The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was right when he said that the discovery of truth is prevented more effectively by our preconceived opinions and prejudices. The entire struggle of the Zen adept to attain kenshō (見性) is made almost impossible by the extent to which the adept clings to their opinions and prejudices about Zen and enlightenment.
If you could look inside the mind of the Zen adept there would be a small library of wrong opinions and deep-seated prejudices. Making matters worse some of these people rely on teachers who have ignored kenshō; who see no necessity for it in Zen preferring, instead, to stick to lots of seated meditation.
Beginners often come pre-packed with lots of wrong opinions and prejudices. I think I have blogged about this a few times before. Some of these beginners cannot even manage to articulate their opinions about Zen, certainly not coherently. It’s even worse when it comes to koans. They think they understand some of them. But when they are pressed as to what the koan is alluding to, they can’t find any words. Having difficulty with koans doesn’t mean that they are open minded, either, free of their long held prejudices. Far from it! They are still entrenched.
For me back in the 1960s, I had read enough of D.T. Suzuki’s books about Zen to come to the conclusion that there was an experience one gained whereby they had mastered Zen. But it took me several more years to look inside my self for this pure Mind like it was a matter of life and death. I certainly had the faith that it was there even though I had not yet seen it face to face.
Do I think the average person today who is interested in studying Zen is where I was at? Not from what I have seen. Zen has become a cult of doing seated meditation and reading koans both of which lead to a dead end. Studying Buddhism from the Pali canon or studying Mahayana Buddhism doesn’t work either. What is missing is an open mind free of opinions and prejudices.