John Tan sent two potent koans to a friend -- good for contemplation.

1) Without thoughts, tell me what is your very mind right now?

2) Without using any words or language, how do you experience ‘I’ right now?

(In the Zen tradition, we also have, "When you're not thinking of anything good and anything bad, at that moment, what is your original face?" (Sixth Patriarch Hui-Neng), "What is the original face before your parents were born?"

A similar koan led to my initial sudden awakening in February 2010.)


Someone replied, “No mind"

That friend of ours told John Tan something similar and got 'smacked'.

"John Tan: Without any thought, tell me what is your very mind now?

Friend: Void. Hollow.

John Tan: Smack your head... lol.

Without using any words or language, how do you experience 'I' right now'?

Friend: ....something about personality, habits, opinions...

John Tan: If there is no thoughts, how can there be habits, opinions and personality? Everywhere you go, how can you miss it? Day in and day out, wherever and whenever there is, there 'you' are! How can 'you' distant yourself from 'yourself'?"


More by John Tan: "Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Zen, whatever tradition, how are they able to deny you from yourself? So who are You?"

Self-Enquiry is called a direct path for a reason:

“Don’t relate, don’t infer, don’t think. Authenticating ‘You’ yourself requires nothing of that. Not from teachers, books, Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Zen or even Buddha, whatever comes from outside is knowledge. What that comes from the innermost depth of your own beingness, is the wisdom of you yourself.

There is no need to look for any answers. Ultimately, it is your own essence and nature. To leap from the inferencing, deducting and relating mind into the most direct and immediate authentication, the mind must cease completely and right back into the place before any formation of artificialities. If this ‘eye’ of immediacy isn’t open, everything is merely knowledge and opening this eye of direct perception is the beginning of the path that is pathless. Ok enough of chats and there have been too much words. Don’t sway and walk on. Happy journey!’

Mr. R, I have been very direct to you and it is just a simple question of what is your mind right now and nothing else. There is no other path more straightforward than that.

I have told you to put aside, all thoughts, all teachings, even Dzogchen, Mahamudra, Zen and just [asked] ‘what is your mind right now?’. Isn’t that telling you straight to the point, not wasting time and words? I have also told you whatever comes from external is knowledge, put all those aside. Wisdom comes from within yourself directly. But you have cut and pasted me all the texts, conversations, Zen, Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Madhyamaka that I have told you to put aside.

You asked me what is my advice. Still the same. Don’t go after experiences and knowledge, you have read and known enough, so return back to simplicity. Your duty is not to know more, but to eliminate all these and [get] back to the simplicity of the direct taste. Otherwise you will have to waste a few more years or decades to return back to what that is most simple, basic and direct.

And from this simplicity and directness, you then allow your nature to reveal the breadth and depth through constantly authenticating it in all moments and all states through engagement in different conditions.

So unless you drop everything and [get] back into a clean, pure, basic simplicity, there is no real progress in practice. Until you understand the treasure of simplicity and start back from there, every step forward is a retrogress.“ – John Tan, 2020


0 Responses