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Working on the Koan Mu: The psychology of Zen in practice

Discussions of Zen stemming from the Sanbyo Kyodan School founded by Yatsutani Roshi.

Working on the Koan Mu: The psychology of Zen in practice

Postby Carol on Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:44 am

Written by a Jesuit priest who has Zen in the Sanbo Kyodan school in Japan for the past 35 years.

Working on the Koan Mu: The psychology of Zen in practice
Submitted on May 25, 2011 - 1:44 pm

In this essay, after giving some background information, I present reflections on some of my own “psychological” experiences of doing Zen over the last 35 years. I use the word “psychological” to differentiate these experiences from authentic Zen experiences. - Fr Jerry Cusumano, S.J.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Working on the Koan Mu: The psychology of Zen in practic

Postby Trolnieser on Fri Oct 11, 2013 4:14 pm

Hi Carol,
I was curious why you posted this. Was it just to pass on a Zen article that you happened to come across? or, was there something of interest there for you? ... just curious :)
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Re: Working on the Koan Mu: The psychology of Zen in practic

Postby Carol on Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:27 pm

Trolnieser wrote:Hi Carol,
I was curious why you posted this. Was it just to pass on a Zen article that you happened to come across? or, was there something of interest there for you? ... just curious :)
Trolnieser


I post informative articles about Zen that I find on the internet from time to time. Mainly I do it to give our members a broader exposure to differing zen schools and their approaches.

This particular article gives some history of the Sanbo Kyodan school that may not be widely known. I also thought his distinction between "authentic zen experience" and psychological experience is interesting and worth discussion. Did you see the review of Barry Magid's new book I posted recently? I think the topic is a big one worth exploring.
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Working on the Koan Mu: The psychology of Zen in practic

Postby Zendudest on Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:18 pm

Thanks Carol!

For me, I resonated with this:

I worked on the Koan Mu for a total of 14 years. At first the novelty kept my spirits up but eventually frustration began to grow at not being able to solve it to the satisfaction of the Roshi. This actually contributed to a mild depression which I suffered one summer. However, with continued practice, even though still not being able to solve the Koan, psychologically I moved to a better space, one of acceptance and letting things be as they are. This was expressed in a natural change of practice from Mu to what is called in Japanese “shikantaza”, usually translated as “just sitting.” It means to sit without any desire of solving anything or achieving anything. Before continuing with other Koans after Mu, I did this “just sitting” for seven years. This whole experience, easily and usefully applied to everyday life, was once again a helpful psychological side effect of working on the Koan Mu.


I note that he worked on Mu for a total of 14 years and then shikantaza for another 7 before moving on to subsequent koans....how inspirational!

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Re: Working on the Koan Mu: The psychology of Zen in practic

Postby macdougdoug on Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:29 pm

Yes, thanks for the post - I'm always interested in what folk get up to, and how they describe it - fascinating!
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