The excerpt below comes from an intro- duction to zazen I wrote titled “The Still Point.”
From time immemorial, zazen has been the dwelling place of great sages. Wise ones and sages have all made zazen their own chambers, their own mind, their own body. And through these wise ones and sages, zazen has been actualized. However many great sages and wise ones we suppose have entered into zazen, ever since they have entered, no one has ever met a single one of them. There is only the actualization of the life of zazen. Not a single trace of their having entered remains.
The countenance of zazen is completely different when we are in the world gazing off at zazen than when we are in zazen meeting zazen. Our consideration and understanding of the activity and the non-activity of zazen should not be the same as the dragon’s under- standing. Humans and devas reside in their own worlds. Other beings may have doubts about this, or again they may not. Therefore, without giving way to our surprise and doubt, we should study the words and activity of zazen with the buddhas and ancestors.
Taking one view, there is the activity of zazen. Taking another, there is the stillness of zazen. At one time there is activity, another time there is stillness. If our study is not like this, it is not the true zazen of the Tathagata.
We should clearly realize that zazen is not meditation, contemplation, visualization, or mindfulness. It is not to be found in the mudra, chakra, mantra, or koan. Neither in its stillness nor its functioning, its seated or its active form can zazen be said to be meditation. Zazen is not single-pointedness of mind, no mind, aware mind, or transcendental mind. It is not revealed in words or letters, and is only transmitted one-to-one, from buddha to buddha.