Sunday, October 10, 2010

"I hate koans"

The following link was posted on Zen Forum International, and I liked it so much, I thought I would steal it for use here: I hate koans.

Koans are the intellectually-insoluble riddles sometimes used in Zen practice -- things like "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What did I look like before my parents were born?"

The text in the link is brief and to the point and, for my money, delicious in its honesty and implications:

By Jez Lovekin on Friday 8 October 2010
Filed under: General
I hate koans...
I hate the way they make me feel so uncomfortable. I hate coming out of my comfort zone. I hate having to sit in the dokusan line, full of fear and anxiety, waiting to go in and face the teacher. What if I make a stupid arse of myself, what if I get it wrong, what if I get to feel completely useless? Why don't I get a therapist instead, with a nice smiley face?
Why don't they get any easier? I hate not knowing. I should know, I've been practising for years but still can't see what is needed. Am I stupid?
Why don't I do shikantaza and talk about my painful knees? At least I don't need to show my ignorance with these stupid questions.
And when, sometimes, I manage to satisfy the teacher...
I get another one!!

That, to my mind, is both a wonderful whine and a bang-on description of Zen practice ... or living this life ... take your pick.

The posting reminds of one of my favorite 'Zen' tales: Stingy in Teaching


  1. It is only within our mind that the judgments of right and wrong arise, as tools heavily enforced in the west by a society completely out of touch with nature as being noncompetitive for attention.

    Koans are not questions based on right and wrong answers. Once we drop the concept of duality all koans come alive answered not by what we say, but how we see. Silent seeing is a place of unconditional acceptance, only acceptance, clapping the one hand. 10/10/10

  2. Wel wel, so you have given up on talking?
    Have you accepted not talking?
    Can you accept treating your patients kindly?
    It is not important to treat your patients with silence. And it is not important to treat patients with cruelty either.

    If this does not make sense just accept it. Were you a muslim i would have given you a lesson!

  3. I wish I could draw out here, in the dark.

    I just made a leaf-shaped cross rising above the water and land, with sky and sun behind it.

    My vision is blurred.

    There are just no words sometimes, in breathing, stretching, settling down to receive the sound of one as all.