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#3138 - Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - Editor: Gloria Lee
Nonduality Highlights -     


"We owe this phrase to Philip Kapleau, who wrote that the Zen Master Bassui had a natural koan, "Who is the master?" This koan arose from the depths of Bassui's longing for an answer to life's mystery. Bassui could not forget his natural koan, as it was a part of him, and the quest for an answer propelled him to a total realization of his true nature. Unfortunately, Kapleau and many others never acknowledged the importance of every seeker discovering their natural koan.  

Within each of us is a question that begs an answer. "Why am I miserable?" "What is love?" "How can I find peace?" "Is there life after death?" "What is the purpose of life?" "Am I awake or dreaming?" "Who am I?" "What am I?" "What do I really want?" "Why am I here?" "What is thought?" "Where does thought come from?" "What is Real?" "What lasts?" These are just a few natural koans.  

Everyone has a natural koan and it is in this sense that all people have a spiritual path. All people have some question that "bugs" them. Some people attempt to answer it, some give up hope, but most procrastinate.  

Sit alone one day and write out the questions that concern you. Look for the one that feels most important and imagine how you might feel if you answered it. You can answer it -- this I know. Begin to search. Read everything you can find on the matter, talk to others, practice methods and develop your own. Allow your self (your life) to follow your heart and not the currents of the world around you.  

This is how the search becomes yours, and how you learn to really pray. Prayer for an answer rather than a predetermined result. Be open to the truth rather than accepting only what your mind/ego/personality wishes and creates.   Beware someone advising you that your question is not a "real" koan. They may say, "What you really should be asking is...." Listen to what they say, but if it doesn't strike you, then forget it. Stick to the question that has meaning for you. There is a door between you and Truth. You have the question to ask the doorkeeper.  

Likewise, don't fall into the trap of pursuing a question because, "I think I should be asking it." Some people are so filled with shoulds they ignore the fire in their heart. You must follow your deep fascination. People have reluctantly told me that, "Asking 'who is the thinker' doesn't really interest me." Good. Drop it. Discarding what doesn't interest you is a way to find what does.  

Your natural koan may be discarded, as well. For example, my first koan was "Why am I so miserable?" I first tried physical answers to the question: maybe I need more money, a new place to live, or more fun. As I explored and rejected physical solutions, I moved toward psychological answers: trying to change my reaction patterns, my mental habits, and ways I view the world. Finally, as I was forced to dig deeper into who I was, I looked for solutions involving the very nature of the world, matter, and my self. Thus, "Why am I so miserable?" evolved into "What is the source of the thoughts that lead to misery?" and "Is there anything about me that is permanent?" then, finally, "What is the Truth?"  

It was not that I solved each koan, but that each was gradually discarded in light of revelations as to where the ultimate answer lay.   I believe that any question, pursued with the idea of arriving at complete certainty regarding the answer, will lead to a spiritual realization. The problem is in unearthing the determination to follow the question to its end. Your natural koan will lead you ever deeper inside."   -

- Shawn Nevins   


You stop to point at the moon in the sky,

By Ryokan
(1758 - 1831)

English version by Sam Hamill

You stop to point at the moon in the sky,
but the finger's blind unless the moon is shining.

One moon, one careless finger pointing --
are these two things or one?

The question is a pointer guiding
a novice from ignorance thick as fog.

Look deeper. The mystery calls and calls:
No moon, no finger -- nothing there at all.

-- from The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhalla Library), Edited by Sam Hamill / Edited by J. P. Seaton

  ....   Photos by Bob O'Hearn       


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