Saturday, November 2, 2013
Mumonkan, Koan 25: Kyozan's Dream
This koan's solution seems to be the same as what I pulled out of Koan 24 (Fuketsu's Speech and Silence). Specifically, the idea of speech and silence not being different. To clarify, per Sekida's notes, the 'four propositions' are existing, non-existing, both existing and non-existing, and neither existing nor non-existing. Also according to Sekida, the 'hundred negations' are the multiplying of the four propositions. I would imagine the 'multiplying' refers to interpretation and critical thinking or, in other words, thought that interprets reality rather than being a direct perception of it. (Maybe the setting of the dream also relates to the idea of the experience pulling from both existing and non-existing.)
So just as speech and silence are and are not different in the last koan, here existence and non-existence are and are not different. Two sides of the same coin perhaps. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how we think of it because the truth does not come from nomenclature, classification, or analysis. It's about the purity of experience in the moment.
The similarity of the solutions between koans 24 and 25 made me think about how and why Mumon selected koans for inclusion in the Mumonkan. Did he select and order them so as to create a ladder? By that I mean does solving one koan give you a piece of the puzzle for solving the next one? Or did Mumon simply select koans that he felt were most useful with his students?
I'm not sure anyone knows this, given how long ago the Mumonkan was put together. I suppose it's unlikely Mumon was interested in constructing a ladder. That seems to be far too linear an approach for something that should be as open-ended as koan studies.