Koans

The Zen practice of contemplating a question or statement, the answer to which transcends dualistic thinking
  • Tricycle Community 6 comments

    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 »
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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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    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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    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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    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 »