Life seems to deal in a quantum way, in whole units.
There are stories where the Zen master says something, and the student is said to be ‘enlightened’. In that moment the words didn’t matter as much as the students thinking, and what will do that for any student differs. This is why you see the symbol of the dorje or lighting bolt in Buddhism, because in fact the Buddha was said to have achieved that understanding on his own and of an instant. Zen follows the idea that we can do the same. So if I were to discuss your world view with you, when you are seeing the superficiality of it and if you were truly aware in that moment, then you can realize that you were never entrapped. This is why the realization seems like a lightning bolt. Not only are you freed, but you were never any other way. Sudden enlightenment.
There can be many ‘little’ enlightenments in this path. Zen speaks of that. You can be for a moment in satori and yet fall back into your conditioning, but after the first even your conditioning is not as strong as it was before. So even though you lose satori you don’t. It makes Zen seem impossible to some who are very emotionally invested in what they see as their nature. As a matter of fact, Buddhism teaches that the origin of suffering is attachment and some think it means that Buddhism is anti-emotional. In fact that’s very far from the truth. What they speak of is not your experience of emotion, but your attachment to it. The idea that anger is bad which in fact warps the anger, changing it from something natural into a psychosis that in some beliefs is called sin. Same with any other emotion. We escalate it with our conditioning and twist it, when in fact it’s just an experience and you can make choices from insight not from reactionary conditioning.
Some religion’s idea that lust is bad warps it into a sort of psychosis as well. When in fact it’s a very natural reaction that makes us seek to pair bond as we need to do to perpetuate the species. It’s not the only element and lust is only obsessive in its taboo form. Much of what we call real life is very far from real.
Many get their ideas about Zen from the Alan Watts lectures. Some people think his version of Zen is watered down for western audiences. But if you are truly a student of Zen then you know that is not possible. Zen isn’t a doctrine that can be watered down, and no words can replace experience.
So Zen isn’t something you can believe. It’s connected to a belief. Buddhism. Which in many schools is still not something you take on faith. Not a faith, it is a body of insights. Zen is questions and understanding that you question. How you question and that your questions are questions.
May this inspire your seeking. Be well friends.