''11, merchandise such as ``Osho Zen Tarot'' cards12 and Zen clocks13, and hundreds upon hundreds of books claiming to have Zen influence (most disgustingly The Zen of Organizing: Creating Order and Peace in Your Home, Career and Life by Regina Leeds, Zen Interiors by Vinna Lee, and, the most ridiculous one yet, The Zen of Food: The Philosophy of Nourishment by Sallyann J. Murphy, whose first recipe is Pot Roast). But besides the commercialization of false-Zen, the real tragedy is from organizations such as the Internation Zen Association (AZI) which has often been accused of being authoritarian and utilizing ``mind-control'' and numerous masters of various Zen centers throughout America who have been accused of sexual and financial exploitation.14 These rare trendy and exploitive offenses against Zen cloud the judgement of possible students when considering its world-view.

In the end, Zen is simply personal liberation. Suzuki says it well:

If we feel dissatisfied somehow with this life, if there is something in our ordinary way of living that deprives us of freedom in its most sanctified sense, we must endeavor to find a way somewhere which gives us a sense of finality and contentment. Zen proposes to do this for us...15
The ultimate standpoint of Zen is that we have ``been led astray through ignorance to find a split in our own being, that there was from the very beginning no need for a struggle between the finite and the infinite, that the peace we are seeking so eagerly after has been there all the time... We are thus made to live on the superficiality of things. We may be clever, bright, and all that, but what we produce lacks depth, sincerity, and does not appeal to the inmost feelings. Some are utterly unable to create anything except makeshifts or imitations betraying their shallowness of character and want of spiritual experience.''16
Perfection is the actualization of one's self with reality:
Misty rain on Mount Lu,
And waves surging in Che-chiang;
When you have not yet been there,
Many a regret surely you have;
But once there and homeward you wend.
And how matter-of-fact things look!
Misty rain on Mount Lu,
And waves surging on Che-chiang.

-Sotoba

1 D.T. Suzuki, from ``Introduction'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
2 D.T. Suzuki, from ``Enlightenment and Ignorance'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
3 D.T. Suzuki, from ``History of Zen'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
4 D.T. Suzuki, from ``History of Zen'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
5 D.T. Suzuki, from ``Introduction'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
6 D.T. Suzuki, from ``Introduction'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
7 D.T. Suzuki, from ``Introduction'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
8 ``Student'' meaning ``one training in Zen'', not ``one studying Zen (academically)''
9 ``Satori'' is a Japanese word meaning ``enlightenment''
10 Roshi Philip Kapleau, from ``Three Aims of Zen'' of The Three Pillars of Zen, ISBN 0-3852-6093-8
11 http://www.darkzen.com
12 http://www.osho.org/Magazine/Tarot/OshoZenTarot.cfm
13 http://www.now-zen.com
14 Stuart Lachs, ``Coming Down from the Zen Clouds: A Critique of the Current State of American Zen'', available at http://www.darkzen.com/Articles/uszen3.html
15 D.T. Suzuki, from ``On Satori - The Revelation of a New Truth in Zen Buddhism'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
16 D.T. Suzuki, from ``Introduction'' of Essays in Zen Buddhism, ISBN 0-8021-5118-3
Zen is a 2001 album by DJ Krush. And lest you think the name means just another clueless wanker jumping on an oh-so-trendy bandwagon, bear in mind that not only was DJ Krush born Hideaki Ishii, but the zen in question is not 禅, "meditation", but 漸, glossed "steadily; gradually advancing; finally; barely" by JDIC. (Yup, Japanese has a lot of homonyms. For example, the Zenmart department store in Shibuya is not a clearinghouse for spiritual enlightenment, as in this case the zen is written 全, meaning simply "all" or "everything".)

Naming issues aside, perhaps the best way to think of 漸 is as a compilation album, since on every track except the first Krush collaborates with another artist, ending up with wildly divergent results. Track by track:

  1. Song 1 - The only solo track on the album, a soft, nearly ambient introduction.
  2. Zen Approach featuring Black Thought - Solid but unspectacular hiphop.
  3. Danger of Love featuring Zap Mama - Pure soul, Zap Mama croons about love and Krush-y sounds are nowhere to be heard.
  4. Sonic Traveler featuring Tunde Ayaynemi - Hip-hop backed with traditional Nigerian instruments.
  5. Duck Chase featuring phonosycographDISK - Spectacularly bizarre turntablism with Zebraneck of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz.
  6. Vision of Art featuring Company Flow - CF hitting hard with lyrics treading the thin line between brilliance and insanity ("afterburn full thrust monks react trackless / come to confront funk slugs with salt tactics...").
  7. Day's End featuring Kazufumi Kodama - A mellow beat and Kazu warbling on a trumpet, nearly jazzy.
  8. With Grace featuring N'dea Davenport - More soul set to a massive beat, but on a more melancholy note.
  9. Candle Chant (A Tribute) featuring BOSS THE MC - One of the very few decent Japanese rap songs I've heard, telling the story of a visit to a friend's grave.
  10. Endless Railway featuring Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson - Indeed.
  11. Whutz' Da Solution featuring Kukoo Da Baga Bonez - A seemingly well-intentioned but fairly annoying rap song complaining about envy and jealousy.
  12. ゴクラクチョウ論 (Paradise Bird Theory) featuring Sunja Lee - A Japanese song ineptly translated to English (typical example: 「孤独や破局感からなる破壊衝動」 becomes "impulse of destruction stems out of solitude and the air of catastrophe") and sung -- more like read, really -- by an equally inept speaker. The original lyrics are included in the CD booklet, but the original song isn't.

With this range it's really quite surprising that the album works at all, and for most part it does, although I find the last few songs to be a bit of a letdown. Based on a quick googling it seems most reviewers agree with this, except that they all disagree about which songs they don't like! (I also found the repeated attempts to draw lofty parallels to the tenets of Zen Buddhism amusing, but I digress...)

Just the same, some of the songs are absolutely brilliant, and the backdrop of Krush's massive beats eases even the transitions from (almost) gangster rap to (almost) light jazz remarkably. In all, I like it, and if you're into broken beats or hip-hop of any flavor you'll probably agree.

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