Koans

The Zen practice of contemplating a question or statement, the answer to which transcends dualistic thinking
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    The Power of an Open Question Paid Member

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    The Sword Disappears in the Water Paid Member

    The Iron Flute, Case 90 Main Case More »
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    No Words Paid Member

    Every once in a while I read a book that insists on being taken on its own terms— a book that teaches you how to read it. When I first picked up the Zen monk Seido Ray Ronci’s seventh book of poetry, The Skeleton of the Crow: New & Selected Poems, 1980–2008, I found that it expressed the clarity, simplicity, and profundity of Zen in language that spoke to me as a practitioner. As I read more of his work, I came to appreciate the range of his subjects (from childrearing to painting to the austere solitude of his time as a monastic), as well as his humor, and perhaps most of all, his sensibility for the everyday. Like other writers working in the centuries-old tradition of Zen poetry developed by Ikkyu, Basho, and Ryokan, Seido Ray Ronci is concerned less with the words on the page than with the reality they point to. More »
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    Koan Practice Paid Member

    This report of Master Shuzan's words may be put to you, should you become a student of Zen, who will set about trying to understand it. Just imagine yourself in this situation for a minute or two. You will meditate upon it while sitting in formal meditation (zazen) or working, or doing anything in the normal day. You become the koan and the koan becomes you. The mind, to begin with, may work with it in the customary way - asking, asking, wondering: If I can't call it a staff and I can't say it isn't a staff, what can I call it? Is it a staff after all? Was it ever a staff in the past? What was it in essence? What kind of wood was it made fram? What am I? What am I made of? More »
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    What is This? Paid Member

    . 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.In the Korean Zen tradition, one generally meditates on the koan What is this? This question derives from an encounter between the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng (638–713 C.E.), and a young monk, Huaijang, who became one of his foremost disciples: More »
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    Heart Touching Heart Paid Member

    The practice of compassion means letting experience in. A Japanese poet, a woman named Izumi who lived in the tenth century, wrote: “Watching the moon at dawn, solitary, mid-sky, I knew myself completely. No part left out.” When we can open to all parts of ourselves and to others in the world, something quite extraordinary happens. We begin to connect with one another. More »