By twilight I mean a state of imperfect clarity or dubiety. Zen, as we might expect, doesn’t quite chime with our glitzy everyday world. If we dive into it, it points beyond our ordinary, everyday world to the very nature of phenomenal appearance that we are stuck in, being unable to recognize this nature (this nature is pure Mind).
Those new to Zen Buddhism eventually find themselves in ‘twilight Zen’ unable to accept, anymore, the world of appearance, but also unable to recognize the nature or essence of appearances, which is pure Mind. Because of this twilight condition, one is still conceptually seeking their true nature.
Imagine how difficult and challenging it is trying to overcome our long established habit of seeking our true nature conceptually. But eventually, when we gain some success, at this point we are in twilight Zen, not unlike something akin to the television series, The Twilight Zone.
The highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality; you're on a through route to the land of the different, the bizarre, the unexplainable. . . Go as far as you like on this road. Its limits are only those of the mind itself. You're entering that wondrous dimensions of the imagination. Next stop . . . the Twilight Zone.
While the journey that hopefully leads to overcoming the habit of conceptually seeking our true nature is, certainly, sometimes bizarre and unexplainable (for me it was), it is also wondrous. One is like a child when facing the esoteric dimension for the first time (and that is a good thing). When seeking our true nature with all the passion we can muster, our conceptual framework begins to collapse pushing us more and more into twilight Zen. When you enter, nothing seems to make sense anymore. You are moving towards that “shadowy tip of reality” where it is likely you will suddenly pass through the gateless gate.