May you who read this be as baffled as I who write it. The subject, it almost goes without saying, is Zen. Is enlightenment bewilderment? If so, we’re on the right path.

“Many people,” writes Zen priest Sekkei Harada in “The Essence of Zen” (2008), “think Zen is something difficult. This is a misunderstanding ... Zen is an extremely clear and concise teaching.”

Maybe it is. History suggests as much. Its advent in Japan is usually credited to the monk Eisai (1141-1215), who’d mastered it in China. It took root early in the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), appealing primarily to the samurai warriors then gaining ascendancy (they were to maintain it for 500 years) — simple men impatient with earlier and more abstruse forms of Buddhism requiring arduous study and monkish withdrawal from active life. Zen — in the words of historian George Sansom — “does not depend on scriptures, it has no elaborate philosophy; it is indeed almost anti-philosophical in that it stresses the importance of a realization of truth which comes as a vision due to introspection and not to the study of other men’s words.” Truth just hits you; you don’t learn it, you don’t study it, you awaken to it. The Chinese priest Nan-chuan (Nansen in Japanese, 748-834) expressed this succinctly and beautifully: “Knowing is false knowledge; not knowing is blind ignorance.”