"Zen" is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese character "chan," which is in turn the Chinese translation from the Indian Sanskrit term "dhyana," meaning "meditation."
Zen, like Tao, cannot be totally explained in words. Much of your grasp of Zen must necessarily depend on your own intuition. Bodhidharma (528 A.D.) had this to say about it:
Not dependent on the written word,
Given thatís the case, the closest we can come to describing Zen in words may be as follows:
Paradox is a part of Zen and the teaching of Zen. A paradox nudges your mind into a direction other than the routine. It helps you disengage the rational mind and free up the intuition. It also points to a truth that cannot be rationally derived through the use of logic. Therefore:
It's easy for some to dismiss Zen as a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, devoid of real meaning. These would be the people who aren't yet ready to move up to this particular level of spiritual development. That's alright. Such things should not and indeed cannot be rushed. Michael Valentine Smith, the main character from Stranger in a Strange Land, would say that one must "wait for fullness" and that "waiting is."
For those who are ready to tackle the concept of Zen, here are some stories that will illustrate the meaning of Zen perfectly: