Neither the words of the Buddha nor Zen masters—nor by sitting in zazen for many years is the mysterious, ineffable goal of Zen revealed. All this is just skillful means 方便. Many times it helps a little, but sometimes it doesn’t help at all. It depends upon the person, ultimately. Are we capable of understanding Zen or not?
This can easily turn into a crisis where we might have to rely almost completely on our self. For now, let’s say that we have found a teacher at some Soto Zen center. But wait a minute. Soto Zen found by Dogen Zenji doesn’t believe in kensho, that is, seeing our Buddha-nature which is one of the four slogans attributed to Bodhidharma which says: see one’s nature/kensho and become Buddha.
"Although he [Dōgen] accepted many of the tenets embraced by his peers, he objected to the term kenshō. To Dōgen this expression suggested at least two false dualisms—practice versus enlightenment, and "seeing" versus "True-nature." Accordingly, he criticized the famous line "see [True-]nature and become Buddha" from the stanza attributed to Bodhidharma. Although he acknowledged Hui-neng's sudden enlightenment, he also attacked the Platform Sutra for its endorsement of kenshō: "In the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch are the words 'to see [True-]nature.' This work is a forgery...not to be trusted or used by any descendants of the buddhas and patriarchs." As is often the case with Dōgen, his stance can be seen as a creative refinement of Zen teachings, or a partisan attempt to discredit a rival lineage, or both” (Kenneth Kraft, Eloquent Zen: Daito and Early Japanese Zen, p. 92).
Dogen believed, essentially, that everything even impermanence is the Buddha-nature so why knock yourself out trying to have kensho—you’re already there! Just sit and you’ll find yourself becoming a Buddha. But Dogen’s Zen really doesn’t agree with Zen going back to Bodhidharma and through Huineng. It doesn’t even comport with Buddhism. Sure, we all have the Buddha-nature potentially but actualizing it is the problem which is why we can’t take chances with traditions like Soto Zen which deviates from traditional Zen.
So, should we continue to stick with our Soto Zen center? It is probably better to rely upon our self and trying to awaken to our own nature. The Sixth Patriarch Huineng said, “If you know the mind and see its true nature, you then awaken to the cardinal meaning.” Such a nature is the pure Mind that we instantly intuit when the illusory arisings of the false mind have suddenly stopped.