the beginning of the 1977 Peace Press first edition
The Art of Zen MeditationThis small book is intended as an introduction to the art of Zen meditation. Since Zen masters are fond of stating that Zen is the most direct and obvious thing the world, a simple manual for the art of Zen is neither extraordinary nor presumptuous; but it must be presented with the additional reminder that while Zen meditation is very simple, very direct, very ordinary, it is also very difficult and very frustrating. There is no ladder of ascension; there are no points; there is no score; and as for the rewards, they are not to be spoken of, or calculated, or even expected, and if one demands to know what they are, a proper Zen answer would be a simple shrug of the shoulders.
Nevertheless, for those who undertake the process of Zen meditation and stay with it, the process becomes the most important and central fact in their lives. And if Zen meditation promises nothing, it very often achieves more than all the rest of living can grant a person. And while this is intended as an instruction in doing the process of meditation, I feel that a few words about Zen, as I understand it, are not inappropriate.
About five hundred years before our own era, there lived in the north of India, a royal prince whose name was Siddhartha Guatama...