David thought the title Meditation Retreat and Koan Seminar sounded a bit stiff. He liked Koan Brunch. I actually think its really good, so there you go. We had a wonderful koan brunch today.
There were 13 of us in the end, gathered in the Art room of the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House. E.Y made a lovely lunch with a quinoa salad and vegetarian sushi. LH made a monster salad and well, if not for the enlightenment, you could have come for the food and still made out just fine.
As it was, it was a great day. David lead us through our play with Yunmen's koan:
There is a light within each of us,
If you look for it, you cannot find it, only darkness. The darkness is dark
A storage room
Having nothing is better than having something good.
We sat with it and then discussed.David began the day though with some wonderful instruction on koan practice. He said that there are as many ways to work with a koan as there are people and koans. He said sometimes you look for it, sometimes you repeat it over and over, some people wait for a part to trickle up. Others wait for the koan to find them. There is no failure, he said, and dared the group to prove to him that they had failed.
It set a wonderful tone and we sat intently, and discussed at length.
After lunch we explored a bit of Tai Chi, then sat again with the koan. E. open the discussion by stating that she thought her meditation was poor. It opened up a lot of interesting observations from the group about awareness and its tendency to migrate you toward things that work, toward awareness and wholeness. We talked about dreams and day dreaming on the cushion and even sleeping on the cushion and how that is not really better than clear lucid focus on anything.
I really should have taken a photo, but I forgot. The koan play was too rich and it was just such a wonderful and intimate group. Thanks to G, A and D for making it out from Oakland, E from coming down from Santa Rosa, I from giving up her weekend studies to drive up from Santa Cruz, R for joining and A for running over after her marathon training, L for finding a sitter to join, E for the lovely lunch, T for coming over the bridge to join us, A for making the long trip over the city and last but not least, C for driving all the way over from Marin,
“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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