You know, experiments and games and all are great, but sometimes the best thing to do is just let the meditation be itself. Tonight was one such night.
PZI is in sesshin, retreat, up in Santa Rosa. Some of the members of Wind in Grass joined them. But many of us were in the Bay area too, and we had a rather nicely full house Wednesday night.
Teacher David Weinstein, who usually would have offered interviews tonight, was leading the sesshin with John Tarrant, and it just wasn't the right energy to try to replace that. Instead, we sat...inviting the group to sit shikentaza, or hell, just any type of meditation that appealed for the first period. Then we walked, then we had tea. Licorice. Again. Its a favorite. But I digress.
We talked, and the conversation unexpectedly blossomed into a discussion of how we each work with koans, and whether that is ok, and whether one can really not work on a koan, and what other things and toys we like to play with when we sit. We discussed how some of us, most of us, use some crutch to still the mind before turning to a koan. A breathing meditation, concentration on a warm ball, a river, a conveyor belt carrying away thoughts. Etc. We talked about what came next. For some of us, deeper emotion and attention to thoughts. For others, a long stillness. For others, not much change. We noticed that sometimes working with a koan made use feel like we had to do something. That just doing what we did was not enough. And we noticed how some koans call for different responses- hearing it like a mantra, noticing emotions, seeing it visually, etc.
Then we sat with the koan "Stop the War". For many, most, it was the first time they had heard the koan. For many it seemed to call to them, to invite tolerance. To spurn action. For some it was a word, written inside their minds. For others, it was song lyrics.
It was a great night, with a lot of commraderie. Next week, community night. We will sit then go to the bottom of the hill. Its a club. Loud music for the still soul.
“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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