Monday, June 28, 2010

...the koan that is you...

ko·an:   ~ a nonsensical or paradoxical question to a student for which an answer is demanded, the stress of meditation on the question often being illuminating.

~ a puzzling, often paradoxical statement or story, used in Zen Buddhism as an aid to meditation and a means of gaining spiritual awakening.

Have you ever thought of yourself and your life as a paradox, a puzzle, a mystery, a koan?

Have you ever wondered if your creative expressions (including blogging!) are an attempt to understand the mystery of the world and the paradox that is you?

Where are you on the journey of understanding the world and your place in it?

Zen masters often juxtapose two unrelated and seemingly contradictory concepts in their presentation of a koan.

What are the mysterious, contradictory elements of your existence that, taking up an uncomfortable residence side by side, could illuminate your path - that could spur an awakening?

Who does not love a mystery? 
Who does not love to solve a puzzle? 
Who does not enjoy an "aha' moment when the penny drops?

The pairing of disparate concepts, as in a Zen koan - held in a contemplative manner, as in meditation (or a quiet walk in Nature) almost always lead to an understanding levels above the original question.

Each of us is a paradox,  a tantalizing mystery, a jumble of contradictions.  There is too much depth to the mystery of any of us to imagine we can come to any complete or final understanding.  But we can shine a light that deepens our understanding of our self and our place in the universe. 

Funny ... we are each an individual mystery, and yet we are also so fundamentally the same... a similar mystery - a related koan.  We are really more alike than we are different.  That is probably why all the different Zen koans ultimately lead to the same place - a place where concepts, masks, illusions fall away and we awaken (by the friction of disparate parts) to what really is and always has been.

Every man's condition is a solution
in hieroglyphic
to those inquiries
which he would make;
he lives it as life
before he perceives it
as truth.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  1. Hi Bonnie-

    this is most provoking - I am thrilled by the questions, insight, wisdom and creative style in which you invite your readers to self explore. I have known for a long time that my life's purpose, ministry if you will, is to 'listen' to others truths and help them if they allow me to, to celebrate their uniqueness and truths however tragic and joyous those details are - each moment of their lives is a gift because they are a gift.

    I have one mystery yet to be solved, and it is this, I don't understand why I was blessed with grandchildren, and that three of them are basically not in my life. I would so love to share our world, and love and traditions with them - but it is not so. I had them near for a time, and the newest one, I wonder if and when I will ever even meet him. I truly do not understand this type of cruelty. There, I said it.. :-)

    Love to you
    peace and hope......

  2. Gail, Thank you for both an inspiring and touching comment. Sometimes the mystery is just too deep for us to unravel for the moment ... and thus we are given the task of going on being despite the unpalatable given. Not easy - but doable, for you are, in fact, doing it. May the circumstances soon change so that you can companion your grandchildren.

  3. Hi Again-

    thank you so much for your kind and loving understanding in this and the most sensitive of matters, always.

    love to you
    peace an dhope.....

  4. this is really fascinating is a puzzle though i dont know if we will ever figure it out completely...i guess that is the fun of it...happy sunday!

  5. WoW, Bonnie; I'm stealing that quote!

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  6. I found this very very interesting, I AM always trying to figure life out. I will reread this post again. It has touched me.

  7. It is a very challenging post, I must admit. And that's why I liked it so much. One of the lessons we learn in life is that everything is somehow connected. We're seeing it now with climate change and we see in politics and the current socio-economic situation.

    Great post with deep reflections.

    Greetings from London.

  8. Another great post, Bonnie. What I love about koans is that they confuse the analytical tyranny of the left hemisphere of our brains, forcing us to use our intuitive powers to go deeper in our search for truth. Getting beyond our conditioning -- that is what much of our evolutionary journey is about.

  9. it's true we are all so much more alike than different - and each, i think, seekers of all within and without, in our own way - beautiful post, dear lady -

  10. A lot to take away and contemplate... I have no specifics today... but you have provoked a thoughtful frame of mind and I will take this along with me today... koan... I have not even heard this term before. Thanks for sharing...

  11. The joy and the sorrow is in the mystery. It is a complete package.

    Beautiful Thoughts.


  12. I have often described myself as a contradiction and a you KNOW I LOVE this!!!! Isn't it fun to be a puzzle?? I love that! And the photography you paired with the quotes here is fabulous! A fantastic post, is so often the case here :-) Love, Janine XO


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