Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ordinary Mind Is The Way

One of the many things that Zen has taught me is that often you can place problem or a decision in your mind and then simply forget about it, walk away.  The problem will churn away in your subconscious and then out of nowhere, maybe while you are brushing your teeth one morning, the answer will become clear, appearing as if the light were suddenly turned on.

I've been given my first koan by my Zen teacher.  A koan is sort of a story, problem, maybe even a single word or a solitary sound that bumps around in your mind.  At times you dig it out, dust it off and play with it in hopes that one day it will lead to a greater understanding or awakening.  Koans cannot be solved by rational thought no matter how hard one tries.  Regardless of how intelligent your ego believes that you are, the more your mind chases the further you become from the truth.

My koan is Nansen's Ordinary Mind is the Way.  

Jōshu, a student addresses his teacher, Nansen…

Jōshu asked, "What is the Way?"

Nansen said, "Ordinary [or Everyday] Mind is the Way."

Jōshu asked, "How do I approach [or reach] it?"

Nansen said, "The more you try and get to it the further away you get."  

  Jōshu asked, "Then how do I know if it is the Way or not?"

Nansen said, "Knowing is a delusion; Not knowing is just indifference.  When you reach the true way beyond doubt it is vast and open as the sky.  How could it be a matter of affirming or negating it?"

Jōshu had some awakening.  

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