Koans

The Zen practice of contemplating a question or statement, the answer to which transcends dualistic thinking
  • Tricycle Community 5 comments

    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 »
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    Yasutani Roshi: The Hardest Koan Paid Member

    In Zen at War (Weatherhill, 1997), Brian Victoria examined how the Japanese Zen clergy interpreted Buddhist teachings in ways that made Zen dharma—and themselves—complicit with the Imperial Forces for the success of what was called "The Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere." More »
  • Tricycle Community 7 comments

    Wash Your Bowl Paid Member

    IT'S SUCH A SIMPLE exchange that it might have gone unnoticed: A monk said to Chao Chou, "I have just entered this monastery. Please teach me."Chao Chou said, "Have you eaten your rice gruel?"The monk said, "Yes, I have."Chao Chou said, "Wash your bowl."The monk understood. More »
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    Dust of Snow: Awakening to Conversation Paid Member

    We were walking in the winter woods with the tracker Sue Morse. Our eyes were fixed on the ground as we searched for more of the bobcat prints we had just traced around the base of a cliff. When Sue called to us, we figured she must have picked up the trail. But instead, when our small group had gathered around her, she pulled back the bough of an overhanging hemlock and released it over our heads like a plucked bowstring. We looked up, startled, as the snow that had been packed on the branch swirled around our warm cheeks and spangled against the sky. As we stood there, transfixed, she recited Robert Frost’s short poem “Dust of Snow”: The way a crow Shook down on meThe dust of snow From a hemlock tree More »
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    Questioning The Question Paid Member

    Real questioning has no methods, no knowing—just wondering freely, vulnerably, what is it that is actually happening inside and out. Not the word, not the idea of it, not the reaction to it, but the simple fact. Toni Packer, The Work of This Moment Who’s Asking the Question?  Gil Fronsdal In my first question to a Buddhist teacher I asked, “What kind of effort is needed to practice zazen?” He questioned back, “Who is it that makes the effort?” His response made no sense to me; the conversation came to an immediate end. As I mulled over this exchange, I concluded that I would have to answer both my own question and his counter-question for myself. In doing so I discovered that there are certain spiritual questions that we only answer through our own direct experience. More »