30 minute meditation journal

06 January 2018 11:39 AM
3
6
A late morning sit. Strange. Started off feeling a bit like I was hovering over myself. Then it was like reliving a load of contacts with one person but felt through their emotions / feelings of insecurity not mine. Obviously I have no idea how close to their side of the past this was but it felt very real, even painful. Since then it has been a bit like being hyper aware of other people and their (possible) inner turmoil, even strangers I passed. Almost feels too much to bear, the feeling of so many people and their (possible) sufferings but at the same time it isn't at all too much.

Comments

I have a question about koan's. I'm reading a book that has a whole chapter on the koan Mu. He says to breathe mu in and breath mu out. I have no idea what that means. I know you do koan's can you help?
paulmac63
Paul V
12 months ago
Hi Paul. I'm not a good person to explain about koans because I don't do them well or in a very typical way. I'm happy to let one sit in the background of my attention indefinitely. When it becomes more prominent it just naturally seems to become part of the sit, sometimes helping to surface and resolve stuff I might not have seen otherwise. They can provide a certain energy. Some people with very active minds find that it helps to focus on a word from a koan intensively, that it helps provide a concentration. With Mu that might involve silently saying the sound mu on each in and out breath. Mu is traditionally used as a 'breakthrough koan' and people can sit with it for months, years or even decades. People can go through periods of hating their koan, feeling like they will never get it, like it is impossible. That is probably how some of their own personal 'stuff' is coming to the surface to be let go of. It takes time and really I think there are other ways, especially for solo practitioners.
 
It is probably not possible to really work with koans without a teacher. People who do them with a view to passing them (most people), find themselves chasing after solutions and keep thinking that they have cracked it. Almost invariably they haven't but it takes having a koan trained teacher to show them that. I'd suggest that since you are practicing alone, don't get too caught up in thinking that you need to do koans to have a deep practice. If one grabs you then just let it gently enter into your sit, maybe as a sound in the background would. It might then come to the forefront or your attention. If not then your regular practice is more than enough.

Purely Soto zen groups don't work with koans but may use them as teaching stories. Purely Rinzai groups use them as their core approach. The group I sit with is a hybrid Soto-Rinzai group and probably less than half do koans at all. Its really not essential but for some people it can be helpful.

There is a really good book (or at least I enjoyed it) all about that one koan, although because any one koan is not really separate from anything else I would say much of the book is also applicable to other koans and even to just sitting. http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/book-mu 

If koan practice is really essential for you I think you'll one day find yourself in a situation where you can do them thoroughly. In the meantime, by all means read them and see if they appeal but don't worry about them. 


Bluemoon
Kokai (Sarah)
12 months ago
Thanks, i am eternally curious and like to try different things. I will do as you suggest and continue with the core sitting and maybe drop them in now and again and see if one sticks. Thank you :)
paulmac63
Paul V
12 months ago
The one that has been most powerful for me was one that I had read before with no affect but at the right time when I was sitting with something came across a podcast of a talk on the same koan. I found myself sitting with that koan on and off for a month or so. It was completely out of sequence for the koans I should have been working on but it was just right. Very healing.

It might be worth trying listening to some talks on koans. Then you get at least some teacher input into it.
Bluemoon
Kokai (Sarah)
12 months ago
it does sound like a disconcerting sit!
rosie
Rosie
12 months ago
Hi Rosie, the first bit was a little odd but I'm used to strange. Our minds can produce anything I think!
Bluemoon
Kokai (Sarah)
12 months ago