Thoughts are the story we tell ourselves about a thing and not the thing itself. The closest we can get to understanding or connecting with a thing is through observing it without thought. As soon as we begin to think we place a screen between ourselves and the thing we are observing and are no longer in touch with the thing, itself.
This message has been shared by sages throughout the ages with a recent example being Krishnamurti, the idiosyncratic Indian mystic.
Zen Buddhism also focuses on the importance of thoughtless perception which is why they are hesitant to label things and promote a doctrine. Instead, Zen teachers encourage students to hone their own perceptive ability through meditation and to come to their own conclusions about life.
See also: Using subtle feelings to navigate through life by Stuart Wilde.