We understand the specific attraction of Zen Buddhism when we realize the extent to which the contemporary West is animated by “prophetic faith,” the sense of the holiness of the ought, the pull of the way things could be and should be but as yet are not. Such faith has obvious virtues, but unless it is balanced by a companion sense of the holiness of the is, it becomes top-heavy. If one’s eyes are always on tomorrows, todays slip by unperceived. To a West which in its concern to refashion heaven and earth is in danger of letting the presentness of life – the only life we really have – slip through its fingers, Zen comes as a reminder that if we do not learn to perceive the mystery and beauty of our present life, our present hour, we shall not perceive the worth of any life, of any hour.
Three Pillars of Zen – Philip Kapleau (from the introduction by Huston Smith)