Koans

The Zen practice of contemplating a question or statement, the answer to which transcends dualistic thinking
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    Birds of Paradox Paid Member

    THE LATE KARMAPA loved birds. Westerners called the regal guru "the St. Francis of Tibet," for he was often seen at his monastery in Bhutan with birds perched on his shoulders or eating from his hand. Song birds and birds of silence, those of brilliant plumage and dull-breasted females, carnivores and seed eaters—all were welcome in his court. More »
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    Still Speaking Paid Member

    Students of Zen Buddhism come to me with a variety of "first books" in their past and among them, with some frequency, is Dwight Goddard's durable anthology of translations, A Buddhist Bible, originally published in 1932 and then republished in its present, enlarged form in 1938. More »
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    Give and Take: On Studying Koans Paid Member

    What are three good reasons for studying koans? First of all, koan study is an efficient and effective means to bring students to realization of their true self. Second, koans attract type A personalities and goal-oriented people to meditation. Third, they give you something to think about while meditating.What are three really bad reasons? See answer to question one.Do you have a favorite koan? I have many favorite koans, and it is hard to pick only one. I especially like case 20 in the Book of Equanimity, when Master Jizo asks Hogen what is the nature of his pilgrimage and Hogen replies, “I don't know.” Jizo then says, “Not knowing is most intimate.” Hearing that, Hogen experiences great enlightenment. More »
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    The Koans of Yogi Berra Paid Member

    Compiled with commentary by Brad StroupDiscovered inside a catcher’s mitt in the year 2087 by archaeologists while excavating rubble in the abandoned Yankee Stadium in the Bronx:   KOAN 1: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”   Commentary: Yogi gave this mystifying advice to a young second baseman being sent down to the minors after popping out too many times with the Yankees. It caused the young man to stop in his tracks, freeze, and study the wall of the Yankee dugout for over an hour. He was last seen in Troy, New York, playing for the Mohawks, still carrying a frown on his face. Hundreds of players have studied this koan as they have gone down to the minors. It sits like a boil on the forearm of pitchers - feverish, festering, a red circle surrounding a yellow mound. Once considered without spit or curves, the mind cannot escape the fork. The dust clears in the outfield. More »
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    Zen Basics Paid Member

    Harada Sekkei Roshi is a teacher in the Soto Zen tradition and abbot of Hosshinji monastery, in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. This past May, his student Keiko Kando spoke with him about the meaning and function of Zen. Harada Roshi’s book of dharma talks, The Essence of Zen, is to be reprinted by Wisdom Publications next February. This interview was translated from the Japanese by Heiko Narrog. More »
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    A Refuge Into Being Paid Member

    When meditating, is it necessary to focus on one specific object? This is not always necessary, but at times it can be very helpful. When you do meditate on a specific object, such as the breath, that object will help you to develop concentration, and concentration will enable you to cultivate a quiet and spacious mind. But you must be careful not to focus your attention too narrowly on the object, as that can constrain your practice. You should keep your primary focus on the object of meditation, but try to do so with a wide-open awareness. As you follow the breath, for instance, allow yourself to also be aware of what is happening in and around you. Be conscious of sounds, thoughts, sensations, feelings—but without fixating on, grasping, or rejecting any of these things. More »