Zen Buddhist koan
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Zen Buddhist koan
Literary artifacts that light up the nature of being alive.
Curated by John Wark
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Zen Buddhist koan

Zen Buddhist koan | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

Read the full text of a curated article by clicking on its headline.

 

This site is semi-frequently updated and "curated" (edited, filtered) by a lay practitioner. 

If you find it valuable, you're invited to follow it and pass the URL on to friends. Please also suggest additions, changes, interesting posts.

The material includes blogs, news items, videos, tweets, scholarly works etc.

So send interesting links!

About the title. It could read simply "Zen koan." I added the word "Buddhist" thinking it might enable a greater number of searches to discover this site.

I also had qualms about describing koans as "literary artifacts." Although they are just that in a literary-historical sense. In actual practice, we acknowledge that a koan is as alive as you or I by stepping forward and enacting its truth.

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ENGAGING THE ZEN KOAN - Patheos (blog)

ENGAGING THE ZEN KOAN
Patheos (blog)
In fact the American Zen master Robert Aitken suggests a koan is “a matter to be made clear.” Here we get a bit closer to the heart of the matter. Koans are set to open us up, to take us some place.
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thezensite: Working with Koans

John Tarrant discusses how a zen student should work with koans...


...For example, Huang-po (??) the teacher of Lin-chi, who is usually thought of as the founder of the koan tradition. He died in 850 of our era. Here are his instructions on doing the work. I'll just read you a little bit from it. These instructions are quite old —1100 years maybe.


         If you have been unable to penetrate through, I guarantee you that          when the last day of your life arrives, you will be frantic.

Nice to have some things be certain, isn't it?


          When you are suddenly facing the end of life, what

will you use to fend off birth and death? Don't wait till you

are thirsty to dig the well. If you neglect to do the work,

then when the end approaches your limbs will not be properly arranged, the road ahead will be vague and you will whirl

about in confusion bumping into things. How painful. I urge

you all to take advantage of the period when you are physically

strong to seek and find clear insight. This key link is very easy.

It is just that you must mobilize your will to the utmost to do it.


It's not enough to say over and over again how hard it is...

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'Nirvana' A poem by Charles Bukowski, read by Tom Waits

Nirvana by Charles Bukowski not much chance, completely cut loose from purpose, he was a young man riding a bus through North Carolina on the way to somewher...

 

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Zen BuddhismTeachings - Koan Practice

by Genjo Marinello...

 

ZB Note: Pretty good intro to koan study here, straight through to the bottom.

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More on Koans and Who Gets to Comment | Sweeping Zen

More on Koans and Who Gets to Comment | Sweeping Zen | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

[Excerpt]

 

(Note: The things Dosho says here are important and clear points, helpful to know before one begins koan introspection practice. Especially the stress on the person-to-person realtional heart of the matter. You could even let this little riff carry you to the threshold of such a meeting, and then bow and walk in, and give that old lion's mane a really good hard yank! If you dare. It's always a humbling, fathomless  experience  to discover who roars back. And thank goodness for these old odd forms, because you'd never get it on video! And a tweet, while it may get us closer by giving us less to work with, is still like be presented with only a scrape of fender paint. I can already hear the lion asking me to stand up and present: Where is the car? What is the model? The make? What was happening in the instant of the mishap as the paint was lifted? )  

 

... For koan Zen, they’re not only teaching stories. As James cuts the cat, there is koan study and koan introspection. In “study,” koans are stories to be interpreted, sometimes with deep feeling and subtle application of the practice suggestions embedded in the context of the koan. Good stuff. Great dharma talk material. No problem.

 

This mode of interpretation, btw, may be largely a Western invention as a Japanese-trained priest once told me. Kind of literary interpretation, I think he said, which he’d never heard in a dharma talk in Japan.

 

In koan introspection, face-to-face presentation of the koan point, the truth happening point, is the point. The face-to-face part is important, it seems to me, and the method of student-meeting-teacher, self-meeting-self, has developed because it so wonderfully suits and even draws out the insights or sets up the accidents and manifestations called for in the koan.

 

Now from the depths of your Pure Shikantaza you might well have seen through the koan but without the presentation of the koan in face-to-face meeting, who’s to know? Who’s to verify? Who’s kidding who?

 

After all, koans are essentially relational, as a student said to me recently. Very few are about somebody sitting alone and having the once-and-for-all “Eureka!” moment. The koans themselves are mostly set in the face-to-face context and so of course the koan point is best actualized in that same context – and then generalized to sitting, standing, walking, lying down ...

John Wark's insight:

This is a critical passage for clear understanding of what koan introspection is and how it is done...


"In koan introspection, face-to-face presentation of the koan point, the truth happening point, is the point. The face-to-face part is important, it seems to me, and the method of student-meeting-teacher, self-meeting-self, has developed because it so wonderfully suits and even draws out the insights or sets up the accidents and manifestations called for in the koan.

 

"Now from the depths of your Pure Shikantaza you might well have seen through the koan but without the presentation of the koan in face-to-face meeting, who’s to know? Who’s to verify? Who’s kidding who?

 

"After all, koans are essentially relational, as a student said to me recently. Very few are about somebody sitting alone and having the once-and-for-all “Eureka!” moment. The koans themselves are mostly set in the face-to-face context and so of course the koan point is best actualized in that same context – and then generalized to sitting, standing, walking, lying down ..."

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John Wark's comment, December 12, 2012 1:05 PM
One can only say, "Yes!"In koan introspection, face-to-face presentation of the koan point, the truth happening point, is the point. The face-to-face part is important, it seems to me, and the method of student-meeting-teacher, self-meeting-self, has developed because it so wonderfully suits and even draws out the insights or sets up the accidents and manifestations called for in the koan.

Now from the depths of your Pure Shikantaza you might well have seen through the koan but without the presentation of the koan in face-to-face meeting, who’s to know? Who’s to verify? Who’s kidding who?

After all, koans are essentially relational, as a student said to me recently. Very few are about somebody sitting alone and having the once-and-for-all “Eureka!” moment. The koans themselves are mostly set in the face-to-face context and so of course the koan point is best actualized in that same context – and then generalized to sitting, standing, walking, lying down ..."
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Zen Master Bomun, Single Flower Dharma Talk

Zen Master Bomun,  Single Flower Dharma Talk | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

Case 86, from the Hekiganroku, “Ummon’s ‘Everyone Has Her Own Light’”

 

Zen Master Bomun

 

So, once again we enter into the great master's forge, enter our training period together, our sesshin. Today is our first day – a wonderful, bright, and clear first day. We walk out of the zendo during walking meditation and from the coolness and the spaciousness of the zendo we walk into a bright light.

 

I don't think there's anyone who doesn't feel the goodness of that light, taking refuge and smiling quietly to themselves, feeling that warm sunlight amid the brocade of flowers and living beings and creatures that have their homes here...

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Dharma Transmission in North American Soto Zen: A Progress Report

Dharma Transmission in North American Soto Zen: A Progress Report | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

[James Ford writes:]

 

So, what is Dharma transmission in Zen? We know there is a transmission lineage that claims a succession from the Buddha down to any number of people. It doesn’t take a lot of historical research to see this idea was birthed in China and is heavily influenced by the Chinese idea of family and familial inheritance.


At the same time it stands for something, or some things that remain compelling to many people on the spiritual path. As a practical matter Dharma transmission is the only constant marker of proficiency in the disciplines that birthed within the Zen schools. It has also been the way institutions have marked out leadership by both inclusion and exclusion. Nonetheless, William Bodiford in his essay on “Dharma Transmission” in Steven Heine & Dale Wright’s Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Buddhist Theory and Practice, suggest that in addition to continuing the Chinese familial character of transmission, that “it is inherently flexible and multidimensional, so that no single criteria always exists in every case.” In North America this mutability certainly is true, and with a vengeance.

 

In 1703 the Soto school laid down two criteria, that there be no more than one transmitter and that the ritual be conferred face-to-face. In America both of these fundamental categories have been challenged, each with different consequences.


Many Zen teachers claim more than one transmission, including myself. Usually this involves Soto priests who study koans and receive a second transmission in that koan line....

 

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What is nyohō?

What is nyohō? | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

This blog [by Koun Franz] is a place to explore the teaching of nyohō–being in accord with the Dharma. In traditional monastic terms, nyohō is discussed in terms of color, materials, and size as they relat...

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Arts & Humanities Reviews, April 15, 2012 — Library Journal Reviews

Larson, Kay. Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jul. 2012. c.496p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781594203404. $29.95. MUSIC


This excellent book takes its place among the several monographs on John Cage written in the run-up to the centenary of the American composer’s birth in 1912; Kyle Gann (No Such Thing as Silence) and Kenneth Silverman (Begin Again) each contributed valuable studies of Cage. Larson, a practicing Buddhist and astute art critic, here considers in depth the Zen practices and philosophies that had a profound effect on Cage’s music and writings from the late 1940s until his death in 1992. Throughout her biographical narrative, Larson includes lengthy discourses on the writings of Zen masters and other philosophers who influenced Cage. We also meet many post–World War II avant-garde luminaries whose work was inspired by Cage: musicians such as Earle Brown and Morton Feldman; artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Yoko Ono; and dancer and life partner Merce Cunningham. Larson peppers her narrative with quotes from Cage as well as with epigrammatic and illuminating koans, a style much favored by Cage himself in his own writings. VERDICT This is a thoroughly researched and wittily written guide to Cage and the Zen mind. There are delightful surprises and revelatory anecdotes on nearly every page. Essential for all collections.—Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA

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The 12 Steps and Zen Koans: Koans Appearing

The 12 Steps and Zen Koans: Koans Appearing | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

If you belong to a 12 Step Group, at one time you will hear someone say, "Upon working the steps, one day you will see where the Steps are working you!" The same can be said when you meditate with Zen koans ... a koan can pop into your life when you least expect it, giving you a new perspective on matters. Here we are practicing with koans to see how they can deepen our understanding of the 12 Steps in new and unexpected ways...[Click teh headline above to read more]

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Rootless Root

Rootless Root | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

Traceless geeks are numberless. They vow to save us all. Thus these ... unix koans of Master Foo and the collection known as the "Rootless Root." 

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COMMENTS ON THE MUMONKAN: All 48 Koans With Commentaries

COMMENTS ON THE MUMONKAN: All 48 Koans With Commentaries | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

Someone calling herself/himself "the Wanderling" weighs in on koan study with sustained good intention.

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Wisdom Quarterly: American Buddhist Journal: 83 Problems: A Buddhist Sutra/Parable

Wisdom Quarterly: American Buddhist Journal: 83 Problems: A Buddhist Sutra/Parable | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

 

What's the problem?

 

A koan goes this way?

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Calling all Geekettes...

Calling all Geekettes... | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it
From; Buddhist Geeks

Announcing the First Ladies Life Retreat


Dear friends,

After two successful Life Retreats in 2012, we decided to take this unique offering one step further by announcing the first-ever Ladies Life Retreat, January 16th - March 9th, 2013 led by Emily Horn and Kelly Sosan Bearer.

Awakening is a spontaneous and developmental process which unfolds naturally with effort and surrender when the causes and conditions come together in a supportive environment.

So, what happens when you bring together ten powerful women dedicated to waking-up in a structured practice container? We won't just be exploring this inquiry, we'll be living this inquiry daily with each other as we kick-off the New Year with our feminine practice extravaganza.

Men and women are similar in many ways, but we are also very different. The same is true of our spiritual and meditation practices. In the Ladies Life Retreat, we will harness the power of our innate feminine wisdom to help propel us deeper into our own exploration of self, while also co-creating a practice environment dedicated to evolving our community of sisterhood.

Our topics of discussion will focus on what women deal with daily - Family, Relationships, Work, Intuition, Rituals, Voice and more. By combining the systematic training of the mind (Vipassana) with Zen Buddhism, contemplative inquiry, and loving-kindness practice we've created an integrative and powerful approach specifically designed for a community of women.

Plug-in to a new kind of practice community and join 10 fellow women practitioners for 8 weeks of intensive practice, completely integrated with your life, just as it is. By harnessing the power of regular, personalized feedback from a teacher, and the encouragement of a learning community, the Life Retreat is aimed at optimizing your meditation practice in daily life. Think of it like being on a meditation team with a personal coach - Awakening is a team sport.

Click here for more information and to sign-up for the Ladies Life Retreat - Limited to 10 women.

If you're ready to take your meditation practice to the next level AND make some new friends along the way, this Ladies Life Retreat is for you!

Warmly,

The Buddhist Geeks Crew

P.S. Fellas, please don't hesitate to share this email invitation with all the important women in your life.
John Wark's insight:

So, what is this? When ten poweful women dedicated to waking-up in a structured practice container come together ...


Good koan, no?


Go to BuddhistGeeks.com for more information. The Geeks have been around since 2011 and are doing extensive work retooling Dharma for an emerging global culture and the new technology. The site includes a taste of what happens at their annual conferences. Check it out.

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What is This? | Tricycle

What is This? | Tricycle | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

Martine Bachelor offers a Korean Zen koan practice to refresh our minds and open us to creative wisdom.

 Martine Bachelor


IN sixth-century China, the Buddhist schools were quite scholastic and focused on the scriptures. To move away from this academic direction and toward the Buddha’s original teaching of practicing meditation and realizing awakening in this very life, the Zen school developed its koan practice, in which stories of monks’ awakenings became a starting point for meditative inquiry. By asking and focusing on a single question as a meditative method, Zen practitioners aimed to develop a rich experiential wisdom...

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Dharma Discourse: Daowu Won't Say by John Daido Loori Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery is one of the West’s most respected Zen Buddhist monasteries and training centers.

 

The Main Case

 

Priest Jianyuan of Tan once accompanied his teacher, Daowu, on a condolence call to a family funeral. When they arrived, he tapped the coffin and said, “Is this life, or is this death?”

 

Daowu said, “I won’t say life, I won’t say death.”

 

Jianyuan said, “Why won’t you say?”

 

Daowu said, “I won’t say, I won’t say.”

 

On their way back Jianyuan said, “You should say it quickly for me, teacher, or I will hit you.”

 

Daowu said, “Hit me if you will, but I will not say.” Jianyuan hit him.

 

After returning to the monastery Daowu said to Jianyuan, “You should take leave for a while; I’m afraid if the head monk finds out about this he will make trouble for you.”

 

After Daowu passed away, Jianyuan went to see Daowu’s successor Shishuang, told him the story, and asked for guidance.

 

Shishuang said, “I won’t say life, I won’t say death.

 

Jianyuan said, “Why won’t you say it?”

 

Shishuang said, “I won’t say, I won’t say.”11 Jianyuan immediately realized it.

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Koans that kick butt (and those that don’t) « Turning Words

a Zen blog (by Jeff)...

 

Muzhou asked a monk, “Where have you come from?”


Instantly, the monk shouted.

 

“That’s a shout on me,” said Muzhou.

 

The monk shouted again.

 

“Three shouts, four shouts, what next?” asked Muzhou. The monk did not answer.

 

Muzhou gave him a blow with his stick and cried, “Oh, you thieving phony!

 

[Click on the head to link to Jeff's site, "Turning Words," and read what he has to say about working with this wonderful koan.]

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THE ONE THE MANY AND THE GREAT EMPTY

THE ONE THE MANY AND THE GREAT EMPTY | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it
THE ONE, THE MANY AND THE GREAT EMPTYZen, Koans, Awakening & the Course of our Lives

 

Some Notes

 

James Ishmael Ford


I was talking with a friend about spiritual direction in Zen Buddhism, particularly among those of us who walk the way of koan introspection. Somehow the subject turned toward initial awakening experiences, enlightenment experiences, sometimes called kensho in Japanese and jian xing in Chinese, standing for the realization of our fundamental nonduality.

 

I asserted my view that pretty much everyone has had an awakening experience somewhere along the line in their lives, often in youth or even in childhood. This makes sense on the face of it as the assertion within the great way is we are swimming within awakening, we are breathing awakening, in and out, there is no part of us that isn’t part and parcel of awakening. Only our ignorance of this reality keeps us from noticing who and what we actually are...

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OUPblog » Blog Archive » Four myths about Zen Buddhism’s “Mu Koan”

OUPblog » Blog Archive » Four myths about Zen Buddhism’s “Mu Koan” | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

Koan scholar Steven Heine writes in this essays that "in conducting research for a new monograph titled 'Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Kōan in Zen Buddhism,' I have been surprised to find how little seems to be known about the origins and implications of the koan case record. My studies suggest that this is one more example of commonly-held myths based on long-held beliefs and customs often overtaking and suppressing investigative scholarship."

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4′33″

(... Because the composer John Cage, a long-time practitioner is on my mind ... the first Cage biogrpahy, by a fellow Buddhist, is due out in July ... and because the piece 4'33" was/is a great koan .. The excerpt below if from Wikipedia. You can find read more there. The title of the book etc,, and a wonderful little review are in another posting nearby. -JW)

 

4′33″ (pronounced "Four minutes, thirty-three seconds"[1]) is a three-movement composition[2][3] by American experimental composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1952 for any instrument (or combination of instruments), and the score instructs the performer not to play the instrument during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements (which, for the first performance, were divided into thirty seconds for the first, two minutes and twenty-three seconds for the second, and one minute and forty seconds for the third). The piece purports to consist of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed,[4] although it is commonly perceived as "four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence".

 

4′33″ is Cage's most famous and most controversial composition,[2] and by far the best-known of the numerous musical works that consist mainly of silence.


Conceived around 1947–1948, while the composer was working on Sonatas and Interludes,[2] 4′33″ became for Cage the epitome of his idea that any sounds constitute, or may constitute, music.[7] It was also a reflection of the influence of Zen Buddhism, which Cage studied since the late 1940s. In a 1982 interview ...

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Wild Fox Zen — Living the Dream

Wild Fox Zen — Living the Dream | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

... Here’s Dogen’s explanation of mindfulness – something that appears five times on the list.
“The root of mindfulness is the red flesh ball of a decayed tree.”


This fascicle of the Shobogenzo is one of the most difficult in the whole collection and Dogen’s comments on the Five Faculties and Five Powers, the source of the above line, are the most intense and difficult that we’ve tackled so far.

 

In the heart of this section, Dogen moves into hyper-koan-ese, a language of Dogen’s own creation, often with multiple koan references in the same sentence. Koan fragments are mixed and matched, transposed and fused, in dialogue with each other, and purely presenting the dharma...

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Hacker koan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hacker koan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it

Uncarved Block

"What are you doing?" askd Minsky.

"I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-tac-toes," Sussman replied.

"Why is it wired randomly ...

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something left behind

something left behind | Zen Buddhist koan | Scoop.it
  The koan of Senjo and her soul being separated (Mumokan, case #35) describes and explores the paradox of living our passion and meeting our obligations.  The story of Sen-jo and her soul is...
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