Zen, the practice of locating, "Nothing," began in China around the time of the Tang Dynasty Zen was originally taught as the Chan or Cha school of meditation. It is a teaching of Mahayana Buddhism that through the passage of time has been created and re-created into various subsections and paths to an alternate form of enlightenment.
Zen is actually the Japanese version of the word Cha in Mandarin. I like to use the word Zen myself because is sounds cooler.
Zazen is the practice of sitting, standing, lying down, or any combination of positions, to focus on the breath and put your mind directly into the path of what you are thinking at that moment. To practice Zen breathing for Zazen is fairly simple, but can become difficult. The objective is to capture one thought and focus on that thought. Eventually your thought will begin to revolve around your breathing. The technique is simple, however elegant, Breath in the nose and out the mouth a little longer than the breath in. At it's outcome there is no counting just breathing, but to get there it is a good idea to count out the time you breath in verses the time you breath out. For instance if you breath in for a count of 10, you breath out slowly for a count of 20, and so forth. This leads to the eventual just breath and pay it no mind thinking.
After you managed to get your breathing in order it's time to get your thinking in order. That's the hard part. Human beings tend to wander from thought to thought in milliseconds and can go through a whole days of ilk in less than 5 minutes. The goal is to focus on one thing at a time while you're breathing in and out rhythmically. Eventually you're only thinking about your breathing, and that to will disappear and you will be focused on the void. These moments will come sporadically and last for brief moments. The time spent in the void will grow longer the more Zazen is practiced. In a few years enlightenment may wander into your focus and the answers to long asked questions will present themselves. Fantastic!
At this point you realize that Zen has really nothing to do with classical Buddhism. It is a science of clearing the mind. If you choose to ponder the Kaon of the Buddha, or reflect on the Great Path is up to you, but not necessary. You can practice Zen in any form of religion or faith. Just focus on that particular path, or not. Again, it's all up to you. I focus on the Void.
Zen will present itself in interesting ways. Questions will come to you from that space, and the answers to the same questions will come from that space. Sometimes the answers come before the questions, time in not relevant.
Zen is a Great circle starting at the beginning and traveling through the ending, returning to the beginning. Such is the path of the seeker, to find him/herself looking back from the opposite side of the mirror.
Peace and Balance,
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