Applied Koan To Life's Problems

Discussion in 'Buddhism' started by Silverbackman, Nov 18, 2006.

  1. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    In Zen Buddhism, koan is a story, dialog, question, or statement in the history and lore of Buddhism. You are supposed to meditate on whatever the question or riddle is and by doing so you expand your thought into new mental pathways. If you are a beginner it seems reasonable to solve the stories of the lore of Chan/Zen Buddhism.

    However is this the only thing you can do with Koan? After learning and mastering it, wouldn't it be just as helpful to meditate on a new idea or problem in your career. For example, say you are a theoretical physicist. You’re trying to expand M-theory more and more into what it could become: the theory of everything. Wouldn't it be helpful to apply your koan reasoning to such a problem as uniting Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity, and the Standard Model? Or perhaps using your koan meditative abilities to solve one of the biggest mysteries of life: how organic molecules formed into the first DNA.

    Or maybe I have a misunderstanding on how koan works. As far as I have read though, it seems quite valuable to apply to life's problems, especially major problems in science.
     
  2. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Rinzai school of Zen, also known as the sudden enlightenment school, uses the koan to 'confound' the mind into giving up and revealing "big mind" or our original nature. Many of the koans don't even seem to follow a linear path and seem to be asking for an answer incongruent with the question.
    I have however made good use of the quietness of meditation to intuit answers to life's persistent questions :)

    Peace
    Mark
     
  3. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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    Hi,

    Hi Silverbackman,

    Yes, as Paladin says, the koan is to confound. I would not describe it as something to solve, learn or master in this sense therefore. We are considered to spend much of our time engaging in rational thought (very useful in scientific enquiry) but this will not enable us to "break through" to any satori (or enlightenment). A koan is intended to provide the student with a tool to break down their rational way of thinking, because a koan has no rational answer, in order that satori can occur.

    s.
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    the Ch'an and Zen tradition use two types of formulations... Koans and Mondos. Koans do not have correct "answers" they are, as already indicated, used to help the small mind shatter its habitual fetters and realize Big Mind.

    A mondo, on the other hand, is a statement or teaching which does have a correct answer and which the student should turn their attention to understanding.

    in terms of actual practice, however.... sometimes i drive a nail with the flat side of my wrench.

    metta,

    ~v
     
  5. Snoopy

    Snoopy zennish

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    Just read this little anecdote and it made me laugh…



    A karate student was on a retreat at a zen centre. He spent days struggling with a koan but by the time of his private interview with the zen master he was still “coming up dry.” In massive frustration he let out a great shout and aimed a karate punch directly at the master’s face, stopping just short.

    The master was unmoved. “Right answer”, he said, “wrong koan.”




    Aside from it making me laugh, I suppose I would also say “now that is an unmoving mind.”

    s.
     

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