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Checking questions

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

Re: Checking questions

Postby Zendudest on Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:40 pm

As I reiterate, this book is not 'useful' for any sincere student but it does list 'standard checking questions' for Mu and the Sound of One Hand as well as many others along with 'answers'. If you want to get a 'sense' of some checking questions here they are, though this in no way can help you in your quest (and could hinder you in dokuson).

Caveat emptor: I wouldn't recommend that anyone consider the information in this book useful in any way for Zen practice.

As mentioned before, any authentic teacher can 'see' where the student is from how the student rings the bell, opens the door, makes the bows and so on, so these 'answers' are useless.
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Re: Checking questions

Postby unsui on Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:35 pm

Zendudest wrote:As I reiterate, this book is not 'useful' for any sincere student but it does list 'standard checking questions' for Mu and the Sound of One Hand as well as many others along with 'answers'. If you want to get a 'sense' of some checking questions here they are, though this in no way can help you in your quest (and could hinder you in dokuson).

Caveat emptor: I wouldn't recommend that anyone consider the information in this book useful in any way for Zen practice.

As mentioned before, any authentic teacher can 'see' where the student is from how the student rings the bell, opens the door, makes the bows and so on, so these 'answers' are useless.

I leafed through the book once, about 4 years ago, to compare my experiences with the answers given there. That was enjoyable, but definitely not necessary and hopefully not harmful.

When I give dokusan instruction, new students are amazed by the fact when I tell them that our teacher "can 'see' where the student is from how the student rings the bell, opens the door, makes the bows and so on..."
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
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Re: Checking questions

Postby Pedestrian on Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:10 pm

I had a dokusan experience this morning that (without going into details that would not be useful for other practitioners) suggests the power of checking questions in particular and the relationship with a teacher structured by the koan curriculum in general.

I went into dokusan ready to answer the checking question that I was asked a few weeks ago. Well, it turns out that I misremembered that question -- and of course the question I was ready to answer was not at all the same question I need to answer! So many, many thoughts, and so much thinking, all tumbled uselessly to the ground in one tragedy-to-farce moment.

It was one of those "rug pulled out from under your feet" experiences that I have found so powerful in this practice. In addition, it revealed once again, at least for me, that I would not be able to pull the rug out from under my own feet to such effect. Or, rather: while I realize I create the rugs, the under, the feet, and even the pulling entirely on my own, it is through the teacher/student relationship, provoked by the checking questions he asks, that each of those concepts gets popped like so many soap bubbles. What's left? Well, that's the checking question par excellence, isn't it!

The morning's tumble made me all the mroe grateful for this practice and for the teaching relationship I have within this koan curriculum. There is nothing like it -- at least, not for me.
"Buddha, to liberate beings, cultivates practices everywhere." Avatamsaka Sutra.

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Re: Checking questions

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:00 am

Kim,

It's a natural question, based on a natural curiosity. A lot of things are recalled, collected, and
made available for use, or appreciation. I suspect that teachers would make the most use of
such collections of checking questions, and I think it would be natural and compassionate for
teachers to keep them safe from prying eyes.

Academic scholars and historians might have other designs on these materials, but I don't know
where the materials can be found, unless you compile them yourself from interactions with your
own teacher, or simply make them up just for fun.

So, let's make some up!:

(maybe I'm actually parroting some that I've heard, it's hard to be sure sometimes)

Show me Mu. Now!
How big is Mu?
How old is Mu?
What color is Mu?
Where is Mu?
Where is Mu when you sleep?
How would you tell your parents about Mu?
What's Mu's first name?
What's Mu's middle name?

What about Mu when you weed garden?
What about Mu when you sweep the walk?
What about Mu when you scrub the dojo floor?

Alan Watts was fond of:

"How is my hand like the Buddha's hand?"

Granted, most of these concern "Mu". But we could make up others. Too sleepy now!

Night-night,

--Joe

Kim wrote:Is there a common list of checking questions to student's understanding? What are they? I think these are called sessho in Japanese.
"The abundance of Nature is not a matter of its 'providing' ". -- William James, c. 1901.

"Least said is soonest disavowed". -- Ambrose Bierce (c. 1900)

"Politeness: noun. The most acceptable hypocrisy." -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
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Re: Checking questions

Postby Zendudest on Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:11 pm

I've sometimes amused myself imagining a device I dubbed a 'Mu-O-Meter' which would allow the hapless student instant access to a tool which he could use to answer those pesky questions about Mu. Basically you could hide it under your robe and then after you've made your bows and settled into your place in dokuson, whip it out!

How big is Mu?
"The Mu-O-Meter reports 6'1"!"

What color is Mu?

"The Mu-O-Meter sez tan."

And so on.

Bryan
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Re: Checking questions

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:38 pm

Howdy, Bryan,

The Mu-O-Meter is a Stethoscope! ;-)

--Joe

Zendudest wrote:I've sometimes amused myself imagining a device I dubbed a 'Mu-O-Meter' which would allow the hapless student instant access to a tool which he could use to answer those pesky questions about Mu. Basically you could hide it under your robe and then after you've made your bows and settled into your place in dokuson, whip it out!

Bryan
"The abundance of Nature is not a matter of its 'providing' ". -- William James, c. 1901.

"Least said is soonest disavowed". -- Ambrose Bierce (c. 1900)

"Politeness: noun. The most acceptable hypocrisy." -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
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Re: Checking questions

Postby Zendudest on Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:20 pm

The Mu-O-Meter is a Stethoscope! ;-)


Yes it works well on the heart.
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Re: Checking questions

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:24 pm

Zendudest wrote:
The Mu-O-Meter is a Stethoscope! ;-)


Yes it works well on the heart.


I thought it was a stealthoscope, i.e., something used to be able to scope out what is hidden or not easily observerd.

_/|\_
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
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Re: Checking questions

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:28 pm

Pedestrian wrote: Well, it turns out that I misremembered that question -- and of course the question I was ready to answer was not at all the same question I need to answer!

I had the same problem and for quite a while I would carry pen and paper with me to dokusan and write down the question while walking back to the zendo while my short term memeory was sitll engaged.

:Pick Me!:
_/|\_
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
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Re: Checking questions

Postby Gregory Wonderwheel on Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:39 pm

Zendudest wrote:As mentioned before, any authentic teacher can 'see' where the student is from how the student rings the bell, opens the door, makes the bows and so on, so these 'answers' are useless.


I would say there is one way that book is useful (even though the book may cause as much misunderstanding as it attempts to remove). Many people have no idea how to speak the socio-cultural language of sanzen and that book does give someone at least the idea that philosophical discussion is not required or even helpful. But generally one gets that from the dokusan interaction anyway, yet especially for people who have no idea, at least the book shows the uninitiated that something different than an intellectual or emotional discussion is in the offing. In the West many students think the teacher is a therapist or a spiritual-life-counselor and to at least some extent this book points out that is not what the koan study is engaged in.
_/|\_
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
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