Zen has a reputation for being mysterious and inscrutable; the hype generated from within Zen often doesn’t help.
In my experience, though, it comes down to something very simple: zazen (aka vipassanā or insight meditation) is like a gym workout for a very particular circuit in your brain: the “letting go” one.
Even if your brain is full of noise as you sit, each time you let go of a train of thought, that’s like one rep with a dumbbell.
An important reason to have a teacher in Zen is to have someone to tell you to ignore certain side effects: voices in your head as you fall asleep, feelings of cosmic significance. That’s makyō, the devil’s cave. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makyo
Ignore those, though, and you’ll eventually get occasional moments of peace and quiet, or what they describe as “thusness” or “suchness”; the things people talk about as “kensho” and “satori”.
These are just moments, though. They aren’t a matter of having crossed over to another shore. Even the Buddha kept sitting all his life; he didn’t become an “enlightened being” who didn’t need to continue practicing.
@mithriltabby Yeah, the quiet headspace from vipassana can be HUGE for folks.
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