Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ), also known as the dialectical method, is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. The term dialectic is not synonymous with the term debate.
Zen philosophy is so darn weird and wonderful that has fascinated people since the Western civilization has come in contact with it.
Wherever you are a Buddhist, or a neophyte you have probably read or heard a koan or two.
Like the famous “Does a tree falling in the forest make any noise?” or “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
They are intriguing little quips of whimsical wisdom that entice us to think but at the same time seem impossible riddles to understand or solve.
That is the mistake all Zen students make. Koans are not meant to be understood.
It is that it is. There is nothing to understand.
Enlightenment cannot be taught.
Enlightenment can be only achieved and experienced.
Enlightenment is not something that you know; enlightenment is a state of mind, like being in love.
Reality is the ultimate truth. The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
So how do you tech reality?
How does a Zen master teaches what cannot be taught?
The only thing a Zen master can do is destroy your rational mind, to show you the inadequacy of logical thinking and thus to force you to accept the ultimate truth.
It is that it is.
So every time the student asks a question or comes up with an answer the teacher knows that those are just shadows of the reality.
So he devises a counter argument “a reality check” response to the student.
The counterargument is not meant to clarify the problem but to make it even more absurd.
In the end the student has no choice but to give up, to look beyond the words, to see the reality as it is, not as perception and fall in love with it.
This is the principle of Zen dialectic and has been used for centuries to create enlightenment in the Zen student,
The problem with that is when trying to encapsulate that wisdom in words, to put it in books, you lose the dynamic interaction, the dialectic that is the motor of the enlightenment process.
You end up with a bunch of anecdotes, of stories about stories that are supposed to teach you NOTHING.
And NOTHING is a damn hard thing to understand.