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- This topic has 12 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 10 months, 3 weeks ago by Anonymous.
June 18, 2022 at 11:23 pm #402603
This is a Koan used by some to advance the progress of disciples in Zen. The story goes that a monk asked Joshu “Does a dog have Buddha nature?”. And Joshu replied, “Mu” which is Japanese for no or nothing. Was he replying to the question or the person asking the question? In Buddhism, everything has Buddha nature. So the answer was does not make sense in replying to the question. If we try to analyze it then we miss the point of Joshu saying Mu. Mu, means to cut off the thinking mind. To stop trying to reasoning, thinking. To free ourselves.
When given the Koan “What is Mu?”, the answer can not be found with this thinking mind. And so the mind fights with it. Works hard to penetrate the shell to find the answer within. Burning and building until the answer explodes. What does it mean? Outwardly, nothing has changed. Inwardly, the world has changed.
I do not know what I am saying here. For there have been so much that has been said and written about the koans. “Does a dog have Buddha nature?” and “What is Mu?” I suddenly believe my dementia has started to kick in. I find myself forgetting what I wanted to say here?? Please have a nice day.June 19, 2022 at 11:48 am #402646AnonymousGuest
If this is dementia, then your dementia is welcomed here, ha… ha. Following reading your original post, I am thinking: (1) There is a time to think and there is a time to not think, depending on the objective and the context, (2) When in normal day to day interactions, such as in my communication with members in these forums, if my thinking dims or kills my compassion for a member, better I put my thinking aside and resurrect the compassion, later: think when under the influence of compassion, so to speak, (3) When I notice that my thinking in my own mind (unexpressed), dims or kills my compassion for others- .. better I stop thinking.
Thank you as always, Tommy!
anitaJune 19, 2022 at 11:32 pm #402758
You are kind. I truly do not remember what I was trying to say. Only at the time, it felt like it was an awesome truth. Well, fell flat. And can only think it must be my inherited dementia. In runs in my family on my mother’s side. And, although I got the bald head from my father’s side of the family, I do not think I escaped the silliness that is meant to come to my mind. Still, you have kind words for me and I appreciate it. And, I like the spin you put on it. Compassion really is what makes life better for everyone. Thanks,
TommyJune 20, 2022 at 10:55 am #402772AnonymousGuest
I suffered from dementia-like symptoms, I suppose (poor short term memory, poor attention, etc.) ever since I was a child, and so, it was not related to aging or heredity. It was related to high stress levels. So keep your daily stress levels as low as possible: it cannot hurt and it will most likely help!
You are welcome, and thank you (!!!) for being kind and gracious and so delightfully humble!
anitaJune 21, 2022 at 11:01 am #402869
I think your answers were pretty good and your experience with Zen Koan’s seems to be on point. You arrive where you start 🙂
Koan’s… one master answers yes the other no and both are correct and wrong… has lead to made many a Student suffering. Perhaps that is the point or intent as it is the tension between seeming opposites that leads to consciousness as Koan’s push/pull a student to transcend duality/thought… begging the question if one transcends duality is one still conscious??? Yes… No… Mu 🙂
I read a story about a student that asked a master ‘What is Zen’ the Master throws a stone at the student, and the student spontaneously ducks and and awakens.
LOL I forgot my point…. their is a reason the buddha is always laughingJune 22, 2022 at 11:22 pm #402936
You make a valid point. Zen disciples are left with many questions when the answer to a Koan is both yes and no. And it can be also not either yes or no. The point being the answer comes from within oneself when one drops the thinking mind. Yes, to being conscious but also need the thinking mind to make decisions and live this life we have. The difference is as Anita said. To live with compassion and have the wisdom to do what is right. This brings a better world for all of us. The story of the stone or the sound of a bell or even a smack on the forehead is all about giving what is needed to stop this thinking mind and lets us see the truth that surrounds us. Personally, I thinking that I have only fooled myself into believing that the truth is easy to reach for I have been just sitting for many years with only seeing myself and my thoughts setting the boundaries of this life.
Story of the smack on the forehead. A monk spoke with the Zen master reciting that the world is an illusion and duality is a false idea. Hearing this, the Zen master smacked the monk on the forehead. And the monk became angry. The Zen master said, if all is illusion then where does this anger come from. Upon hearing these words, the monk became enlightened. I have smacked myself many times but I only get dizzy. No enlightenment.June 23, 2022 at 8:12 am #402945
I have smacked myself many times but I only get dizzy.
🙂 that sounds like Zen to me. Begs the question what is enlightenment and how we would notice when a moment of enlightenment was achieved?
My observation is that its kind of like happiness the moment one thinks… ah their it is I have it… it disappears. Enlightenment like trying to grasp and hold on to air with ones hands. The problematic word in that sentence being ‘grasp’ as it tends to be attached to the word ‘I’. In Zen thier is no I so no-thing to do the grasping.
When I picture the stone being thrown at the student (or slap) in that moment thier is the stone and body labeled student. The body spontaneously ducks. No thoughts like… Why did master throw the stone, The stone is a illusion, the body is a illusion, what does this mean, why, why me, not fair, vengeance, anger, fear… If such thoughts did arise the student is going to get hit and its going to hurt.
The body/mind/spirit, labeled student, “knows” this and engaging fully in the moment as it is moves. The rock flies past. A moment of enlightenment. A moment not measurement in time or space and so infinite -“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities” 🙂 (The Body and rock are not illusions the ‘student’ is)
In Zen a act of Free Will is the act of letting Will go, (In my opinion the only act of free will possible) , Doing by not doing. A state of being where one is fully Engaged in Life as it is and at the same moment fully Detached. I’m reminded of those infomercials selling the some slow cooker or something. ‘Set it and Forget it.
My experience of Zen is that it seems to be a practice intended to ‘break’ the mind. Break the habitual thinking, thoughts, memory’s that we believe/feel is a I. One returns from where one started and ‘sees’ it for the first time (the mountain becomes a mountain) We work for that which no work is required (doing by not doing) “You” are/were always buddha
Thanks for humoring me letting me play 🙂June 23, 2022 at 9:08 am #402947AnonymousGuest
You are hilarious, this is the funniest thing that you ever said here, “I have smacked myself many times but I only got dizzy. No enlightenment”! But wait, we are talking about a “the smack on the forehead“: maybe your habit of smacking yourself on the forehead explains the symptoms of dementia that you mentioned earlier (“my inherited dementia. In runs in my family”, June 19). This kind of habit can’t possibly help when it comes to dementia. Let me research the topic…
e-medicine. health. com: “Even a mild head injury can cause prolonged or permanent declines in cognition called dementia, which describes problems that affect thinking and concentration, memory, communication, personality, interactions with others, mood, and behavior. A type of dementia resulting from multiple head injuries is called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)” – so yes, repeatedly hitting or smacking your forehead can cause dementia!
anitaJune 23, 2022 at 11:32 pm #402974
When younger, I use to read the Reader’s Digest. In it was a section called, “Laughter The Best Medicine”. Of all the animals on this earth, there is only one that can laugh. Humans. There is no real rhyme or reason for it. But, it does make one happy. I like to be happy. Thanks for the comments.June 24, 2022 at 6:53 am #402984
I appreciated your thoughts and humor, Tommy.
I’ve often wondered about why the Buddha is most often shown as laughing and I think one of the reasons is that when you laugh you are letting go, letting flow. Thus one may have experienced laughing so hard you peed yourself, a little. 🙂June 24, 2022 at 10:14 am #402989AnonymousGuest
You are welcome and thank you for posting- whenever you feel like posting, please do!
Gelotology is the study of the physiological effects of laughter on our bodies, so I learned today. In summary, laughter leads to relaxation, to a better immune system functioning and to other physical benefits; all- without unpleasant side effects (except for the one Peter mentioned, ha… ha).
anitaJune 24, 2022 at 2:27 pm #402997AnonymousGuest
* Correction: Dear TommyJuly 15, 2022 at 8:15 am #404040AnonymousGuest
Dear Tommy/ Reader:
I wanted to understand what koans are about, so I looked at patehos. com and The mind’s journal. com:
Koans are phrases or small stories that are not meant to be addressed by the rational, thinking mind. They’re actually designed to put the thinking part of our brain (“the beast that never sleeps”) on pause, in an attempt to activate our Beginner’s Mind. A Beginner’s Mind is an awakened (if only for a moment) state of mind where we experience things as if for the first time.
In this awakened state (if only for a moment), there is no pushing, no seeking. no thinking-mind-generated noise, no asking questions and no finding answers (A famous Zen saying is: “In Zen we don’t find the answers. We lose the questions”). Koans are a way to slip past the-beast-that-never-sleeps. They allow finding truth without triggering rigid thinking and judgements.
Koans challenge and transform conventional thinking. Zen Buddhists use Koans during meditation to exhaust the egoic and analytic mind and uncover the intuitive No-Mind. They are about unraveling the greater truths about ourselves and the world. Zen Koans are a tool that delves into the mind of a meditator to challenge and break rigid thinking. “Koans are not meant to provide any explanations or answers. They simply show you the way”.
Examples of koans: “The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear“, “No thoughts. No action. No movement. Total stillness”, “Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing you will not understand“, “The harder you try the less you know”, “Do not seek what you already have“, “You are there now. What was never lost can never be found”, “Where am I? Here. What time is it? Now“, “The way is an empty vessel that is never filled”.