I am practicing Zen since 2002 and received the Spiritual Transmission from my teacher Yangil Sunim 5 years ago. It means I became “awakened” or enlightened and may teach.
To be awake in a spiritual way means to mindfully experience the existing reality of the moment inside and around self. Nothing to boast about, nothing to do with bliss, miracle or special divine power.
To find it is an inside job thru practice and not thru reading, Master or PhD degrees.
Having not experienced any miraculous change of enlightenment, I take comfort in the Zen teaching which assures me that this world is not what it appears thru my ego-driven mind using endless thinking , mindset traps, ongoing judgment, desires, hatred, day dreaming, illusion, search for controlling this and that and, finally, permanent quest for ongoing happiness from the outside world.
Enlightenment is telling me how life and people are what they are and not what I want them to be.
This does not mean to give up on every thing or live like a recluse, it means to have a peace of mind and serenity for proper decisions.
Zen is an experience, the way of being and doing in the precise moment. This is why it is so difficult to explain with words. It is a Buddhist practice that comes from Buddha (the Awakened one) in India 2,500 years ago, spread into China under the influence of Taoism and then to the rest of Asia and finally in the Western world at the beginning of the century. Teaching was made by a series of Zen Masters who have realized enlightenment and then, passed on that enlightenment on to lay people.
The trick of passing on enlightenment is a mind-to-mind process: no Doctorate in Divinity, no exam, no zillions of books to read just the ability to experience the difference between what is the existing reality as oppose to the mind-made virtual one.
Zen practice is being and doing in a mindful way in the moment.
Mindfulness-based meditation and being /doing in the moment are the central core of Zen practice. Nothing else, no gimmick. This is awakening, the opposite to day dreaming all day long.
If you want to learn to meditate, it is very simple. Focusing on posture and breathing, watching the mind in a mindfulness way and being in the moment define meditation.
Being in the moment is not rocket science, here are few examples:
While eating, just eat; when being in the bathroom, just be in the room, etc.
“Just” means that you bring your mind where your body is and what it is doing rather than having the mind elsewhere as its always does. The mind is a time machine switching from past to future all the time.
Being in the moment implies to be mindful of your body, your 5 senses, what you do, what you think and to your environment.
If this moment can be positive, enjoy; if it is negative, accept it. It will go since very thing is transient.
Many of your ongoing actions and thoughts can be meditation on the go, because you can always be watching your mind, body and environment for short instants.
Then you may recognize that your mind/body is part of the entire universe and the entire universe is part of you. Everything becomes one and the selfish, separate ego is fading out.
At that point you, you realize that you are have been driven mainly by your ego controlling desires, hatred and illusions but, now you are filled with openness and compassion for any living beings.