Zen and the Art of Zen was many, many years in the making. When I discovered Zen in my late teens I first though, "oh, there's a name for it." I felt I had been practising Zen for as long as I could remember. Yes there are some reasons for this including a possible mental break and self discoveries but this isn't about all that. Realizing Zen had I name I was surprised to learn there was a large body of writing about it. Books and books worth. True quite a few of these books were really chronicles of peoples experiences with or around Zen, but many of them also proposed to be instruction manuals, or rules for Zen. Frankly this felt wrong. All Zen instruction I could find felt ridiculously overwrought.

 It's human nature to seek out knowledge, to attempt to understand something by learning as much as you can about it and by building up rules and instructions. But by it's very nature Zen does not submit to this. How can you write a 40,000 word book on Zen? To my mind it'd be like claiming to have photographed a vacuum. If that book were to truly have a Zen nature it would be all blank pages. This is the conundrum that has always faced those who attempt to teach Zen, how do you impart knowledge of something that isn't knowledge? You can only describe the things around it, or the effects of it, but you can't describe the thing itself.

So I knew I had to write something of my own about Zen, something that would have a Zen nature itself. Not a Koan. Not something meant to teach Zen but something about Zen. Something that summed up my knowledge of Zen in a way that didn't betray the essence of Zen at the same time. Over the last 25 years I have sat down numerous times to write that piece without success. Inevitably the writing would turn towards a chronicle of my personal experiences with it, or my instructions and explanations would grow in detail and complexity and all the while I could feel the Zen nature of the piece slip quickly away until it was gone and I was left with junk.

This would always happen within the first couple of paragraphs, it was quite discouraging. How do you capture Zen in words in such a way as to be at all useful to those who don't already understand? Recently I've been especially focused on this Zen puzzle, and one morning two days ago I was walking our Pug dog when I saw a smooth white stone in the turf. I bent down to pick it up and realized it was a small bird egg, pleasantly smooth and rounded. It was a sign I realized, it was time I accepted that Zen can not be captured in words but what I really wished to do was make a Zen egg, or seed. Something that people could get into their minds which could, given time and consideration, develop into a realization of Zen.

It bothered me at first that the sign for this revelation was obviously a dead egg. A cold one found on the ground, probably pushed out of it's nest because it had failed to be fertile or for some other flaw. But then it came to me that what I would have to write would be, in essence, a dead egg. Just words on paper. The real egg, the warm living thing full of potential, would have to form in the mind of the reader.

The Zen Way can not be taught, only various methods of realizing it can be taught, and various ways to use it. 

 Don't let Zen teachings cloud your Way.

 Everything you need to know is already there.