"If you are scorned by others and are about to drop into hell because of evil karma from your previous life, then because you are scorned by others, the evil karma of your previous life will be extinguished."
We sat last night with this koan. Prior to our sitting, one of the sangha members of WiG told me "I almost didn't come tonight because of this koan." That's how you know its going to be a fun evening.
After we sat, walked and had tea, we experimented with this koan, and in making it personal.
The group was asked to take a moment and find someone in their hearts that they scorned, disdained, disliked and looked down on. It could be a person, a group, a party, a business. When everyone one had located that, the new time keeper (Thanks Toby), rang the bell, and the group was asked to scorn them, and in their scorning to notice the subtleties of the action, to notice how it made them feel, what was at the source. They were asked to notice what was driving the scorn and what it dreamed to accomplish. Afterwards we all went around and shared what we had noticed.
People noticed that they had trouble scorning. That though they knew that they scorned and treated people with opprobrium and disdain, that when invited to let them have it, they found themselves conditioned to stop doing it, thus it only happened in the background. Others noticed how it made them feel powerful and held the other party at a distance, mitigating fear that they would be harmed. Others noticed how they piled on, and drew from other quarters for support in their scorning.
After we had gone around, we sat again, briefly, this time holding a time or an instance when were were scorned, whether by a lover, a friend, a family member, a group, or any other source. We were asked to locate that scorn and where its energy came from. Where the fear was, and where the pain was, and then just notice what happened when we invited that in and let it be ok. One person noted that he initially didn't think he was scorned and then realized how maybe he was pushing away acknowledging the scorning.
People noticed that when they secretly believed, or didn't want to believe, that the scorn was well deserved, they got defensive, sad, or crushed. When they felt the scorn was misapplied, it rolled right off and did not affect them in a personal way. People noticed that they felt badly for the scorner. Others noticed becoming defensive, and wanting to answer the silent charges. Another noticed how mad he got and then realized how strange that was that he held onto this need to be seen a perfect, flawless and without detractors. He wondered where that notion had come from.
It was a lively conversation. We will continue it next week.
“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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