“What’s the function of Zen?” Gerry Shishin Wick said, repeating the question I put to him. “Well, you know, I think if you’d asked me that question at different points in my career, you’d get different answers. And I guess we’re going to take a time-slice right now. I think the function of Zen is to disseminate the essential teachings of the Buddha in a form that can be digested by a non-Buddhist public in order to build a strong enough base of interest in meditation and in Zen Buddhism from which we might find some people who are willing to go deep into it so that they have realizations which preserve the original intent of the teachings in order to carry them forward. So, how’s that for a mouthful?
“I mean, if you’d’ve asked me forty years ago, I would have said, ‘To realize one’s essential nature or to realize No Self and impermanence and all that.’ But now I think it’s more important that more people get exposed to it. And I don’t think everybody’s going to have a deep, abiding understanding of it, but as long as there’s a few people. . . .” He shrugged. “I just don’t think there’s that many Sixth Patriarchs or Hakuins or Dogens out there. You know?
[Gerry Shishin Wick - Cypress Trees in the Garden: 19, 19-20, 125, 289-302, 472]
[See also: Shishin Wick]