Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mumonkan, Koan 12 (continued): Loose Marble

I've had a few zazen sessions away from the koans, but the most recent one (see last post) has been rattling around in my head. It feels like that game where you try to get the loose marble into holes. Each time you make a move to get the solution, you knock some part of it loose. However, I was sure there was something about my thinking that wasn't quite complete. Over the past couple of days, little thoughts would pop in my head about koan 12, and I think I've come to a realization of sorts. Or at least the beginning of one.

The realization is that some of my difficulty in expressing my 'solution' has to do with definitions. Things like 'finding truth'. Whether it's 'inside' or 'outside'. Whether one learns from a teacher or is masterless or learns from oneself. I got a glimpse of an idea that all of this thinking is wrong-minded. It's all delusion.

This delusion centers on creating compartments or egos or describing what I'm finding. I suppose it's okay to attempt to express things, but words are really tricky. They're never quite precisely correct in covering what I'm trying to say, and this imprecision can lead to me adopting ideas that are a) not at all what I learned in zazen, and b) wrong and deluding. This is probably part of why transmission of zen has traditionally been a wordless process from master to master over the centuries.

'Finding truth' is not the point. 'Inside' and 'outside' are meaningless distinctions. Learning comes when I'm in samadhi, and all this teacher/no teacher stuff that I'm on about is irrelevant. Piercing delusion is ultimately about throwing away the trappings of how my mind talks about existence. Existence is, and I experience it. Period. There are no words, or thought, or analysis necessary (or desirable), because the words, thinking, and analysis insert delusion into the experience.

I may not be expressing this clearly (probably not), but I think this is the tip of a really big iceberg that will come clearer the more I let it rattle around loose in my head. I don't want to necessarily 'figure it out'. I'd like to let the marbles keep rolling around and see what happens.

PS: This whole thing feels much like what I was trying to say in my last Haiku Thursday entry. In that haiku, the experience of seeing a beautiful fall scene is destroyed by consciously thinking about it. No longer is the speaker in the haiku experiencing the scene with immediacy; he is now experiencing it through the perceptual and analytic lens of his mind and hence it is distorted.

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