Last night Chris Wilson asked us to sit with the Koan "This very body, the Buddha", but in this form "Is my body the Buddha?". With 5 minutes of sitting left, Chris asked into the room, "Please try answering that question 'Yes!'. Now please try answering that question 'No!'".
It being community night, we then enjoyed tea and cookies thanks to Marika, then set into the conversation.
several people noticed the expansiveness of answering yes. How it made them feel free, and hopeful. One person noted how it asked her to leave this skin bag behind and to think of herself in a larger sense. Others noted how answering No, felt familiar, and suited, even though it was disappointing.
Others talked about how they finally connected with this koan, and that for moments they were lighted of their body, and hopeful that this meant they too were the buddha. They also mentioned that the word Buddha, was mired in religious overtones for them.
Someone else noticed how, with her foot falling asleep, it was hard to connect with "yes", or "no". Someone else still wondered how he could be the buddha iwth the pain in his face and body.
After the conversation, we stood and Chris walked us through a beginning Qigong exercise. We stood and moved energy from our feet through our hearts. I found it really relaxing, as I always do when I am asked to move slowly and notice my movements. It feels good and grounding.
After the meeting, 8 of the 14 of us headed down to Connecticut Yankee. It was, uncharastically, still about 70 out. and we drank and ate outside on the patio.
Actually, last Wednesday, we went in a completely different direction, sitting with the koan "This very body, the body of buddha".
Frankly, I thought, "well, this is a short koan, and right there in the middle of the thing (not spatially), is this Buddha. I don't know a damn thing about what I am supposed to think about the Buddha, I only know what I think about the Buddha. Well, I wonder if that is what other people understand when they hear "Buddha"". So the short game we played was simply that- What does this mean to you, this word "Buddha"?
Because, well, frankly, its important to see what we are all bringing to the cushion. Just like we settle down onto the cusion and feel our legs and back, its important to notice the mental conditions we bring.
So we talked.
People discussed how they pushed Buddha as a religious symbol out of their minds; some noticed how they just put that aside. Others still mentioned how the golden Buddha was a notion they liked to avoid, and just leave. Others still noted how they longed to sit as still and well and look content.
I did a poor job of remembering all the discussion, but it seemed important to talk about it.
“A Course on Koans” is the delusion-riddled work of Chris Kufu (“Wind in the Void”) Wilson, who began practicing Zen in 1967. He regards Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken, and David Weinstein as his root teachers. Each of them pecked at his shell until he “completed” the never-ending koan curriculum of the Harada-Yasutani lineage.
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