Only cultural Japanese Zen and cultural Chinese Ch’an have shown up here, and westerners simply made a Secret Society out of these Foreign cultural forms.
What Zen is, has nothing to do whatsoever with Japanese culture. Zen is just the Japanese word for Ch’an, and that being the Chinese word for the Sanskrit worked Dhyāna that crudely means to ‘meditate’, though better translates as “Too observer, too see”. To see what? I will explain shortly.
Zen in the West is primarily known by the Zen Centers and those who minister at the Zen Centers. yet, with careful examination we find that the Zen Centers actually do not teach Zen, rather they teach cultural appropriation where Westerners act and behave as medieval Japanese temple monks, still within the Imperial Japanese society that simply stop existing after WW2.
Many Zen students protest my words, insisting that Zazen is “Zen”, yet if we look at this ‘Zazen’ we find it to be nothing more than a performance art, that of sitting like a ‘Buddha statue’, in where ‘One becomes a Buddha’ and is enlightened while in that position. (This is the core teachings of Dogenism, an popular teaching in Western Zen centers)
Furthermore, the Western Zen centers structure themselves in the format of a Secret Society. There are initiations, naming ceremonies, trials and testing (called sessins), advancements in the Secret Society (Shihō – Dharma Transmission), levels of Monkhood (degrees of vows or if the student lives at the organization compound or not), and lastly they can kick out and ex-communicate members who do not behave as to their liking (just like any secret society does when a member fall out of favor).
As to what then is Zen? D.T. Suzuki called it “no-mind”, and it’s been referred to as a ‘Silent knowing” but what The Zennist calls “Intuition” and is the best fitting word. Zen, therefore, is not only found in Zazen as the Dogenist (those who are in the cult of Dogen, a 12th century Japanese Monk) will insist, where this Intuition is honed and developed by the Zen student where the truth is known of all things and brings an ‘enlightenment mindset’ to all things.
One only has to look at the Dogenist, that student of the Zen Centers, to see that they captivated with wearing robes, making the magick bibs that they wear to denote rank and status (much like the Masonic aprons), and of course the Hair cuts. Zen center students are very prideful of their accomplishments, their years of service in the secret society, and their level of involvement (Teacher, assistant teacher, practice lead, senior student, and so on…Just like the Masons)
If the Zen Centers were to actually teach Zen, then the environments would be very different. For the teachers would be all about the student waking up to the intuitive knowing, that can often be found in Martial Arts (archery, rifle marksman, and fine arts). For the role of the teacher is to push the student away from relying on conceptual-concrete thinking, and to use their ‘intuition’ or we can even say ‘imagination’, a creative process where those things you call ‘yourself’ drop away, and unlimited potentials and possibilities are shown.