Most Zen Center students have no clue as to why they even engage in ‘Sitting meditation’ AKA “Zazen” other than the fact that someone in robes with a shaved head told them to.
Very few of the Zen students bother to want to know where ‘Zazen’ came from, or even care that it is an invented practice that was not even implemented in Japanese Zen till the 17th century according to Gudo Wafu Nishijima who was one of the first translators of Dogen for the west.
The Mahayana canon clearly states there is NO PRACTICE that will make one a Buddha. The many Recorded Sayings of Zen Masters echos this statement. Yet, modern zen ignores it and engages in these Materialistic practices in the belief that one will get something from them.
Old Zen Story:
Nangaku one day goes to Baso’s hut, where Baso stands waiting. Nangaku asks, “What are you doing these days?”
Baso says, “These days Dōitsu just sits.”
Nangaku says, “What is the aim of sitting in zazen?”
Baso says, “The aim of sitting in zazen is to become Buddha.”
Nangaku promptly fetches a tile and polishes it on a rock near Baso’s hut.
Baso, on seeing this, asks, “What is the master doing?”
Nangaku says, “Polishing a tile.”
Baso says, “What is the use of polishing a tile?”
Nangaku says, “I am polishing it into a mirror.”
Baso says, “How can polishing a tile make it into a mirror?”
Nangaku says, “How can sitting in zazen make you into a buddha?”
The article Bendowa (claimed to have been written by Dogen and found in the 17th century in a Kyoto temple) is where Japanese Zen suddenly starts with the Zazen cults, though this is also the time of the Meji restoration, a very turbulent political time in Japans history and where Buddhism is effectively ended in the country. Again, most zen students do not read this stuff and have no clue.
Bendowa is suspected as a forgery, though there is no proof to cite it as authentic either. However, the Zen family lineages in Japan adopted it and the practice of Zazen became ‘traditional’, though Zen in Japan is considered a Funeral Religion and not one that people actually join. You see, the Japanese only go to the Zen priest to perform funerals for the deceased.
So, there you have it. Zazen is a misunderstood and false teaching coming out of Japan. It has nothing at all to do with Zen or Buddhism, despite what all the brainwashed shaved-headed robe-wearing people say.