The hippy world brought chaos to all American norms. The hippies searched the world for new perspectives and new ways of living.
In San Francisco they found a Zen priest, Shunryu Suzuki san, who had come to America particularly to teach Zen to the people whom he viewed as open and curious. By 1971, when I found his disciples, he had a solid organization alive and vital. In the middle of the 'scene'.
I spent many years learning about Zen and practicing its teachings. Suzuki, who wrote Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, had one main disciple, Dick Baker, who became a close friend of mine. Dick, was brilliant and exciting in an exciting milieu.
Zen seemed to offer a new approach for humans. Sitting motionlessly for hours, days and weeks, with an empty mind brought a clear view of the world without the on-going video that endlessly plays in our heads. The empty-mind-world was fascinating to me. The teachings that explained it as the 'original mind' or 'big mind' were a well developed 2,500 year old oral tradition. That rationale on top of the experience was also fascinating.
I remained associated with Zen for the next four decades. Unfortunately the hope and promise that Zen appeared to offer me, turned out to be imaginary. Zen is no different than the mainstream American religions that failed their followers, too. Zen, like Methodism, Lutheranism, Reform Judaism and the rest of the mainstream religions became ideological caucuses for the Left wing of the American Democrat Party.
This hit me painfully when a 40 year practicing Zen abbott (Norman Fischer) gave a favorable memorial pitch for a Jew-hating communist poet. The same view of the world he held when he started practicing Zen at age 18.
I realized that sitting on a pillow, quietly for any amount of time, hours, days, years, does not help anyone get through the period of age 20 to 25 when the brain becomes hardboiled and freezes all original thought capacity.
Zen fails. People who practice Zen will not come out appreciating the be-here-now world of commerce if they started out with the normative anti-commerce values.