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Best Zen Koans

author
Brent Mccoy
• Monday, 02 November, 2020
• 7 min read

Koans are self-paradoxical riddles used as a meditation discipline in Zen Buddhism. The point of the koan is to exhaust the analytic and logic mind in order to reveal the more intuitive no-mind.

zen koan koans slideshare
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

Contents

They simply point out that reality itself cannot be “caught.” For example, perhaps the two most well-known koans are as follows, simple and succinct, short and elegant… The Zen koan serves as a scalpel used to cut into the mind of the meditator.

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. This is a classic Zen koan about the importance of learning, unlearning, and relearning to remain sharp and free from fixed thinking.

The imagery of the cup overflowing is a powerful symbol reminding us to let things go so that we can “pour” more experience into our lives. What we’re “pouring out” of the “cup” of our minds is the ego’s attachment to learning and memory and a releasing of fixed opinions and rigid expectations.

Similar to the Zen proverb, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tarzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. This koan reminds me of the following quote by Rum, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field.

zen koans explained mind stone maintain attitude pornography nonstop difficult demand wireless age digital
(Source: gawker.com)

I’ll meet you there.” Kids is so caught up in the rightness and wrongness of Tarzan’s actions that he becomes a victim to the static past at the expense of the dynamic present. Sometimes morality is just as muddy as the road Tarzan and Kids were traveling down.

Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him.

The paradox is: how do we find joy or even happiness when caught between the rock and the hard place of life? All three are the epitome of life’s (a delicious red strawberry) overcoming of entropy (two mice gnawing at a vine) despite the inevitability of death (two hungry tigers).

In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him.

“I know you do not need a lantern to find your way,” his friend replied, “but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him.

zen koan koans mu wisdom startling reveal satori puzzle
(Source: themindunleashed.com)

Life comes at us fast, and sometimes the healthiest thing to do is to laugh despite the speed of it all. Sometimes all we can do is kick back with a ruthless sense of humor, not despite irony and incongruity, but because of them.

The water is warm (and cold and safe and dangerous and sometimes there’s even oil in it). But don’t let that stop you from living; from dancing through the glaring futility and venomous absurdity of it all with a humor of the most high.

Buddha said: “I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes. I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles.

I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil on my foot.

I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians. I discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as flowers appearing in one’s eyes.

muddy road zen enlightenment koans explained practice
(Source: gawker.com)

Jenkins, stories and phrases have been used by Zen masters for ages to teach & test their students and help them understand the true nature of life. The paradoxical riddles and stories are usually rather puzzling & may appear ambiguous and silly at first, but once you think about these Koans and try to decipher their hidden meanings, you will emerge as a more self-aware and wiser person.

These are small stories, phrases, conversations and statements that challenges and transforms conventional thinking and changes how you live in the world by provoking an insight. Zen Buddhists use Koans during meditation to exhaust the logic and analytic mind and uncover the intuitive ‘no-mind’, which is a state of pure consciousness & bliss.

Koans are not about finding answers, but about unraveling the greater truths about ourselves and the world. It allows us to realize that our intellections, beliefs and impressions can never offer us a fully satisfying answer.

Jenkins are a tool that delves into the mind of a meditator to challenge and break their rigid thinking. However, it may often be mentally and intellectually exhausting for a student to decipher the true meaning of a Koan and understand it the way it is meant to be, realized through the spirit.

Here are 5 Zen Buddhist Koans that can help you unravel your own mind and help you progress in your spiritual journey. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him.

isshin concentration
(Source: isshin-concentration.blogspot.com)

“I know you do not need a lantern to find your way,” his friend replied, “but if you don’t have one, someone else may run into you. The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him.

In life, we will face several moments where we will be judged, criticized, blamed and accused whether we do something or not. And tears and laughter can be the perfect tools that allow us to navigate through this absurdity.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tarzan, “especially not young and lovely ones.

This koan teaches us what we perceive as right and wrong is based on our perception of the world and solely exists inside our minds. Being a victim of his past, Kids is unable to enjoy the beauty of the dynamic and fleeting present moment.

The human condition is not definite or decided and life is unreasonably situational. We follow certain rules and laws in life which we believe can help us live better and allow us to segregate wrongdoings from right doings.

koans cliff record pdf author
(Source: iamadek.me)

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. This is a popular Koan that focuses on the value of learning, unlearning, and relearning.

The idea of the tea cup being overflowing is a strong reference that reminds us to let go of things so that we can make space for new things and experiences to flow into our lives. What we learn will always be retained in some capacity, like in your subconscious mind and our muscle memory.

This challenges you to release rigid views, opinions and expectations. A koan is a riddle or puzzle that Zen Buddhists use during meditation to help them unravel greater truths about the world and about themselves.

Zen's masters have been testing their students with these stories, questions, or phrases for centuries. Many koans can be traced back to the collections of sayings amassed by Chinese priests in the 12th and 13th centuries.

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6 www.familysearch.org - https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/New_Jersey_Vital_Records