First two years of my Zen Buddhist studies, I spent going to the local Zen temple for the Saturday and Sunday workshops and services. I go to the Tuesday and Thursday study nights. I worked various jobs during those years, enough to pay my bills.
Later I moved into the Zen Center as a staff member and lived there for another 3 years before taking off to California to live in a Zen Mountain Monastery.
Early on, a faith developed in me that urged me to continue with the training and learning. Belief started to develop over time; tested by events and by others in the Zen Center. Tempered by my faith to withstand the testing and to be tested!
I left the Zen Centers in 1997, never to set foot in another Zen Center or even a Buddhist temple since then. This is not something I am proud of, or claim anything about, it is simply that my own faith and belief no longer found a home there; in which Scientism, Marxism, and ‘Woke’ politics took over.
Last year, I received a letter from a Zen student in San Diego who said that the teacher and the senior students never even talk about Buddha, the Sutras, or even the tennets of Zen. Rather they just meditate, then engage in a ‘Struggle Session’ in where they purge out of themselves and others ‘wrong think’ and praise ‘Wokeness’ as the enlightenment.
I have received emails from Zen teachers whose students send them my videos. It is always with them: Who’s lineage are you with? Do you have permission to teach? LOL, that is the Karate Club attitude, nothing at all to do with Zen Buddhism – NOTHING AT ALL. Avoid those foolish people, they will just run you around for years, and you will find that dogma is a poor substitute for real Faith and Belief.
I spent a number of years visiting various dharma centers from 93 to 97. I visited Theravada, Tibetan, different Zen lineages, Ch’an, and even Hindu. Though most people I meet were foolish idiots, there were a few that genuinely knew ‘the path’ and could actually teach. Yet, as it goes, those who could teach often were very reserved as to who they taught and when they taught, and those who could not teach (those foolish idiots) easily spread their foolishness everywhere and to everyone at all times.
Many read a lot of religious literature the hopes of developing a True Faith and Belief. Some sit years if not decades of ‘Zazen’ in hopes of attaining Faith and Belief. There is a True Understanding that comes with True Faith and Belief that is elusive for so many. So, they try many things to ‘muster up’ to Develop ‘faith and belief’, from performing of rites and ceremonies to the attainment of Chruch ranks and vestiges, in the hope that “something will happen” and they gain enlightenment. They will actually tell you this, when you can get them to speak to truth about what is going on with them.
So, there really is no specific book or manuscript to read that will bring you understanding. There is no practice or performance you can do that will bring you anything that is not already with you. Sitting meditation won’t do anything at all, even the old Zen master of Ch’an say that.
The Zen poem by Jianzhi Sengcan, encapsulates everything I am saying. It is the famous Hsin Hsin Ming, recited often in the temple rooms by Zen monks.
Here is an audio recording of the reading of this Zen poem.