- D.T. Suzuki: "Looking into one's nature or the opening of satori"; "This acquiring of a new point of view in our dealings with life and the world is popularly called by Japanese Zen students 'satori' (wu in Chinese). It is really another name for Enlightenment ("Annuttara-samyak-sambodhi")".
Satori is often used interchangeably with kenshō. Kenshō refers to the perception of the Buddha-Nature or emptiness. According to some authors, kenshō is a brief glimpse, while satori is considered to be a deeper spiritual experience.
Importance of satori
According to D. T. Suzuki,
- Satori is the raison d'être of Zen, without which Zen is no Zen. Therefore every contrivance, disciplinary and doctrinal, is directed towards satori.
- Ch'an expressions refer to enlightenment as "seeing your self-nature". But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch'an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the same as of the Buddha, you are not yet a full Buddha.
The student's mind must be prepared by rigorous study, with the use of koans, and the practice of meditation to concentrate the mind, under the guidance of a teacher. Koans are short anecdotes of verbal exchanges between teachers and students, typically of the Song dynasty, dealing with Buddhist teachings. The Rinzai-school utilizes classic collections of koans such as the Gateless Gate. The Gateless Gate was assembled by the early 13th century Chinese Zen master Wumen Hui-k'ai (無門慧開).
Wumen himself struggled for six years with koan "Zhaozhou’s dog", assigned to him by Yuelin Shiguan (月林師觀; Japanese: Gatsurin Shikan) (1143–1217), before attaining kenshō. After his understanding had been confirmed by Yuelin, Wumen wrote the following enlightenment poem: