- Note: this is just a general introduction to the purpose of Koan. If you wish to work on Koan, find a deeply realized and qualified Zen teacher and work with him/her. - Soh
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Soh Wei Yu
On zen koans, John Tan wrote in 2009,
That is precisely the question asked by Dogen that “if our Buddha Nature is already perfect, why practice?” This question continues to bother him even after the initial glimpse and that led him to China in search for the answer that eventually awaken his wisdom into the non-dual nature of Awareness.
Therefore we must understand in Zen tradition, different koans were meant for different purposes. The experience derived from the koan “before birth who are you?” only allows an initial glimpse of our nature. It is not the same as the Hakuin’s koan of “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” The five categories of koan in Zen ranges from hosshin that give practitioner the first glimpse of ultimate reality to five-ranks that aims to awaken practitioner the spontaneous unity of relative and absolute (non-duality). Only through thorough realization of the non-dual nature (spontaneous unity of relative and absolute) of Awareness can we then understand why there is no split between subject and object as well as seeing the oneness of realization and development. Therefore the practice of natural state is for those that have already awaken to their non-dual nature, not just an initial glimpse of Awareness. The difference must be clearly understood. It is not for anyone and it is advisable that we refrain from talking too much about the natural state. The 'natural' way is in fact the most challenging path, there is no short cut.
On the other hand, the gradual path of practice is a systematic way of taking us step by step until we eventually experienced the full non-dual and non-local nature of pristine awareness. One way is by first firmly establishing the right view of anatta (non-dual) and dependent origination and practice vipassana or bare attention to authenticate our experience with the right view. The gradual paths are equally precious, that is the point I want to convey.
Lastly there is a difference between understanding Buddha Nature and God. Not to let our initial glimpse of pristine awareness overwhelmed us.
Edited by Thusness 05 May `09, 10:35PM
(On the last point: also see Daniel's Post on Anatta/Emptiness)
Soh Wei Yu
More quotes on koan by JT from the past as I was explaining to someone:
“More by john tan:
Alejandro, I would separate non-arisen and emptiness from the luminosity. Imo, it's a separate pointing. The one hand clapping here directly points to the luminosity.
What is the way that leads the practitioner to “the direct taste”? In zen, koan is the technique and the way.
The one hand clapping koan is the instrument that leads one to directly and intuitively authenticate presence = sound.
Let’s use another koan for example, “Before birth who am I?”, this is similar to just asking “Who am I”. The “Before birth” here is to skilfully lead the thinking mind to penetrate to the limit of its own depth and suddenly completely cease and rest, leaving only I-I. Only this I as pure existence itself. Before birth, this I. After birth, this I. This life or 10 thousand lives before, this I. 10 thousand lives after, still this I. The direct encounter of the I-I.
Similarly the koan of the sound of one hand clapping, is to lead the practitioner after initial break-through into I-I not to get stuck in dead water and attached to the Absolute. To direct practitioner to see the ten thousand faces of presence face to face. In this case, it is that “Sound” of one hand clapping.
Whether one hand claps or before both hands clap, what is that sound? It attempts to lead the practitioner into just that “Sound”. All along there is only one hand clapping, two hands (duality) are not needed. It is similar to contemplating "in hearing always only sound, no hearer".
As for the empty and non-arisen nature of that Sound, zen koans have not (imo) been able to effectively point to the non-arisen and emptiness of one’s radiance clarity.”
Soh Wei Yu
“Liu Zhi Guan Zen koans relate more to the direct pointing of one's radiance clarity whereas mmk is abt letting the mind sees it's own fabrications and allowing it to free itself from all elaborations (non Gelug) or free itself from all fabrications (Gelug). The most crucial insight of both Gelug and non Gelug (imo) is to let the mind realizes the primordial purity (emptiness) nature of both mind/phenomena.
Although Mipham treated gelug's freedom from self nature as categorized ultimate, I can only tell u I disagree. Both are able to achieve their objectives (imo). In fact if u were to ask for my sincere opinion, I prefer freedom from self nature (Gelug) as if understood properly and with experiential insight, it will lead to both +A and -A of emptiness.
If we were to treat the conventional (conceptuality) as the cause of ignorance, it prevents some very valuable insights that will take probably a lot of time to detail out. I will not go too detailed into that.
In short seeing through intrinsic existence will similarly allow practitioners to see through conceptual constructs (non-conceptualities), see through duality (non-dual) and substantiality (essencelessness). Phenomena lack of self-nature also lacks sameness or difference, therefore their primordially purity will likewise be realized and selflessness also results in natural spontaneity; yet because practitioners put freedom from self-nature at a higher order, they will not be bounded by conceptualities and can embrace the conventional fully.”
Soh Wei Yu
Having said that john tan did deviced a “koan” as a pointer to emptiness:
“Now is not a container to him but rather a ground for him to land.
Say that there is
Share with him the post abt daniel's post on anatta and emptiness.
Then say there is a related koan that I ask u to a direct taste of the emptiness of the "here and now" but requires one to hv direct experience of non-dual presencing:
Appreciate the vivid, lurid scenery in non-dual and ask,
Where is this scenery?”
“André, to me "no awareness" in anatta is like telling us not to stop moving air to experience wind so that we can experience the blowing directly, effortlessly and naturally.
Dependent origination is to explain the conventional relationship between wind and moving air to establish it's validity conventionally and frees the inherent and dualistic rigidity.
Emptiness is very special, it is a koan.
The convention "wind" is empty and non-arisen,
What is that "wind"?
Why express that it originates in dependence and is empty and non-arisen?”
Soh Wei Yu
Liu Zhi Guan That is not the "correct answer" to that koan. Although, there are no correct answers to koan so memorising one is besides the point - the only correct answer is your own satori.
But if you give this answer, the Zen master will tell you it is wrong.
10/27/2012 8:19 PM: Soh Wei Yu: I just heard lol, now attending his talk
10/27/2012 8:20 PM: Soh Wei Yu: But he ask about the source, where does thoughts come from, where does cause and effect come from, who am i
10/27/2012 8:22 PM: John: One day got the opportunity tell why zen is become one with action is becoz of the realization that source is not necessary
10/27/2012 8:23 PM: John: Although what needed now is the direct experience of I m.
10/27/2012 8:26 PM: Soh Wei Yu: What u mean
10/27/2012 8:26 PM: John: What he expect the answer
10/27/2012 8:30 PM: Soh Wei Yu: Shld be the I amness. He is going through a list of koans
10/27/2012 8:31 PM: Soh Wei Yu: He rejected people hitting the floor for that qn
10/27/2012 8:31 PM: Soh Wei Yu: He said u came from hitting the floor? Lol
10/27/2012 8:31 PM: John: Lol
10/27/2012 8:31 PM: John: Yeah the I M
10/27/2012 8:32 PM: John: U din tell him
10/27/2012 8:32 PM: John: Lol
10/27/2012 8:34 PM: Soh Wei Yu: Lol
10/27/2012 8:35 PM: John: For zen the 7 phases of insights will hv to b re-written for them to understand
10/27/2012 8:36 PM: John: But koan now has become a q&a game
10/27/2012 8:36 PM: John: Unlike the past
10/27/2012 8:36 PM: John: Like studying a 10 yrs series
10/27/2012 9:08 PM: Soh Wei Yu: Oic..
10/27/2012 9:22 PM: Soh Wei Yu: "For zen the 7 phases of insights will hv to b re-written for them to understand" - how is it to b re written
10/27/2012 9:22 PM: John: Shorten to directly point