It is helpful to appreciate how koans are used in training. The koans themselves are a way of working with the heart/mind. Their power lies in the way they take up whatever assumptions we begin to settle into, and then knock the bottom out. The position of the self is swept away, reformed, swept away once more. The teacher demands that the student take up a koan with immediacy and freshness: presenting the inarguable and timeless heart of the matter, but making that heartbeat new. There is no guarantee of seeing a koan; each one is a total risk, a total offering of your life to not-knowing.
Zen Buddhist websites, news, and discussion
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Discussion of the stepping off a pole koan, and koans in general: