Welcome admin !

It is currently Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:17 pm
Pathway:  Board index Zen Discussion Forum Zen Practice & Philosophy Zen Buddhism Rinzai

Koans all about the same thing?

Discussion of Japanese Rinzai Zen (臨済宗) including Obaku Zen (黄檗宗).

Koans all about the same thing?

Postby macdougdoug on Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:26 pm

fukasetsu wrote:
To me about every koan or story points to non-dwelling but that could be me :lol2:


The koan on my mind is the one about the monk who cries out in pain when his master twists his nose - because the monk had just talked about some ducks "flying away" - Here the point seems to be about the self/other duality , with the self as the reference point. The monk was obviously ripe for some nose twisting at this point, because he suddenly woke up (or everyone would have just forgotten the story as some unfortunate nose twisting incident)

Koans : all pointing at the same thing? or a whole variety of stuff?

nb. I have never done koans
User avatar
macdougdoug
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 906
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:11 pm
Location: France

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:52 pm

I should keep my mouth shut.... Meido can say far more. Yet, as lay, I can share.... I've practiced koans and appreciate them. For me, it's not my main practice. A whole curriculum of hundreds of them didn't call to me.... it did for many of my practice mates. One is all you need. I found that as I let koans work on me, a kind of learning and sight comes in and sometimes new (original) koans just arose in me. Seems there is a field....

I'd say yes, koans point at various things.... self/other being one. There are koans that point to the formless and others to form. for example. They show us where we live. For me, I often leaned towards the formless and koans gave an insight into my preference. There comes a time when relaxing allows wisdom to arise without asking.

As little as I know, Sasaki Roshi only talked about one koan... "does a dog have Buddha nature". I saw him three times, he always talked about the same thing. He pointed out plus, minus and the integration of plus minus and I rode along with him. Gregory knew him much better than I.

I heard my first koan in a zen sangha on my first visit, without any knowledge of koans.... perhaps an original translation:

"what is the meaning of life? ..... dragon song in a withered tree. ... what does that mean? still having joy"

something spoke, beginners mind.

linda

ps... lol, I remember a koan where the student twists the masters nose... or is it me? upside down....
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
User avatar
Linda Anderson
 
Posts: 3820
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:14 pm
Location: Forestville, CA

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Jok_Hae on Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:39 am

they point to one thing, from different perspectives...

just my perspective. :peace:
You make, you get

New Haven Zen Center
User avatar
Jok_Hae
 
Posts: 4098
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:53 am
Location: CT, USA

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Caodemarte on Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:41 am

Linda Anderson wrote:...As little as I know, Sasaki Roshi only talked about one koan... "does a dog have Buddha nature". I saw him three times, he always talked about the same thing...


If that is Joshu Sasaki Roshi, when I knew him he used a variety of self-created koans (this is not unusual by the way).
Caodemarte
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 546
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:18 am

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Linda Anderson on Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:05 am

Caodemarte wrote:
Linda Anderson wrote:...As little as I know, Sasaki Roshi only talked about one koan... "does a dog have Buddha nature". I saw him three times, he always talked about the same thing...


If that is Joshu Sasaki Roshi, when I knew him he used a variety of self-created koans (this is not unusual by the way).


yes, Joshu Sasaki Roshi. I saw him at age 103 and 104
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
User avatar
Linda Anderson
 
Posts: 3820
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:14 pm
Location: Forestville, CA

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Guo Gu on Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:02 am

mac,

to approach gong'an or koan from the perspective of same or difference (one or many) may not be so helpful. there's no need to impose a frame to a koan; koan is about dropping away views and taking up vantage points; it's about sightings, embodied travels, movements, and life. there are no limits but depths.... as much as your capacity allows... as small as an infinitesimal dust mote, as large as space.

in the past chan/zen masters have systematized gong'ans/koans into different categories. but one need not follow those systems (under a good teacher's guidance). but on this forum, in this section... i think instead of having teachers answer your question, it is best that everyone here express their experiential understanding (like some have expressed already). a teacher's view is, after all, just a vantage point. that, too, is a limit. koan has no limit. the important point is your own exploration, so relate it to your life.

everyone, share!

be free,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
User avatar
Guo Gu
Teacher
 
Posts: 1339
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:52 pm
Location: Tallahassee, FL USA

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Seeker242 on Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:44 am

They point to same different things. :lol2:
Kill a cat, with a dried shit stick, under a cypress tree in the courtyard, while eating three pounds of flax! Only a cow goes Moooo!
User avatar
Seeker242
 
Posts: 1048
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:49 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Dan74 on Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:18 pm

Zen Sand link Meido posted on another thread might be useful. http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/en/files/201 ... uction.pdf

_/|\_
Last edited by Dan74 on Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2672
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:26 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby partofit22 on Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:03 pm

I'm not a buddhist but .. it seems what gets expressed about them is seeing- Kojip / Richard once helped me to see a little more deeply by looking at what I thought happened to me and several geese that flew into the road and I accidentally ran over -- it happened so fast- But fast or slow, it happened -- and I didn't have to put myself through hell due to it- So maybe it's each individual seeing the same type of things through their own eyes, heart/mind and sharing these deepens each perspective .. ?

Remember the Ben Franklin glasses in National Treasure?

Image
partofit22
 
Posts: 4825
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:36 pm

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby fukasetsu on Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:45 pm

Guo Gu wrote:a teacher's view is, after all, just a vantage point. that, too, is a limit. koan has no limit. the important point is your own exploration, so relate it to your life.


Nice observation Guo Gu.

I always like to say that every angle of vision has its value, in each Eye the Source. :)
Everyone for President!
User avatar
fukasetsu
 
Posts: 7249
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:17 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Tue Jul 18, 2017 9:34 pm

macdougdoug wrote:
fukasetsu wrote:
To me about every koan or story points to non-dwelling but that could be me :lol2:


The koan on my mind is the one about the monk who cries out in pain when his master twists his nose - because the monk had just talked about some ducks "flying away" - Here the point seems to be about the self/other duality , with the self as the reference point. The monk was obviously ripe for some nose twisting at this point, because he suddenly woke up (or everyone would have just forgotten the story as some unfortunate nose twisting incident)

Koans : all pointing at the same thing? or a whole variety of stuff?

nb. I have never done koans


Point to the same thing or a variety? Yes, both.
Same thing? Your own no-thing one mind true suchness nature.
Variety? A variety of landscape and taxonomy of mind expressions.

As Guo Gu pointed out the "sameness and difference" conceptualization can be a distraction. "Turning the light around" is the same for every koan/gong-an but the prapanca fountain of conceptual elaborations gives us an unending variety of views to let drop away.

Caodemarte wrote:
Linda Anderson wrote:...As little as I know, Sasaki Roshi only talked about one koan... "does a dog have Buddha nature". I saw him three times, he always talked about the same thing...


If that is Joshu Sasaki Roshi, when I knew him he used a variety of self-created koans (this is not unusual by the way).


I studied with Sasaki Roshi from 1971 to 2010 through attending sesshin at Mt. Baldy and Mt. Cobb. I can attest that he did more koans than Mu. He liked flower koans especially, like "How do you manifest the flower?" "How does God manifest the flower?" He was a tricky guy. :lool:

Because all the koans seem to have different circumstances, the question of all the same or different comes up a lot. There are several taxonomies of koans. The ones I like the most are those that put them into a relationship. One organization is to see the koans as related to Dongshan's Five Ranks as discussed by Hakuin in his Keiso Dokusui.

I'm, fond of a very similar taxonomy of koans using different titles that is found in The Lighthouse in the Ocean of Chan This book by Yogi Chen presents koans as revealing "preliminary renunciation," "entry", "exit", "function," and "rest." He has many koans sorted out under each category, shows how some koans have multiple parts dealing with multiple categories, shows how different responses were provided to the same koan, etc. It does not "provide answers" as such for one's particular work with any koan, but it provides a sense of context and confidence that the koans are not just random appearances without any coherence in their many variations.

When I work with a koan the fist step is to memorize it. then I will either let the koan settle around me like "surround sound" to be embraced and enveloped by it without trying to analyze it or figure it out so that the koan, the universe, and mind are not separate. I call this expansion to indicate the wide focus with depth of field. The other method is to focus on a turning word or phrase of the koan in a way that the mind fills the word without trying to analyze it and turns around the light of the word back into the depths of mind. To use a conventional word, I call this contraction to have a sharp focus on the "still spot" or "clear spot" of mind. Settling into either approach allows me to let go of the constructing thoughts and to receive without fabricating the notions of an inside or outside existence or nonexistence.

_/|\_
Gregory
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
User avatar
Gregory Wonderwheel
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 4248
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:07 am
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby fukasetsu on Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:24 pm

It was a tongue in cheek comment from me, but a nice topic from mac regardless.
Everyone for President!
User avatar
fukasetsu
 
Posts: 7249
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:17 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:29 pm

fukasetsu wrote:It was a tongue in cheek comment from me, but a nice topic from mac regardless.

It is not wrong to see that not-two is present in every koan. Yet the not-two is present in a variety of robes and clothes. The koan calls for a response of "the person of no rank", that is the same for every koan. But the response can appear different in the situations. To help students deal with their confusion and anxiety, the Zen masters have given us many ways of seeing the spectrum, or taxonomy, of the many variations. Every koan can be quite like Linji's four take aways in where it takes us. Each take away is a direct expression of not-two, but each expression reveals distinctions in our experience of mind.

There is a time of taking away the person and not taking away the environment.
There is a time of taking away the environment and not taking away the person.
There is a time the person and the environment are both taken away.
There is a time the person and environment are both not taken away.


A koan can reveal the environment as not-two.
A koan can reveal the person as not-two.
A koan can reveal the not-two of pure emptiness.
A koan can reveal the not-two of pure suchness.


_/|\_
Gregory
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
User avatar
Gregory Wonderwheel
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 4248
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:07 am
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby fukasetsu on Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:37 pm

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:Each take away is a direct expression of not-two, but each expression reveals distinctions in our experience of mind.


Thank you for this encounter Sir, I spontaneously had an insight which cleared an old knot.
Everyone for President!
User avatar
fukasetsu
 
Posts: 7249
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:17 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby macdougdoug on Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:48 pm

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:
When I work with a koan the fist step is to memorize it. then I will either let the koan settle around me like "surround sound" to be embraced and enveloped by it without trying to analyze it or figure it out so that the koan, the universe, and mind are not separate. I call this expansion to indicate the wide focus with depth of field. The other method is to focus on a turning word or phrase of the koan in a way that the mind fills the word without trying to analyze it and turns around the light of the word back into the depths of mind. To use a conventional word, I call this contraction to have a sharp focus on the "still spot" or "clear spot" of mind. Settling into either approach allows me to let go of the constructing thoughts and to receive without fabricating the notions of an inside or outside existence or nonexistence.



Although never having worked intentionally with koans, I think I may have undergone the same process or suffered similar effects : Listening to the teachings at a silent 10 day meditation retreat, the thought : "how can belief and method lead to awakening?" became increasingly insistent until it filled my mind leaving no space for anything else. Ten days later this process collapsed and left the impression that everything was just so simple and clear.

The surprising thing for me is that one could choose the koan - for here the koan (or conundrum) chose me
User avatar
macdougdoug
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 906
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:11 pm
Location: France

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby fukasetsu on Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:52 pm

macdougdoug wrote:
Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:
When I work with a koan the fist step is to memorize it. then I will either let the koan settle around me like "surround sound" to be embraced and enveloped by it without trying to analyze it or figure it out so that the koan, the universe, and mind are not separate. I call this expansion to indicate the wide focus with depth of field. The other method is to focus on a turning word or phrase of the koan in a way that the mind fills the word without trying to analyze it and turns around the light of the word back into the depths of mind. To use a conventional word, I call this contraction to have a sharp focus on the "still spot" or "clear spot" of mind. Settling into either approach allows me to let go of the constructing thoughts and to receive without fabricating the notions of an inside or outside existence or nonexistence.



Although never having worked intentionally with koans, I think I may have undergone the same process or suffered similar effects : Listening to the teachings at a silent 10 day meditation retreat, the thought : "how can belief and method lead to awakening?" became increasingly insistent until it filled my mind leaving no space for anything else. Ten days later this process collapsed and left the impression that everything was just so simple and clear.

The surprising thing for me is that one could choose the koan - for here the koan (or conundrum) chose me


Funny, also never worked with koans I do that (the bolded part) with bits of scripture, or a poem whatever kidnaps me (which is usually just one sentence per year) only I call it backburning.
Everyone for President!
User avatar
fukasetsu
 
Posts: 7249
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:17 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:32 pm

There are koans for awakening, and koans for refinement (deepening; Wisdom-cultivation), and koans for development of skillful means.

There is, if you like, a whole koan-curriculum (and if one works with a teacher, it's followed coherently, not willy-nilly).

Best to ask a Rinzai Zen-Buddhist teacher about koans.

But the above facts are well documented, and further described in outline and in some detail in writings you may like to seek-out if the question interests you deeply.

best!, All,

--Joe
User avatar
desert_woodworker
 
Posts: 7029
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:09 am
Location: southern Arizona, USA

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Guo Gu on Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:35 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:There are koans for awakening, and koans for refinement (deepening; Wisdom-cultivation), and koans for development of skillful means. There is, if you like, a whole koan-curriculum (and if one works with a teacher, it's followed coherently, not willy-nilly).


joe and others,

this is exactly the conceptual structures that i'm talking about that one need not follow as long as one has a teacher. premodern curriculum like this were originally created in japan partly for monks to learn to compose poetry, writing, and organize their learning (in the secular sense)--in this usage, they are completely useless in modern times. most often, they become obstacles.

initial awakening, refinement, and skillful means (or other categorizations) are all aspects of life, which is experienced on so many levels. any one of the koans in one category can also be experienced as another. also if the awakening is thorough enough, all of the koans are understood. like chewing gum: picking up these koans to work through them is like picking up someone else's chewed up gum and chewing it. i speak about this in the introduction of my book, passing through the gateless barrier. many western teachers who have gone through the curriculum no longer use it and have gone beyond its limitations. as long as one has a good teacher, the investigation of chan/zen is infinite, endless.

the curriculum is also like crutches for temporary use if one has a broken leg. their usefulness lies only in the way it's used. once the leg heals, crutches are not needed. as for broken legs, actually anything can be used as crutches.

be free,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
User avatar
Guo Gu
Teacher
 
Posts: 1339
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:52 pm
Location: Tallahassee, FL USA

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby fukasetsu on Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:55 pm

Guo Gu, conditions meet again.

Coincidentally (in lack of a accurate word) last night I couldn't sleep (no biggy just summer heat) and I suddenly remembered I had purchased your book back then. So I started to read the foreword and the first Koan, ofcourse I've read Wumen's commentary before,
but because of your commentary on Wumen's did I understand Wumen's words.

I remember Ted Biringer once explaining the metaphors of the "up in a tree" koan, and I realized that without knowing what the metaphors mean you can also not see what the koan is pointing to, so hence I stopped reading koans.
Happy to finally start reading your book, and bringing this practise into my life.
Everyone for President!
User avatar
fukasetsu
 
Posts: 7249
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:17 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Koans all about the same thing?

Postby Meido on Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:33 pm

Guo Gu wrote:the curriculum is also like crutches for temporary use if one has a broken leg. their usefulness lies only in the way it's used. once the leg heals, crutches are not needed. as for broken legs, actually anything can be used as crutches.


This and Guo Gu's other points are really important.

Some of us talk a lot about "practice" (and I think it important to do so). But all these things are indeed crutches: after healing, one is happy to have had them to support one's steps...but also happy when free to move freely. Problems can come when folks who can't yet move freely decide to dispense with all crutches, of course, but that is another issue.

Even when a koan "curriculum" is laid out, it's important to see it as something that was just created to point out one's own blind spots; it's not something set in stone or inflexible. It's not something that exists to restrict or direct others: its use is for correcting oneself. I actually don't like the word "curriculum" for this, actually, though I still use it.

My experience of this kind of thing is that it's like a skeleton serving as a structure for one's training: within that structure are pointers to many, many things - not just koan-related - that one is led to encounter and work with. The koans just serve as jumping off points. Now if someone gets stuck on the structure, of course, it's no longer a skeleton...it can become more like an encasing suit of armor that holds one in from the outside and restricts, rather than supporting flesh and blood from the inside.

But as GG points out, if one has a good teacher then there will be no problems, one can benefit from curricula, tools and crutches. And in fact, the crucial practice really starts after one has passed through something like that. In Rinzai practice, the really crucial point is arrived at after passing through the forge using a series of koan...even, after having received inka from one's teacher. At that point, when on one's own and free to walk wherever one wishes, there is a crucial leap to be made and it is intransmissable. Some folks arriving at that spot will leap over and become dragons. Some will not, and will remain carp (though, they could still help others...some carp are magnificent).

Teachers do indeed have the freedom to alter, add to, and transform such curricula. This happens naturally also since the culture and practitioner are different in each generation; these things as I have experienced are alive and changing as each generation adds, tweaks, makes comments, records their sticking points and mistakes, etc.

All of this is part of what we mean when we say we must "transcend" forms and structures: transcend doesn't mean to reject or negate, it means to encompass and pass beyond limitations. Thus we can use tools freely, and not be used by them. My only worry is when folks reflexively throw things out without having encompassed, mastered, or caught the "principle," of such tools. In some cases folks who throw out traditional forms do so without really grasping their use...more out of personal preference than a clear seeing of what does and doesn't fit.

It's all very interesting, isn't it :) When I consider all these crutches coming out from the blood and sweat of our forebears and left to us, i am sometimes overcome with a feeling of awe, shame at my own insufficient effort, and gratitude.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
User avatar
Meido
Teacher
 
Posts: 951
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:22 am
Location: Madison, WI - USA


Return to Rinzai

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

 
RocketTheme Joomla Templates

Who is online

In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 157 on Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:44 am

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest