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Koans all about the same thing?

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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
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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....
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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:
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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).
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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
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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
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Re: Koans all about the same thing?

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

They point to same different things. :lol2:
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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.
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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 .. ?

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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. :)
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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
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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.
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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.


_/|\_
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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