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Zen and the Paranormal
Posted: 28 December 2006 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“sturmunddrang” The Zen koans are a joke.

Attention, and the creative response

Zen koans are an important part of the practice of Rinzai Zen, one of the main schools of Zen.  They help people to learn that intelligence and creativity function by themselves, like breathing, or heartbeat - that we don’t have to rack our brains to come up with creative solutions to problems.  Racking the brains usually means that we are rummaging among our known data looking for something unknown - looking for something that isn’t there - a needless waste of energy.

Christianity approaches this matter with statements like, “Why do you worry?  It doesn’t add a single hair to your head.”  Or, “If you are being taken before the judge, don’t practice how you are going to respond.  Your Father in Heaven will give you the answer after the question is asked.”  (or something like that)

Most of us premeditate how we are going to deal with situations that haven’t happened yet, so our responses aren’t creative.  Koan practice, on one level, is a simple exchange between student and Zen Master in which the student goes into the question and answer session with no premeditated or rehearsed answer.  The student goes in empty, and responds ‘off the top of his head’, depending on what the Master says or does.  If you take aim before the target appears, you’ll never hit the mark.  Koan practice helps the student to see the effectiveness and creativity of the unrehearsed response.  He learns to trust himself.  He learns to pay attention to what’s being said and done, instead of just waiting to blurt out his premeditated response.  This is one of the main reasons why the samurai were interested in Zen.  (Wage war with surprise moves).  (The sparrow can’t catch the butterfly, because even the butterfly doesn’t know which way he’s going to dart next).

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 29 December 2006 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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That’s such a great description of how Zen koans can function!
My experience has been that a very sharp personal question is a good provocation and antidote to a sleepy-calm meditative state. Meditation can lead me into a regressive, pre-rational state, rather than wakefulness. Wakefulness means that ‘spontaneous action’ does not come from a more primitive neurological stance, but from one which is even more highly organized than thought.
This question, or koan, can’t be approached as you would a therapist, because that would just generate tons of thinking. A very strong koan for a number of years for me was ‘Why did he drink?’ (My teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, died an alcoholic.) The answer, which is no doubt obvious to you, was ‘It’s not your problem - it was his problem.’ Obvious, yes, but I needed it to cut into the very marrow of my bones.
My current questions is ‘What is always here?’
Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater has been my major concern, since leaving Buddhism. (Which was another answer to my earlier koan about the teacher.) Tony Parsons has helped me with this. He’s a sort of ‘non-teacher’ - http://www.theopensecret.com
Here’s his quote about established religion that I like a lot:
“To translate the inexpressible into the doctrinal is to attempt to transform a song of freedom into a dogma of limitation. When the bird has flown, the essence of its song is often mislaid and all we are left with is an empty cage.”

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Posted: 04 January 2007 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]...My current questions is ‘What is always here?’
Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater has been my major concern, since leaving Buddhism. (Which was another answer to my earlier koan about the teacher.) Tony Parsons has helped me with this. He’s a sort of ‘non-teacher’ - http://www.theopensecret.com
Here’s his quote about established religion that I like a lot:
“To translate the inexpressible into the doctrinal is to attempt to transform a song of freedom into a dogma of limitation. When the bird has flown, the essence of its song is often mislaid and all we are left with is an empty cage.”

Many thanks for this link, my internet friend.  After reading the two page excerpt of Tony Parsons book “The Open Secret”,  I have just ordered this book and also his other book “All There Is”.  I had never heard of him before.  He seems to be channeling the spirit of Alan Watts.  LOL.

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Posted: 05 January 2007 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“JGL57”][quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]...My current questions is ‘What is always here?’
Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater has been my major concern, since leaving Buddhism. (Which was another answer to my earlier koan about the teacher.) Tony Parsons has helped me with this. He’s a sort of ‘non-teacher’ - http://www.theopensecret.com
Here’s his quote about established religion that I like a lot:
“To translate the inexpressible into the doctrinal is to attempt to transform a song of freedom into a dogma of limitation. When the bird has flown, the essence of its song is often mislaid and all we are left with is an empty cage.”

Many thanks for this link, my internet friend.  After reading the two page excerpt of Tony Parsons book “The Open Secret”,  I have just ordered this book and also his other book “All There Is”.  I had never heard of him before.  He seems to be channeling the spirit of Alan Watts.  LOL.

“What is always here?”

Zen Master Foyan commented, “The Way is not only evident after explanation and demonstration, because it is always being revealed naturally.”  He goes on to say, “It is just a matter of reaching the source of mind.”

At the ‘source’, the wellspring of thought, thoughts haven’t emerged yet to create and sustain the entity we call the ‘self’ (the self and its ideas). Then the mind is in a better position to witness ‘what is always here’ - or reality. 

In koan practice, the Zen Master is looking for evidence that you are witnessing what is there, and responding to it - not coming in burdened by a premeditated response, not burdened by ideas - not coming in bursting to share your ‘answer’, instead of seeing/hearing what is there now, and able to respond to it.

Krishnamurti was asked, “What is real?”
He was giving a talk under an oak tree in Ojai, and replied, “This oak tree is real.”

“How do you know it’s real?” the person asked.

“I haven’t had time to think it up,” he replied. 

The book title, ‘All there is’, made me think of poet Bill Thomas’ lines:

“All is all there is,
you surely wouldn’t ask for more.”  (circa 1972)

I’ll see if the library can find Tony Parson’s books - appreciate the recommendation.

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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