The word zen comes from dhyan. Buddha used a certain language, a local language of his times, Pali. In Pali dhyan is pronounced “jhan”; it is from jhan that zen has arisen. The word comes from jhan; jhan comes from the Sanskrit dhyan.
To understand Zen you need not make a philosophical effort; you have to go deep into meditation. And what is meditation all about? Meditation is a jump from the mind into no-mind, from thoughts to no-thought. Mind means thinking, no-mind means pure awareness. One simply is aware. Only then will you be able to understand Zen – through experience, not through any intellectual effort.
There is one nature, perfect and penetrative, present in all natures;
one reality which includes all, comprising all realities in itself.
The one moon is reflected wherever there is water.
And all moons in water are comprised in the one moon.
The moment you move beyond the mind, suddenly you have moved from the many to the one. Minds are many, consciousness is one. On the circumference we are different, at the center we are one. That one can be called brahman, can be called God, the absolute, the truth, nirvana.
Zen calls it no-mind for a particular reason. If you call it God, then people start thinking in terms of a person, they start imagining a person – of course the suprememost person, but their idea of personality is derived from human personality; it is a projection, it is not truth.
The Bible says God created man in his own image; that is not true. Man has created God in his own image; that is far more true. The god that we have created is our idea, it is anthropocentric. If horses were philosophers then God could not be a man, then God would be a supreme horse. If donkeys were philosophers – and who knows? – they may be; they look very serious, always brooding, as if in deep contemplation, thinking of great things… Watch a donkey and you will be certainly aware of this simple fact that donkeys are great thinkers. They are constantly somewhere else far away, involved in great esoteric things; that’s why people think they are fools. They are not fools, they are philosophers. If donkeys are thinking, if they are theologians, theosophists, philosophers, then God will be a supreme donkey. God cannot be a man, that’s impossible. They cannot imagine God to be a man.
Hence Zen avoids any anthropocentric terminologies, any words that can become associated with our circumference. It does not call God brahman because that is a philosophical term; maybe the best philosophical term, but even the best philosophical term is still philosophy, and philosophy is something of the mind – you can think about brahman.