Saturday, November 27, 2010

bring me your koan

In Zen Buddhism, sometimes the study and penetration of koans is advised. Koans are those intellectually-insoluble riddles like "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What did you look like before your parents were born?" or "What is this?"

The usual format or formality of koans is that the "teacher" presents the koan to the "student" and the student then goes to work, returning to the teacher again and again with his or her answer, his or her understanding, his or her difficulties. In some Zen schools, there are 1,700 formal koans.

This morning I wonder if a "teacher" might not sum things up for a koan-inclined "student" by simply suggesting, "Bring me your koan."

Would that help? Or would it be too hard?

I don't know.

1 comment:

  1. In reading Fernando Pessoa's "The Book of Disquiet" he asks what appears to be a Koan, I'll let you be the judge:
    "Everything stated or expressed by man is a note in the margin of a completely erased text. From what’s in that note can we tell what was in the text?"